With One Piece soon approaching its 1000th chapter, it's time to celebrate this monumental occasion by going back to each 100th chapter of the legendary pirate manga. While not every 100th chapter consistently presents something amazing, each possesses a piece of what makes One Piece great; whether that be its worldbuilding, the themes of dreams and friendship or even just Oda's remarkable foreshadowing.
Chapter 100: The Legend Begins
In this appropriately-titled milestone, the Straw Hats are trying to escape Loguetown from both the Marines and Buggy Pirates. This chapter features two of the series' most iconic moments. The first of these is the introduction of Luffy's father, Monkey D. Dragon, though, at the time, readers did not know who he was.
The second iconic moment, in the chapter's last few pages, is when the Straw Hats approach the entrance to the Grand Line during the storm. To mark the beginning of their journey, Sanji pulls out a barrel and the five founding members of the Straw Hats call out their dreams by raising a foot onto the barrel: to become the Pirate King, to become the world's greatest swordsman, to find the All Blue, to draw a map of the world and to become a brave warrior of the sea.
Chapter 200: Water Luffy
Nearing the climax of the Alabasta arc, Vivi and the Straw Hats are trying to find the bomb that Crocodile hid somewhere in the capital while Luffy is having his rematch against the Shibukai. In retrospect, the way Miss All Sunday (Nico Robin) reacts with curious amusement to Luffy's determination to defeat Sir Crocodile could be a direct foreshadowing of her eventual joining of the Straw Hats. Her smile and laughter as Luffy swallows all his water is the most joy she's expressed at this point.
This chapter has some of Oda's strongest fight choreography. There's such joy to be had watching Luffy's limbs stretch across the page. The way Oda approaches the end of this chapter also feels so rewarding. Luffy can't seem to get hit on Crocodile, but on the very last page, as Crocodile is drenched in water, Luffy unleashes a GUM GUM BAZOOKA on the sand-sand devil fruit user. Crocodile is contorted with jagged linework on his coat, which does a great deal to emphasize the impact of this hit.
Chapter 300: Symphony
In the epilogue of Luffy's fight against Eneru, uncertainty hangs in the air over what will now become of the relationship between the Skypians and the Shandia. As Wyper awakens, he's insistent to the Shandian chief that they must guard the Golden Bell. The chief speaks about how in the past, their warrior ancestors had their reasons to fight, to reclaim their home, but now, there's no one who desires to continue this war. The chief opens the medical tent revealing to Wyper the Shandians and Skypians together, celebrating their new peace in a bonfire feast as they dance together illuminated in the night by the light of the fire. This is by far one of Oda's all-time best ending scenes to an arc.
Chapter 400: The Key to Freedom
With the Straw Hats determined to rescue their nakama Nico Robin from CP9, the crew reboards the Puffing Tom in order to cross over to the Tower of Justice. This chapter represents the unyielding determination the Straw Hats possess to save one of their own. During the Water 7 and Enies Lobby arcs, they're told constantly that everything their doing is an act of futility, from trying to cross the sea during Aqua Laguna to fighting the Cipher Pol agents of the World Government to saving a person from going through the Gates of Justice. None of this has ever been done before, but in spite of it, Luffy and his crew have done all this because Robin is their friend, and they can't imagine continuing their journey without her alongside them.
Chapter 500: The Embers of History
Part of what makes the Saobody arc so memorable is that the island itself is delightfully glamorous and inviting, but the arc itself deals with such heavy subject matter as class divides, discrimination and human trafficking in an unflinching matter. The Straw Hats are now scrambling across Saobody, looking for their new mermaid friend Camie who has seemingly been kidnapped.
Many remember this chapter for being the introduction of Silvers Rayleigh, but there's something learned about in this chapter that may be more important: the deep-seated prejudice that fishmen and mermaids have faced for centuries. This is an aspect of One Piece that's been previously alluded to but is only now finally addressed upfront. Until 200 years ago, fishmen did not have human rights, as they were classified as "fish." Although on paper they now equal citizens, the embers of history have not gone out. Fishman and mermaids are still bought and sold as slaves in Sabaody under the radar by the cold-blooded world nobles and government elites, and Sabaody in particular still harbors a vile disgust for the people of Fishman Island.
Chapter 600: Isle of New Beginnings
After a long and arduous two years apart training, The Straw Hats have all finally arrived back at Sabaody Archipelago to reunite. Even though readers have followed the Straw Hats on their journey, the world and powers that be are still always moving and changing, and that's just as evident here in this mini-arc. Before the time-skip, Luffy had gone on a rampage, invading all three of the government islands (Enies Lobby, Impel Down and Marineford). With him going dark for two whole years, it makes sense for some crooks to try and impersonate him and his crew and gain his status.
Chapter 700: At His Own Pace
Something One Piece does well is take the time to show the many different reactions different people have to grand sweeping changes. After the Straw Hats and Trafalgar Law successfully captured Cesear Clown, they sent word to Doflamingo, giving him an ultimatum: either step down from his position as Shibukai or Cesear Clown dies. Now, this decision reaches all across the world as the many News Coos deliver this morning's newspaper.
Another important aspect of this chapter is getting to see The Straw Hats in their natural environment. Getting to see our favorite crew be themselves on the deck of the Sunny doesn't happen quite as often anymore, but it's important to have these moments of downtime where they're not fighting another big pirate or saving another island from a tyrannical ruler. Having the serious Trafalgar Law there reacting to how calm they all are about going up against a Shibukai like Doflamingo is comedic brilliance. Luffy's relaxed yet exciting nature as they embark on Dressrosa, followed by the crew having breakfast, is such a calm but fun moment squished between two otherwise titanic arcs.
Chapter 800: Exchanging Sakazukis
In Japanese culture, the exchanging of sake cups is a way of making a promise or pledging one's loyalty on/for a special occasion. This is exactly what happens during this chapter. During the aftermath of the Dressrosa Arc, the thousands of allies Luffy amassed in Dressrosa, including their seven commanders, pledge loyalty to Luffy as their new captain. In typical Luffy fashion, the rubber man outright rejects this offer by Barto and the other six captains. To Luffy, becoming the King of the Pirates doesn't mean taking over the world, or even having power over the One Piece. Luffy is only interested in becoming the Pirate King because such a title is the truest definition of a person with "the most freedom."
Instead, Luffy looks at Barto's proposal as more of an alliance. If any other them get in trouble, Luffy and his crew will come running to their aid and vice versa. With the pact now set, the seven captains all toast their sake glasses in Monkey D. Luffy's name, forming The Straw Hat Grand Fleet. This moment captures one of Luffy's best traits -- his ability to make allies no matter the place or circumstance.
Chapter 900: Bad End Musical
The Straw Hats are trying to escape Whole Cake Island after successfully rescuing Sanji. They must elude Big Mom's many children who are chasing after them, including the Heat Devil Fruit user, Oven. This is all happening while Big Mom is enjoying the delicious wedding cake Sanji made. She's so blissfully in love with it that she begins singing.
In a way, this chapter represents the duality of the Whole Cake Island arc. Whole Cake Island feels right out of a fairy tale, with talking inanimate objects, buildings made out of confectionary, and bizarre inhabitants such as merfolk, minks and dwarves. There's also morbid darkness underlying Whole Cake Island. The citizens must offer one month of their lifespan twice a year to Big Mom with her soul-soul devil fruit powers. The Seducing Woods seem picturesque and friendly but hide the skeletal remains of the people who wander through. This Grimms' Fairy Tale atmosphere is part of what makes the Whole Cake Island arc one of the best arcs in One Piece.
There are just so many different iconic moments across all of One Piece that if you asked two fans of the series their favorite, it's unlikely they'd give the same answer. For years, Oda has said that One Piece had only a few more years left of story to tell, but with chapter 1000 so close, and the monumental event that is Luffy fighting Kaido, that statement's never felt more real.