Anime Fillers: Are They Worth Watching?
Sun, April 18, 2021

Anime Fillers: Are They Worth Watching?

At some point, long-running animes reach the part where they have to make up additional stories to keep them going / Photo by: BagoGames via Flickr

 

At some point, long-running animes reach the part where they have to make up additional stories to keep them going. These stories, which should coincide with the background of the main plot, are called fillers, and animators do them when the main plot reaches the "filler arc" or when the anime has caught up to the manga.

Many anime fans dread coming to this point, mainly because they go down paths that aren't the focus of the story. But not all fillers are bad since some of them could support the core plot well and are rather enjoyable.

 

Keeping the Story Running

Anime adaptation of manga usually stays true to its source but with factors like costs and deadlines, the accuracy usually drops. This is where fillers enter the scene.

"It's a major part of anime production as sometimes a series catches up with the concurrently running manga and needs to give the manga more of a lead," said Nicki Valdez of ComicBook.com, a brand under entertainment media company Pop Culture Media that focuses on comic- and gaming-related news.

It's established that the main reason for creating these fillers is because the anime adaptation of a series has caught up with the original manga. Since manga chapters are more difficult to produce, taking days to possibly weeks to publish even one chapter, the anime version will usually catch up.

This also occurs easier and faster if studios decide to take shortcuts in producing episodes consistently. The faster the animators push out episodes—weekly and nearly on a constant basis—the faster they will reach a filler arc and the more fillers there will be as the manga itself tries to catch up on its own story.

This is usually what happens to most of the animes, given that they are adapted from mangas, and is only absent if the show is not based on any source material.

"Filler material is often introduced into weekly action series to keep the same time slot," Valdez said, "and thus fans sometimes deem it unnecessary as they just want to continue the story."

The Risks of Fillers

Aside from deviating from the main story, anime adaptations are also at risk of falling apart and going unfocused as they buy time for the manga to move on with its story. The only time that fillers can avoid this is if they can offer the same excitement or be better than the main story.

However, only a few titles have managed to pull this off. As for those who can't, they are at risk of losing their viewers due to bad fillers. But what makes a filler good or bad, per anime blog D&A Anime, depends on how animators can handle certain risks.

First is having the source material canceled before the anime could rejoin it. Given that most animes are based on manga, animators only have their fillers to rely on in case the manga gets canceled before the anime could rejoin them. This is extremely tricky to do since the source material is no longer there to act as a guide to ending the production and, if not done properly, the anime might lose its fans.

Second is the premature intersection of the source material and its adaptation. An early intersection would cause the anime to go into a new round of fillers to give the manga more lead time.

D&A Anime said this could also run the risk of having the stories of the anime and the manga so different that they can no longer converge and end up going in different directions. This could lead to remaking the adaptation from the start to have it stay true to the manga or use the same characters to make a different story.

Not All of Them Are Bad

While fillers may not be as good as the original material in the manga, some of them are good and can support the original content very well. As stated, it comes down to how animators handle the risks that come with them.

Fillers can help viewers get to know more about the characters, learn their stories, and grow attached to them that could make watching anime a lot more enjoyable. They could also introduce new and fascinating concepts that could help establish the rightful ending of the adaptations.

CBR.com, the go-to source for comics news and discussions, cites the last five "Dragon Ball" episodes where Goku and Chi-Chi go on an adventure as a married couple. These episodes are undoubtedly mere fillers but CBR.com said this gave fans something that has never been seen before.

"The manga never really presented Chi-Chi as much more than Goku's aggressive wife," the site explained, "but this offers us a different perspective of Chi-Chi that often gets overlooked by fans."

So while fillers are deemed unnecessary and are less remembered than the main plot, it doesn't mean that they are always bad. Using them creatively could lead to a great and possibly better narrative for the story and its characters.

While fillers may not be as good as the original material in the manga, some of them are good and can support the original content very well / Photo by: BagoGames via Flickr