Marineford Arc is one of the most beloved arcs in One Piece. A favorite among many, and a defining moment that shifts the status quo of the entire series to exciting directions. Never again will One Piece replicate the feeling of seeing so many of the world's giant figures clashing in an all-out war. So, it is saddening to say that the Marineford Arc is overrated.
In honor of The Shichibukai, we gather 7 exhibits to prove the case. Spoilers ahead.
We Spent Little Time Of Ace As Luffy's Brother
When Ace was first introduced, it was a great idea. Make no mistake, Ace's popularity as a character is that he is Luffy's cooler and stronger older brother. But the bad thing about them having their separate adventures and goals is that we never get to see them spend time together as brothers.
It is a big mistake that we do not get to see their history together as brothers until after Marineford Arc. Why show the relationship after the event that was supposed to pay off their relationship?
There is a scene of Luffy and Ace together in Marineford as brothers, showcasing their teamwork and chemistry, but it is so brief it's next to nothing.
So, it is understandable for one to have a dissonance when Luffy is going from hell and back to rescue him, while we do not actually get to explore the full context of their bond. Imagine seeing Mufasa die, but you did not get to see the scenes of him bonding with Simba.
The Shichibukai Did Nothing
This might be the only time we will ever see The Shichibukai together, and yet they play no active part in the story. In the first half, they are just hanging around side by side on their platform, observing whatever's happening around them. For all the big talks of The Shichibukai potentially facing-off with Whitebeard, none of them even got near him. Whitebeard barely even noticed them, and most of them don't even seem interested.
As the arc goes on they all just get lost in the chaos. They have their moments from time to time, but it is few and far between and relatively unimportant to the greater whole.
Too Many Big Names, Too Many Inconsequential Face-Offs
The hard thing about putting so many characters together in one event is that they all need their screentime. Individually they look like giants but put them all together and they become a blur. This keeps happening in the Marineford Arc. They show up for the camera, we take a quick look and reaction to how cool these characters are, and then we move on to the next scene, and over and over it goes.
It promises us a lot of fights between the world's toughest fighters but most of the time, we do not get to see the outcome. Crocodile is angling for Whitebeard, then he moves on. Crocodile attacks Doflamingo and then we don't get to see what happens next. For whatever reason, they are both uninjured and fighting the next random guy they see. It happens again when Crocodile faces off with Mihawk. Boa Hancock threatens Smoker, and then when we get to see them again they are off doing other things like it never happened.
There are so many characters bouncing off from one location in one scene only to be in another location in the battlefield on the next scene that the geography of the Marineford becomes confusing.
It wants the promise of epic clashes between titans but it cannot commit to the outcomes. So they barely show any fights and then show us that the fights unseen have no consequence. Because having winners and losers in a fight implies that someone is weaker. They can't have that while also trying to maintain all these characters' mystic and cool factors for future stories and marketability.
The Whitebeard Pirates Are Undeveloped
The danger of making an arc without the Straw Hats is that we are left on the battlefield without anyone we are familiar with. So, the arc needs to take careful steps to help us be familiarized with any of the new players. While we will tackle how Whitebeard does not feel complete by the end of the arc, so are his children and the army standing with them. All of them are painted in broad strokes only functional for their scenes to work. We do not know anything about Squard before he stabbed Whitebeard, and we barely know him after. Similarly, this is why Marvel did solo films before The Avengers.
Aside from the Whitebeard Pirates' cool factor as the top pirates in the world, there is no effort to make them feel like 3-dimensional characters. Aside from a few exceptions, they have no individuality, and no matter how many flashbacks are shown, none of them are ever focused on. We won't even remember their names if it wasn't so announced all the time, and even then just barely. Even their design feels like an afterthought.
Remember, these are the people we need to buy are willing to die for Ace, yet we see no tangible and specific example of why they are family, only vague happy memories.
Whitebeard's Toughness Is Too Over The Top What Can Stop Him Is Arbitrary
We are supposed to be impressed that Whitebeard is able to sustain heavy damages, and our suspension of disbelief can be impressed in the first couple of injuries, but by the 125th time he should have been dead, the illusion that this is a real man being hurt is gone no matter how many times the Whitebeard Pirates scream.
By the time Whitebeard's insides get filled with lava, and half of his brain is gone, what takes over is the thought that he will go down only when the writer wants him to go down. It's the same problem in Dragon Ball or any anime with overpowered battles - If they are fine after crashing through mountains from being punched a dozen or so times, the impact does not matter anymore, it just becomes a guessing game of when it's over.
It Went On For Far Too Long
When it is 32 episodes of non-stop fighting, and most of those fights are more of teases of fights anyway, it is a huge problem.
Yes, there are a lot of important events happening in this arc, but everything in between is repetitive and takes forever - It takes forever for Whitebeard to enter the field. It takes forever until we know if Ace will be executed or not. It takes forever until Whitebeard is off the field. Then it even takes forever after that.
Many of the problems stated in this list would have been mitigated if only they aren't repeated so many times. Whitebeard being injured only to dominate immediately after is nice, but not if it happens again and again. Every time something happens, we see a reaction shot of multiple characters, and then something happens again. When those reaction shots happen, it implies that what happened is important, and if everything is important, nothing is.
We Know Almost Nothing About Whitebeard And What We Know Are Morally Questionable
Many watched the Marineford Arc thinking that Edward Newgate is a great man worthy of the finest honors. But when trying to present how great Whitebeard is, they forgot to tell us the complete picture of his morals. We know he cares a lot about family, but we do not know if he is a good person because everyone present on the battlefield has biased opinions about him in two opposite extremes. Of course, The Marines think he is a bad person because he is a pirate and the biggest rival in their position of power.
Jimbei has undying respect for Whitebeard because he freed Fishman Island from many evil humans that try to capture and sell his race. But did Whitebeard intend to help Fishman Island, or was that just a side effect of Whitebeard claiming Fishman Island as his territory? In any other scenario where a powerful man claims a land as his territory by force, isn't that a bad thing?
Then there are the Whitebeard Pirates that affectionately think of Whitebeard as their father. So how did any of them regard him as such? Well, the only example presented to us is Ace's journey from hating Whitebeard to loving him - One day when Whitebeard beat Ace to a bloody pulp, he kidnapped him, forced him to be his son, and essentially make him a prisoner on his ship. Until one day Ace becomes a loving son in the Whitebeard Pirates family. That sounds like brainwashing, something akin to Stockholm Syndrome. Do most of the Whitebeard Pirates start out in a similar fashion? Did Whitebeard use their lack of a father figure against them, unintentional or not?
There is no question that Whitebeard loves his children, but with all the other questions piling up, we have to wonder how healthy their love is. Suddenly, Whitebeard risking their lives for them and vice-versa seems less endearing.
This is the protagonist of the arc we are talking about, and we do not know him.