One Piece is a story about a boy who wants to venture into the world of seas & wonderful places, lead his life to the fullest, and find the legendary treasure One Piece to become the Pirate King left by the former Pirate King, Gol D. Roger. During his journey, he meets many people, some become his ally, some adversaries, some join his crew to aid him to reach the goal while having their own ambitions & goals, and some who are even fit to be the main character of the story. This journey spans over two decades and a thousand-plus chapter and it’s still ongoing. One Piece has become a legend as much as the longest-running shows like Sazae-san and Crayon Shin-chan and has built a world that rivals that of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, if not better than them. When they hear about it, many people get astounded by its sheer length and often ignore it even though some are interested. Sometimes they get annoyed when people keep bugging them about what they are missing.
At this point, One Piece has touched on many genres such as battle series, comedy, thriller, political drama, war, fantasy, superpower, action-adventure, and has managed to excel in those that it truly feels like peak fiction. If anyone is interested in One Piece but confused about how to start on this, then fret not as I will guide you through this mystical adventure to ease the journey you will be taking.
Everything One Piece
Let’s get the elephant in the room out. So far, as of writing this, One Piece has 31 main story arcs in 11 sagas. The manga has 1065 chapters in 105 volumes. Every chapter contains 18–20 pages. The front cover pages have their own stories featuring some recurring characters. The story progresses with each cover page. There have become 25 cover-page stories by now. Some cover pages feature an illustration of the main characters, and they can tell a small story. The readers request some of those arts via letters or Eiichiro Oda drew out of his whim. Then there is the SBS Corner (Shitsumon o Boshū Suru = I’m Taking Questions) where Oda answers questions from readers that he receives via letters.
Now here comes the anime. The anime by Toei Animation has reached 1040 episodes in 20 seasons. It is not aired season-wise, it’s running nonstop continuously since 1999 with little hiatuses. The episodes are just separated season-wise according to the main story arcs for ease of navigation. The episodes are 20-ish minutes long. There are 16 anime-only or filler arcs and 5 of them are aired as movie prologues. There are countless other individual filler episodes as well. There are 10 special episodes featuring side stories and 3 of them are crossovers. There are a few recap episodes as well. There is a pilot episode of One Piece by Production I.G titled “Defeat Him! The Pirate Ganzack” & its event happens after the 2nd arc.
The anime has 24 Opening themes and 18 Ending themes. The ED stopped being added after episode 278 for some reason and OP is lengthened to 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Besides the original run, some specials were also aired with various lengths. There are 13 TV specials. Other specials being 5 Featurettes, 9 specials with standalone stories, 13 recaps, and 4 prologues to movies (some of them are TV Specials).
There are 15 theatrical movies and 2 of them are recaps.
Please note that there will be a list of everything on the next page in order.
Where to start?
Well, there are many places one can start from. The best way to experience One Piece is to read the manga first and foremost. That way one can experience the way the author originally intended. It’s also faster and has no filler.
The anime starts a bit differently than the manga which is fine and handled well. But most people find the beginning a bit monotonous sometimes. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any great moments in them. I’ve already touched on that subject so check that out. So, if you are an anime-only watcher and want to get to the good parts right away, then start from episode 277, right before the Water Seven arc. This arc does everything right. The characters don’t need the extra introduction. Them just being themselves can tell what they are about. The dialogue feels natural, and the interactions and the conflict fit the atmosphere of the plot. The plot is great, the stakes are high, and the fights are pretty hype. The main battle sequences and the build-up to that are just too great. The fights are handled masterfully as well. One battle’s area of effect & collateral damage affects another battle, the characters are always dynamic and switch opponents that are suitable for them. And after the fight, there are big revelations that build the world further. There are even flashback episodes for every main character to catch up on the prior events. The whole saga is 119 episodes long (from 207 to 325) and there’ll be a rundown of what’s canon and filler on the next page. If makes you interested in One Piece, you can go back & start watching from episode 1.
If you want just the brief One Piece experience, then watch the Film Gold. It’s basically a summary of what One Piece is. It starts with character introductions & their powers as well, it shows how the world truly is beneath the surface, it has an intriguing villain who often relates to other canon villains in various aspects, and it shows the bond & faith among the crew. The cinematography, music, fight scenes, storyboarding, pacing, everything is handled masterfully. The story is written by Eiichiro Oda himself. Everyone including haters who haven’t watched/read even a little bit of One Piece, I highly recommend they watch this movie. They don’t have to watch the entire series to get what’s going on, the movie can stand out on its own.
Read the manga and stick to the manga. Watch some of the fight scenes and some moments being better in the anime as I’ve mentioned them in down below in detail.
If you find the beginning part harder to get through, then start from chapter 319 & episode 227 because things get serious from here. Come back to watch/read the beginning later if you are interested.
If you are starting from the beginning, then stick to the manga because it’s canon only. Watch the Reverse Mountain arc (ep 61–63) in anime since it’s better. Then continue with the manga. Once you reach the Drum Island arc, watch the anime (ep 130–154) since it’s well put together than the manga, then move on with the manga again. After Sky Island, watch the G-8 arc (ep 196–206), which is anime only. Then again, continue with the manga. In water 7, watch episodes 235 & 236, and in Enies Lobby, start watching from ep 284. After Water 7, continue with the manga. Watch ep 377 in the Thriller Berk arc. Later on, manga or anime, both are fine. But stick to the manga until the very end. Some significant moments from the anime are ep 767 in Zou, ep 870 in Whole Cake Island, & the entire Wano arc starting from ep 891.
Whether you are a manga reader or anime-only watcher, it’s best to know the difference between the two and get the most out of them since some aspects were handled differently for the better or worse. In some scenes, the anime ruined the experience, and in some, it got much better because of the narrative choices the anime staff managed to improve on. There are some moments where the manga isn’t as good either. Also, there is no issue of you choosing one over the other entirely as there aren’t any major changes. BTW, both Japanese & English dub is good so that also depends on your preference. So, this is a guide on which did better, what fillers to avoid and which route can maximize the experience.
1. East Blue Saga
1. First is the Romance Dawn arc. The manga starts when Luffy’s still a kid when he met Shanks and starts his journey as a pirate. But in the anime, it starts with somebody else’s perspective and him meeting Luffy in the sea. In episode 4, it shows the event from chapter 1. I think the transition is cool with Luffy’s straw hat flying off in the wind, then Zoro catching it & then showing Shanks putting it on. The anime first introduced the main character and later his past. Which one you prefer is totally up to you. This arc consists of chapters 1–7 and episodes 1–4.
2-5. Next are the Orange Town, Syrup Village, Baratie, and Arlong Park arcs. I would suggest going over these in the manga. New characters become part of the crew in the future & a lot of easter eggs are in these arcs. The world-building steadily progresses as well & future events are subtly hinted at. The anime plays out the same but adds titbits of extra stuff that are fun to watch but might become a drag for those only interested in the main plot. The music and the animation are good so it’s good to keep an eye on the anime as well. These arcs consist of chapters 8–95 and episodes 4–44.
6. Now, the Loguetown arc. I suggest you watch the anime & read the manga since a few things are different in both. The anime gives breathing room after arriving at the Loguetown & we spend some time with the characters separated from each other in their shenanigans. The anime handles the main plot well as it progresses through the filler elements. Both are worth a shot. It consists of chapters 96–100 & episodes 45, 48–53.
Episode 46-47 focuses on a cover story from manga chapters 35-75, which I would suggest skip it & read from the manga.
6.5. The Warship Island arc is a filler. If you want a laid-back experience with ample comedy, of which some are really funny, then watch it. Otherwise, skip it. It consists of episodes 54–61.
2. Alabasta Saga
7. We’re finally at the end of the saga & beginning of a new one in the Reverse Mountain arc. Honestly, I recommend you watch the anime instead of reading the manga. Why? It’s simply better. It’s not too long, to the point, and has the best comedy sequence yet to date, which is the main reason I’m recommending it. The anime has given us something that can only be enjoyed on the screen. And I guarantee you won’t regret it. This arc consists of chapters 101–105 & episodes 61–63. Some filler elements are in the beginning but you can skip them.
8. Soon after, we get in the Whisky Peak arc. Both anime & manga is good here. But I suggest the anime. This arc consists of chapters 106–114 & episodes 64–67. After this, episode 68-69 features another cover story from chapter 83-119. On which again I suggest the manga.
9. No we’re in the Little Garden arc. The anime drags it a bit but okay if you don’t nitpick about the early 2000s style of pacing. Nevertheless, read the manga. It consists of chapters 115–129 & episodes 70–77.
10. The 10th arc of the series Drum Island is a bit short but drops subtle hints & information crucial to the series. As for which one to choose, I recommend the anime. The manga has a bit hiccup in characterizing a pivot character. It might even give the wrong idea about him. But the anime does this right from the narrative perspective. And also, the storyboarding & music are pretty good. There are a lot of heartfelt & character-defining moments too. This arc consists of chapters 130–154 & episodes 78–91.
11. We’re finally at the end of the saga, the Alabasta arc. Congratulations if you made it here because this arc slaps. Even little fillers in the anime feel surreal and a room to breathe. There are some minor differences between the manga & the anime but none of them ruins anything. The comedy in the anime works well. But the main attraction here is the manga because it’s more concise & to-the-point. But it’s not short, it’s a bit longer than the other arcs. The artwork looks amazing as always & the action scene is pretty well made and the ending hits hard. This is where One Piece reaches its peak from the storytelling perspective, character-defining aspect, and delivering a hype action sequence. It consists of chapters 155–217 & episodes 92–130.
There is a Post-Alabasta arc in the anime only from 131 to 135, featuring a little R&R after a big finale. Watch it if you want another laid-back experience & a bit of comedy.
3. Sky Island Saga
11.5. This saga starts with 2 filler arcs back-to-back in the anime. Goat Island & Ruluka Island. There isn’t anything significant so you might as well skip them. But watch them if you want another laid-back experience. They consist of episodes 136–138 & 139–143 respectively.
12. Okay, the first canon arc of the saga is Jaya. It’s kind of a steppingstone into something really big as the whole world starts to get wary of Luffy. It is another important arc that deserves much attention. You can watch any of the anime & manga, both are fine. It consists of chapters 218–236 & episodes 144–152.
13. Next is the Skypiea arc. This is a bit different since it’s disconnected from the seafaring world & introduces different lore that is crucial to the story & world-building. Some may find it a drag because it is disconnected but it is probably the most important arc in the entire series. So, I suggest the manga for this one. It consists of chapters 237–302 & episodes 153–195.
13.5. In the history of anime or probably television, this is the best filler arc of all time. The G-8 arc is made in such a way that it feels completely canon. This is what happens when things happen to Luffy instead of him deciding what to do. The narrative choices, storyboarding, sound design, dialogue, the comedy, especially the comedy is extremely good. The vibe is suspenseful instead of the hype fights we see in every arc. It feels like Eiichiro Oda himself wrote the story of this arc. The characters feel like characters, the plot doesn’t feel forced, and the pacing is just perfect. It is a must-watch. The G-8 arc consists of episodes 196–206.
4. Water 7 Saga
14. Long Ring Long Land arc consists of chapters 303–321 & episodes 207–219. Read the manga & finish this ASAP because this arc is tedious. Now, aside from my personal feeling, this arc has some elements that are topics of much discussion in the community and hints towards future events. It has sub context inside sub context. The comedy is fun, a bit. This has the legendary “Afro Luffy”, which is undeniably the coolest thing One Piece has ever done. This also has one of the most broken devil fruit powers. So, it’s worth a shot.
14.5. The anime added 2 filler arcs again back-to-back. Ocean’s Dream & Foxy’s Return. These are casual & fun to watch. But it’s totally up to you whether you want to watch or skip them. Or come back later to finish off the pros & cons. They consist of episodes 220–224 & 225–226 respectively.
15-17. Now, the long-awaited, Water 7, followed by Enies Lobby & Post-Enies Lobby. For simplicities sake, I’ll divide them into 5 parts. Starting from ep 227 & chapter 319, things get really serious in an instance when Aokiji starts being serious. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). Things start changing drastically. The Water 7 section lasts from chapters 322 to 364 & episodes 229 to 255. During this section, a lot of things happen. Internal conflicts, espionage drama, suspense, major world-building & lore, a cliffhanger, and resolve to overcome the obstacle ahead. Then the sea train chase is covered in chapters 365–374 & episodes 256–263. And then the cream of the pie, the Enies Lobby Arc, chapters 375–430 & episodes 264–290, 293–302, 304–312. The in-between episodes are sidestories so you can skip them. Episodes 279–283 are flashbacks or recaps for every main character. Watch them if you started from Water 7. After that, there’s Post-Enies Lobby, which is the cherry on top of this massive saga. It consists of chapters 431–441 & episodes 313–325. Some fillers have been added in episodes 317–319. Anime, and manga, both are fine. Pick your poison. But the voice acting and the emotional OSTs are something not to be neglected. And the animation isn’t that bad either. So, get both of them if you can.
Remember when I said, in Alabasta One Piece reaches its peak? Well, forget that. This is the height that other fictional stories dream to reach. You’ll see why I recommended the newcomers to start from here.
5. Thriller Bark Saga
17.5. Starting this saga off with another filler in the anime. There are fun moments in this but it’s also a drag. The Ice Hunter or Lovely Land arc consists of episodes 326–335. Episode 336 is also a sidestory, which is from a cover page of the manga. Watch it if you have extra time.
18. Here One Piece enters the horror genre in the arc of Thriller Berk. It consists of chapters 442–489 & episodes 337–381. It starts with a spook, followed by some fun time & ends with a bang. I recommend going over this in the manga. But the anime delivered some killer moments from ep 373 & I do recommend watching the anime from there. It has a heartfelt soundtrack, a well-animated action sequence & killer voice acting. It’s another height One Piece has reached.
18.5. Episode 382–383 is filler, spending some with the new members in the Spa Island arc. Some fun moments here, as usual, there’s no other reason to watch this. Episode 384 is however a must-watch. It’s a relaxing episode with a warm tone & a peaceful soundtrack at the end. It’s good to take a detour sometimes.
6. Summit War Saga
19-23. Sabaody Archipelago, Amazon Lily, Impel Down, Summit War & Post-War arcs are one of the most epic storytelling in history. I suggest you read the manga for this entire saga as the anime has a few changes that might affect the experience. Watch the anime only if you are interested. The arcs consist of chapters 490–513, 514–524, 525–549, 550–580, & 581–597 respectively, and anime episodes 385–405, 408–417, 422–452, 457–489 & 490–516.
There are some detours & fillers episodes in anime. During Luffy’s trip to Impel Down and trip to Marineford, they added the manga cover stories in episodes 418–421, and 453–456. These are canon & taken from chapters 543–560. Just reading through the manga is good enough. Episode 492 is a crossover episode, another sidestory. Episodes 426–429 cover a filler arc & act as a prologue to the Strong World movie. A note, even if you skip these anime prologue episodes, you won’t be missing anything from the movie, they are just there to make announcements for the upcoming film. That’s all.
7. Fish-Man Island Saga
24. After 2 years of time-skip, in real life as well, the crew is back in Return to Sabaody arc. I recommend reading the manga since the anime made some terrible choices. You can watch the anime for the animation & such. This short arc consists of chapters 598–602 & episodes 517–522.
25. Below 10,000 meters the sea level, there is Fish-Man Island. Read the manga for this one as well because the anime drags on for no reason. It consists of chapters 603–653 & episodes 523–541, and 543–574. Episode 542 is a special, crossover episode that you may skip.
8. Dressrosa Saga
25.5. The first this you are in the New World and the anime gives you a filler arc. Z’s Ambition arc lasts from episode 575–578, which is a prologue to the film Z. Again, if you don’t watch it, you won’t be missing anything from the movie. It’s just here to announce that a movie is coming out and show off some drip from the characters. And if you are reading the manga, then there won’t be distractions like this.
26. Punk Hazard arc is the first canon arc after entering the New World. It’s an interesting arc & worth spending time on here. The anime is good too as it delivered some well-animated fight scenes. And the anime is actually easier to follow through than the manga. This arc consists of chapters 654–699& episodes 579–589, and 591–625.
26.5. Episode 590 is another crossover episode that’s in the middle of the Punk Hazard arc. IDK why they even try to be annoying when the arc itself is that long. And it’s not like it was aired on an occasion or something like an anniversary. Anyway, skip it or watch it if you like distractions.
Caesar Retrieval arc is a filler one and lasts from episodes 626–628. It calls back something familiar from way back. Anime-only watchers might like this.
27. Finally, the title arc, Dressrosa. This arc is tediously long and a bit of a drag because It’s Oda’s first time handling such a mammoth arc with a lot of named characters and a huge location. Best to stick with the manga which is from chapters 700–801. The anime is from episodes 629–746. You can watch the main fight which starts in episode 723 and ends in 733. The beginning of the fight is handled well but it gets dull as it progresses. Toei remembers that it’s their job to make it a drag. Some other episodes are also handled well such as Kyros’ flashback (ep 675-676), Trafalgar Law’s flashback (700-706), Zoro’s fight (719), & Fujitora’s badass character moment (735).
It’s usually the anime that picks up the slack the manga leaves behind & fixes issues. But here the Toei did dirty with this arc to milk money as much as possible by stalling, dragging, & slowing the pacing. The art & animation is really bad, and the sound design often feels odd. It was atrocious back then when it was airing.
9. Whole Cake Island Saga
27.5. Silver Mine arc, ep 747–750, filler, prologue to the film Gold. Watch it, skip it, your choice.
28. Zou or Elephant arc is one of the single best arcs in the entire series. It consists of chapters 802–824 & episodes 751–779. There is no fighting or major conflict rather it acts as the perfect beginning to something huge. It’s like a breathing room after a long fight. It sets up for the upcoming events, the artstyle starts changing, & opens a new door for the series to take. This is one of the rare ones where the anime is better than the manga here. Watch it & experience it yourself.
28.5. It’s another filler, in episodes 780–782. The Marine Rookie arc is actually a fun little arc that gives a laid-back experience. Kinda reminds me of the G-8 arc. Luffy inspired some marine soldiers again. I would definitely watch it.
29. What happens when Oda enters the Hyperbolic Time Chamber in the Dressrosa arc & learns the way of masterful storytelling that involves almost 100 named characters, multiple plot threads, 78 chapters & 95 episodes? You get the best-crafted arc in storytelling history. The Dressrosa arc was a new experience for Oda & worked as a training arc for him. The Whole Cake Island arc is the new peak of the One Piece series. The manga consists of chapters 825–902 & anime episodes 783–877. The anime is pretty good too. There isn’t stalling anymore, the great moments received much care, managed to set the mood very well, & gave us a fight in ep 870 that broke the internet. Watch, read, your choice. But episode 870 is a must-watch & did better than the manga.
30. The LevEly arc is another R&R after the huge Whole Cake Island, but a suspenseful R&R. It shows the impact of the prior event & sets up for the new one. The anime added some recaps which may or may not have been necessary. But we’re almost at the 900-episode mark so they added them to refresh the memory a bit. This arc consists of chapters 903–908 & episodes 878–890.
10. Wano Country Saga
31. This is the only saga with the title arc. Wano arc consists of chapters 909–1057. The anime starts from episode 891 & still ongoing. One Piece gave us back-to-back hype arcs involving a grand & epic story. This is another peak One Piece managed to reach. It also introduces a new artstyle & character design that fits the overall aesthetic. The anime also looks gorgeous with its vibrant color schemes & fluid animation. So, watching & reading is a treat for this arc.
31.5. There are 2 filler arcs within this saga & they are the Cidre Guild & Uta’s Past, both consisting of episodes 895–896 & 1029–1030 respectively. The first one is the prologue to the Stampede movie & the latter one is the prologue to the Film Red.
Episode 907 is aired as the Anime 20th Anniversary Special featuring an alternate timeline story. Same deal with these as well, watch them if you have time, otherwise skip them. But Uta’s Past might have something for the movie, so if you are interested in the movie & need some lore, then watch this arc.
11. <unknown> Saga
32. This saga starts with the Egghead arc from chapter 1058. Nobody knows what to call this saga. Some started calling this the Final, but I’m not sure. If you made it this far, then the manga has already moved on ahead. Is it worth waiting for the anime? IDK. Reading the manga is the safest since there are spoilers everywhere. And watching the anime after doesn’t really ruin the experience. All got to say to you is congratulations. You caught up.