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I only got into One Piece last summer so I don't share any of the hardcore fanboyism that many have for watching it for years...
I can certainly say that it has gone to shit and it is only around due to fan loyalty.
The current arc is a prime example of everything that is wrong with One Piece.
Having lived in Japan, I guess certain information is available there in contrary to everywhere else.
I actually used to be one of these people. So I can relate to some who don't like it. My biggest problem was crappy drawings, I'm a girl and had plenty of other series I thought were much better where one piece is mostly a male fan base, and the fact that one piece originally had horrible voice actors with a terrible dub when it first came to America (4Kids). I didn't give it a chance till one of my college buddies told me I had to check it out. I like a bit of drama mixed in and he told me to start with the Arlong ark. I kinda got hooked from there went back and watched the rest. Though I won't lie I have skipped a couple fillers episode wise and didn't start reading the manga till around Impel Down.