One Piece is one of Shonen Jump’s Big Three manga, so it hardly needs any introduction. Along with Bleach and Naruto, it took the manga world by storm in the late 90s and has remained just as popular over two decades, which is an exceptional achievement. Since chapter 1000 of the manga is closer than ever, the time is right to look back on its best arcs. To make it easier to pick between so many great and deserving arcs, we will focus on conflict, internal pacing, and art to determine which ones are better than others.
Punk Hazard is often overlooked because other arcs, like Whole Cake Island and Dressrosa, are more popular. Punk Hazard offers a new perspective for the Straw Hats. After getting stuck on a half-freezing cold and half on fire island, they have to navigate through a government laboratory run by Caesar Clown. The events in this arc have far-reaching consequences that can also be seen in the Wano arc. Smoker and Tashigi, who are some of the most popular characters, also return on the series in this arc. It is entertaining to watch enemies forced to team up to help one another out of a challenging situation.
Jaya focuses on dreams and introspects whether they are suitable for The Grand Line. Bellamy, a foul-mouthed pirate, makes fun of the rubber man when asked about sky island. Luffy and co. are surprised to find someone like him who has such a negative perspective on dreams. Bellamy is probably the worst kind of pirate there is, and he believes that people with dreams are weak.
Moreover, he also maintains that chasing One Piece is like believing in a fairy tale. Luffy realizes that irrespective of how passionate and persistent one is, there are always people who doubt and mock your goals. He learns never to let such people get under your skin. Luffy and Zoro avoid using any physical force on the pirate until he hurts Cricket. But, as soon as he makes a mistake, they can quickly put him into his place.
Across a plethora of arcs, Alabasta stands out because its significant buildup leaves the fans wanting for more. Therefore, it is not surprising that Alabasta is one of those storylines that stick with fans for many years. Vivi’s resolve to do what is right and respectful makes up for her lack of physical powers. Even the villains do a fantastic job of complementing the plot with their presence. Therefore, Baroque Works agents and Crocodile must be appreciated for being delightful devilish villains. The arc concludes on a sad albeit uplifting note, as Vivi asks the Star Hats if they are still friends while they are about to depart.
Every die-hard Oda fan knows that he wanted to tell a story like Arlong Park ever since he started working on One Piece. Not only does it explore the bond that Luffy and his crew have with each other, but it also introduces the viewers to Nami’s tragic past. Most Shonen heroines end up getting ignored, but that’s not true for Nami, who is given a central role in this arc. The “Help Me” scene in which Nami stabbed herself has remained ingrained in the memories of every One Piece fan who fell in love with the show/manga following this scene. The scene is emotionally charged as Luffy gives his treasured straw hat to Nami to keep her safe.
Sabaody Archipelago was one of the most unpredictable arcs of One Piece, and no one could say for sure what might happen next. Although the storyline begins with a fun romp but soon things get serious as Camie, the new mermaid goes missing. The prejudices faced by the citizens of Fishman Island is exposed as the crew fight it out against the Pacifistas. Luffy soon realizes that each of his crewmates is vanishing one after another. The honest arc makes it evident for the crew that they are not ready for the things that they might have to face in the New World.
It’s true that several other arcs, too, deserved to be listed along with the ones mentioned above. However, the listed arcs left long-lasting impressions and have remained ingrained in One Piece fans’ memories.