Friday, March 7, 2014

List: Top 3 Story Arcs of One Piece

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One Piece is one of my favourite long-running Shounen, but like any other long-running Shounen, it’s hard to subscribe to on a weekly basis. I binge-watch episodes when I have a lot of time.

This means that I am not always updated on the story arcs. But there is nothing to worry about, I am currently in the middle point of Punk Hazard, so I’m just a story arc behind.

Please take note that this list is for animated story arcs only, and that it is updated from time to time, meaning that if a better story arc has been animated, the current entries in the list could change.

3. Sabaody Archipelago

            Sabaody Archipelago debuts at episode 390. The reason why I like this arc is its overall effect in the story of One Piece. The events in this arc drive the overall story of One Piece in a unique direction. I would go as far as to say that it is one of the major turning points of the story.

            Another major contribution to the overall story is the introduction of new characters, particularly the Supernovas. I get to see new characters that could have dramatic effects in the story. It makes things more interesting and complicated in a good way.

Also, I particularly like the landscape of these islands. They have some of the most original natural wonders of the One Piece world. And they’re not random too. They’re somewhat connected to the Fishman Island arc.

2. Alabasta

            Alabasta debuts at episode 78. The reason why I like this arc is the fact that this is the point where One Piece starts to get really good. Don’t get me wrong. The preceding arcs are good, like the Arlong arc, but Alabasta is just on an entirely different level that it carries One Piece to extraordinary heights.

            One of the things that make it great is the introduction of certain plot points and plot elements that significantly expand the possibilities in the One Piece world. The most important of these are the Poneglyphs, and the characters Nico Robin and Portgas D. Ace. These three factors are significant players in the overall story of One Piece.

            Looking at the story arc as standalone, it is still really impressive. The story is very complex and action-packed. It is also very emotional, not to mention that it has one of the most iconic scenes in all of One Piece. (One Piece fans will know).

1.  Water 7

Water 7 debuts at episode 229. The events in this arc are not as impactful to the overall story as that of the other entries. (But still impactful). The reason why this is personally the best One Piece story arc could be seen if you just look at Water 7 as what it is -- a story arc.

The story arcs of One Piece generally have a pattern. They have blatant beginnings and blatant endings, giving the impression of a monotonous storytelling. Water 7 is arguably the only story arc that flows smoothly to the next.

The writing is generally better. Water 7 is perfectly paced, and that’s something, considering that One Piece has some major issues when it comes to pacing. This arc has consistent plot development, even though most parts are all talk and no action -- the important thing is that something is actually happening, unlike other story arcs that waste time.

Pictured: Not a waste of time

Another thing that makes it different is the fact that it features some conflicts among the Straw Hat Pirates, particularly those that involve Usopp and Robin. It’s not always a happy crew. Considering that One Piece is a long-running Shounen, that’s great, because long-running Shounen is not very known for this kind of plot points. This opens the main characters to interesting interactions and character development.

Even though the events in it are not as impactful as the other story arcs in the list, it delivers well as a story arc. It’s well-paced and well-structured, traits that practically every One Piece story arc lacks.

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  1. Despite my negative comment about Shounen in the past, I do not hate it by any means, but the Big Three (and four if you include Fairy Tail) have never appealed to me due to the length and animation. Basically, what I am trying to say is that I have nothing against the long series, but I have never really wanted to watch, at least not right now, but I would start one it might be One Piece since the little I have seen of Naruto I did not like it much. Anyway, I have heard a lot about how the Alabasta story arc being the point where One Piece actually starts to get interesting.


    1. Long-running Shounen has been the one that sucked me in anime, so the number of episodes never really intimidated me (because I was a kid, I had so much time in my hands to watch all the episodes). But in our current age bracket, it could be pretty hard to start a long-running Shounen because it can consume a lot of our precious time.

      Let me give you some precautions though. Long-running shounen is a highly flawed genre. The story is not as masterfully structured like 12-24 episoders. The story is just very complex that it is almost impossible to perfectly pull off, unlike 12-24 episoders. But it's really a fun ride. You would grow to really love the characters. (After seeing them for hundreds of episodes, how could you possibly hate them).

      Out of the long-running Shounen titles out there, I think the best that would suit your taste is Hunter x Hunter 2011. But then again, you are free to choose whichever of the titles you want. Let me just remind you that it does take a lot of your time.

    2. Exactly, it is completely understandable for anyone to still watch long-running Shounen they started the series at a younger age.

      Thank you for the precautions. That is what I thought in regards to quality. I know what you mean about growing to love the characters in a love series, I had a similar feeling with several American series that I watched before I became interested in anime.

      Thanks for the recommendation! I will have to look into Hunter x Hunter and see if I will want to watch it at some point.


    3. Hunter x Hunter 2011 is the long-running Shounen that uses cliches and tropes the least. The pacing is also good, and it doesn't have hundreds of filler episodes like bleach and naruto. I think it's mostly canon, loyal to the manga.

      No problem! I hope you like it!