My problem with him not killing the villains is the explanation for it. He says Luffy is deliberately leaving them alive iirc so it's kinda saying that even in the hardest fights he's been in that Luffy is partially holding back so he won't kill them. :T
Or maybe that just applied to the early villains and guys like Lucci just outright survived?
Really depends on the situation. You don't want your characters dying every chapter if it's just an adventure like, say, One Piece. I mean people would get really mad if, say, Usopp were killed in the middle of some random war. Less so if it were to happen in the final battle(and Usopp is my bet for Straw Hat most likely to die).
And honestly even though it was Marineford I kinda hate the way Ace died. On the one hand it was very effective in that absolutely no one would have seen in coming but on the other hand he only died because he was stoopid.
Hey, now that you mention Rob Lucci, did anyone saw that he -or someone who looked just like him in a trollish kind of way- appeared in the last chapter?
Frankly I think that characters surviving the most unlikely things its sort of a running joke right now, I agree there are some ridiculous survivals. I'd almost say that people dying if flashbacks is as much as a running joke, in the past Oda kills for pleasure
Personally I don't think any Strawhat should ever die, that would break pretty much all the patterns that we've established until now to be honest. IF one was to die my bet would be Luffy, and he would die in a Roger kind of way.
One thing I liked about Negima- Threat of death was rare, the villains were not, in fact, trying for the kill. On the flip side, they had wounds treated far more significantly than other series (hole in the shoulder = ohcrapgonnableed out. Cut off arm = significant hospital stay to reattach), and enemies had no problem turning people to stone, capturing them or erasing them from this world. In short, eliminating without killing.
Having everyone live when people are trying to kill you is weak. Having the characters live because the opponent doesn't have killing as an objective works. With the former, every time someone lives it undermines their threat. With the latter, their threat is based on other matters anyway.
I do wonder why Oda goes out of his way to keep everyone alive...even the antagonist. It isn't really helpful to the threat and as mentioned previously even hurts the bad guys credibility as a dangerous force.
Maybe the next death in One Piece will be something else that nobody sees coming.
Personally I don't think it's meant to be regarded as a realistic approach towards the opponents, it's either a joke or a way to make the good guys fully win at the end, that's just how narration functions in the OP universe.
...I mean, seriously, when Sanji was fainting and dying from bloodloss because he saw mermaids that's not any less absurd. Jokes interact with plot in weird ways in OP.