Similar to the thread on Dragon Balls' arcs, the rules are simple as follows:
- Arcs are rated on a scale of 1 to 10.
- A review must be provided alongside them. The length is flexible, though it must be enough to show a concise opinion. Failure to say more than a score and it just being good or bad will result in it not being included in the mean score.
- Due to OP not being as popular for discussion as DB on this forum, obviously, I'll make it two days per arc rather than one, unless a lack of activity forces the pace to be increased.
- Manga versions of the arc, though if you have enough of a differing opinion of the arc in each medium, you can also add a secondary review/score for their anime counterparts. We'll be covering up to the Boo Arc, though if there's a demand for more, we'll go into GT and Super.
- Once enough time has passed, I'll tally up the scores to find Zeta's mean score and post it.
As a clarification, I know many of those I'll treat as arcs such as East Blue or Baroque Works are considered more to be Sagas by many, but I find the distinction and separation into smaller arcs unnecessary. Not only due most of these "Sagas" have the same general theme running about them despite the detours (Luffy building up his crew in East Blue, Straw Hats trying to stop Crocodile in Baroque Works, etc.), but a Saga is meant to be a tale or collection of tales revolving around a specific character, and Luffy is the centerpoint of almost every arc anyway due to the narrative's focus or his own actions, so the only real Saga in OP by the traditional definition is the story's entirety being the Saga of Luffy. That small rant out the way, let's begin.
So, we start with the East Blue Arc.
This is considered by many to be one of the weaker arcs, but I wouldn't say so. It can indeed seem bland when considering it follows a formulaic set up of Luffy finding a new character to join his crew, the character being hesitant until a threat appears and they join his crew afterwards, but it never makes things seem too repetitive by keeping the focus of each section of differing circumstances with a range from loud tyrannical pirates to a well thought out assassination. On the subject of formulaic ideas,it also seems overly coincidental that all the characters who become Straw Hats just happen to have had their goals moulded by a single event in their childhood and the loss of someone dear to them (something that would become a far less tolerable trope in later arcs), but each of the Straw Hats at least had enough build up to their flashback and colourful personalities for me to not view this too harshly. They all at least had some level of development during the part in which their character and goals were the main focus, particularly Nami (though as I'll get into in later arcs, most Straw Hats' development ends after they join the crew) and the interactions between characters were also delightful to see and had yet to become repetitive jokes like in later arcs. On the subject of characters, the villains of each arc also felt distinct for more than just superficial elements as they each helped represent a different route for those who failed to hold onto their ambitions. Buggy is someone who wishes to rise high after living in another's shadow, but has yet to do so. Kuro is someone who wishes to live a peaceful life after realising the futility of his goals. Krieg is one who wishes to try again with more preparation and Arlong is one who seemed to have realised his inability to change much and instead focuses on smaller fish.
The main appeal of the arc, and One Piece as a whole, was the adventure aspect. With each island that was visited, the audience could see a good sense of individuality in either the design or inhabitants of each area, such as Syrup Village being on quite a natural, the imaginative designs of the creatures on Gaimon's island or the creative idea of a restaurant ship like the Baratie.
There was also a good level of competence in the set up of plot and characters for later arcs, such as Buggy and Mihawk's ties to Shanks, the appearance of Rayleigh in Buggy's flashback, Dragon's ties to Luffy and Jimbei's role in the story. It was apparent that not everything was planned out, however, since aspects such as the sheer scale of things such as the world or power seemed to have been far smaller back then (even if you had no idea Oda only expected the story to go on for about 5 or so years). For instance, Yosaku's talk of Jimbei and Arlong would imply the two were on par, when we'd learn that Arlong is an ant to Jimbei, or Shanks losing his arm to a Sea King that pre-Grand Line Luffy can oneshot when he'd prove himself to fight against people hundreds of times faster than the speed of sound as well as be practically a God to most of the characters within this arc. The way people only mention the Grand Line also make it apparent that the idea of the New World is something Oda hadn't concocted until at least 30 or so volumes into the manga as a means to keep things going. Whilst I wasn't bothered by such inconsistencies with later events in the Hunt for the Dragon Balls Arc like Goku breathing in space, there's a difference between a story conceived as a self-contained one and one in which many future plot elements are set up, the latter of which this arc is and is therefore judged more critically for it.
Nevertheless, I'd say the arc was still decent and a good opening segment for the series. Along with the positive aspects I already covered, it also featured some of the most iconic and well executed scenes in the entire series, such as Shanks saving Luffy from the Sea King or the whole Arlong Park battle from the walk to it to Luffy's declaration that Nami is his Nakama. Many such aspects help elevate this arc when the many characters and unique elements of One Piece's world were still fresh and fun to explore. Overall, I'd consider it to have more pros than cons and be one of the better opening arcs of long running Battle Shonen.