Well it turns out those spoilers were true, as they tend to be.
After the long drawn out Water Seven/Enies Lobby arc, Thriller Bark is feeling more like a return to the pacing of the pre-Grand Line chapters. The linking of this story to an earlier arc also handily provides an emotional underpinning without taking up too much page space.
Nothing next week as Oda is researching again. Though sometimes I think research means “take a holiday to somewhere that will be the cultural and architectural influence of the next arc”. However he does his research, I do love that he does it. Throwing in pop cultural references to Tim Burton, Popeye, Ace Ventura, Earthbound etc. are all pretty easy to do. Putting in Germanic shipping folklore and Venetian tidal phenomena is going the extra mile.
Like the Davy Back Fight arc before it Thriller Bark is a lighter, frothier concoction taking it’s influences from horror movies and the Nightmare Before Christmas. Though it was cool that it took some of it’s cues from genuine non-movie folklore surrounding the things the Straw Hats come across. Or maybe it was taken from the older horrors that used that folklore. Either way, you don’t really see that particular myth used as often nowadays.
Davy Back Fight still has it beat in terms of low-brow references by basing it’s villain’s design on Count Chocula.