Do you like pirates? How about pirates with superpowers? How about pirates with superpowers that wage epic battles against bad guys with their own amazing abilities? Sound like something you’d be into? Well, then One Piece is definitely the show for you. It has some of most inventive characters of any anime I’ve ever seen, and with nearly 500 episodes (and counting), you can spend years having your mind blown by the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his loyal crew. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. The following is a breakdown of my 10 favorite One Piece episodes, in no particular order. Sorry in advance for any fan favorites I couldn’t quite fit on my list. Here we go!
Any discussion of One Piece has to start with the captain of the Straw Hats, the legendary Monkey D. Luffy. This intrepid rubber man dreams of becoming king of all pirates, and he never backs down from a fight. To figure out what makes him tick, you’ll have to go all the way back to Episode 04, where Luffy meets Red-Haired Shanks, the man who gave him his trademark straw hat and taught the boy what it means to be a true pirate. Luffy never strays from the example set by Shanks, and many of his adventures involve risking life and limb to help a new friend out of a tough spot. In Episode 396, he slugs a snot-nosed nobleman on behalf of a mistreated mermaid; Episodes 150 and 151 find him settling the score for a friend who knows the secret to sailing into the sky. Episode 126 showcases the brutal final battle between Luffy and Crocodile, the oppressor of Alabasta.
There’s no doubt that Luffy is a force to be reckoned with, but even the most powerful pirates need help from their mates. Lucky for Luffy, his crew is the best bunch of scallywags this side of the Grand Line. Check out Episode 65 to see Zoro single-handedly slay 100 of Baroque Works’ most feared assassins — or jump straight to Episode 88 and catch the tail end of Tony Tony Chopper’s origin story and the unveiling of the almighty Rumble Ball. Seriously. Do this immediately. Do it yesterday. And, if you can bear to tear yourself away from the most adorable pirate ever to sail high seas, Episode 95 has a must-see moment where Luffy’s brother, Portgas D. Ace, sets fire to the screen in a showdown with Smoker.
And then there were two! Hard to believe I’ve blitzed through eight episodes already, but that’s how it goes with One Piece. You can lose entire days watching the show, talking about the show, or talking about episodes that haven’t yet come out, but you can’t wait to watch. It’s an epidemic of pirate awesomeness. So awesome, in fact, that I’m going to turn my Top 10 list into a Top 11 list and clue you in to three incredible episodes from the Impel Down arc. Episodes 436, 437, and 438 feature Luffy’s battle with toxic Warden Magellan and the stirring reemergence of foe-turned-friend, Bon Clay. This amusing man of many faces risks everything to save Luffy from a poisonous onslaught that no mortal man has ever survived. You’ll cheer, cringe, cry, and maybe even wonder how they got a wolf-filled winter wasteland into the basement of a Marine prison.
So that’s my list. I realize I’ve probably disappointed – or enraged – some diehard fans, and that’s the greatness of One Piece. Once you start watching, you can’t help but become passionate about what goes in this crazy world of pirates and mystical powers. You’re welcome to try, but resistance is futile! — FUNimation copywriter Aaron Anderson
Watch Aaron’s picks back to back in this playlist.