That is an excellent point. Totally agreed.
Have read through the next two arcs, so I stopped before we meet Arlong. Good stuff. At this point, Oda doesn't really seem to get how shitty it is to leave your child, just because you have a dream. Sure, we see the pain, but both Usopp and his mother tell everyone how great his father is, for following his dream. I mean, no idea if Odas position there changed, but I remember this bugging me for a long time. Elsewise, I like the arc where Usopp joins. It's nice to see, even though Zorro is clearly a monster, he still has to struggle, even against small fry like Captain Blacks crew.
Beauregarde himself is a weird case of early powers. He is just super fast, with no real reason for that. Like, later on this would clearly be a Devil Fruit, but for now, some people are just super powerful. Which, granted, is fair, considering that Sanji and Zorro too, have never eaten a Devil Fruit. I would blame it on him having Haki, but I don't think that gives you the ability to be super fast? Doesn't really make too much sense to me, that Luffy can defeat him. Always kind of bugged me, that he was just like "nope, don't care how fast you are, can still defeat you". But whatever, it doesn't matter much.
What matters more is that this guy is supposed to be some genius planner, but can't keep it in for one more day. He just can't help but brag about how next day, the girl will die, and then has to kill butler(?) guy.
Ok, for some positive stuff (as mentioned, I enjoyed the arc), there seems to be more interaction between the crew members (but maybe that just seems like it, because we have been at the end of an arc for three years, or so, where there is no time for that stuff). Really enjoy that, how they make fun of each other and how they are all kind-of jerks, but in a nice way. I wonder if Usopp, despite him being a coward, was ever supposed to be at least a bit stronger than he seems. His father is probably a very competent fighter, and while Usopp can work through stuff, he simply can't compete with the top guys of a pirate crew by now. Or maybe he could, if Oda just let him try. I mean, he is a sniper, he should be super dangerous (even with the cavaet that this is a shonen anime, where swords, fists and superpowers are stronger than guns), but still. Oh well.
Next arc is simply great. We get the introduction of Mihawk, which is probably one of the most memorable scenes of the whole East Blue part, giving Zorro his series long...let's say goal, for how strong he has to get. We also get a pretty great flashback, and I still remember that it was this one, that really grabbed me, and showed me that this manga could get pretty grim. The idea that someone would give someone else all the food, while eating his own foot (which was also his main weapon) hit me hard, 20 years ago. And Don Krieg really seems like someone, who could become a powerhouse at some point. I mean, maybe not with his armor (I completely forgot, that this wasn't some kind of Devil Fruit), I guess good equipment won't last you long on the Grand Line. Dunno, his weird exploding spear seems like a weapon that even a later character might use, maybe with some stuff added? And the whole thing about him being the leader of a fleet made me think, of course, of the Emperors. That said, even without Mihawk, there were plenty of others who could easily destroy his fleet, mainly made up of regular pirates.
I'm a bit disappointed, that we never see Gin again. It always sounded, like Oda promised the reader to let him reappear at some point. Maybe he would have made a good additional Worst Generation guy? Interesting character in any case, I like how he is introduced as someone who needs help, and to seemingly having a consciounce, only for it to be revealed, that he is a monster. Nice little arc, I really wanted to see him again.
Hmm, my thoughts seem to focus a lot on how the powers of antagonists work here. I guess the stuff that I really like about this early part is simply to small to talk much about, except to mention it in general (like the many interactions between the Straw Hats at this point, the relaxed atmosphere and the short arcs). But coming back here feels really good, the mood is already there and it feels a bit like coming home, away from the crazyness of later One Piece.
Also, in one of the pages between the chapters, Oda talked about the first One Piece movie, about this pirate Ganzack. Haven't watched it, just took a bit of a look - it has Luffy, Zorro and Nami in it, and has this weird, different artstyle - it's clearly One Piece, the characters are clearly recognizable, but look a bit more like regular Shonen characters, I think? Dunno, they are off in a way that I actually really like. It's on Youtube
, if anyone wants to wacht it. It's basically just a single filler episode, being only 25 minutes long.
Anyway, next up is Arlong, which I'm very much looking forward to.