22. Davy Back
Davy Back Fight is one of the worst pieces of filler in the series, and that includes the anime! It’s a boring game that takes up a few chapters when you’re just dying to see what’s after Skypeia. The only thing of consequence is the confrontation with Aokiji, and besides that, you can skip it even on first read – I know everyone I introduce to One Piece does.
21. Thriller Bark Arc
Thriller Bark Arc Is another boring, inconsequential arc. Again, I recommend others to skip to the end where there is the confrontation with Kuma. It has this whole Halloween theme, and it’s supposed to be a nice laugh after the very serious tone of CP9 Saga; yet, it seems rather forced, and it’s sad because I wanted the introduction of another Schikibukai, Moriah, to be momentous.
20. Romance Dawn
The arc where we start our journey with Luffy. Honestly, it’s not bad – we get Luffy and Shank’s flashback, along with the Zoro joining – but it’s just not very memorable.
19. Buggy Arc
I hate Buggy. There, I said it. He’s just comedic relief and I find him annoying. The Buggy Arc isn’t necessarily bad, but I wanted more of the first real villain of the series.
Syrup Village was interesting to me. While I disliked nearly every character – even Usopp – the fight was very good. It was the first time we’d seen Luffy and Zoro go hard and it was amazing. On top of that, we got the Merry and that’s a plus.
17. Laboon/ Whisky Peak
The Reverse Mountain Arc sucked; Crocus was cool, and finding out he was on Roger’s ship was cool, but it didn’t mean anything to the story. What elevated this from being closer to the bottom was it being packaged Whiskey Peak, It was the first time an overarching saga, and we saw Zoro really tare up Baroque Works.
16. Little Garden
I like Little Garden because it was a really cool arc with an interesting fight and some awesome characters. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.
Some are going to disagree with me, but the Skypiea Saga doesn’t belong in any top-10 list. My issue with it is this: it’s long and drawn-out. Enel is a great enemy and may be one of the series’ toughest guys, yet he was introduced way too early on. I don’t want to see him return, but he came far too early.
Baratie is awesome. However, compared to the other arcs ranked higher than it, it just doesn’t make the grade. It was the first time we saw a Schikibukai, had other things in the series teased out – like other warlords – and we learned some of the mythos of the Grandline, even if some of that did turn out unfounded.
13. Drum Island
Drum Island was a great arc on all fronts: mythos, characters and a new nakama. First we got the introduction of Blackbeard, a mysterious, devastating character; we then got the introduction of zoan users, and the explanation of logia types as well. Finally, we got Chopper, a rather unique nakama, and were introduced to awesome character like Doctrina and Dalton.
Something that holds Loguetown down from being higher is the business with Buggy and Alvida. It felt stupid, and the only thing good was the execution scene. What does make it great is Dragon first appearing and the Smoker’s determination to stop Luffy and hunt him down.
11. Punk Hazard
Sadly, Punk Hazard didn’t meet the same standard I was expecting for New World arcs. It was underwhelming and the fights were mediocre at best. What does keep it from being lower is that Law and Luffy’s pirate alliance was formed, we saw the start of the Doflamingo conflict, and the return of Aokiji.
Arlong Park was the first time One Piece really got to me emotionally. I thought it was going to be a regular shonen manga, but it was something more. I always recommend people first getting into One Piece to read/watch to Arlong Park’s end to see if it’s for them, and it usually hooks them in. Coupled with the fishman conflict and badass fights, this arc is very good.
This was the culmination of Baroque Works Saga and it was very climatic. Seeing the innovation Luffy used in defeating Crocodile that Oda used was awesome, and, again, the revelation of the Ancient Weapons was astounding.
Some may not like it, but the biggest disappointment was the Sabo stuff during Luffy’s flashback. His supposed death was supposed to be emotional, but only knowing him for a handful of chapters was just underwhelming. Besides that, it was interesting to see how he and Ace met, and to see Luffy decide to train for two years.
7. Sabaody Arc
Sabaody was awesome for two reasons: the Supernovas and the Kuma incident. First, Oda overloaded us with so many awesome badasses with the novas. Each is interesting in his/her own right and they add so much tension in the search for the One Piece. Secondly, the Kuma Incident introduced us to another admiral, and it gave us the harsh reality: Luffy and the Strawhats are weak, and they need more training.
Honestly, nothing happened in the Return to Sabaody Arc, but there were cute/funny moments like Zoro ranking Strawhats based on the time they returned; though, it was great to see how they had changed. What made this combo great was Fishman Island. We had been teased about Fishman Island for so long, and to get there, see the race tension, and see some of the fruits of the two-year training was fantastic. Admittedly, Hody was an awful first return-from-timeskip villain.
5. Amazon Lily
I love Amazon Lily. Seeing Luffy come there, fight the Boas, and end up courting Boa Hancock’s favor was interesting to say the least. On top of that, having the whole slave/tenryuubito thing expanded upon even more made it a highlight in my eyes.
4. Impel Down
Fans are divided on Impel Down; obviously, I’m on the side that it’s a top-five arc. Having several characters return – like Mr. 3 and Buggy teaming up, and Crocodile – was a great surprise, and it being Luffy’s mission to save Ace made it very personal. Furthermore, the introduction of the Revolutionary Army members was cool, not to mention the revelation that Luffy is their leader’s son.
This is where the whole first half of One Piece culminated. We had all the big players in the world meeting, and the fights were amazing. Seeing who sided with whom was eventful, and the Ace death scene was so dramatic and effective that it hits you so hard. My only complaint, however, is the six-page fight scene chapters that had barely any dialogue.
Some will complain that it’s too early to judge the Dressrosa Arc and that it being so recent will affect my judgment – those people are wrong. Dressrosa is nothing short of spectacular. Between the Law flashback, the great fights, and the promise of what’s next, Dressrosa was an arc I didn’t expect to see so soon into the New World.
My top arc is the CP9 duo: Water 7 and Enies Lobby. It’s a masterpiece. Everything is so suspenseful that you’re on your seat the whole time. Robin’s backstory is heartbreaking, and the Strawhats determination to get her back and even go against the World Government is so touching. On top of that, the fights are amazing; each nakama is pushed to his or her limit. This is the arc that defines One Piece, and if you don’t cry whenever you watch Robin say “I want to live,” then you are emotionally bankrupt.