Every episode of Netflix’s One Piece, ranked worst to best

One Piece. Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy in episode 102 of One Piece. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
One Piece. Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy in episode 102 of One Piece. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023 /
1 of 5

The other week, Netflix dropped the first season of One Piece, its live-action remake of the phenomenally popular anime series. Adapting anime to live-action is a tricky business, something Netflix knows well. They made a live-action Death Note movie and nobody liked it. They made a Bleach movie and nobody remembers it. They made a Cowboy Bebop show and canceled it almost immediately. But they were determined to eventually get this right…

And with One Piece, it feels like they did. Speaking as someone who never read the manga or watched the anime, I had a good time with the show. The cast is likable, the production values are insane, and the story about young pirates on the high seas has a giddy enthusiasm that got past my defenses, even if there’s still a lot of anime silliness to be found. One Piece isn’t afraid to embrace that silliness, which made me admire it even more.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect show, though. I’ve never seen a show I’ve liked so much I couldn’t pick it apart and drain all the fun out of it. With that in mind, let’s rank the episodes of Netflix’s One Piece from worst to best!

One Piece. Alexander Maniatis as Kuro in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023
One Piece. Alexander Maniatis as Kuro in season 1 of One Piece. Cr. Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023 /

Worst: Episodes 3 and 4, “Tell No Tales” and “The Pirates Are Coming”

At the outset, let me explain why I’m grouping some episodes together. The first season of One Piece operates in a series of two-episode arcs, something that becomes clear around the time of Episodes 3 and 4. Over the course of these two episodes, Monkey D. Luffy and his burgeoning pirate crew visit Syrup Village, they meet a self-aggrandizing young man named Usopp, they get roped into a plot to kill a good-hearted local heiress, they defeat the perpetrators, and then leave with Usopp as a new member of their crew. These two episodes tell one story, so I’m treating them as one whole.

And this is the weakest story told in the first season. By this point, we’ve gotten to know a few of our main players, including the ever-optimistic pirate captain Luffy, the taciturn swordsman Zoro, and the hard-boiled thief Nami. But we don’t know them too well yet, so it’s a bit of an awkward time to bring in another new character like Usopp. At the end of this two-episode arc, it feels like no one got the time they needed.

An example: at the end of the second episode, Usopp decides to leave Syrup Village to join Luffy’s crew, and…I didn’t know why. We got some flashbacks establishing that he tends to tell tall tales, misses his absentee pirate father, and suffered the loss of his mother. But still, it seemed to me like he had a good reason to remain, namely the affection of Kaya, the good-hearted heiress we mentioned earlier. He wasn’t fleshed out enough.

Instead, we spend a lot of time on the murder plot, which involves Kaya’s ex-pirate butler planning to kill her once she comes of age and claim her vast inheritance. There’s a long period where the butler is chasing our characters through the halls, scraping his knife-hands on the walls and in general being a big evil ham. That’s not such a bad thing on this show — I liked that his followers wore little cat ears and hissed at people — but it should have been tightened up.

My favorite part of the episode actually had nothing to do with the main plot; it was getting a look into Zoro’s past and seeing why he wants to become the greatest swordfighter in the world. I would have preferred that be in its own episode so we could spend more time on Usopp, but this is clearly a labor-intensive show and I understand we can’t have as many episodes as we want.

Happily, this is the only block of episodes I had real problems with. It’s all uphill from here, starting with…