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January 07, 2009

Why Do You Hate Fillers?

Posted in: Thoughts


Fillers, for most parts (and especially true in Naruto), serves no significant contribution towards achieving the end story other than dragging it out so the anime does not overtake the manga. This is to make sure that there are always materials for the anime to use, which is ironic in way since they are already making up materials to be used in the filler.

According to Wikipedia:

Filler can also refer to a term regarding some episodes of manga-based anime. New anime episodes and new chapters of manga usually have a weekly run. Since a single anime episode may use several chapters of manga as storyline material filler episodes are usually used to give the manga time to get ahead of the anime story.

No one would argue that fillers generally is a waste of time and often causes frustrations to fans of the series. However, does that mean that they are evil? It ruins a show for many people, but does it mean that everyone is affected?

I would say not necessarily.

It would actually be more accurate to say that fillers are more likely to “ruin it” for fans who read its manga counterpart. For example, I find Shugo Chara to be entertaining save for a few episodes. It wasn’t until I read a few volumes of the manga that I realized there were plenty of fillers being included.

So why do people hate fillers?

Here are 5 at the top of my head:

  1. The story is not as the author intended it to be
  2. Sometimes contradicts past and/or future plot
  3. No actual development for characters and plot
  4. More often than not, fillers have sub-par plot that does nothing but wasting time
  5. Frustration due to anticipation of upcoming arcs

Of the 5 reason I listed, the last is probably the most common and valid reason for disliking fillers. Let’s take Naruto as an example again, since it’s infamous for bringing about fillers whether it needs it or not. Fans were looking forward to Naruto part 2 (Shippuuden) after the end of the over-dragged rescue Sasuke arc.

Naruto & Yondaime Minato

Instead we were treated to about 80 episodes of filler, about a third (and almost 2 years) of the entire series up to Shippuuden. It’s no wonder so many fans of the series decided to drop it.

However, that didn’t stop Naruto to continue in its popularity. Ask any non-manga reader for Naruto and they will most likely tell you that they enjoyed most of the fillers. However, tell them they were fillers and they’ll suddenly go “oh really, no wonder they sucked”.

The word “filler” triggered something in their mind to recall the bad memories about those epidoes. But otherwise they would be perfectly happy with what they’ve watched. Slightly dissatisfied, maybe, but content nonetheless.

Knowing that you are about to watch a filler episode immediately leaves a bad taste in your mouth even before you’ve actually watched it.

But are fillers really that bad?

Probably not. It’s really more of a psychological problem. We are just impatient to get to that great part of the manga that anything that gets in the way unnecessarily is nothing but annoyance. Some would argue that fillers actually degrades the series, it’s only noticeable to those who are already “in the know” of what’s to come.

Occasional fillers can actually be enjoyable. It’s like a short break from the main plot, a “side quest” of sorts. Turning it into a regular feature as they did with Naruto, on the other hand, is just asking for trouble.

Perhaps the best type of filler is one where the original author(s) of the series have a direct involvement in its production.

Cardcaptor Sakura

The anime and manga version of Cardcaptor Sakura are very different, and many episodes can be considered as “filler” by Wikipedia’s definition. The anime even introduced a new character, Mei Ling, who actually played an important part of the story. It was filler, but it was good.

Why was this so?

I came up with 2 possible explanations:

  1. The term “filler” hasn’t been corrupted in my mind
  2. CLAMP had direct involvement with writing the screenplay

At that time, filler meant very little to me since I was just starting to watch anime as what they are rather than just cartoons. And it wasn’t until years later that I found out that CLAMP had directly worked on the screenplay for the anime as well.

Both explanations are probably true since with CLAMP doing the writing, the story and characters can continue to grow and develop outside the boundaries of what was presented in its manga. This strikes out 4 of the 5 reasons why we hate fillers mentioned above.

What’s your take on this?

Me? I still think fillers sucks. After what they did with Naruto, you can’t blame me :)

Related posts:

  1. The 3-Tails: From a Few Pages into a Full Blown Arc
  2. Naruto Shippuuden

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