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)

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.

Best anime ever

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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.

This is by far the best arc I have ever watched. It really showed us what bleach is at it's prime and never failed to impress us in this arc. The mysterious, yet interesting captains gave us so much tension and excitement on further battles. The first time we all heard "BANKAI", the time we saw how captains interact, how soul society(crappy version of heaven) works, the soul reapers motives, etc. The time one major PLOT TWIST happened and blew our minds to be one of the most badass antagonist in anime and manga history.This was the time Bleach story rose up to be one of the best arcs of all time. This anime introduced me to the anime world and I did not regret watching it and I loved every second of it even though with shortcomings.

Only this Arc is my favorite. The rest is... ( I don't need to say it you guys should know). The author making too many filler arcs and doesn't explain the characters' life or power much so I give up on bleach. The main reason is that I hate the main character ichigo so much that I can't keep watching bleach at all.

Excellent, one of the best arcs in manga history

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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

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.

This story arc was amazing we get to see Naruto face an enemy that the story has been building up to sense the original Naruto series. Naruto gets to meet a special someone and the girl we all love from the show final makes her move. Lastly Naruto realizes another goal that he hopes to achieve in his life,

I have watched it like 7 seven times, read it 5 and still my favorite.

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4 Chunin Exam Arc (Naruto)

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

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.

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

It's the best arc I have ever seen in any anime it should be 1st. Their is action,drama,comedy everything in this arc. In this arc many main characters were also introduced.

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5 The L Arc (Death Note)

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

Battles aren't just physical, and Death Note shows this with confidence!

Death Note is a masterpiece.L is the best anime detective of all time.

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

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.

Sure ytf not

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7 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 THIS ARC IS THE BEST

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8 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.

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9 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.

Best arc of all time. Period. No filler and follows the plot of the manga perfectly. Every decision made by a character not only builds depth to the plot, but makes for some great character development. What I mean by EVERY decision made by EVERY character, I mean just that. Every character had an important role to play in order to get the protagonist and major secondary characters to the ending. Not to mention there was not 1 fight scene that made me yawn. They always kept me on my toes and made it all the more thrilling. For example, my favorite fight scene was between Youpi and Knuckle. When Youpi deceived knuckle into a false sense of security and certainty and Knuckle realized this at the last second, you see through his eyes his entire life flash past his him. I strongly identified with Knuckle so I was pissed that he was about to be killed off. Oh wait, Killua being the bad ass he is uses his Thunderbolt to save Knuckle. Then after Knuckle beats Youpis face, Killua returns in ...more

This arc is the best arc I've seen in 2014 and probably of all time. Just amazing and shocking moments. The storyline is just pure amazing, astonishing fights and just wants you watch more and more. This arc has indeed made Hunter x Hunter the best anime/manga of all time and this coming from a Bleach fan

One of the best arc from my favourite anime. The readers get attached to not only the humans but also with ants.

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10 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.

THIS IS THE BEST ANIME ARC EVER!

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The Contenders

11 Phantom Troupe Arc (Hunter x Hunter)

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

I like this arc better than Chimera Ant Arc.

Incredibly well done like all the other hxh arcs. You get just the right amount of development with the phantom troupe so that you can attached to them, but they still maintain that mysterious atmosphere.

I really like the atmosphere in this arc

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12 Grand Magic Games (Fairy Tail)

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.

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.

This was just a truly epic story arc. From the "normal" fighting to the giant twist near the end. Such a shame the anime had to be on hiatus halfway through the arc!

I'm truly obsessed with Fairy Tail, but this has to be one of the best arcs. Laxus was totally badass, Elfman got a great moment in the spotlight, and who can forget the epic battles of: Natsu and Gajeel vs. Sting and Rogue, Erza vs. Kagura, Erza vs. Minerva, Gray vs. Rufus, Wendy vs. Sherria, and even Lucy vs. Flare, which is when Lucy really starts tapping into her potential. Coupled with Erza during Pandemonium, Cana's Fairy Glitter, and the final twist, this is an exceedingly amazing arc

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13 Enies Lobby Arc (One Piece)

"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.

For me this is quite simply the best story arc everrr... From the mezmerizing build up in water 7 to the epic showdown in the lobby right till the annihilation of one of the top 3 world government facilities, this story will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Not to mention the merry go farewell which can make even the dudes cry :'(

"I WANT TO LIVE! TAKE ME TO THE SEA WITH YOU"

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14 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.

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15 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

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...

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)

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

Definitely the best arc ever.

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18 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

best arc

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19 Land of Waves Arc (Naruto)

It was awesome. It really got me in the feels! I just outright loved this arc.

This is where it all started...

So many feels

Overrated - AceDragneel7

20 The Homunculus Arc (Fullmetal Alchemist)

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

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List StatsUpdated 17 Aug 2017

4,000 votes
142 listings
3 years, 348 days old

Top Remixes (18)

1. Soul Society Arc (Bleach)
2. Chunin Exam Arc (Naruto)
3. Marineford Arc (One Piece)
Pitchblack34
1. The L Arc (Death Note)
2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
3. Invasion of Pain (Naruto Shippuden)
Undistinguished
1. Female Titan (Attack on Titan)
2. Aogiri Tree Arc/11th Ward Battle Arc (Tokyo Ghoul)
3. Yorknew Ark (Hunter X Hunter 2011)
Random_Guy1

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