So which are the best One Piece arcs?
The best One Piece arcs are:
- Enies Lobby
Below are the reason why.
Why it’s good
Here we are at the number one spot, and a well deserved one it is. Wano is the ultimate arc that is the culmination of the entire New World saga, beginning way back in Punk Hazard with the pirate alliance between Straw Hat and Heart Pirates. To put things into perspective, the extent of Wano’s hype from the birth of the legendary Samurai Shimotsuki Ryuma to the general mystery regarding its inhabitants leads all the way back to chapter 450. This was during the pre time-skip period at Thriller Bark where many exposition was dropped such who Kaido was and his history with one of the Shichibukai Gecko Moria.
The number of secondary characters in the arc is absolutely insane and will easily put any other arcs to shame in this regard. There are the supernovas (biggest line-up since Sabaody Archipelago), CP-0 of the World Government, and Swords of the Marines. There are also the inhabitants of Wano such as O-Tama, Momonosuke and the Red Scabbards, the yonko Kaido and if that weren’t enough, Big Mom, another powerful Yonko joins the fray. The number of characters and their dynamics has allowed the author to focus on many themes in this arc – one most prevalent being about loyalty and betrayal.
Have I also forgotten to mention one of the most legendary figure in the story, the man known as Kozuki Oden? The man that awed the likes of Whitebeard and the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger. The man that travelled on both legendary ships and reached the mythical island which they named “Laugh Tale”. This man gave us the most hyped backstory in One Piece and showed us something we never expected to see, Whitebeard and Roger in their prime clashing. His tragic end was emotional and real, but he also left with one of the best quotes in the series that is very self-reflective of the themes Oda has portrayed in earlier arcs – that a man only dies when he is forgotten. Oden couldn’t have cared less if he was forgotten, because he knew that his flame would never die.
They can forget me, for all I care. My soul will live on!!Kozuki Oden
Why it’s good
Skypiea to me is what One Piece is all about, a fantasy adventure. I don’t think anything is more adventurous and fantastical than going to a sky island, an island that is literally on the sky. The thrilling atmosphere of the unknown and the unique premise of the island made Skypiea work extremely well. The arc feels like a standalone series seperate from the main story-line, however if we look deeper, Skypiea is extremely relevant and is beginning to become more and more relevant as the story progresses. The primary antagonist of the arc was also the absolute best with some of the most broken abilities in the entire series. Comedy in the arc is probably the best it has ever been with some of the most perfectly executed gags and how well it balances along with the more serious events that transpire.
After landing at Jaya, the strawhat pirate crew look for information regarding Sky Island and whether it’s even possible for it to exist. They meet the descendant of the infamous Mont Blanc Noland who was a man executed for supposedly deceiving his king. The king had travelled to find the gold Noland had said to have existed, but when he reached the island it nowhere to be found. The descendant, Mont Blanc Cricket want’s to prove for himself whether his ancestor was a liar by discovering the gold and clearing his family name. The Straw Hats visit Mocktown, a relevant name for a town that mocks men for dreaming where they meet Bellamy, a non-believer who ridicule Luffy for even fathoming the thought of a Sky Island. On the other end of the spectrum, they also meet Blackbeard, a pirate who announces that dreams can and will never end. The method of which the author manages to c0me back full circle to these events that transpire early in the arc is what makes it the very best.
Let’s talk about how this arc is becoming more and more relevant as the story has progressed. First, is the ability known as Mantra. This was the arc that first revealed the concept of Haki and its abilities. As the story has progressed, we discovered that mantra is in fact, Haki, and more specifically, it’s Observation Haki. We also see the first instance of Haki can be incorporated into ones devil fruit powers. Enel was able to sense individuals at ridiculous distances by amplifying it’s powers using his lightning powers. This is similar to how Luffy incorporated armament haki into his Gear Fourth ability. Because he is rubber, his coated armour can become squishy, which catches Doflamingo off guard in Dressrosa.
An extremely relevant theme that One Piece has portrayed in the overarching storyline is also displayed in a smaller scale in Skypiea. That is, the concept of D as “God’s natural enemy”. Enel is the self proclaimed god of Skypiea much like the World Government’s Celestial Dragons are also the self proclaimed God of the world. He appears to be an all powerful banevalant force in Skypiea with literally no figure being able to remotely damage the man, except for Luffy, who is a D. His rubber property make him literally Enel’s natural enemy. Enel cannot damage Luffy with any of his most powerful abilities and Luffy manages to defeat him. In the process, Luffy sounds the golden bell which accomplishes to wrap up multiple storylines, the promise of the Shandians to Noland that dates back centuries, the end of the war between Shandians and the inhabitants of the Sky Island, Mont Blanc Cricket’s proof that Noland was not a liar and that Sky Islands exist, and finally the end of Enel’s tyrannical ruling.
3. Enies Lobby
Why it’s good
Enies Lobby is an arc which many unanimously agree is the best arc in One Piece and for good reasons. The arc is packed with mystery, action, drama and many heart-throbbing moments. This was the greatest and the biggest battle the Straw Hat pirates had ever faced. It tested their dynamics as a crew and whether they were a team worthy to become the top or to crumble and disappear. There is the case of Usopp, a man growing significantly more and more insecure, realising that he is only a burden to the crew. Then there Nico Robin, the Straw Hat that is least trustworthy amongst the crew, a girl shrouded with a mysterious past and an unreputable history with other pirate crews. Luffy faces a crisis and for the first time, becomes tested as a Captain when events out of his control transpire. Finally, there is the World Government and their twisted plans to keep the world under control.
When the Straw Hat Pirates land at Water 7 to fix their degraded ship, they discover from the local shipwrights that the ship is beyond saving. Luffy receives this information and makes the decision as a captain to build a new ship and leave the Going Merry behind. Usopp, although understanding that the ship cannot be saved, cannot bring himself to leave the ship behind because he too feels that he is not strong to continue sailing the rough seas ahead. His frustration makes him leave the crew and challenges Luffy to a very emotional 1 on 1 fight. At the same time, the crew cannot find Robin and she seems to have betrayed the crew. As if things couldn’t get any more twisted, the World Government has been spying on the mayor of the city, looking for blueprints of a ship that has the power to destroy islands.
Right when all hope is lost, the crew discover Robin’s sacrifice and decide to journey to Enies Lobby and save her from the hands of the World Government. They challenge the World Government by destroying the flag which is a masterful visual storytelling that signifies the crew opposes the very existence of the organisation. Everything from the strawhat line-up, robin shouting that she wants to live, to the crew destroying the Word Government flag are beautiful sequence of events that makes the scene a classic.
Let’s not forget this is also the arc where the story officially solidifies four members of the crew, Usopp, Robin, Franky and the Thousand Sunny and also the arc where we say goodbye to the Going Merry with a very emotional farewell. The story made us cry for a ship. That is how well the story was written and executed.
Why it’s good
This was the second most anticipated arc in One Piece, second only to Wano. It had a build up that dates as far back as Alabasta, with the introduction of Ace and his hunt for the ex-member of the Whitebeard pirates, the mysterious pirate Blackbeard. Almost every legendary figures we know in One Piece were present during this legendary battle. Blackbeard, Whitebeard, the three admirals, the Shichibukai, Ace, Shanks, etc. This battle was at an unprecedented scale where Luffy was nothing but a small fish in a large pond. It was also an emotional one too, with the death of Luffy’s loving brother Ace and the man he looked up to, Whitebeard. Whitebeard was truly a legendary man who died in the most badass way possible, while standing. Throughout his entire career as a Pirate, he never ran from a fight, and never suffered a scar on his back. There were so many memorable moments in this arc as well, such as Akainu vs Whitebeard, Mihawk vs Luffy, Luffy’s entrance into Marineford, Whitebeard’s appearance and his devil fruit powers, Blackbeard stealing Whitebeard’s devil fruit powers, and finally Shanks appearing to stop the war.
Marineford begins with Ace getting captured by the Marines after Blackbeard turns him in to become a Shichibukai. The Whitebeard pirates and their alliances charge into Marineford to attempt a rescue for Ace. Prior to the battle, fleet admiral Sengoku had gathered the entirety of the Marine force to counter the inevitable rage of the strongest man in the world while Whitebeard had gathered his Alliance. Mind you, the Marines were so scared to fight one single Yonko that they needed to gather their entire forces. Blackbeard was also getting much stronger as he had infiltrated Impel Down and gathered strong crew members in the prison. These were the three primary forces about to gather at Marineford. When the battle ended, although the Marines were victorious, Blackbeard was the one that actually benefited from the fight.
Important facts regarding certain individuals and and places were also revealed. This includes Ace being the son of the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, and Whitebeard declaring that One Piece does exist and confirming that it is indeed real.
Why it’s good
This arc contains arguably the best antagonist in the series. The evil, cunning, and powerful man called Crocodile of the Shichibukai. This was the first man Luffy lost against. Prior to this, Luffy was stomping any villain that came in his way with very minimal effort, but Crocodile was different. Again, to put things into perspective, prior to Crocodile, the first Shichibukai we witnessed was Dracule Mihawk. Mihawk was a man so powerful that he handled Zoro as if he was a child and liked to casually chop battleships in half when he was bored. We had absolutely zero idea of what to expect from another Shichibukai, and Eiichiro Oda used that to his full advantage with many twists and turns that resulted some very surprising outcomes.
Alabasta begins with Princess Vivi joining the Straw Hat Pirates all the way back at Whiskey Peak. Her country has been targeted by a certain organisation called Baroque Works. The leader of the organisation, Mr. 0’s secret identity is Crocodile, one of the Shichibukai who is supposedly working for the world government. Crocodile seeks to take complete control of Alabasta and build the ancient weapon Pluton. Vivi must stop Crocodile and the war that will eventually start between the Royal guards of the kingdom and the common people involving millions of people.
Crocodile is extremely evil and intelligent. Without a moments hesitation, he is willing to murder millions of people to further his own goals. He is also extremely powerful. When Luffy first fights Crocodile, he cannot touch him due to his Logia devil fruit powers. During their first fight, Luffy is agitated by Crocodile’s cruelty and acts with emotions but Crocodile stabs him with minimal difficulty. Luffy, the man that we all thought would be a man of his word was utterly destroyed. This was completely unfathomable and extremely surprising. There are countless instances of these surprises riddled on this arc. Eiichiro Oda knows exactly the kind of expectations us fans have in mind and can flawlessly use that to his advantage and deliver us with some very hard-hitting moments.