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)

Was WILD start to finish

Epic in all rights

This arc is so huge in order to story and the effect in one piece universe. It is not the final battle but it can beat other final war in all other manga/anime.

Great plot twists, nice character development, amazing battle tactics, and most importantly, the sheer emotional impact the arc leaves on you. It's the climax of the first half of an amazing story, and a promise of what the future holds.

V 95 Comments
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.

The comeback feeling kicks in a lot, it's so satisfying seeing the people ichigo got beaten up by being on par with him strength wise 40 episodes later.

Excellent, one of the best arcs in manga history

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.

V 41 Comments
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 arc was better than any other arc. Because of this arc Naruto became no. 1 anime of Crunchyroll. Or if you will ask someone whivh is your most favorite Naruto arc then Majority will go with this arc. Everything is epic in this arc

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,

V 51 Comments
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.

Amazing character development across all parties. Not to mention adding the dark twist of Gon and Killua realizing just how difficult a situation they had stumbled into.

Best arc in anime history

The ending made me cry - Splitmonk

V 74 Comments
5 Chunin Exam Arc (Naruto)

So overrated

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.

V 16 Comments
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.

I personally think this arc is inferior compared with the rest of the best anime Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. The ending seems forced in some way and kind of a wrap up. The previous part of the story is in another level compared with the most popular anime while this arc is like most mainstream anime

Maybe you should elaborate a bit because I don't get what you mean by "mainstream anime" and "forced ending" especially that this arc is particularly acclaimed as one of the greatest anime conclusion. - Tia-Harribel

V 9 Comments
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.

V 18 Comments
8 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

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

This ark is by far the best in any anime, followed by the successor arc

V 13 Comments
9 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...

V 3 Comments
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 should be hgiheer

Melhor saga da história

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

V 9 Comments

The Newcomers

? 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!

The Contenders

11 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.


Easily a great master piece

Um, it's actually called the Yorknew City arc. - Solacress

V 10 Comments
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 Female Titan (Attack on Titan)


Best plot twist

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.

Super epic arc!

V 3 Comments
15 Grand Magic Games (Fairy Tail)

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.

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!

It is really the best arc ever I love it just gives you the feeling of what fairy tail really is so it should be top

V 34 Comments
16 Yorknew Ark (Hunter X Hunter 2011)

Good and interesting fights

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)

Absolutely the greatest arc I've ever seen in anime. KHR is very underrated.

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.

V 7 Comments
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.

V 1 Comment
20 Enies Lobby Arc (One Piece)

Such a good arc

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

"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.

V 16 Comments
21 Land of Waves Arc (Naruto)

Zabuza is my favorite pedophile

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

V 2 Comments
22 Aogiri Tree Arc/11th Ward Battle Arc (Tokyo Ghoul)

so good

23 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.


24 Tartaros Arc (Fairy Tail)

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

Yes! Amazing arc. - RebeccaDarking

V 5 Comments
25 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai Arc (Dragon Ball)

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

26 Arrancar Arc (Bleach)

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

Ehhh not as Good as Soul Society but still awesome!

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.


V 1 Comment
27 Sports Festival Arc (My Hero Academia)

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

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.

V 2 Comments
31 Varia Arc (Hitman Reborn)

One word: Xanxus!

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.


32 Piccolo Daimao Arc (Dragon Ball)
33 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.

V 4 Comments
34 Chuck and Ray Arc (Eureka 7)
35 Fourth Shinobi World War (Naruto Shippuden)

Obito...that’s all I gotta say

One of the worst arcs in Naruto.

Best arc in naruto - tawhabinnasir

Ths is the best arc ever. people fightin with the dead who in fact know each other. best villain revived. Truth be shown of madara. what mor do you want.
And wait I forgot. Naruto and sasuke both died on the battle n later revived by fake madara

36 Heavens Arena arc (Hunter X Hunter)
37 Century Soup Arc (Toriko)
38 Red Ribbon Army Arc (Dragon Ball)
39 Shogun Assassination Arc (Gintama)

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

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

Most upcoming art
All gintama anime fans will be happy/sad/laughing /sad /emotional and did I mention sad?

Best arc you can ever find

V 2 Comments
40 Tenrou Island Arc (Fairy Tail)

Easily the best arc

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!

V 10 Comments
41 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.

V 9 Comments
42 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

V 14 Comments
43 Golden Age Arc (Berserk)

This is the best ever

Easily one of the best works of fiction ever to be portrayed in modern literature. Genuinely, I am confused. Why is this not on top 5. Is it it's niche nature, nude, sex and violence? Maybe, but whatever it is. It's a true masterpiece. It's a peak on story telling I will tell you that.

This arc was one of the best arcs in Berserk. It created a cast of characters you couldn't help but feel for. It drops hints about a certain someone's motives, helps you understand them. Then they do what they did and you as a reader never forgive them. To this day I am still reading, hoping that Guts gets his revenge.

Wow, 39? I thought this would be top 3 without a doubt. Shocked. The emotional impact this arc leaves, after all the struggles the Band goes through and then the conclusion. Simply epic, I wonder will anything compare.

V 3 Comments
44 Nagoya Arc (Owari No Seraph)
45 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?

46 Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monsters (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
47 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!

Very underrated. Best arc and best villain.

A masterpiece shouldn't be this low

Wow never thought this arc would be so underrated! This arc is a masterpiece having the best shonen villain ever created, SHINOBU SENSUI! There's nothing else to say about it but that it is just an epic masterpiece

V 1 Comment
48 Spirit Detective Arc (Yu Yu Hakusho)
49 The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)

This arc, THIS ARC. After a somewhat good first season and a regular second season, then this appears and changes your thoughts about Haruhi entirely. It's so well paced and every dialogue and escene is everything but filler, and let you view how the characters evolved trough the anime. It's a movie, but actually it's an important arc in the series, the only difference is they decided to make and awesome 2:40 long movie instead of many episodes. Waiting for third season...

50 Enter the Shadow Realm (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
PSearch List

Related Lists

Best Yu-Gi-Oh! Anime Story Arcs Best One Piece Story Arcs Best Calvin and Hobbes Story Arcs Top Story Arcs in the Adventure Zone: Balance Best Steven Universe and Gravity Falls Story Arcs

List Stats

6,000 votes
159 listings
5 years, 231 days old

Top Remixes (24)

1. Frieza Arc (Dragon Ball Z)
2. Saiyan Arc (Dragon Ball Z)
3. Red Ribbon Army Arc (Dragon Ball)
1. Soul Society Arc (Bleach)
2. Chunin Exam Arc (Naruto)
3. Marineford Arc (One Piece)
1. The L Arc (Death Note)
2. The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
3. Invasion of Pain (Naruto Shippuden)

View All 24

Error Reporting

See a factual error in these listings? Report it here.