The Top 5 One Piece Battles
by Jacki Jing & Rob Bricken,
The One Piece anime just celebrated its 20th anniversary—that's more than 900 episodes retelling Eiichiro Oda's best-selling manga, which chronicles the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew of pirates. Like any good shonen series, these adventures often involve beating up a lot of bad guys. But one of the things that's made One Piece so a massive, worldwide success is how epic, creative, and entertaining these fights are—and here are our top five.
5. Portgas D. Ace Vs. Blackbeard
When One Piece fans learned Luffy's brother Ace was chasing down Blackbeard, they knew something big was going to happen—but they couldn't have imagined how big. Ace and Blackbeard were once crewmates in the Whitebeard pirates until Blackbeard killed one of his comrades to steal the Dark-Dark Devil Fruit and ran away. Ace asked Whitebird for the chance to find the traitor and get revenge, and tracked the villain down to Banaro Island. The fight was mainly between Ace's Flame-Flame powers and Blackbeard's ability to control darkness, which could absorb anything or anyone it touched. The two contrasting elements made for a wildly exciting battle, but it's what happened afterward that truly makes it one of the series' best. Ace's defeat ends up having major consequences—and causes events that not only change Luffy but the entire world of One Piece.
4. Straw Hat Pirates Vs. Oars
On the very Tim Burton-y ship Thriller Bark, Luffy and his crew encountered Oars, an undead, 200-hundred-foot giant under the control of evil Warlord of the Sea Gecko Moria. Worse, Moria put Luffy's shadow into Oars, giving the giant the pirate's immense fighting skills and his Gum-Gum rubber powers, and making Oars nearly invincible. It's exceedingly rare for the Straw Hats to fight together against a single foe, which is part of what makes this fight special. Oars is so immensely powerful that he continually sends them flying… which is why it's so, so enjoyable when the Straw Hats begin kicking his giant ass. Zoro, Sanji, Usopp, Robin, Chopper, Franky, and Brooke use teamwork to go on the offensive, and it's a great reminder of how powerful Luffy's crew is, even without their captain around. Of course, they still needed the shadow-infused “Nightmare Luffy” to help them finish the job, but that didn't make this battle any less satisfying to watch.
3. Roronora Zoro Vs. Kaku
Zoro was Luffy's first crewmate, and also is the most powerful. This is why many of Zoro's fights are just as epic as his captain's. His swordsmanship was put to the test when he fought Kaku of Cipher Pol Number Nine during the Enies Lobby arc. A member of the World Government's assassination squad, Kaku was a serious opponent for Zoro even before Kaku revealed he'd eaten the Ox-Ox Fruit: Giraffe Model, which simultaneously gave him more attack power while looking utterly ridiculous. This fight is a great example of why One Piece has become such a hit. Whether the fight is deadly serious or completely goofy, it's always exciting; and even though Zoro briefly has to use Usopp as a giant sword-hilt, this goofiness doesn't detract at all from the impact of the fight's final moments, when a frustrated and angry Zoro channels Ashura, the god of destruction, to momentarily become a nine-sword-wielding demon which takes out Kaku in a single blow.
2. Monkey D. Luffy Vs. Usopp
Not every One Piece fight needs to have crazy special techniques or take place over 15 full episodes to be good. While this battle might not be as traditionally epic as other entries on this list, it's the most emotionally powerful fight in the series. When the Straw Hats' ship, the Merry-Go, became too damaged to sail any more, Luffy decided to get a replacement. But Usopp was too attached to the Merry to give it up and made the unprecedented declaration to fight his captain over the ship's future. Usopp is almost always used for comedic relief, and the other Straw Hats knew he didn't have a prayer of winning against the immensely powerful Luffy. However, Usopp turns out to be no pushover. He goes all out using new techniques and clever strategizing to show he's no joke. Still, the outcome was inevitable—Luffy downed Usopp, but left him the Merry-Go anyway. And as the two former crewmates parted, they both cried for the friendship that had been torn apart. This fight is one of One Piece's most moving scenes ever, which is also why it's so high on this list.
1. Luffy Vs. Charlotte Katakuri
One Piece fans have debated what's been Luffy's greatest fight ever since, well, he started fighting people. For our money, it's Luffy's recent battle with Katakuri during Whole Cake Island arc that only ended this past February. There's a lot of things that make this fight special, starting with the fact that the two of them have vaguely similar Devil Fruit powers: Luffy has his rubbery Gum-Gum attacks, while Katakuri can turn any part of his body into equally stretchy (or sticky) Mochi. However, Katakuri's Observation Haki is so strong he can see a few seconds into the future, allowing him to dodge and counter Luffy's attacks. Luffy pulls out every stop he can, to absolutely no avail—and gets his butt kicked for almost the entirety of what ends up being an astounding 13-hour fight. Only his insane endurance and refusal to give up kept Luffy going long enough to figure out how to use his own Haki to see into the future as well. Even then, he barely managed to get the win. Add a wide variety of impressive and impressively creative attacks—including the debut of Luffy's Fourth Gear form “Snakeman”—and a charismatic villain who becomes decreasingly villainous as he admires his foe's tenacity—and you've got One Piece most epic battle… at least so far.
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