Sometimes anime or manga can take seasons or volumes to get to the most memorable content. Setting up the world and characters is important, but it sometimes the best stories come later.. That’s the case with some of these examples, although most aren’t as elaborately drawn out. There will not be any major spoilers for any of these examples from the anime or manga.
Bleach has one of the slowest starts in anime. It begins with Ichigo inheriting Rukia’s Shinigami powers. After a few monster-of-the week type stories, the Soul Society eventually comes down to take Rukia back. This begins the rescue mission, arc which is preceded by a lot of training to get into the Soul Society.
Then, when Ichigo and his friends do make it in there, there is some more training before they get into the upper echelon of the Soul Society. That’s when the cool fights finally begin. In terms of anime episodes, this is about a season and a half of content to get through before the action really starts.
Demon Slayer has a slow start as Tanjiro is learning the ropes. Half of the first season has Tanjiro and his sister fight alone. Since Nezuko doesn’t talk, this makes the conversations rather one-sided as well. The third arc is when things start to pick up. That’s when the two of them get into the city and meet the big bad of the series, Muzan.
The fourth arc is when things kick off though. That’s the Tsuzumi chapter of the story which introduces Inosuke and Zenitsu to the party. This helps create some more dynamic and diverse battles and conversations. The anime been great ever since.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the most unique anime out there. That’s because each arc of the anime is its own separate series. It begins with Phantom Blood, when the bad blood between Jonathan Joestar and Dio emerges. There’s not much creative fighting in this short series, but it must be thanked for setting things up with Dio and the masks.
The masks get even stronger in part two, Battle Tendency, which fast-forwards the timeline to focus on Joseph Joestar. Some of the storylines in it are fun, but everythung that makes this series special began with the third arc, Stardust Crusaders. That is when Stands were introduced, along with the Kujo line. This is the arc that defined the series and made it an inescapable part of anime and manga culture forever.
Lupin the 3rd did not take a few volumes or episodes to get going. It took decades. The series was always popular in Japan between its manga and anime. However, not every version that crossed into Western culture immediately became a hit. The first three series are set up in a caper-of-the-week style. They are fun, but there isn’t much consistent story between episodes.
That all changed in Part IV: The Italian Adventure, which premiered in 2015. It focused on a series of capers around the country of Italy with a somewhat consistent narrative. To put things into perspective, the manga began in 1967 with the first anime adaptation happening in 1971. That’s a lot of adventures with the cunning Lupin. The next part took place in France, while the ongoing season takes place in London and even involves Sherlock Holmes.
My Hero Academia is divided up into sagas, and within these sagas are smaller arcs. The beginning of the series has a slow pace to it. Deku is learning the basics of becoming a hero. At the end of the training, there is the villain staging, but that was quick.
The series got better once it hit the U.A. Sports Festival arc, which was a good way for all of the students to showcase their powers. It still felt like a setup for something bigger though. The best arc that kicked everything off came after that. When Stain started taking down heroes, it marked the first time where things looked desperate in a real, unrehearsed way.
Naruto has similar problems and solutions to My Hero Academia. The series is essentially about a ninja school, which means that there is a lot of training. The first arc is divided into the Prologue and the Land of Waves. The fight with Zabuza and Haku is Team Steven’s first test as a quad. Since they barely know any techniques besides Kakashi, it still feels unremarkable.
The Chunin Exams arc is next, which is a classic anime fighting festival trope. The conclusion of it leads to the Konoha Crush arc. That’s when Orochimaru tries to take down the Hidden Leaf Village and sees Sarutobi desperately try to defend it. It is an amazing, if somewhat drawn out, fight. This arc is where things get interesting for the series, and it doesn’t slow down from there.
One Piece is one of the longest-running Shonen manga and anime of all time, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It also has one of the most uneven paces in an anime/manga series. Every arc is almost self-contained meaning, that some are better than others. It’s not that the series had a slow start; rather, it’s that there are a lot of just okay sections.
Like My Hero Academia, it is split into sagas. The East Blue saga doesn’t get good until the fifth arc. By that point, Luffy has acquired most of his team and faces Arlong, the first decent villain. After that things get a bit dull again. The end of the Arabasta saga is also referred to as the Arabasta arc. It is part five and introduces Crocodile. He is still one of the best villains of the series. That is eleven arcs before One Piece seemingly hit its stride.