Being a series as vast as it is, One Piece is home to countless fights and skirmishes. So many of these are beloved for the emotional connotations they have behind them as well.
Coincidentally, most fans seem to have these emotion-driven battles as some of their favorite fights. This speaks to how well series creator and mangaka Eiichiro Oda is able to interweave emotion and action.
Here are the top five One Piece fights which excel at interweaving emotion and action, in no particular order.
WARNING: One Piece spoilers below.
These five One Piece fights are memorable for their emotional undertones
1) Whitebeard vs. Akainu
Although short and not really a fight so much as a one-sided beatdown from Whitebeard, this emotional struggle is incredibly satisfying and heartbreaking to watch.
The clash transpires in the closing moments of One Piece’s Marineford arc, where Ace loses his life to Akainu whilst protecting Luffy.
Having just watched Whitebeard, Luffy, and others fight to rescue Ace, it’s incredibly heartbreaking to watch the Fire Fist die in his brother's arms. Yet seeing Whitebeard completely rage out against Akainu moments later is somewhat satisfying.
Fans can at least take solace that Akainu personally received a beatdown from the World’s Strongest Pirate for his actions against Ace.
2) Luffy vs. Lucci
The Luffy vs. Lucci fight comes in the widely praised Enies Lobby arc of One Piece. Fans often cite this arc for its emotional depth as it relates to both Nico Robin and Franky. One Piece mangaka Oda was brilliantly able to develop two characters side-by-side with neither feeling underdeveloped.
Luffy vs. Lucci is a linchpin in this emotional rollercoaster of an arc, being the former's final and possibly most reckless attempt to rescue Robin from the World Government.
The emotional gravitas in Luffy’s voice as he proclaims Robin's return is shockingly palpable. The Straw Hat's endurance is also incredibly impressive, as he got up every single time Lucci knocks him down.
3) Luffy vs. Doflamingo
The finale to One Piece’s longest completed arc yet, Luffy vs. Doflamingo is incredibly emotional for a myriad of reasons. For one, the fight starts with Luffy having to watch old-enemy-turned-friend Bellamy struggle against his own will.
This infuriates the Straw Hat captain. Furthermore, as the fight goes on and Law continues to take a beating, Luffy's fury reaches unprecedented heights. This culminates in Doflamingo forcing Rebecca to kill her aunt, Viola. Fortunately, Luffy made a last minute save.
Luffy is incredibly irate at this point, and in a brilliant final move, he defeats Doflamingo. Before the dying embers of this fight, the former tells the Warlord he’s sick of him suffocating the country, it’s people, and Luffy himself.
4) Luffy vs. Usopp
When discussing emotional fights in One Piece, it’d be almost a sin to ignore this one. Following the revelation regarding Merry’s inability to be repaired, Usopp challenges his Captain to a fight.
As expected, Usopp eventually loses to Luffy even though he puts up a great front in the beginning. The fight is truly heartbreaking to watch, as the two young goofballs of the Straw Hat crew become deadly serious in this clash.
It’s clear throughout the fight that neither of them particularly wanted this, but they’ve forced one another’s hands.
This is arguably the pinnacle of emotional One Piece fights considering the context of relationships and what’s being fought over.
5) Luffy vs. Sanji
Another clash between Straw Hats, Luffy vs. Sanji is easily one of the top emotional fights in One Piece. This is especially true if one considers their fight to last from Sanji’s first attack until his return to the Straw Hats. Suffice to say, it is incredibly emotional for all parties involved.
Luffy refuses to fight back against Sanji, as he knows the grief and pain coursing through his friend's heart.
Sanji struggles with his internal conflict, clearly oscillating between his old life as a Straw Hat and a new chapter as Pudding’s husband. This culminates in his discovery of the Big Mom Pirates’ true plan regarding him and his family, prompting Sanji to rush back to Luffy with a packed lunch for him.
The two reunite in an extremely touching moment when Sanji realizes he inadvertently packed the lunch box with each Straw Hat’s favorite meal.