Still running strong after more than two decades, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece continues to enjoy the same popularity today as it once did when it first came out many years ago.
The best part? It doesn’t look like One Piece is going to end anytime soon, which is good news for its many fans across the globe.
But, after having already taken fans to so many adventures over the years, there’s been bound to be a rough patch and a high point every now and then.
While any true One Piece fan would tell that every one of the Shonen series’ arcs are equally important, we all know that some adventures are just way more memorable compared to others.
However, actually trying to figure out which story arcs from the series are among the best is no easy task.
With that said, we tried our best to take a look at all of the story arcs in One Piece so far and picked out the 10 best arcs in One Piece.
So, without further delay, let’s get started.
10. Arlong Park Arc
If there was one story that started it all for One Piece, it was this.
Prior to this arc, the story progression of One Piece was rather slow, focusing more on introducing the people that would become central to the story and less on their actual progression. That all changed come the fifth arc of the series.
In what would be everybody’s first glimpse of the absurd and awesome world that Oda had created for One Piece, fans were introduced to the Shichibukai, or the Seven Warlords of the sea, as well as the Fishmen.
Plus, it was also around this time that Oda started playing around just how emotionally intense the series could really get.
From Nami’s background and the rest of the crew fighting for her freedom, as well as that of the lives of the rest of the people living in her hometown, the Arlong Park Arc featured some pretty highest stakes (or, at least, at the time), that many fans of the series probably still haven’t forgotten even today.
9. Skypiea Arc
A story arc remembered mostly for building the hype towards the location of One Piece, which supposedly lies at the end of the Grand Line, Raftel, the other parts of the Skypiea Arc is actually quite underrated.
We have the all-power villain in Enel with a hilarious weakness. Then there’s also the setting, which is one of the most unique in all of the series. There’s also the touching themes, mystery, and intrigue, as already mentioned above.
But, really, what makes the Skypeia arc so good is how all of these wrapped up together to create a standalone adventure that would’ve been well-worth watching even if it did not feature Luffy and the gang.
Even if the Skypeia Arc is less connected to the other story arcs of One Piece, it’s an adventure well worth taking for any fans of the series.
8. Alabasta Arc
The Alabasta Arc was a huge turning point for the Straw Hat Pirates, as well as for One Piece as a whole.
As the fifth and final arc of the Alabasta Saga, which kicked off with the Reverse Mountain Arc but really only started building up the hype starting with the Whisky Peak Arc, it was during this time that Luffy and the rest of the crew decided to put their lives and everything else on the line to save Princess Vivi Nefertari from one of the Shichibukai, Crocodile.
As the first-ever villain to really put Luffy down, Crocodile’s infamy and popularity was at an all-time high at this point.
This made watching Luffy get some sweet, sweet revenge all the better as the series’ main protagonist punched Crocodile through the center of the city.
Up to this point of the series, the Straw Hat Pirates were more of a nuisance than a force of nature worthy of the World Government’s attention.
However, following Luffy’s defeat of Crocodile, the powers that be had no choice but to acknowledge Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates.
7. Sabaody Archipelago Arc
While Luffy finally gained recognition and notoriety from the World Government following the end of the Alabasta Arc, it wasn’t until the start of the Summit War Saga, in particular, the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, that Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates really started to feel the full brunt of just what the powers that be are capable of.
An emotionally gripping start to an emotionally gripping saga, the Sabaody Archipelago Arc explored various themes. This included racism, elitism, and slavery.
It is also around this time that we come to know of the existence of the all-powerful Celestial Dragons.
While fans do get a moment of reprieve after seeing Luffy punch one of the Celestial Dragons in the face, in addition to the introduction of the Dark King himself, Silvers Rayleigh, these bright moments were far and few in between in an otherwise dark and depressing arc.
Seeing the Straw Hat pirates being hunted down and targeted by the Marine Admiral Kizaru proved just how powerless our protagonists still were, and how much work they still needed to do to get to where they wanted.
6. Thriller Bark Arc
Just when you thought that you knew just how loyal Zoro was to Luffy and his ambition of becoming the Pirate King, the Thriller Bark Arc came and proved that we really had no idea at all.
In what’s easily one of the greatest moments in the series, Zoro strikes a bargain with Bartholomew Kuma. Tired and depleted following their battle against Gecko Moria, Zoro offered his life for his unconscious captain, to which Kuma agreed to.
However, instead of taking Zoro’s life, he let the swordsman feel all of Luffy’s pain and fatigue from his battle against Gecko Moria, an act that very nearly killed him in the process.
The Thriller Bark Arc is also popular for introducing fans to the Straw Hat Pirates’ musician, Brook.
5. Impel Down Arc
The Impel Down Arc will go down in One Piece history as Exhibition A in why Luffy’s overwhelming ambition and charisma is going to lead to him becoming the Pirate King one day.
Kicking things off with Luffy infiltrating the infamous Impel Down prison in an attempt to save his adoptive brother, Portgas D. Ace, we see Luffy failing in his first attempt after being thoroughly defeated by the prison’s warden, Magellan.
However, that was just a start. Because, after his defeat, Luffy manages to recruit new allies, such as that of the revolutionary, Emporio Ivankov, the former Shichibukai, Jimbei, as well as some of his former adversaries in Mr. Bon Clay, Buggy the Clown, and even Crocodile.
Even though Luffy never was able to rescue Ace, he did at least escape from Impel Down himself, along with a bunch of other inmates.
4. Enies Lobby Arc
When a writer is good enough to make you sob about a ship, you know that they have some serious skills, and that’s exactly what Oda proved right around the end of the Enies Lobby Arc.
To say that the Enies Lobby Arc was a nonstop rollercoaster of emotions is only fitting.
From Nico Robin’s backstory, to Franky destroying the blueprints for the Ancient Weapon Pluton, as well as the long-awaited introduction to two of Luffy’s most iconic transformations, the Second and Third Gear, we also see in the Enies Lobby Arc just how serious Luffy and the rest of the crew take their resolve by declaring war on the entire world and becoming international criminals in the process.
Powerful, surreal, and memorable, there’s a reason why the Enies Lobby is THE arc for many One Piece fans.
3. Water 7 Arc
While I still do agree that the Enies Lobby Arc is the more emotional of the two, it’s the story arc that preceded it, the Water 7 Arc, that’s more intriguing and interesting.
The Water 7 Arc is basically Murphy’s Law in story arc form.
In it, we see Usopp defect, Robin leave, and Luffy doing things that no captain ever wants to do. Not to mention, we’re introduced to a seemingly unstoppable villainous team that the Straw Hat Pirates are powerless against.
From one bad thing to another, Water 7 Arc proved that when it rains, it pours.
2. Whole Cake Island Arc
Up to this point, One Piece was all about establishing Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates as the heroes and the good guys. That, even though they’d encountered worse and more powerful before, they would prevail if not make it out alive, even if it’s by the skin of their teeth.
The Whole Cake Island Arc dismisses all of those notions. Instead, the story revolved around whether or not the Straw Hat Pirates could even make it out alive.
For many story arcs, we’d speculated about how the Straw Hat Pirates would fare against the power of a Yonko. Thanks to the Whole Cake Island Arc, we know that they still have a long, long way to go.
Plus, we also know now that Sanji is the prince of the Germa Kingdom, and was subject to a tragic if not abusive upbringing.
In any case, the feeling of concern for if whether or not this is the end for the Straw Hat Pirates is real throughout the Whole Cake Island Arc.
That it ends with Luffy facing off against Big Mom’s strongest son, Charlotte Katakuri, in a fight that will go down as one of the best in the history of One Piece, makes the arc all the more sweeter in the process.
1. Marineford Arc
Easily the biggest turning point of the One Piece series so far, the Marineford Arc is where we find out just how powerful some of the series’ powerhouses can be.
From the three Marine admirals, to the Shichibukai, as well as the entirety of the Whitebeard pirates, including the legendary Edward Newgate himself, we saw clearly just how out of his depth Luffy was in his attempt to try and rescue his older brother.
However, we also find out that, despite being clearly way out of his league, Luffy can, and will still find a way to make his own mark, which is exactly what the World Government is afraid of.
All in all, the Marineford Arc served as a satisfying conclusion to the first half of the series.
That it started and ended the way it did only served to cement it as the best story arc in all of One Piece yet.
With literally dozens more story arcs to choose from, rounding out just ten definitely wasn’t easy, and we’d understand if you felt like we missed out on what you think was some of the series’ best story arcs.
Just keep in mind, our lists are subjective and are not meant to be taken as a definitive ranking.
To put simply, be sure to take our rankings of the best One Piece arcs ever with a grain of salt.
This article was written by Ray.
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