Searching for lost treasure can take a while. Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates have been on their quest for over 1,000 episodes.

“One Piece,” based on the hit manga series by Eiichiro Oda, premiered in Japan in 1999. And for more than 20 years, audiences have watched Luffy and his crew travel across oceans in search of a legendary treasure known as the One Piece so the young captain can finally become the King of the Pirates. The popular franchise also includes TV specials, theatrical movies, video games and, as of Thursday, a live-action adaptation on Netflix.

The long-running anime’s episode count, which stands at 1,073 as of this writing, can be a bit intimidating to viewers just getting started. (It kept me from taking the plunge until recently, and despite watching more episodes of “One Piece” than any other show this year, I have barely made a dent.)

But the popularity of the stylish, over-the-top action comedy speaks for itself. “One Piece” is set in a whimsical world with vast oceans, different anthropomorphic races and mysterious devil fruits that grant superpowers to those who eat them. It’s not afraid to get weird (even by anime standards), and it still packs a hefty emotional punch with themes such as following your dreams, staying true to your beliefs and sticking by your friends.

In honor of the English dub of the anime’s milestone 1,000th episode recently hitting Crunchyroll, we asked members of the cast to tell us about the episodes that have been most meaningful to them. Those who have yet to check out “One Piece” might want to bookmark this page for later; the chronological list below includes some spoilers. (And while the actors’ picks start in the 200s, I can attest that there are standout episodes much earlier in the show’s run, such as Episodes 19 and 37.)

The full series is available to stream on Crunchyroll; the first few hundred episodes are also available on Netflix.

Monkey D. Luffy ate a Gum-Gum Fruit and gained the stretchy powers.

(Toei Animation / Crunchyroll)

‘Galley-La Company! A Grand Sight: Dock #1!’ (Episode 232)

When Usopp was carrying the crew’s money and gets beaten up and the money is stolen. Usopp is humiliated and crying angry tears. As I was recording, real tears were streaming down my face. I have been acting since 1979 and that had never happened before. —Sonny Strait (Usopp)

‘The End of the Legendary Man! The Day the Sea Train Cried!’ (Episode 250)

In a flashback, we see a young Franky literally try to stop a train with his bare hands to rescue Tom, the wrongly arrested shipwright who took him in as an orphan. Getting hit by the sea train is what leads Franky to augment himself with cybernetics in an attempt to put himself back together, so when he goes up against the train in this moment, it’s without Strong Right, Weapons Left, or any of his other special attacks we see over the years — it’s just a teenager facing off against impossible odds to try and do right by the mentor who did right by him. I love Franky’s silliness, but it’s always neat to see him stepping up when the stakes are high and the nakama [comrades] are in danger, too. —Patrick Seitz (Franky)

‘Say You Want to Live! We Are Your Friends!’ (Episode 278)

In Episode 278, Robin bravely declares that she is worthy of love by finally allowing her friends to save her. She screams from the depths of her solar plexus, “I WANT TO LIVE!” At this point, the Straw Hats truly become her chosen family. As an actress, the desperation of this cry broke my heart, yet I was incredibly moved by this powerful moment that celebrated vulnerability. We are ALL worthy of love. We are all worthy to ask for help. How I love this show and the opportunity to dive into the deep, emotional water with these characters, while watching them pull each other up, as a crew. —Stephanie Young (Nico Robin)

‘Thank You, Merry! Snow Falls Over the Parting Sea!’ (Episode 312)

This may be an obvious scene, but the death of the Going Merry in Episode 312 is one of the memorable episodes of the show. From early on in the series, the Going Merry is not a mere ship. Over time, the ship becomes a cherished character with emotional ties to both the crew and the audience. When they realize their beloved Merry has taken irreparable damage, the crew is forced to make the heartbreaking decision to let her go. Saying goodbye is a universal experience, whether it’s to a cherished object, a place or a loved one. This episode elegantly captures the themes of acceptance and moving on. —Chris Sabat (Zoro)

The pirate ship Thousand Sunny sails the sea.

The Straw Hat Pirates’ signature Jolly Roger on the pirate ship Thousand Sunny.

(Toei Animation)

‘The King of Animals That Overlooks the Sea! The Dream Ship Magnificently Completed!’ (Episode 321)

At this early point in the story, Franky’s already running with a crew — the Franky Family — but they think he should take Luffy up on his offer to join the Straw Hats. Franky’s proving stubborn, so his subordinates steal his ever-present swimsuit in a bid to lure him over to Luffy to seal the deal. What follows is bare-bottomed chaos, as Franky chases his crew through Water 7 to try and retrieve the stolen swimsuit before triumphantly deciding he’s just going to live his pantsless truth (much to the dismay of the locals). It’s silly fun, and a screencapped moment from the episode served as my desktop wallpaper for years because it always lifted my spirits. —Patrick Seitz

‘The Pain of My Crewmates Is My Pain! Zoro’s Desperate Fight!’ (Episode 377)

As the voice of Zoro, I’m a big Zoro fan. So many of his best moments are going to be my favorite moments. Of course, anyone who’s watched “One Piece” remembers Zoro’s sacrifice in the Thriller Bark arc, from Episode 377 — one of the best scenes of the show. In it, Zoro volunteers to take on an unfathomable amount of pain, Luffy’s pain, in exchange for saving Luffy’s life. Afterward, while the others are celebrating, Sanji finds Zoro standing on a hill, arms crossed, covered from head to toe in blood and asks, “What happened?” And, like the ultimate samurai badass he is, he takes no credit, simply replying, “Nothing happened…” Zoro was willing to give up his dreams to save his captain, the ultimate act of bravery and respect. If Zoro wasn’t your favorite character before this scene, he certainly was afterward. —Chris Sabat

‘Bink’s Booze! The Song that Connects the Past with the Present!’ (Episode 380)

The episode that people talk to me about the most is the one with Bink’s Sake and Brook’s backstory. Singing such a beautiful and important song was immensely daunting, but I’m deeply proud of our version. That sublime shanty is a part of my soul now (yohoho). For those who haven’t seen his backstory, I won’t spoil it, but… you might cry… but then you’ll be given a wonderful song that will bring you joy and make you tear up all at once. —Ian Sinclair (Brook)

‘A Warlord in Prison! Jimbei, the Honorable Pirate!’ (Episode 430)

My favorite “One Piece” episodes are 430 and 568. In 430, Jimbei makes his first appearance as he is locked up with Ace in Impel Down. This was the first time Luffy and Jimbei meet and Jimbei informs Luffy that he can help Luffy save his brother Ace. —Daniel Baugh (Jimbei)

‘To the Future! The Path to the Sun!’ (Episode 568)

My other favorite episode, which is my absolute favorite, is 568, when Jimbei offers his blood to save Luffy’s life. The art and the music is amazing! And this is when Luffy says, “Jimbei… join my crew!” —Daniel Baugh

Tony Tony Chopper on Usopp's shoulder

Tony Tony Chopper and Usopp are part of the Staw Hat Pirate crew.

(Toei Animation / Crunchyroll)

‘A Mastermind Underground! Doflamingo Makes His Move!’ (Episode 608)

The most physically painful one (because of the screaming), where Luffy is all but defeated by the boss cat. Usopp, despite his fear, is yelling for the villain to fight him instead, all the while encouraging Luffy to get up and fight. My favorite line is “Finish him! Then we can all leave this place together!” letting Luffy know that despite their recent conflict, he’s willing to rejoin the crew. —Sonny Strait

‘The New Warlord! The Legendary Whitebeard’s Son Appears!’ (Episode 752)

In Episode 752, Robin blushes, giggles and is completely overtaken by the charming dragon, Ryunosuke. As much as I adore her morbid sense of humor (my favorite!) and typically pragmatic nature, it was so nice to open up and explore this giddy, girlish side of Nico! Kawaii!!! I blush thinking about it. [Three purple heart emoji] —Stephanie Young

‘The Undaunted Soul! Brook vs. Big Mom!’ (Episode 818)

When I recorded this episode I was literally screaming “I am so proud of you!” at the screen. I kept thinking about how far he had come, from when they found him alone on that boat to this point, where he was taking on one of the Four Emperors by himself. Brook knew what his crew needed, and he delivered. Whole Cake MVP. —Ian Sinclair

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *