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I realized the other day that some of the most enjoyable fights in the series for me are the ones that left me with a greater sense of satisfaction when the villain was defeated. So I thought I would make a list of them. The most satisfying fights are different from the best fights overall, in that instead of being based upon the "epicness" of the fight, it's based on how much the villain had it coming, and by how significant the beat-down was, and the significance . It’s all about the feelings and emotions that are evoked by the fight.
1) Crocodile vs. Luffy-- Three fights of build up until Luffy's victory. And it's a victory he never should have had. Crocodile was one of the 7 strongest pirates that we knew of at the time of that fight. To any outside observer with no sense of who would win through plot, Crocodile had it in the bag. Except, Crocodile lost. He toyed with Luffy and a whole country, shoving his power and the inevitability of his victory in everyone's face. And Luffy punched Crocodile straight through 50 ft (at least) of bedrock, destroys buildings, and cracks the earth, all with Crocodile’s body and his punches. Yeah, that’s intense. At that moment you just knew that Luffy surpassed everyone's expectations.
2) Bellamy vs. Luffy-- Bellamy was a pure d-bag. He took the ego that Crocodile had and took it to a whole new level. He laughed at the idea of dreams, the main source of drive and ambition for the Straw Hats. And he "knew" he was more powerful than Luffy. But unlike every other main villain for an arc, he went down with only one punch. One punch, that’s it. And he deserved it. He talked an even bigger game than most other villains, but he actually had less game than all of them. He asks Luffy if he knows how to punch, and then Luffy takes him out with one punch: Luffy doesn’t even use his DF powers, it’s just his pure strength, no stretching. The huge dent in his face also helps you feel the sheer power contained in that one punch.
3) Straw Hat Pirates vs. PX-4—This is a pivotal battle for the SHs. They face an opponent that is almost too much for all of them combined. When they realize that they are not fight Kuma, and that there are more things in the world that are just as powerful as him, they kind of start to realize just how weak they are as a crew. This is more satisfying than SHs vs. Oars for the following reasons: The threat is immediately recognized as one they can’t escape. Instead of waiting for Luffy to stop Moriah and stalling for time, they realize the only way out is to beat PX-4, and because of that, they all go for their strongest attacks from the beginning. And those still aren’t good enough, only the full cooperation of the SHs can take down this opponent.
4) Zoro vs. Mr. 1-- Zoro likes to get screwed up in his fights, doesn’t he? And Mr. 1 does a nice job of screwing him up too. The best thing about this fight is that Zoro has an epiphany: If he doesn’t become a better swordsman, right here, right now, he’ll die. Zoro’s ambition to learn to cut steel is what really makes this fight. He goes in knowing he’ll probably die, too. But he figures it out, and he wins. Satisfaction ensues.
5) Straw Hats vs. New Fishman Pirates-- While this is the combination of several fights, and not technically one fight, it’s the combination that is important. The whole first half of the FI arc is just spent building up to how strong the NFPs are. By pre-timeskip standards, they’re WAY stronger than any crew the SHs have ever faced. And the Straw Hats just wipe the floor with them. That’s how awesome the timeskip was.
6) Tony Tony Chopper vs. Gedatsu-- This fight is unique on this list, in that the villain isn’t really built up as being particularly evil or deserving of a beating. He’s just… odd. The reason this fight is on here is all because of Chopper. After witnessing Gan Fall vs. Shura, Chopper is fully aware of how strong Enel’s priests are, and he gets just terrified when he realizes nobody else can protect him from Gedatsu. So Chopper has a moment of true character growth where he decides he won’t be afraid to fight anymore. And unlike Usopp, who seems to have a “2 steps forward, one step back” relationship with his cowardice and character growth, Chopper never really gets afraid to fight again. Our little Reindeer is growing up so fast!
7) Whitebeard vs. Akainu-- The episode title of “Whitebeard’s Silent Rage” says it all. Akainu kills Ace? Whitebeard rocks Akainu’s world. Akainu takes out half of Whitebeard’s face? Whitebeard STILL rocks his world. Akainu is lucky to be alive. After Ace’s death, we all want to see his killer get destroyed, and there couldn’t have been more capable hands to deliver that beating than Whitebeard’s.
8) Blueno vs. Luffy-- In Water 7, CP9 just destroyed Luffy. He couldn’t even think about competing with their skill. However, when he gets to the roof of the courthouse, Luffy has some new tricks. He’s exponentially grown in power. This is his first big improvement he’s ever had. Up until that point, he’d been riding pretty much the same skill level, and he didn’t have too much difficulty until Crocodile and Enel forced him to fight a bit smarter. Instead of getting a new move, Luffy has to get a whole new fighting style, and the first look at it is powerful. Not only does he first use Gear Second, but he learns Soru on the spot. This is the first hint that SHs really will do great things, and the world can’t deny it anymore. Without what’s shown in this fight, a lot of things wouldn’t have happened, like the next fight on the list:
9) Rob Lucci vs. Luffy— This is Luffy’s longest and most grueling fight. Lucci is very strong, and Luffy knows that going in. To make matters, worse Lucci promises to kill all of Luffy’s crew after he kills Luffy. And Luffy knows if he dies, Lucci will make good on his promise. Unlike Luffy’s other fights against DF users, this one isn’t about finding a weakness. Lucci has no weakness. The only way Luffy can beat him is just to beat him up. And it’s a close one, but our boy pulls off a satisfying victory.
10) Arlong vs. Luffy. When the fight moves into Nami’s room, and Luffy realizes how she’s been treated, he just goes nuts. This is the first time we really see how far Luffy will go to protect and/or watch out for his (I hate to use this word) nakama. Plus, beating up an old racist dictator is good for the soul.
So that's my list. It's not a precise list order-wise, in my mind the only ones that truly are locked in their place are the top 2. So what are everyone else's most satisfying fights and why?