One Piece Arcs Ranked: 25-21
Updated: Nov 21
In celebration of Netflix's live-action adaptation of the anime, I will be ranking most of the many story arcs (fillers included). These are just based on my personal opinion. So, here are arcs 30-26. Also, like with my Fairy Tail rankings, if there are any secondary paragraphs, those will be more spoiler-filled.
The final arc (in canon) of the East Blue Saga and the last stop of the Straw Hats before the Grand Line. The island where Gol D. Roger was executed and the place where the Great Pirate Era began. It's also the island that introduces three key figures: Smoker, Tashigi, and the unnamed cloak man (of course, fans know who it is). At this point, viewers have only really seen the worst of the Marines. Here, we meet Smoker and Tashigi who represent the best of the Marines by actually upholding the law and protecting citizens. Of course, that still makes them enemies of the Straw Hats with Smoker's smoke powers proving too much for Luffy (also the introduction to various Devil Fruit types). Tashigi and Zoro's interactions are pretty funny and set up a good rivalry between the two. The return of Buggy and even Alvida was a nice touch as final antagonists. This arc sends the crew off with a literal bang and major battle with each character getting their moment and in the end all of them proclaiming their dreams to each other as a final scene.
24. Amazon Lily
Picking right up where the Sabaody arc left off, Luffy finds himself stranded on a mysterious island populated by only women who most have never seen a man before, leading to a truly hilarious scene. This is the first time we see Luffy truly alone and it makes for a new dynamic as he makes it on his own, struggling to get back to his crew. Here, he runs into Pirate Empress Boa Hancock who at first seems like the next main antagonist with solid action scenes in an arena before her horrific past is revealed. After that, the arc is mostly a set up for the Summit War as Luffy learns about Ace and prepares to go rescue him. This arc was meant as a light buffer between the major ones and helped flesh out the world even more. Still entertaining and fun, but not the best.
23. Return to Sabaody
This arc brings the Straw Hat crew back together after two years apart so that they could train themselves for the second half of the Grand Line. Each of them sports a new look and each is ready for the new challenges with this arc showing a preview of their new power levels. In their absence, some impostors attempt to capitalize on their success and pretend to be them, leading to disastrously funny consequences. But the standout moment is when Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji face off against a Pacifista, something they were forced to run away from the last time they were at Sabaody. Now, with their training, it's nothing but an annoyance to them. This arc is just the introduction to the second half of One Piece and it shows just how powerful this crew is now. Which is good, cause the threats only get bigger from here.
This arc really has two things going for it: the introduction of the Straw Hat cook Sanji and the fight between Zoro and Mihawk. Sanji is yet another crew member with a tragic backstory. However, true One Piece fans know that this arc only tells part of it as we see how he and Zeff almost starved to death and the bond that grew between them. Still, the main antagonist of this arc, Don Krieg, is a dull and boring villain with no redeeming qualities and while the final fight between him and Luffy had its moments, they pale in comparison to the other fights. His right hand man, Gin, would have made a much better overall antagonist for the arc but he still got a cool fight with Sanji at least. This arc would have fallen to the wayside if it hadn't been for Hawkeye Mihawk, the greatest swordsman in the world, and his duel with Zoro that shows just how outmatched Zoro is and how far he has to go to achieve his goal. The whole concept of a floating restaurant was done really well as well as the slow build-up to Nami's betrayal. There were some other moments that stood out as well, the main being the character duo of Johnny and Yosaku who are, in my opinion, criminall underused in the story and sadly left out of the live action series. But, the story still drags at times and thus falls just short.
21. Punk Hazard
This arc, while lacking in several areas, is still one of the most important arcs as it is the one that sets off everything leading to the Wano arc. Bringing back fan-favorite Trafalgar Law as an ally against the Emperors and setting up Doflamingo as the next major enemy while introducing major characters Kin'emon and Momonosuke as well. It also gives Smoker and Tashigi another chance to shine after being absent for a time. The antagonist Caesar Clown is easily up there as one of the most aggravating and punchable, making his beatdown that much more satisfying, especially considering all of his crimes. Vergo was a much better antagonist with several satisfying fights, the final strike with Law being one of the most epic moments in the whole series. Still, the story did start to drag in some places, especially at the beginning, which is why, despite its important, its ranked so low. Still a solid arc that gets the ball rolling for the rest of the story.
And there's the next batch. Thanks for reading and check back soon for 20-16.