In Dragon Quest 7, most of the story comes from the sub-plots on each island. This means that some NPCs on these islands have as much development as the main characters. It also means that the game can tackle a bunch of different stories with varied themes and presentation. The main problem with these is the same as other aspects of the game: Quantity over quality. Trying to fit over 20(!) stories into one game means none of the characters you meet get enough time to make an impact, even if This Game is 100 Hours Long.
As much as I disliked the wait for classes and completely eviscerated the Rashers and Stripes fight, that segment was one of the game's best points, writing-wise. It’s an interesting set-up with some twists along the way and a satisfying conclusion. Though the focus is as always on NPCs, we get some with visible personalities and drama that comes from how their characters interact. Apart from the dull dungeons and awful boss fight, I was fairly engaged.
But even this high point in the narrative still serves the argument I’m making. One of the reasons it’s a better part of the story is because it lasts longer, giving the characters time to grow. And then once this quest is over? Those interesting side characters limply trail off into oblivion, never to be heard from again. You never go back. Never hear what became of them afterwards. They’re from the past, so they don’t even get a late-game cameo. For all intents and purposes, they had zero effect on the world, the plot, or the main characters.
They had an ENRAGING effect, but only out-of-character.