Greatest Anime Story Arcs of All Time

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK! This is a list of the greatest story arcs throughout all of anime or Manga.

The Top Ten

1 Marineford Arc (One Piece)

The greatest anime arc. Has the best build up to the events and absolutely mind blowing scenes and fights.

This was the greatest story arc from One Piece and is part of the reason the show has remained so big to this day. An all out battle between some of the strongest people in the series we get to see Luffy Shine like he never has before. This arc marked the shows halfway point and makes it hard to believe that there are some even stronger foes later in the series.

It basically changes the complexion of One Piece. Till this point, everyone would think that Luffy and his crew were so strong and the show was just about them beating everyone else. But, then this arc introduces so many special characters that will just boost the interest level of everyone watching the show! Truly amazing!

This was the best anime arc, there will ever be. There was fighting strongest pirates of all times, they introduced Whitebeard, at last. Shanks was there to stop the pointless fighting between retreating pirates and marines, which almost killed their own. TOBI.

2 Soul Society Arc (Bleach)

It is one of the best arcs I have ever seen. Simply this was the arc which got me addicted to bleach.

Best arc from Bleach. Has a lot of twists and turns with great fights scenes. - SeirezZ

For seinen, nothing tops the Golden Age Arc from Berserk, for shonen, nothing tops the Soul Society Arc from Bleach. Period.

Excellent, one of the best arcs in manga history

3 Invasion of Pain (Naruto Shippuden)

This arc in Naruto has to be some of the best written fiction I've read. The theme of hatred and revenge is executed brilliantly. In this arc what was more important than any of the fights, was the dialogue. Ideals between the protagonist and the antagonist were clashing. During the big fight, they fight over who's ideal is right. But on the way to meet the mastermind the protagonist changes the way he thinks. Meeting up with the mastermind, the protagonist doesn't kill him. Their similar ideals and past clash, but this time in a war of understanding. Two humans coming from a similar situation, one fell into despair, hatred and wanted revenge. While the other raised above it, to prove that there is a chance for world peace without causing more unneeded hatred. This is what the arc really asks us, the viewers. If someone has hurt you, do you ask why or do you act with hate? To top if all off, The protagonists return to the village. The same village which had held hatred towards him. ...more

Good story overall,pain was easily one of the best villians in hole Naruto

This was in my honest opinion the greatest part of Naruto's story. It was in this arc that we finally get to see Jiraiya's past life in full and learn where the Akatsuki started and who the leader is. This arc was even the big reveal of one of Naruto's parents. The feels the music the story-line everything about it was pure art and this is where Naruto finally got what he always wanted... to be respected, accepted and loved by the whole village. I am sure someone who has not been following the series would read this and say so what but from the perspective of a true Naruto fan this arc carried so much weight with it because it was the turning point of the entire story.

What I’ve seen from anime so far, just plain and simply the best arc in any anime ever.

4 Chimera Ant (Hunter X Hunter)

You don't get better villains or better plot in this arc. This arc not only has some of the most intense fights, but it also makes a statement about what it means to be human. The antagonist of this arc, the Ant King, is one of the most well crafted villains I have ever seen. His character development is incredible, and honestly is straight up badass. There is no filler at all, and each decision--and I mean EACH--that a character makes results in some advancement in the plot, some sort of self-learning. This arc is also extremely dark due to its message about nuclear warfare and its use of blood and gore. One of the best arcs I've seen.

I think this arc is the best thing I have ever seen in my life and his greatness is equal to the greatness of all the other arcs in hunterxhunrter . it is so cool so fantastic so realastic by the way . I believed that human is way worse than ants they destroyed the world and make all the living things suffering

Almost 20 years of watching anime, I can say this arc is the best I've ever seen in anything I've watched. It's literally a masterpiece which outshines all other anime/arcs with ease

This arc had everything you could possibly want in an anime, cool battles, character development, emotional events, tragedy, and joy. It touched on the philosophy of the human race as a whole, ethics, and true friends and what they really mean to us.

5 The Promised Day and Final Battle Arc (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)

Amazing arc. I couldn't have asked for a better closure for such a great anime.

Wow, just everything about this arc in the storyline makes me want to burst out in tears of sadness and happiness. Why does all the higher arcs have to be the big 3, you know one piece, bleach, and Naruto, when clearly this arc is a masterpiece? I don't know, but the character development, the massive emotional effect, and the amazing villains and plot is what makes this arc phenomenal!

It is just a masterpiece arc. Everything here is brilliant and it produced one of the greatest endings in anime of all time. Seriously brilliant! - Kiteretsunu

The fact that this isn't at number one really bothers me. This show is fantastic as a whole and it has so much depth it really deserves that number one spot. If you haven't seen FMA Brotherhood you need to remedy that immediately because oh man are you missing out.

6 The L Arc (Death Note)

That death meant the end of Death Note for a lot of the fans out there,and it was a good ride

How great this arc was doesn't even began to compare to how crappy the second arc was

A very Intellectual and sinister story this story was an amazing battle of wits between two incredible Geniuses to catch Kira a mass murdering killer. This is the first part of Death Note and is made Amazing by the Mysterious detective L this is a must see arc and will have you sucked in by the first few episodes.

25 episodes of pure perfection. The psychological battle between Light and L was so epic. Every episode had me on the edge of my seat. This a a top notch anime. The best thought out anime off all time. There was never a dull moment

7 Frieza Arc (Dragon Ball Z)

Frieza is the most ruthless, cunning, vile, wicked, corrupt, and evil villain in the history of all anime and animation in general. He is tender yet suspenseful; he is effeminate yet deadly... He deceives through a comical mannerism and a sarcastic wit; yet is extremely dangerous and bloodthirsty.

The Frieza saga portrays Toriyama's vision as he had originally grafted it, without altering anything based on fan preference. It was the initial concept to which the series unfolded; The struggle of good versus evil portrays the wicked with emotion; Frieza has feelings of his own, and the audience has the chance to comprehend him.

The sinister Lord Frieza is the most vile conqueror the universe has ever known. Along with his brutish henchmen, Zarbon and Dodoria, Frieza's wrath is spread across the galaxy as his reputation precedes him. His vicious tendencies are paralleled only by the very fear that resonates through the very mention of his name.

Frieza saga to be best, beginning with the Saiyan conflict between Raditz, Nappa and Vegeta... to the three-way guerrilla war making a battlefield of Namek, where Zarbon, Dodoria, and Cui take on Vegeta, who later joins forces with the protagonists to take down the Mercenary Squadron of the Ginyu Force... and the eventual rise of the Super Saiyan, Goku... who faces Lord Frieza to halt the tyrant's threat. This was Akira Toriyama's masterpiece.

8 Chunin Exam Arc (Naruto)

Best Naruto arc,great characters introduction,great fights,this arc just put the foundation for the hole plot

Not only is it the reveal of the main villain but also shows everyone that Naruto is skilled and not some dumb kid. Best arc in the first series

This arc is what got to watching Naruto it was great with lots of twist and turns like bleach's soul society arc

An amazing arc, and what got me INTO Naruto. If it wasn't for this arc I can honestly say that Naruto wouldn't be all that high on my list. The epitome of the arc came with Lee vs Gaara, which was insane. I've shown the fight to people who don't even watch Naruto/anime and they were pumped.

9 Phantom Troupe Arc (Hunter x Hunter)

This arc kinda remind me of Pain invasion arc from Naruto. I love how it focuses more on the villains rather than the protagonists and fleshes them out as real humans with their own things not just obstacles for the main characters to overcome.

The best Hunter x Hunter arc, second would be Chimera Ant arc.

I like this arc better than Chimera Ant Arc.

Easily a great master piece

10 Sasuke Retrieval Arc (Naruto)

Favorite arc of the series BAR NONE. The character development in Choji, Neji, Kiba, and Shikamaru is what makes it for me. The individual battles are mostly great in themselves (Kiba's was ok) but seeing the characters all come to terms with their own demons before they are about to die (Kiba Neji Choji) is what is makes me love it so much. Then my favorite episode of the entire series of Naruto when the sand come in and save Shikamaru Kiba and Lee is INSANE. Lee vs. Kimimaro and Garra vs. Kimimaro are also good fights. All of this climax's into Naruto vs. Sasuke and the dramatic fight meets all expectations and then some. The best arc of Naruto and got me attached to the show.

This arc shows us the ending the first half of the Naruto manga. In this arc we get to see whats expected of Naruto in the next half of the series. We also get the Battle we've all been waiting for between Sasuke and Naruto. Not to mention we get to see some of our favorite characters throughout the series fight agianst some of Orochimaru's toughest followers and did I mention Sakura is only in it briefly.

My Favorite arc of all, this arc is amazing

Lol, but this arc goes on for like the whole anime...

The Contenders

11 Cell Arc (Dragon Ball Z)

This was the first anime arc I've ever seen. I remember watching this on Cartoon Network when I was 7 years old. I think this is the most badass arc and has one of the most unique story lines in the Dragonball universe. Trunks coming back in time to warn the Z fighters about the threat of the androids was such a huge moment of my childhood. Granted certain arcs on this list may have better plot development, I have to put this as my favorite because this arc is what started it all for me.

This has my favorite ending, and gohan, after seemingly letting his dad down so many times, finally makes name OF HIMSELF AND HE EVEN GETS TO BE MANAGING TO KILL CELL IN BATTLE! - HeavyDonkeyKong

Although a mixture of Terminator and Terminator 2 movie, It's one of the great arcs.

How the hell is this number 19? This should be in the top 5. If not number 1

12 Majin Buu Arc (Dragon Ball Z)

Majin buy is both the funniest and most difficult to defeat and therefore his arc should have a lot more episodes then that of vegeta

th ebest

13 Kishin Revival Arc (Soul Eater)

The battles were so epic

Boku no Pico greatness!

14 Grand Magic Games (Fairy Tail)

One of the greatest tournament arcs ever. Filled with emotion, epic moments and great music.

One of the best tournament arc. Gives many characters chances to shine with their unique abilities. Never a dull moment. - SeirezZ

This is a cool arc where we get to see a lot of Fairy Tails strongest characters throughout the series collide in battles ranging from running on chariots, playing hide and seek, to tag team battles.

When I first saw this story arc, I was like "Damn, since when did Fairy Tail get so God dang strong? Especially Lucy since she barely fights at her max." After watching this arc I have basically gained a new found respect for everyone in Fairy Tail. If they weren't awesome before, they sure are now. Although I wish we got to see Lucy fight more because she has a lot of untapped potential.

15 Female Titan (Attack on Titan)

This is an arc I have a love-hate relationship with. I love all the fight scenes, particularly when Levi and Mikasa team up to take on the female titan, as well as who the reveal of who the female titan is, but that cliffhanger! Still, I can't wait to see how things will progress from there in season 2.

Best plot twist

Super epic arc!

The female titan vs. Eren battles were pretty badass

16 Yorknew Ark (Hunter X Hunter 2011)

It introduced the Phantom Troupe, had an unrivaled shonen ED, and had some of the most badass fights in the entire show. It's the reason why I even had the motivation to watch through the regrettable Chimera Ant arc...

Good and interesting fights

By far the best arc in the greatest shonen manga/anime series of all time. It's crime-thriller meets battle shonen. It's extremely exciting, well written, well paced, and avoids cliches like the plague. I can watch this arc over and over again without getting tired of it!

Not only the best arc in hunter x hunter, but of the best arcs in anime of all time. It was also created to be so, Togashi is a genius and this is his dissection of the shounen genre.

17 Future Arc (Katekyo Hitman Reborn)

Best arc ever in my opinion. The intricacies of time travel and character development were well presented in this arc.

If you said this is the worst, then you have some serious issue, this probably the best arc so far in the whole series

This was the Worst Arc of Hitman Reborn the story got really stale.

Amazing, best arc in anime history

18 The Homunculus Arc (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Awesome and underrated arc

Not as good as Chapter Black

This arc gives the homunculi more depth and establishes goals that they have reasons to want accomplished. FMA Sloth will always have more depth than FMAB Sloth! - Elric-san

19 Saiyan Arc (Dragon Ball Z)

Okay I'm just saying that this arc was amazing this was an all out battle between Goku and his rival Vegeta. The start of this arc is pretty much training for everyone but the fighting was awesome.

It was so interesting and so epic, especially the fight between Goku & Vegeta. Even the fight with Raditz was cool. I loved it!

This should be higher on the list. Goku vs Vegeta is one of the best fights in all dbz history, and it was in the saiyan arc. I'm telling you, it is awesome.

I thought all the villain saiyans were cool.

20 Enies Lobby Arc (One Piece)

Deserves waay more than 19, should most definitely be number one, an arc that combines complex storytelling and incredible world building, This is what makes it truly amazing and unique

"I Want To Live" Left me with chills - DanoMR98

From the epic march towards the lobby till the great escape whilst the gigantic buster call. Not to mention the epic fights, specially Luffy vs Lucy which is quite possibly the best anime fight of all time. This arc had it all. This arc is certified to leave you overwhelmed.

So many iconic things happened in this arc, I think it deserves to be in top 5 - smill

21 Aogiri Tree Arc/11th Ward Battle Arc (Tokyo Ghoul)

so good

22 Forest Training Camp Arc (My Hero Academia)

This arc had some of the best fights of the series, really turned the show from great to a contender for best show of all time.

Deku vs muscular, enough said.

yas

23 Tartaros Arc (Fairy Tail)

Tartaros arc really is one of the best arcs in shounen history, the way each plot point winds up in the end is spectacular, it has amazing rewatch potential too as you notice something new with each watch. The deliora /silver reveal was just perfect

It was pretty good although erza was hella overpowered in it

Easily the best arc to ever grace long running shounen history. All of these developed characters get their own time to shine. And because they've all previously had arcs focusing on them, you now know who they are, care about them, and want to see them succeed. Also had tons of feels and hype moments. Puts the likes of HunterxHunter's crappy Chimera Ant arc to shame.

Well paced, and shows off how much each character's back stories play into the overall story

24 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai Arc (Dragon Ball)

Each fighter had their own flavor and approach to fighting. The backstories and personality clashes were expertly done giving you a true sense of what most of the fighters were there for. Although the fights were pretty simplistic, the jokes and and strategies were well executed.

Seriously guys, we are so many arcs here, just AT LEAST ADD them, for God's sake!

25 Arrancar Arc (Bleach)

LOVED IT it introduced major important characters like grimmjow ulquoirra and NNortia

This arc I have to say is better than the soul society arc because the in this arc, it shows the vizards, espadas, and hueco mundo. It brang more character development to the soul reapers and arrancar. This arc is not a downfall to bleach, it is bringing bleach to the next level of greatness.

Ehhh not as Good as Soul Society but still awesome!

ULQUIORRA AND GRIMMJOW ENOUGH SAID

26 Sports Festival Arc (My Hero Academia)

Easily the best MHA ark. Needs to be at least in the top 20. - Solacress

Enjoyed that Midorya lost in quarters

27 Aincrad Arc (Sword Art Online)

Started this list with this in the top 10 What the neck people you need to watch this show.

28 Search for the Eighth Child Arc (Digimon Adventure)

An insanely gripping arc from start to finish and the reason Digimon gets its good rep. intruging plot. High levels of suspense. Rven higher stakes. A show that seemed at first like a Pokémon ripoff establishes itself as a strong vehicle for fantastic storytelling, impressive character developing, and airtight plotting. A kids show no more.

29 Hueco Mundo Arc (Bleach)

Best arc in bleach. We got to see great characters like ulquiorra, grimmjow, stark.
Not to mention the chemistry between ichigo and orihime and ulquiorra. - admister300

This deserves a better position on the list.

I loved this arc! - RJM1996

Best arc ever

30 Arlong Park Arc (One Piece)

The fight between the Straw Hats and the Mermen was awesome. And Luffy managed to save Nami and Coco Village in the process. I loved this arc!

The hat scene and subsequent march toward Arlong Park are my favorite scenes in all of anime/manga

Took me forever to find this here. It's certainly a favorite arc of mine. So much emotion and action.

I was still not able to really appreciate One Piece until I started this arc.

31 'The Major' Arc (Violet Evergarden)
32 Varia Arc (Hitman Reborn)

This is perhaps the greatest arc in Hitman Reborn where we get to see the future mafia boss really shine. In this arc the son of the current Mafia boss challenges Tsuna for ownership of the family rings the right of the next mafia boss. Tsuna and his friends train and become extremely strong in this arc really letting us get to know them.

One word: Xanxus!

This list is so jumbled now back when it was made it was so close to if not perfect now it’s juts the most seen anime’s on top not the best.

THIS SHOULD BE HIGHER YOU FAIRY TARDS

33 Piccolo Daimao Arc (Dragon Ball)
34 The Dark Tournament Arc (Yu Yu Hakusho)

Okay Yeah I realize that some people think that there are arcs that trump Yu Yu Hakusho but this story arc was a classic several battles between a bunch of opponents through teams fighting supposedly one of the strongest people in the world who has lost his way. This was an arc the stands the test of time.

Best arc ever. I could watch it a hundred times over. Great characters and Epic fights

Awesome the best season of all

It was one of the most action packed and emotional arcs I've ever seen. Consisting of five best of 5 battles and a lot of awesome story in-between, all 5 members of the Yurameshi team transform vastly improve their abilities and grow as people during this arc. From Hiei mastering the dragon of the darkness flame, to Kurama regaining some abilities from his former self, to Kuwabara's heroic fight against Team Masho to Genkai's back story finally being told to Yusuke's transformation from immature teenager to protector of the world and subsequent epic final fight with Toguro, this arc is what made me an anime fan and is why Yu Yu Hakusho will always remain my favorite anime of all time.

35 Kaori & Kousei Arc (Your Lie In April)
36 Fourth Shinobi World War (Naruto Shippuden)

One of the worst arcs in Naruto.

Underrated Arc. Gets too much unnecessary hate.

Best arc in naruto - tawhabinnasir

Easily the best

37 Chuck and Ray Arc (Eureka 7)
38 Heavens Arena arc (Hunter X Hunter)
39 Shogun Assassination Arc (Gintama)

How is this arc on no. 38 this should be in top 10 Gintoki is badass we got to see the most awaited fight

One of the best arc in shonen history Gintoki is badass it has some of the best anime fights

The best ending to any arc ever, amazing fights and character development, a must watch.

This should be higher on the list because it was incredible in every way posible

40 Century Soup Arc (Toriko)
41 Red Ribbon Army Arc (Dragon Ball)
42 Aicrad Arc (Sword Art Online)

Okay a show about virtual reality in an MMORPG yeah every little kids dream. In this world where if you health bar reaches zero you die this anime arc is sweet and you would never guess the amazing twist at the end.

I'm always surprised to see how my list has changed. This is the 10th time I've gotten on here and I find it odd that this one changes the most. However, I still consider it to be my favorite arc out of the list well it or the Naruto Pain Arc.

I only like the three first episode of this arc because it showed combat great loss, but things went bad in this arc. They filled it with romance and ruin the whole thing. This arc would have been better with no romance and not stopping the arc at episode 12. I'm disappointed

Not everyone thinks the same way you do. Has its flaws, but I still love it. - ModernSpongeBobSucks

How did this move down so much I started this list with this in the top 3. If you haven't seen it you need to its possibly the best anime story I've seen.

43 Thousand Year Blood War Arc (Bleach)

Yes this is currently a manga only arc but this arc is full of so much content that it would be a crime not to put it on this list. Ichigo really struggles in this arc agianst the new enemy A character that we thought was unbeatable is utterly defeated in an amazing twist of events. We learn several answers to questions about bleach several dealing with Ichigos power and past. Lastly the Zero Division finally appears in the series.

I haven't even read the manga... But still my finger went on its own to vote this arc... Waiting for the anime... Its epic

Can't wait for it to be in anime form

Just waiting for the anime

44 Fake Karakura Town (Bleach)

Now I know a lot of people will probably look over this, or ignore it, or straight up disagree with it, but I just have to voice my opinion. The fake karakura town arc is just amazing. This was the arc where pretty much all of the espada died, and there is no better way they could have went out. The battle between coyote stark and Captain shinsui/Jushiro was just beautiful. It's been awhile since I've watched bleach, mainly because the whole fake zanpacto arc threw me off while I was waiting for the fake karakura town arc to continue. All I can really say is that I loved it.

This arc was the main attraction.
It all started from SS arc and ended in this arc.
This should by the best arc anyway...
It had so many epic fights. ,so many characters died, gin and rangiku's story ( crying ), aizen power, ichigo' s dangai training, urahara+ isshin+ youruichi vs aizen was the best part to me, and the most anticipated fight of that time ICHIGO vs AIZEN happened right before our eyes... Just amazing, amazing, amazing,
But still I can't get why people vote for arrancar and hueco mundo arc anyway?

45 Tenrou Island Arc (Fairy Tail)

This starts off as just a test to see who will become the new S Class wizard of Fairy Tail. With Fairy Tails Strongest characters fighting among one another the start of this arc alone is good. However when One of the strongest wizards of all time shows himself the Island gets invaded by a Dark Guild This story arc is fantastic and there is an ending that begs the question, What happened?

This might be the best Fairy Tale story arc, but this does not deserve to be anywhere near the top ten list. Fairy Tale is a show that has great potential but desperately poor execution.

Definitely one of the greatest arcs in Fairy Tail. Fairy Tail developed it's own unique pattern since Phantom Lord: laugh, hype, cry, laugh, repeat. But it mastered said pattern with this arc. Plus this arc gives some great development to one of the most important but formerly one of the most underdeveloped characters aka Natsu Dragneel.

This Arc should be at the 5th or 8th. This is an epic Arc and I was cry really hard when I watched. Hope Fairy Tail will get better and better. Go Fairy Tail!

I love this arc! The opening song is the best, and also, I like all the fighting that was happening. The characters were all so strong. If the conclusion was not as predictable, then I would vote for the grand magic games arc, but I mean...I love the plot twist in this arc, and the ending is spectacular!

46 The Band of Seven Arc (Inuyasha)

This arc was the peak of the entire series

This is my favorite arc in all of Inuyasha because of all the cool, kick-ass characters like bankotsu and jakotsu, and the way it all leads up to, well you'll see and if you'd already watched or read Inuyasha, you know what I mean by EPIC!

47 Nagoya Arc (Owari No Seraph)
48 GGO Arc (Sword Art Online)
49 Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
50 Chapter Black Saga (Yu Yu Hakusho)

Why so low one of the best anime of all time I guess the new generations haven't seen this masterpiece a must watch!

Best tournament arc out there (maybe the naruto one is close )

Very underrated. Best arc and best villain.

A masterpiece shouldn't be this low

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