But first of all, let me dig really deeply into why they’re not a bad thing per se.
You’ve probably heard the term before: “filler”. Or, as the anime community treats it – “something wasn’t in my precious manga so I must scream at the top of my lungs in denial while cursing at the anime staff inside my head”.
Now this is something that upsets people because they want the manga experience without experiencing the manga. Some of them have read the source material and if you don’t deliver a panel-by-panel adaptation, you’re done for. Others are too stupid to read but will tell you the studio really fucked up by not adhering to the story they could have read, hypothetically speaking. I have no intentions of calling these people dumb as it’s unwise to aggravate the stupid but I’m seeing a lot of bias and no sense at all there. In fact, there are so many of them in their bubble of wishful thinking they don’t just think they get to decide what an adaptation should be like but also your opinion on them. And trust me, you’ve had the wonderful experience of “Man, I really liked that scene/arc where X happened” – “Uhm, dude, it’s FILLER!!!!” before. Why do people even post this? What’s the value of these comments? At best, they have the audacity to think that their comment was informative guidance to show you the way so you can realize that what you enjoyed and found to be good wasn’t actually enjoyable or good in the first place (no, seriously, there are tools who think like this) so you can reform your opinion towards the generally accepted one, at worst it’s an aggressive dismissal of your right to say such things to begin with. It’s almost like your preferences are about their belief systems and world views.
And since I’m good at pissing people off, here’s my favorite shounen arc:
In fact, let’s ramble a bit on Yu-Gi-Oh! since with its 224 episodes and 40% anime original content, it makes for frequent debate ground.
People will tell you f.i. that Yu-Gi-Oh! DM’s anime original arcs didn’t happen in the anime because they didn’t happen in the manga… (this is a very common statement across all anime adaptations, sadly) which makes no sense, doubly so because anime original exclusive characters reappear in adapted manga arcs but what do I know, I follow the principles of logic, not blatant fanboyism. Going by the same logic, I could argue that all of the spinoff anime (GX to SEVENS) are also not canon or some rubbish but people say they are.
So at this point, we have people not making any sense AND contradicting themselves but here’s a REAAALLY amusing part: with GX apparently being canon according to “fans”, whatever it shows would be canon too, right? Well, chucklefucks, I’ve got you there, since, see, in season 3, we get to encounter KCGP character cameos in a flashback. Now, KCGP is an anime original arc in DM so… it’s canon now? Oh, but KCGP mentions Doma, so that’s also canon now. And Doma brings up Virtual World. And Virtual World brings up Duel Monsters Quest. Uh-oh.
For what it’s worth, I consider people who make statements such as “Thing that happened didn’t happen because uhhhh, I say so” very much to be the flat earthers of the anime community. And don’t even get me started on Yu-Gi-Oh! R, a manga spinoff written by Kazuki Takahashi himself. Also not deemed canon because what would the author know about his own work?
As far as I’m concerned, “canon” is a dumb meme term anyway. In fact, I prefer cannons.
I think my favorite ones among the particularly delusional specimen are the angry fanfic writers foaming from their mouthes about actual anime writers with their “HOW DARE THEY DO THEIR JOB AND WRITE STORIES ABOUT THESE CHARACTERS WHEN I COULD DO SO MUCH BETTER” rage-filled nonsense. Take that, anime writers!
And lest not the scenario happens wherein an author admits the anime adaptation was better than their original. Or takes a character from the anime and integrates them into the manga.
What’s even better, I’ve actually seen people coming close to an existential crisis, reason being “MY WAIFU ISN’T CANON”. You know what that means. She’s not real. She’s not actually a real human being. Now if only she had appeared in the source material. Then things would be different.
And things get particularly dumb when there’s an anime based on a light novel and half of the comment section thinks it’s based on a manga. Stop saying stupid things, stupid people. These are supposed to be the authority figures on adaptations?
Now here’s my rationale for an adaptation being worth my time or not: Was it good? Which, really, is what this all should boil down to. I don’t care where something comes from when evaluating it, I couldn’t care less if it came from the source material writer’s head, the series composer’s or the episode writer’s – it might be nice trivia but fundamentally, in terms of overall experience, it doesn’t make a difference per se.
And if there’s one terrible website the Internet would be better off without and that keeps perpetuating the stereotype that anime writers and directors can only do wrong, it’s The Anime Filler List. It’s worse than TVTropes and CinemaSins in terms of poisoning gullible people with its stupidity even and that says a thing or two.
See, now this is a website telling you which episodes to watch or to avoid based on whether the available content was part of the manga or not. It’s also terrible for using American dub episode titles (and then bizarrely switches to Japanese if the entire anime didn’t make it over) but people watching dubbed anime being associated with stupid things isn’t exactly news either.
And then you’ve got entries for original anime projects that say “mostly canon”. What? What does that mean? But don’t worry, they’ve got everything explained.
Alright, let’s get everything here that’s just plain wrong:
“Anime is usually based on Manga”
This isn’t even true these days. The amount of anime originals, anime based on light novels and anime based on video games (particularly gacha trash) or visual novels (p. much non-existent) combined vastly outnumbers manga adaptations. If you say “usually”, I’d at least expect an 80% manga quota and this is far from it. Not that I’d expect people who only watch Naruto and its ilk to know this but they parrot this garbage at any given moment so it gets annoying. But quite frankly, even if that was the case, the statement also implies that LN/VN/video game adaptations can’t have filler.
“”Filler” refers to story in an Anime that was not in the Manga.”
Once again, apparently only manga adaptations can have filler. It also doesn’t help that the website ends up contradicting itself later on on this one.
“These are created because Anime production usually outpaces the Manga.”
Well, about that…
So apparently, “filler” means that an anime has already more or less caught up to the manga and therefore, filler episodes were made. Yet this garbage website also lists 40% of Devilman Crybaby as filler. For you see, this anime made in 2018 didn’t make it quite in time for the manga finale in 1973. Yucks! But don’t worry, I’m sure there will be a Brotherhood remake somewhere down the road as it literally always happens, no exception.
People actually believe this rubbish by the way, just look up any non-faithful adaptation and boom, worshippers left and right screeching demands at the top of their lungs in their delusions. Fire up those change.org petitions because they didn’t adapt that one chapter that didn’t matter anyway properly. Also, you ought to tell the anime director he’s shit and raped the source. Where do you do that? On his MAL staff base entry of course! Because these people clearly read that nonsense.
Then again, with sites like the one above, does that even surprise you? This one even gives you the statement of “Fillers do not further the story and usually are of a lower quality both visually and narratively.”
Now, we can debate the narrative part but that’d be tedious. The visual part is bogus however. People knowing jackshit about anime productions yet acting the part is just sad
This site also lists the last five Akame ga Kill! episodes as filler so you better not watch them and just end in the middle of nowhere. That’s some good viewing after all. Doesn’t matter that Takahiro said he gave the anime staff a rough outline of an earlier draft he had crafted and people should simply enjoy both versions. Western fans know better since when do they not?
According to some people, 100% of Tokyo Ghoul Root A is filler and therefore entirely skippable. Now if this was the case, you could watch :re without having any issues comprehending it. Which you can’t. In fact, you can’t generally watch :re without those. Though you probably shouldn’t watch :re regardless.
Now granted, there are plenty of anime original episodes that add nothing and are plain terrible. Take Railgun and its fetish for buying rice cookers or picking up clovers and whatnot for example. But these faux-informative posts and sites lead people to skip out on potentially good content and that’s a shame.
Not to mention, how do you even deal with something like Violin no Hamelin Hiki? And what about Boogiepop Phantom? Is all of it invalid because it was a tonally different anime original sidestory? See, it’s called “Boogiepop _Phantom_” because it’s not actually real. Got you there!
Oh, and spare me the blabbering on how that awful LN adaptation of yours about a dude getting a fantasy harem in a different world somehow just was a bad anime adaptation and actually, the source material is totally amazing. I can see it’s shit from over here, you’re not convinving anyone. If anything, the mere fact that your cute girls now get to move, in color and be visualized, voice acting included, throughout the entire product which sells on nothing but its heroines being fanservice eye candy makes it already better than the source material by definition. Be grateful your shitshow of an LN even got to that point. It certainly didn’t deserve it.
Bonus points when people complain about how the internal narration is cut from the boring harem lead in a visual medium. Oh, I’m sure dying to find out what Ichika from Infinite Stratos thought when Houki beat him up in one of her tsundere moments. The anime just really doesn’t get these depths of writing across, does it?
What’s more, at this point, source material fans have become an annoying plague, butting into every anime discussion with “no, see, this episode was actually shit because in the manga…” as if others were wrong for enjoying an adaptation.
And then you have untranslated products getting an anime adaptation and nobody can tell whether something was anime original or not so everything suddenly gets a pass. It turns out the adaptation police is simply too incompetent to be thorough in its execution.
To begin with, if you can’t tell good from bad without a source material blueprint, methinks it’s not the adaptation that has issues but you yourself. But yeah, I get it, deviation from the source material is baaaad. Worst case I’ve had yet was someone telling me that anime that changed things for the better would automatically be worse for changing things in the first place. Because fuck creativity in a creative medium.
It’s also always so convenient for Western fans to claim that surely, the author must be really mad about the adaptation! Yoshihiro Togashi didn’t mind the changes to Yu Yu Hakusho. Asari Endou was moved by the MahoIku anime staff reading deeply into the source material for coming up with original scenes and said he wouldn’t have minded original developments. Ryukishi07? Wants an Umineko Chiru adaptation! And supervised the first season to make sure the mystery internally works. And the ultimate sin of filler arcs according to Western fandom, Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Virtual World arc interrupting Battle City… even though it gave Kaiba a very necessary backstory… well, it turns out Kazuki Takahashi even thanked the anime staff for putting it there.
Man, now that must suck for Western fans who don’t know Japanese and have probably never even read a single statement from their favorite authors yet keep speaking in their stead based on their flimsy headcanons.
Slight anime original additions like Houseki no Kuni’s finale mirroring Phos from the first episode to signify her character growth would be deemed filler as well even though they help round out last episodes that would otherwise feel cut off in the middle of nowhere. The dagger scene from the last episode of Vinland Saga was absolutely brilliant and miles above what the manga gave us in terms of the first arc’s conclusion.
I dislike the filler term in general as it implies that something can be skipped over without any consequences yet is used for anything anime original… even though there are plenty of anime where, if you skipped the anime original parts, you’d get a Swiss cheese experience. It’s used pejoratively for no good reason. I’d rather use “filler” for something that had no purpose and was just padding, regardless of whether it was part of the source material or not and “anime original” for… well, it’s a pretty self-explaining term. There’s the Japanese アニオリ too, which goes by the same logic
In fact, let’s go a bit further with this extremist-to-begin-with logic. For demonstrational purposes, I have come up with this highly complicated formula:
Anime – Source Material = Filler
The animation is filler.
The voice acting too.
And let’s not get started on the background music!
Seems kinda stupid, doesn’t it?
People just sometimes seem to want colored, voiced over manga panels. Except for when they actually get those.
At the end of the day, does it even fucking matter whether something you watch was lifted from a source material or not? Only anime fans act like this. An anime and its source material are separate entities, period. Judge things by whether they are good or not. Heck, the only good parts of 86 were anime original as far as I’m concerned.
But maybe I’ve got a revolutionary concept for you: we call bad things out for what they are and good things also for what they are, regardless of whether they were part of the source material or not. And optionally, if you want to, you can feel free to give some context on how this adaptation was a mistake compared to the manga because it lacked crucial scenes or perhaps was better than its source material because it added anime original content that made it feel a lot more fleshed out and holistic. Yes, these exist. You’ve probably watched a lot of them without knowing about these parts in the first place because you can’t have read every source material in the world to begin with.
Yes, an anime can be better than its manga source. And not everything that works for a light novel works for a visual form of storytelling and hence, things are reworked or adapted to a new medium. That might go right, it might go wrong but it’s no sin in itself.
Alternatively, I will make everyone marathon the Seitokai no Ichizon anime that started its first season with the characters talking on a meta plane on how they are receiving an anime adaptation and will change things because it’s about the differences of media and then you will watch season 02, which was a slavish, pandering adaptation by different staff that was a massively soulless experience.
Now that would be sad, wouldn’t it?