As far as anime series go, One Piece is one of the longest-running shows in existence. With over 775 episodes produced (and still going), there are a bunch of story arcs to enjoy. We went ahead and made a list of the five best ones – in no particular order – and our reasoning on why they are at the top of the series. [Be warned, there may be some light spoilers.]
Before starting, understand that One Piece is broken into sagas and arcs. Arcs are smaller stories with their own climax and resolution within larger overarching sagas and adventures. In addition, the entirety of the series currently is broken into two halves: The Super Rookies Saga and the New World Saga.
Enies Lobby Arc – Water 7 Saga – Episodes 264 to 312
Easily, one of the most beloved sagas of the series is Water 7. And one of the best arcs of that saga, and the series itself, is the Enies Lobby Arc. Enies Lobby is the eighth island the Straw Hats come across on the Grand Line. It’s also full of marines, and CP9, their most power foes up to that point.
During this particular adventure, each of Luffy’s crew grows stronger in one way or another. In addition, we say farewell to the Going Merry. It’s definitely a turning point for the crew and the series as a whole.
Some highlights of the Enies Lobby Arc include:
- Nami and Sogeking becoming more serious combatants
- The full revelation of Robin’s past
- Everybody’s bounty goes up as the crew becomes a serious threat to the World Government
- The introduction of the crew’s new ship, the Thousand Sunny
There’s a lot to love about this arc, from the action to the development. This arc also marks the point where the Straw Hat Pirates strengthen their bonds with each other. Also, Luffy declares war on the world.
Arlong Park Arc – East Blue Saga – Episodes 31 to 44
One of the earlier arcs of the series, the Arlong Park Arc gives us the backstory of Nami. The crew ends up in Nami’s hometown. Because of the events here, Nami becomes a permanent member of the Straw Hats. But there’s more going on than the ups and downs of Nami.
Some highlights of the Arlong Park Arc include:
- Luffy finally receiving his first bounty
- Seeing the original four members of the crew march into battle together for the first time
Once Nami is permanently onboard as navigator, the crew becomes ready to sail to the Grand Line. It’s an emotional arc and really good early indicator of the power and complexity of the world of One Piece. It truly sets the pace for the rest of the series.
Another good early arc is the very first one: the Romance Dawn Arc. It launches the epic in an amazing way and is the start of both the Super Rookies Saga and the East Blue saga.
Alabasta Arc – Alabasta Saga – Episodes 92 to 130
The final arc of the Alabasta Saga marks the arrival of the Straw Hats in the desert kingdom of Alabasta. A place they were trying to reach over the course of many, many episodes. Many would place this arc at the top of their list simply because of how complex and satisfying it was.
Some highlights of the Alabasta Arc include:
- Each of the main characters gets airtime to grow and develop
- Tony Tony Chopper joins the crew
- Nami’s first fight on her own
- The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been
- The backdrop of the arc is a full on civil war and political uprising
- The villains are the best they’ve been up to that point
- Luffy vs. Crocodile is an epic battle that’s well worth the watch
This arc is a defining moment for the team and the series. It’s a major event that shows exactly how serious the Grand Line is but also shows that everything might not always go in the Straw Hats favor.
Marineford Arc – Summit War Saga – Episodes 457 to 489
This arc gives us a taste of what’s to come in the New World Saga (after the time skip). More importantly, it’s a culmination of everything that has come before during the overarching Super Rookies Saga.
This arc is almost completely battle after battle. It’s the payoff for almost 500 episodes of One Piece. You finally see the full strength of the Whitebeard Pirates, and why the Marines are so feared.
Luffy and other escapees from Impel Down go after Ace (see the previous Impel Dawn Arc…which is also good). Unfortunately, the place where they’re going is Marineford, the base of Marine Headquarters.
Some highlights of the Marineford Arc include:
- Two major deaths
- Luffy separated from the crew
- All of the big players coming together
- The largest gathering of devil fruit users in one place
There’s a lot of action here, which is something viewers of shonen are always waiting for. But there’s a lot of emotional impact as well. Also for those that enjoy the battle aspect a little more, check out the Dressrosa Arc.
Sabaody Archipelago Arc – Summit War Saga – Episodes 385 to 405
The Sabaody Arc is another from the Summit War Saga (yes, the whole saga is awesome). This one begins the Summit War Saga. During this arc you meet a ton of new characters and also some really cool new powers.
In fact, many of the new characters are so powerful they show how inadequate Luffy and his crew really are. It’s a promise that the bigger picture is still yet to come, and that the Straw Hats will have to grow even more to become a real part of it.
Some highlights of the Sabaody Archipelago Arc include:
- The Straw Hats add a new member
- Reaching the Red Line, the halfway point of the Grand Line
- Introducing Admiral Kizaru
- Introducing the 11 Supernovas, the Worst Generation
- Introducing the World Nobles
- The Straw Hats are separated, (and don’t come back together until after this arc’s saga finishes)
As usual, there’s a lot more to the arc as well. There’s a revisit to Sabaody after the time skip. The Return to Sabaody Arc is the first of the New World Saga stories and well worth a mention in this list as well.
This list is very personal as it is hard to definitively say which arc is really the best of the best objectively. Some people will like certain arcs more than others as it may have more of their favorite character or have more amazing combat. But we feel strongly that these are at the top of what the show has to offer and will be enjoyed by everyone.
One Piece is still airing, so it is possible that new arcs will come along to blow these five out of the water. So keep watching to see if some new storyline will take a top spot among the best One Piece arcs. If you’re new to One Piece, it’s best to just start from the very beginning and then you can form your own opinions as you go. You won’t be disappointed.