Fillers in anime

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The role of fillers in anime: Is there a way around them?

Analyse the role fillers play in anime to protect long running anime series from running out of source material. Fillers in anime are used to prolong a certain stage of the anime without affecting character relationships or the main plot line. Typically, they are used when an anime series catches up to the manga it is based on, and seeks to give the manga time to "catch up". For example, Naruto Shippuden is a popular anime series that ran from 2007 to 2016. In that time 500 episodes were aired with 205 or 41% of them being considered filler. There are many examples of this (One Piece, Bleach, etc), which have led viewers skipping fillers in their pursuit of the rich storylines these series have to offer. Whether or not a viewer likes or dislikes filler episodes, skips or pushes through them, they are clearly a significant flaw in the process of anime series adapted from manga. Perhaps, it is better now? Or perhaps it is the same? What alternatives are there for writers when the adaptive material overtakes the original? Since in essence it is an adaptation, should it expand on its own? Or should producers of these large anime series go on hiatus to allow the manga to catch up?

  • This is super interesting! "Filler" happens in a lot of TV shows, mostly animated ones but not exclusively anime (though anime is certainly the most extreme filler to content ratio!). Would love to read an analysis of what it says about shows that need to insert fluff to fill out episode counts. Is it an industry problem? Do shows need to run longer than their stories are capable of carrying them? Or should everything be like the mini-series that are a few hours long and all plot all the time? Great topic :) – SBee 3 years ago
  • I think this is changing with the internet. Now, that everything comes out instantly in seasons, it is hard to have filler. When i think of filler i think of Dragon Ball and Naruto. I wonder how long it will take until anime's start poking fun at fillers and self-aware that no one wants them. A satirical look on fillers if you will. lmaoo – Ninety-Nine 3 years ago
  • A problem in a majority of anime. I first got fed up with Naruto because of the unnecessary fillers (but more importantly the flashbacks - do they count as fillers when done purely to increase episode length?). This topic should definitely be written soon. – rosewinters 3 years ago
  • There is actually a pretty good brief explanation of why fillers exist by an anime itself, Gintama ( But as Ninety-Nine said fillers were more of a practice/trend of old anime. It'd be interesting to explore the importance of fillers before in storytelling and how their changes (or decrease in frequency) affect current anime. – Lyka Cali 2 years ago
  • I am definitely the type to skip filler if I can, and I wish it didn't exist. However I think in the case of anime, it essentially has to. Anime has the mostly unique problem that it is an adaption of a written work (usually one that is ongoing). Also, especially with older anime, it is done in a week to week episode format. So if the show catches up to where the original current work is, it is kind of stuck. I personally do not think they should start creating their own "cannon" content. The shows should stick to the original source material as best they can. And there are few options other than filler. An example is One Piece (my favorite anime). They basically did away with filler all together, but instead pad out episodes and fights, making the already long arcs longer. This is not a problem. The problem isn't longer arcs, it's stretched out episodes with bad pacing. But the other alternatives are the anime just stopping until there is more material to work with, or filler. A lot of Netflix anime release in seasons, waiting until there is a new arc in the manga before releasing their next season. I think this might work better. But if you are a network releasing an episode every weak, filler may be your only option. As annoying as it is, filler is somewhat of a necessary evil. – Joel Stadler 2 years ago
  • There is an interesting overlap that I've seen and a concept that I'd like to bring up. What about the idea of "good" filler? I've heard the term thrown around about a few episodes or arcs in some Shonen series. Is filler a one hundred percent bad thing? Or do we resent filler because the filler episodes/arcs are poorly written? I think filler can theoretically be good and even elevate the show. Think about arcs in your favorite anime that don't necessarily tie into the main plot but are still enjoyable. If we accept this clause that filler can be good, now for the next question. Since filler isn't canon is it less less valuable? Hypothetically if the mangaka wrote the filler would it be filler anymore? Or a standalone anime exclusive episode? Just some things to think about. – alexpasquale11 2 years ago
  • Filler gets a lot of hate so I think an article on why it’s used so often and what role it plays would be really interesting. However, instead of addressing ways around it…it might be better to just try and help people understand why it’s useful and why it’s in our favorite shows because a lot of it can’t really be reversed. Then again, if you have unique suggestions for decreasing its use and comparing shows like Boruto and AOT for example to analyze their difference in filler count and why that difference is so major…that’d be cool too. – edixon 2 years ago
  • I recently wrote an article about fillers, and I think some of them are really fun to watch and aggregate value to the stories. – kondobeatrix 1 year ago