One Piece is long, like really long. If you count in the movies and filler you could technically have 49 arcs (I believe?) And there’s so much good stuff it is hard to pick, but I have done my best to list my PERSONAL favorite arcs. I mainly went on how much the arc brought to the story, how good the arc was stand alone, and how I felt while watching each one. So in honor of Luffy and Co. making it to Wano, here’s my Top 10 Arcs.
#10 Impel Down: Impel Down at its core is a long chase scene ending with an unprecedented prison break. There is constant pressure on Luffy as he reunites with old enemies (Mr. 2, Mr. 3, Crocodile) and makes powerful new allies (Ivankov, Jimbei). It sets up everything for Marineford and beyond and also has a great enemy in Magellan who might be one of the villains who has come closest to actually killing Luffy.
#9 Fishman Island: Fishman Island takes on the very serious matter of racism in the One Piece world. It has a deep, interesting story and let’s us see what the returned and powered up Straw Hat crew is capable of. Hordy Jones is a decent villain (and drug addict) and the Arc wraps up in a brilliant fight, and even provides foreshadowing way in advance of The Whole Cake Arc.
#8 Marineford: Although we do have some VERY huge events take place in the Marineford Arc, it’s really not that heavy on story. Impel Down has already laid the foundation for perhaps the most important and long reaching battles in One Piece. It is here we see just how big of a power gap lies between our protagonist and the upper reaches of the Navy and the Warlords.
#7 Skypeia: It’s been so long since Skypeia, but it still stands out to me as an awesome arc. There’s this whole religious vibe going on, the world of Skypeia is absolutely crazy. You are thrown in the midst of this conflict and it’s hard to tell whose on whose side at first. And then you have Enel, the villain that was just the most OP thing I had seen at the time. I kept wondering, “How can Luffy fight this guy, what is he going to do against this?”, then I saw how and I felt pretty dumb!
#6 Drum Island: Drum Island is not super action packed honestly. And the villain is just stupid ol’ Munch-Munch man Wapol. But this arc has SUCH a good story and it will pull nicely on your heartstrings. The ending fight is still pretty good, and plus Chopper joins the crew!
#5 Whole Cake Island: I wanted to put Whole Cake higher, mainly because it WAS really awesome and is still so fresh in my mind. We learn about Sanji’s horrid past and about Germa 66. And we meet probably 40 or more new characters along the way? We have Luffy vs. Katakuri which (although exhaustively long) was pretty badass and Luffy is going to need what he learned from the fight in Wano. Some old enemies become valued friends, Jimbei comes back, and we get a lot of Carrot. The tail end of the arc is the Straw Hats GTFO of Whole Cake and just barely, barely making it. Oh and Big Mom is scary… like I’m still scared of her.
#4 Dressrosa: Doflamingo is maybe best villain in the series? Dressrosa as a whole was so great, from the gladiator matches up to the final fight. And by the time the end is coming, you just want Doflamingo crushed so bad. It has some amazing fights and we get to see each character shine (Zolo vs. Pica, Franky vs. Senor Pink). Doflamingo’s family is HUGE and it’s satisfying to see them all destroyed. Also, we get a bunch of Law in this arc, which is always great.
#3 Enies Lobby: I have heard with most fans this is considered the prime One Piece arc, and it is very close for me. I don’t think you can find an arc with so many consecutive, awesome battles. As the Straw Hats take on CP9, the entire building and fortress begins to fall apart and crumble, each fight taking it’s on toll on the surroundings. Once again, we get to see every character shine. And don’t even get me started on Usopp (Sogeking) sniping the World Government flag. SO DAMN COOL.
#2 Arlong Park: Arlong Park is THE ARC that got me into One Piece. After Buggy, Captain Kuro, and Don Kreig I didn’t know what to expect next. Then I met Arlong. Arlong is such a love-to-hate villain, and the whole arc involving Nami and Bellemere really got to me. The final fight in Arlong Park has not aged incredibly well, but it is still awesome, especially when Luffy absolutely wrecks the place. When Luffy puts his hat on Nami and then squads up with Zolo, Sanji, and Usopp is the moment that forever hooked me on the series.
#1 Alabasta: Alabasta is in my opinion not only the best arc in One Piece, but one of the greatest anime arcs ever made, period. If Arlong Park hooked me on the series, then Alabasta (And the whole Baroque Works Saga) showed me just how amazing the show can be. The plot focuses on such real themes: A kingdom in revolution, angry citizens impoverished through drought, a secret dark leader pulling all of the strings while parading as a hero. Crocodile is powerful, scary, and sneaky. This was the first time I had seen Luffy be beat, not just once but twice. The arc ends in all out conflict in the desert kingdom, brilliant fights from all of the Straw Hats, and a satisfying pummeling of Mr. 0 straight through a temple ceiling.
There you have it, my personal favorite arcs. There’s a bunch that didn’t make the list, but I still love anyways. Honestly the only arc I don’t care much for (and I slowed my binge on a little bit) was Thriller Bark. It ended up having a cool conclusion, the whole thing was just a little slow, and the characters weren’t up to standard.
If you are a One Piece fan, comment and let me know how my list compares to your own!