If you thought Luffy had this tournament already won, you might be surprised by the level of opponents that have him surrounded this week.
I was really starting to feel Tom's pain this week with trying to draw a comparison for this chapter. You have the crew in dire straits, then Luffy's having this Royal Rumble inspired adventure to keep his brother's devil fruit out of the wrong hands. Both are equally entertaining stories that we keep switching between. It's like channel surfing through two of your favorite shows that are airing at the same time, and without the advantage of DVR. Every few weeks we get a little taste of the other. It certainly makes for an interesting balancing act.
This entire tournament would come across a bland shonen cliche if it wasn't for the characters. Ultimately, that's what saves this chapter.Ideo has a punch that literally explodes, Bobby and Kelly Funk were making me laugh, and Jean Ango is a sniper that 'throws' swords. How are you not be entertained by that? Isn't this level of craziness why you are here? -- I can't believe it's taken me this far into the arc to start making GLADIATOR references.
The biggest critique I have with this chapter is that it falls into the same formula of the previous preliminary bout. Let's show off all these crazy abilities before getting the real fight started. However, be sure to remember that Oda surprised us last time. I would have put money down on Bellamy winning that match, and history has shown that I'd lose that wager.
This tournament has been far more entertaining than I could've predicted, but I couldn't hold it against a reader if it isn't to your liking. I personally adored Thriller Bark, but it's highly likely there were some who didn't care so much for that adventure. It all just comes down to a matter of personal taste. I'm enjoying both of the Dressrosa plots. It's the pacing that's holding this back.
All the repeated breaks ONE PIECE has been having is the biggest downfall of Oda's plot experiment of telling two simultaneous stories. However, it's not as if he asked to get sick. With over ten years of dedicated service, the man deserves all the rest he needs.
Speaking of breaks. there's going to be yet another one week break for ONE PIECE. Also, stay tuned for this week's BLEACH review for a big announcement.