I rushed through chapters 6, 7 and 8 a few weeks ago, avoiding all fights, except the few required ones, just to view (most of) the cutscenes (I love the sci-fi twist). Stopped when I arrived at what looks to be the final boss. Since the last few areas don't really seem interesting enough for "repeat" playthroughs, and for other reasons (grinding stuff), I've been mostly just doing (blade) sidequests, and looking for heart-to-hearts. Some of those blades are a bit annoying to develop though. Every time I have to find some specific creature to fight is annoying. "Egh, what am I looking for? Where the hell is it?" And now I have one that is pretty easy, as I mostly just have to feed it, but I also have to talk to Nopon. And at this point in the game, I've talked to most of them already, so it's just a clickfest. That said, I need the field skill, as I only got some extra blades with the Nopon wisdom recently, and before that all the hard Field skill challenges were off-limits. But now I finally got to see Bana again (:D). I wonder how many rare blades come from specific cores though. I don't have that many left to go, but I stumbled on a specific one purely by chance (Kassandra). I've barely touched a guide before now (apart from battle mechanic explanations), and I wouldn't have found it if I were specifically looking for her but without a guide.
Anyway, next session I'll do a little bit more of sidequesting and blade grinding, but then it's time to revisit Morytha and climb the world tree.