One of the strongest elements of Eiichiro Oda's One Piece is the familial bonds the Straw Hats have developed over the course of the series. While the series' big battles are fondly remembered, most fans' favorite moments are the much smaller moments of the Straw Hats bouncing off of one another. It's been missing from the anime for quite a while since they have been split up, but with their big reunion for the Wano Country arc it's time to see them all in the same room again.
In a recent interview for the special One Piece magazine (as shared by @YonkouProd on Twitter), new director for the anime Tatsuya Nagamine spoke about the importance of highlighting these smaller moments between the Straw Hats once more and how the Wano arc will tighten its focus on them.
When speaking about how the stronger Japanese cultural setting will have an influence on how the anime presents itself, Nagamine mentioned how the real drama will come from character interactions, "...even the way the anime is directed features a world of chivalry on a Kabuki stage, so we have to properly illustrate via the storyboards a place where drama is born from enemies who respect each other."
Elaborating further, Nagamine emphasized the need for deeper interactions between the characters, "If we don't take time to illustrate the characters' interactions then the finer details will be lost. Enjoying the character interactions is a must in a series like One Piece."
One of the major criticisms of the Wano Country arc in the manga is that it introductions a ton of new characters along with this new setting. There are tons of new elements introduced, returning characters, and a lot of dense new ideas packed into each chapter. This has been great for manga readers to experience, but the anime's going to stand out quite a bit if it slows things down and really helps the smaller character moments hit home.
The slower pace might be a huge criticism of the anime for now, but it could work wonders for Wano if everything works out. Eiichiro Oda's One Piece first began serialization in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in 1997. It has since been collected into over 80 volumes, and has been a critical and commercial success worldwide with many of the volumes breaking printing records in Japan. The manga has even set a Guinness World Record for the most copies published for the same comic book by a single author, and is the best-selling manga series worldwide with over 430 million copies sold. The series still ranked number one in manga sales in 2018, which surprised fans of major new entries.