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Filler in Anime


Which kind of filler do you tolerate better?  

16 members have voted

  1. 1. If you had a gun pointed at you, which kind of filler would you rather have?

    • Condensed filler (Canon Arc - Filler Arc - Canon Arc [you can also just skip the filler if you want])
    • Pacing filler (Almost all episodes are canon, but the action takes a lot longer to develop)
    • I'd rather they just blow my brains out.

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So, every anime fan will know that the scourge of every anime is filler. For those of you that don’t know, here’s a quick primer:


Some anime are original creations, but there are a lot (and I mean a lot) that are instead adaptations of other media, mainly manga series. Manga series have varying schedules, but the most common is an 18-page chapter per week. The thing is, since an episode of weekly broadcast anime is generally 20 minutes long, it can normally pack a lot more content than just 18 comic book pages (though it obviously depends on the specific series, some wordier ones can even have great pacing while adapting less than one chapter).

Many anime series staff think that when you’re adapting something, it’s not very good to have your adaptation catch up to the original material – because, otherwise, where are you going to adapt from?

The solution they devised? Filler, which, just as the name implies, is material that is used to fill out, or flesh out, the show, by introducing new stories and plotlines not present in the original material.

Well, that should be good, then, right? More episodes couldn’t possibly hurt.


…the thing is, they can. A lot.




By their very nature, adaptations are bound by what they’re adapting from (well, some diverge a bit, but the less you actually adapt, the more you’re encroaching into original material territory). Meaning that fillers cannot make significant changes to the characters or the plot, lest they contradict future developments in the original work. In short, whether you see filler episodes or not should have absolutely no impact in the main story.

But wait – even if you can’t make significant changes, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good story, right?

True. While it is harder to make a good story that has absolutely no impact on the status quo, it is possible. Unfortunately, that hardly ever happens. 95% of the time, the plotlines are super boring and the characters extremely forgettable.




But wait, can’t you just skip the filler material and go straight to the canon episodes?

…you can… but it’s not always that easy or even possible. Let’s see what kinds of filler there are to explain why:


Condensed filler – This is the kind of filler you see in shows like Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail, where you can have a large number of canon episodes which eventually stop and give way to a large number of filler episodes, which are then followed again by another big batch of canon episodes and so on and so forth.

·         Advantages: This kind of filler is great for those that either pick up the show after it has already ended or that don’t mind waiting to binge-watch a bunch of episodes in one go. With a list of filler episodes, you can just watch the canon episodes and skip all the filler. Furthermore, the canon episodes tend to have a lot more chapters adapted per episode, which vastly improves pacing.

·         Disadvantages: It’s bad for people that watch the show weekly, meaning that they’re forced to either wait for the filler material to end or worse – to actually watch it, just so they can get their fix for the week. The thing is, this kind of adaptation can get really old really fast and people might just go straight to the manga, where there is no filler, or just drop the show altogether, sick of waiting for the good stuff to resume.

(I’m still super proud of never having given in and watched all of Naruto Shippuuden – without filler – without having read the manga first. I was close to giving up, though, that amount of filler was insane.)

It’s also especially bad when the manga just so happens to be having a particularly long arc at the moment, which forces the anime to just temporarily put the adaptation of that arc on hold to produce filler – which just ruins continuity and momentum.




Pacing filler This is the kind of filler that is used by a lot of Toei Animation shows, like Dragon Ball and One Piece, as well as some older shows. This kind of filler doesn’t use entire filler arcs so much – it just makes the canon material take a lot longer to develop. Since the ideal ratio for anime staff would be to animate one chapter of the manga per episode, meaning that they would never risk overtaking the original material, that’s exactly what they do. By just making stuff take a lot longer than it does in the manga. So we have long stares, long power-up sequences, long recaps of the last few episodes… While this does mean that (nearly) every episode is canon, it also means that the canon episodes’ pacing is ultimately ruined.

Imagine, if you will, that condensed filler is like having two glasses – one with orange juice and another one with water. You can drink both, or just drink the orange juice and leave the glass of water untouched.

Pacing filler, on the other hand, is like having a single glass that’s 50% orange juice and 50% water. You’re still going to be able to taste the orange juice in there, but the flavor will be ultimately ruined by the water.


The problem with filler is that it just ends up ruining your enjoyment of a series. No matter what kind of filler it might be. Pacing filler just slowly burns you out until you’re tired from the show taking ages to go anywhere. Condensed filler, on the other hand, might be better for people that have to patience to wait for the filler to be over, but A – not everyone has that kind of patience, and B – it just wastes time and resources that could have been better utilized on making the canon episodes better, with tighter animation and pacing.

For instance, Naruto, and especially Naruto Shippuuden, were anime that used a lot of condensed filler – a lot of canon episodes, followed by a lot of filler episodes. The original Naruto has the infamous “Great Naruto Filler Depression”, where, upon finishing Part 1 of the manga (which was actually almost filler-less in the anime), the staff produced 85 straight episodes of filler before moving on to part 2. Naruto Shippuuden had a more “standard” 20-episode canon arc/20-episode filler arc cycle (generally)… which would be “fine”, if it didn’t completely ruin the pacing of the last story arc, which covers 18 full volumes of the manga. Since it’s very hard to adapt that much canon material in one go, the staff had to still put some filler arcs in the middle of the gigantic canon arc, which completely ruined the pacing of the manga’s climax. You would think that ever since Kishimoto announced the end of the manga, the anime staff would just stop using filler altogether and straight up adapt the whole thing until the end, since it would now be impossible to overtake the canon material… you would think, but they still kept on breaking up the canon material with filler arcs.

On each of its anime pages, Hi10 Anime puts one image representative of the series. This is what they put on Naruto Shippuuden’s page as soon as it was over:




Fortunately, it seems that the filler era is nearly over. Current anime adaptations have started to adopt the American “Season” format, which results in much tighter pacing and much better animation. There are still some holdouts of the old era, but it seems that the future will become less and less plagued with filler.


It’s still a bit of a shame that older anime are irrevocably contaminated by the common thinking of anime staffs of old, but at least things will get better from now on.


I had no real purpose with this blog, just wanted to write down my thoughts regarding one of my favorite ways to enjoy a good story.


Anyway, have a good one and I’ll see you next time!

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Woah, that's one long first post to start a new topic. Thumbs up for this great explanation of fillers, their uses and what else. I already knew the different kind of fillers and how and why they are used but it was still fun to read your explanation. Especially liked the use of good examples (Naruto is probably the most famous one about fillers with its 'infinite filler-yomi arc' [or however it was called])

Personally, my first experience with filler episodes was 'confusing'. I watched One Piece back then in TV and I really liked the rainbow fog arc. (the one after Robin joins the crew) Later, when I started reading the manga I was really confused as to why this arc wasn't in the manga. The manga was the original source of the TV series, so there should be everything in it the series has. Well, that was, when I realised that something like filler existed. And I didn't mind back then. It really was nice, having more episodes to watch everyday. Especially in those times where I didn't knew how to read manga and watch anime in the internet.

But once I started reading and watching series online I got a bit more annoyed. I started reading mangas first and when i liked them, I wanted to watch them animated. And I wanted to watch specifically that stuff animated, that I read in the manga. I never got much time for anime back then so every filler episode I encountered was like a waste of time for me. I knew their story was insignificant and sometimes the characters even seemed out of character, which was horrible. I probably should have looked up a list of filler episodes in those series, so that I could skip them and enjoy those things for which I wanted to watch the series. Unfortunately, what I did, was stopping watching long series altogether. I decided I don't need to see the series animated any more, because i already read the manga and I'm faster in reading than I am in watching. So why waste hundreds of hours of my time to watch every episode of Naruto (even without the fillers) when I was able to read all chapters in less than a week? So the time I don't need for reading, I started to spend for watching shorter series'. 12 episodes and 24 episodes are really nice packages to serve some nice stories and characters. And usually those short packages are void of filler. Win-Win.


I also agree with your opinion that the era of long filler-filled anime seems to come to an end. One of the newest examples would be Boku no hero Academia. It is one of those weekly published series' with a similar - if not the same - audience like the big shots Naruto, One Piece etc. but the first season was 12 episodes long. The second season 25. Nice little packages with as good as no filler episodes. (The second season had only one and I wouldn't call it a filler exactly since the plot shown was canon-compliant and it didn't gave the feeling of a filler episode since it showed stuff that didn't had space in the manga). A somewhat older but also good example of this new-age-animation would be Magi - labyrinth of Magic. The manga was animated into two 24-episode-seasons. Back then they covered everything the manga had had so far and they put a stop to the anime to let the manga catch up. (Sadly the manga is in its final arc now but there are still no news about a potential third season). But still it shows that nowadays it's possible to make an adaptation without fillers. Most fans are willing to wait a few seasons (I would guess... about a year is still acceptable) if it means that they get a great adaptation. Unfortunately, the most big series come from a time where this principle of 'seasons' wasn't a real thing in Japan. People wanted to have an episode a week and waiting a few months was impossible. So of course the studios came up with fillers. For people who watch the series on-going, I think, it is a nice thing. They have their weekly rhythm of watching one episode per week and don't get interrupted. For people who watch the series after airing, it can be a pain.


That's why I think, if studios have to use filler, then it should be condensed filler so that it is easier for people to skip filler episodes. Pacing fillers are just... terrible in my opinion. Condensed filler can destroy the pacing of a story like in Naruto, yes, but at least, I have the possibility of skipping them. Pacing fillers don't give you this choice. You have to deal with it, if you want or not.


What I think is also worth in mentioning in the context of fillers is that sometimes fillers can ruin some nice plot-twists in anime. The best example for that is Katekyo Hitman Reborn. The manga starts with a so-called Daily Arc in which all characters get an introduction. Most of those chapters are useless. You read them once and if you ever re-read the manga you start in volume 8 where the real story starts. It's similar in the anime. They adapted a few of the first chapters into some silly episodes but they started really fast with the next story arc. That was great. The story started faster, you get faster hooked to the series and you don't need to see some 'unimportant' chapters animated. Yes, later they used some of those unimportant chapters as filler episodes between major arcs so that the anime wouldn't catch up with the manga and it reduced some of those anime-only episodes. And then the manga revealed a major plottwist about some 'npc' in one of those first unimportant (and un-animated) chapters. This npc turned out to be a central character in the opposing faction. And this chapter from the beginning of the manga? It was the cause for this major development. For someone reading the manga, it was grandiose. This level of foreshadowing from the first 20 chapters up to chapter 150 or so. It was something the anime couldn't deliver as they put the corresponding episode right before the beginning of that arc. So here is a great example how skipping unimportant-seeming chapters to develop more good plot can destroy some nice surprises. But nonetheless, the anime of Reborn still belongs to those nasty filler-filled series. The biggest arc on the anime (also one of the longest in the whole manga) has, similar to Naruto, lots of subarcs. About half of them filler-arcs. And to top it of, they don't only use whole filler-episodes and filler-arcs to slow down the race with the manga. They also make use of pacing fillers in the episodes. One episode usually consists of the opening, 5+ min of "What happened so far" (with showing stuff that already happened about 20 episodes prior) and an ending. Oh, and about 10 or so min actual, new plot. I really love the manga but the anime is a great example of "Every way filler can destroy the pacing and plot of an anime". The only reason Naruto got first place in "filler destroying the joy of watching" is, because Naruto is about 500 episodes longer and had therefore more opportunities to collect points for that price.

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39 minutes ago, lagoonaris said:

Woah, that's one long first post to start a new topic.


You clearly haven't seen my other blogs ? Check out my first one (they're all in my signature), it's got more than 30 000 words.



39 minutes ago, lagoonaris said:

What I think is also worth in mentioning in the context of fillers is that sometimes fillers can ruin some nice plot-twists in anime. The best example for that is Katekyo Hitman Reborn. The manga starts with a so-called Daily Arc in which all characters get an introduction. Most of those chapters are useless. You read them once and if you ever re-read the manga you start in volume 8 where the real story starts. It's similar in the anime.



Am... I the only one that really enjoyed those chapters? I found them hilarious. There's nothing wrong with more light-hearted episodes or even entire series.


Anyway, great points all around.

Edited by jrdemr
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9 minutes ago, jrdemr said:


You clearly haven't seen my other blogs 1f61b.png Check out my first one (they're all in my signature), it's got more than 30 000 words.

Clearly, I haven't. I might check them out later today.


9 minutes ago, jrdemr said:

Am... I the only one that really enjoyed those chapters? I found them hilarious. There's nothing wrong with more light-hearted episodes or even entire series.

You're probably not the only one but you're the only one I know so far who enjoyed those. Most people I know read them, of course, and some of them got into the series because of them. But in retrospect I would say the bigger arcs overshined them and with the seriousness of the later arcs (everything from Future Arc and beyond) those first chapters seem almost unnatural silly in comparison. I read them and some of them I really liked but most of them, especially everything with Lambo related was kinda a drag to go on. If I hadn't gotten a glimpse of one of the later chapters I never would have read the first as they were... just not my kind of taste. But light-herated episodes in general are a nice change of heart if they're made good. Magi is a nice example of having some funny and light-hearted interludes every now and then before moving on to the serious arcs again. Boku no Hero Academia as well.

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I skip it, at least for the ones I know. When I re-watched Dragon Ball/Z, I just skipped any filler arcs and if there were canon parts in an episode, I'd fast forward to them. One Piece keeps the filler separate so it was easy to skip, although I end up losing interest since it's a current anime, so after 4-5 weeks of filler, I end up not watching for another few months. I didn't mind the filler episodes in Saiyuki Reload Blast, which was a mix. There was a filler episode, then 3 filler recap episodes of Gaiden, then some weird episode where there was 10 minutes of filler. Any filler episodes I've seen in Gintama, I couldn't tell since I haven't read the manga and if there was filler, it wasn't as poorly written as filler normally is since it's a different genre (at least when it's not during a story arc).

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See I don't really watch any other Anime than Yu-Gi-Oh! But there was 88 episodes that were filler in that show and I didn't mind them at all. One of the, if not the, best arc in the show is a filler arc. So you know, it CAN be done right.

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I voted for condensed filler, but on second thought I'd say I prefer pacing filler since the only real shounen I watch anymore is Gintama and there's a lot of pacing fillers in it that introduce characters and context for the cannon arcs. I generally avoid shounen anime/manga not because of the fillers, but because most of them just needlessly drag out the story for hundreds of episodes/chapters and I also find them to be a lot less entertaining than shorter series. 

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