I wish OP would air 2 episodes together weekly...
I thought it's already been mentioned that the arc is 1/3 the size of fishman island....but I guess the 150km problem caused a lot of confusion about arc length :p.
Putting jokes aside, I'm very happy with the way Oda manages his arcs. They have always had a building up to a climax: whether it be a battle (Arabasta, Ennies Lobby, Thriller Bark, etc.) or a resolution to a long awaited change (Skypea, Impel Down, Marineford War, etc.). He always paces his storytelling in a way that gives just enough info to make the story meaningful but leaves enough out that we have to see the arc to the end to find out why some of the things happened the way they did or the true effect of what happened.
I started watching One Piece in its anime form until I caught up to the current episode (Thriller Bark at the time) and from then on, I got into reading the manga out of sheer impatience to wanting to know what was going to happen next in the story. But by doing this, it made me notice an apparent change in pacing which was not really the actual pacing of the story but the pacing of the chapter/episode releases. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that if a person watches the anime or reads the manga starting from the beginning, the pacing doesn't seem particularly slow or fast. But once the person is caught up to the current chapter, the one (and sometimes two) week wait for the next chapter or episode to come out can make it seem like the pacing is way too slow. Simply put, fans just cant get enough.
I also started reading weekly around the same time as you Anduran. But I switched to reading the manga after Chopper's fight with Kumadori at Enies Lobby. I’m happy with the way Oda has structured the arcs and the story as a whole as well. Of course it’s had a few problems, but overall it’s been great.
One Piece is also structured to have vastly different settings, characters and goals for the protagonists in each arc, which is great for those that actually care about the story; but with so much variety between arcs, it gives “the rest” a reason to dismiss them in favor of the next (while somehow deciding that their predictions for future events and arcs are law) once they’ve gotten a glimpse of the setting and categorized the arc’s characters into meaningless classifications of strength.
Worst of all, these readers are the most vocal and declare their desire to move on to the next arc over and over 10 or 20 chapters into the current one just to repeat the process. In that sense, Naruto, Bleach, Hunter x Hunter and many other titles are lucky because they don’t have to contend with much of this type of criticism. Due to their lack of variation, regularly recurring cast of characters (or in Hunter x Hunter’s case, long and unpredictable hiatuses) their readers either have no choice but to develop an interest on some level in the current storyline, or just give up hope on the series. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) One Piece doesn’t have that luxury, so we’re stuck with them.
I personally prefer shorter but more contained arcs so the story can keep its freshness, but I don’t mind long arcs at all when they are well-structured and interesting, and in general Oda does it very well. I think a good combination would be an alternation between one short separate arc, but which hints at a longer arc, and then that longer arc, and again a short arc. But of course it’s better when the arc length is irregular to keep the story unpredictable, so as long as the quality is good I don’t really mind the length a lot.
Well, in OP it’s quite easy to introduce new arcs since it can be just going to another island and so having another separate story, and that’s a good point about it because with each island shift there is a new side-setting, new characters, etc., so while it can keep a similar pattern (going to an island, then going to another, then another) it doesn’t need to worry about repetiveness and not having much variation, like Blue Lotus mentioned for those other series. Each new arc is fresh thanks to the location change, so in general OP arcs are quite good.
By the way, what length do you think the current arc (Punk Hazard) will have?
Nov/DecOct/Nov 2012 which make up around 10-15 chapters, and I hope Oda then goes to a "Wani Country in Spring time" arc. Blooming cherry trees could be a great opportunity for some manly Sanji moments. :derp