The following post has mild spoilers in it. The pictures show a small sample of a big moment
Welcome to post three of The Month of One Piece! One Piece has been around for 20 years of storytelling. That is a lot of manga to cover, but like many series in the shonen genre, it is split up into many Sagas. And those Sagas split off into the individual story arcs themselves. In the two major halves of One Piece there have been 9 Sagas total, and a whopping 30 overall arcs split between them. Today I count down my Top Ten favorites of the bunch. Spanning 2 decades of content, and over 850 chapters of comics, the numbers are abundant here. I won’t be covering Whole Cake Island since it is still ongoing, but everything else is fair game! These are when the long adventure narrative was at it’s best for me. Let’s sail and find which ones were worth treasuring!
10. Fishman Island
Now I bet this would be a surprise to many, since Fishman Island isn’t exactly the most show stopping arc in One Piece. Coming off the heels of the first half and the major climax that was Marineford, new arcs had a lot to live up to. I like this arc for several reasons though. One, it is the first true time we get to see our whole crew fight again after the time-skip, and two it has so many connections to past parts of the series. We have Jimbei and his return, we have Tom’s brother, we have Arlong’s sister, and Camie makes her reappearance as well. Lots of little things sprinkled in to make it a fun time, so you see how far things have come since we first began. A solid backstory for its people as well, and the biggest thing of all, an introduction to Big Mom. Fishman Island may not be as hype, but it has high comedy value(Sanji can’t take those mermaids!), and it establishes lots of small ideas for bigger things to come.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Sanji’s nosebleed to almost death.
Favorite Moment Drama: Otohime’s backstory and her devotion to her family.
9. Thriller Bark
Thriller Bark and Skypiea are two arcs that I see get shat on a lot. Which is total nonsense if you know some of their importance to individual character growth rather than world impact. First off, we get Brook, the 9th, and to this point most current addition to the Straw Hats. I feel it fits nice and snugly in between the Enies Lobby and Impel Down parts before and after it too. We need something a bit more fun and less heavy. How about an almost Halloween themed story arc with some of the most creative fights in the entire series. Bink’s Sake comes from here, and having a character connected to someone Oda made over 400 chapters prior, once again shows how much forethought is put into his craft. I think of Thriller Bark as one of the most fun arcs despite it’s grim and bleak setting. When I can get basically a Kaiju boxing match with zombies, and also the first real time the whole crew fought one lone badass enemy, well I know things are kicking up to a notch of strong excitement.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Usopp defeats enemy because he is already too negative.
Favorite Moment Drama: Tie* Binks Sake/Zoro takes on Luffy’s pain.
8. Water 7
This arc starts off emotional as heck with a fight over the Merry. The ship can’t be repaired and it causes a legitimate showdown between Usopp and Luffy in one of the best clashes of the series. The outcome of this fight changes the dynamic of the Crew for the next several dozen chapters in a way that makes you long for it to be repaired. Mix in a new funky cyborg character, an air of mystery of who Robin truly is, and the arc that leads into one of the biggest game changers of them all, and you have a recipe for importance. Water 7 doesn’t have the biggest moments, that is for certain, but it does in fact have some of the most pivotal set-up to its following arcs.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Sogeking premieres!
Favorite Moment Drama: Usopp quits the crew after Luffy beats him.
This is the first true big arc of One Piece to me. This is the first time the Straw Hats make such a massive splash it gets worldwide attention. The fight for Alabasta has a plethora of great things at the core of why it is so great. For me of course Vivi is number one. To this day she ranks as one of my favorite non-straw hat members to be in the series. Her journey is difficult and long, but the payoff is so so sweet. Stepping up the story to global affairs, and also showing the difference in stakes, Alabasta is when One Piece starts being at its best, and never stops. Luffy even almost dies in this arc, and this is only one of a small handful of times he has gotten that close to true defeat. It has one of the series best villains Crocodile, introduces Robin in all her intrigue, and makes each and every Straw Hat try and fight on their own for the first time. Alabasta is the formula for why this series became what it is. It may not be as strong as some other arcs, but it damn well set the tone.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Karoo in the desert. What a trooper he is haha.
Favorite Moment Drama: Breakfast Club arms in the air goodbye to Vivi.
This has possibly one of the most tragic backstories in all of One Piece. The land in the sky that is Skypiea is fascinating. It changes our setting for the first time, and makes the fight about not the Grand Line or pirates, but about what is right. Eneru is one of the most vile villains to date, and cemented his place as a true monster in his path to becoming a god. I find it interesting how this sub-plot that isn’t connected to the main world at all made such an impact. It really changed the game for smaller characters and allowed them new ways of fighting for the future. I also rather enjoyed the fact that despite how strong the adversary was, Oda actually made Luffy have the advantage for once. Rubber man versus a master of electricity. A fun twist on the formula of always making the good guys have to figure out a special way to win. Skypiea is just great as a standalone junction in the overall story of One Piece, that showed the moral compass of our Crew and how things could be turned on their head.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Eneru realizes Luffy is a rubber man.
Favorite Moment Drama: Skypiea backstory.
This is one of the shortest arcs in the entire series. It only spans seventeen chapters, but it holds more content than any other 17 subsequent chapters in the entire story. This is the aftermath of Marineford and what leads into the time skip. This shows us how the crew splits for two years, and how they fight to grow until they meet again. Oh yeah, and we get the backstory for the main character so there is that too. Luffy is now a fully realized character with a deeper part of who he is, and the loss he just received is all the worse knowing why it matters so much to him. If anyone thought of him as just mindless before, I shudder to think they still would after the Post-War arc. This is possibly the most emotional section of the entirety of One Piece, and how it sets up the future is in a big big way. Short and impactful at its finest.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Seeing the ludicrous things Usopp and Sanji go through.
Favorite Moment Drama: Ringing of the bell.
Hoo boy, this is the longest arc in the 20 years of One Piece’s narrative. Thankfully it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. An incredibly satisfying backstory for the land of Dressrosa and Law as a character, tons of high profile over the top fights, and plenty of surprises along the way. Doflamingo is easily up there with Eneru and Akainu for easiest baddie to want to punch in the face. Sadly Doflamingo is unphased by almost everything. He has the entire country at his disposal and plenty of strong backup to protect him. The road to just stopping this mad man was intense and really a thrill to behold. Dressrosa has a nice slow build-up to one of the finest climaxes of the series. Only bested by the Top 2 spots in that regard. This arc is similar to Alabasta, but if everything was kicked up several notches in gravity. It is fantastic and a great place to make the series feel like its picking up steam for HUGE things to come.
Favorite Moment Comedy: God Usopp is best god.
Favorite Moment Drama: Law’s backstory.
3. Impel Down
I’ve been surprised a lot in One Piece, but the number 3 and 2 spots definitely have the biggest ones of all. Luffy going in on a full prison break to save his brother is thrilling by itself, but when you imagine One Piece, do you really think it will be a standard run of the mill prison? Heck no! It involves Luffy breaking out past villains who team up with him, in a mash up of bizarre teams. No Straw Hat crew for the first time since the very beginning here. Nope, Luffy is on his own and must fight with whoever is willing, and when those people are Buggy, Mr. 2 Bon Clay, and Crocodile, well shit I don’t even know what I’m reading anymore. Impel Down just kept upping the ante over and over again with its stakes. Luffy once again almost dies and needed saving. Things are at a pure frenzy, and you think it would be calm when he reaches Ace, but it only segues right into the largest climax of the series. The climax of the first half of the entire story.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Mr. 2 and Buggy helping Luffy and one planning to kill him and the other thinks they are true friends.
Favorite Moment Drama: Luffy wins the rematch against Magellan.
All out war has broken loose, and it’s all because of Luffy. Pirates versus Marines in a fight to the death all around. They even kill two major characters in the One Piece universe during this massive fight all centered around saving a man who is about to be executed. They set up a fight like no other, and even take lives to make you understand how serious this level of war is. Impel Down is a win for the villains of the story. It creates true heart break and the excitement levels are never higher than this part. This is really a preview of what to expect at the end of the series, I can see that right now. Marines Versus Pirates with the whole Straw Hat crew being present to support Luffy. That is why it falls just short of the top spot, a lack of the other crew members, and the devastating ending to the whole mess. Impel sets the importance of fighting for your life like no other, and I salute it for that.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Laughing? You did read this right?!
Favorite Moment Drama: Shanks stops the fight.
1. Enies Lobby
How about the part of the series that has my favorite moment in all of One Piece. The burning of the flag, and Robin finally saying what she wants. I relate to Robin a lot in that struggle, and seeing it was touching on a whole other level. Mixed with the burning of the flag that basically means the Straw Hats became one of the biggest enemies of the entire Marines. They declared all out war on them, and while the two factions haven’t truly met on the grand stage, this is the moment that starts what is clearly going to be towards the end of all of One Piece. Also, ALSO, this arc has in my humble opinion the best one on one fights that occur concurrently to each other in the entire series as well. Huge implications of the narrative, my personal favorite moment in all of One Piece, and some of the finest fights equal what is hands down my favorite arc in the series. One Piece is full of great stories, and Whole Cake Island will definitely nab a spot once all is said and done, but as of now, this is my favorite part of the entire adventure.
Favorite Moment Comedy: Sanji still can’t fight a lady and makes life hard for the others because of that.
Favorite Moment Drama: I want to live!
Well that is all folks! What are your personal top arcs in the series? I’d love to know somewhere on the interwebs when I share this! It was a lot of fun recounting what sections stood out the most to me over these past few years I’ve been reading it. One Piece has been a fun ride for such a long time, that sometimes I forget what makes it stand out so much for me. All of this reminiscing is what I call a bountiful experience. Going and reaching for those times that made the series sit in your heart so dear. I can’t wait to continue sharing all the different aspects of One Piece I love with you, but until then, see you on the ocean my little wanderers!!