10 shows that prove why Anime fillers are necessary
Most anime viewers these days are attempting to embrace anime filler episodes and moments, which is a hotly debated topic. This hasn't been an easy transition, not aided by the current efforts of many studios to "streamline" shows to trim out the "fat" of supposedly filler episodes and moments that have little to do with the plot.
The above argumentation has always missed the point of what anime filler actually is; it's when the anime lets the manga catch up. Several shows, such as Akame ga Kill! or even old favorites like Sailor Moon, show why this is an important thing to do. This article will chronicle 10 shows that prove why anime fillers are necessary, alongside the hows and whys for each.
Disclaimer: The following article will contain spoilers for all the anime involved, including their endings. Likewise, the opinions therein are entirely subjective to fan opinion and the author.
Dragon Ball, Trigun, and 8 other examples that prove why anime fillers are necessary
1) Sailor Moon/Crystal
An interesting split among Sailor Moon fans, old and new, is the amount of anime filler present in the original Sailor Moon. The original show has approximately 98 filler episodes, starting off as early as episode 2. Naturally, most fans got tired of the filler and welcomed the reboot, Crystal, when it premiered.
But as times change, so do opinions. A lot of analysis came out from the older Sailor Moon crowd who watched Crystal, and they said that Crystal felt too streamlined compared to the original show.
The anime fillers in the original, including how the Sailor Scouts died, the Dream Tree arc, and other episodes, helped to invest the audience in the relationships between the Senshi, gave them all arcs, and generally allowed the audience to breathe between the heavy story beats. In other words, Crystal felt like a bunch of storylines moved far too quickly for most fans.
For comparison, there are 46 episodes in the Dark Kingdom arc in the original, with more than half (at episode 26) being anime filler. That's 17 canon episodes compared to Crystal's 14. Those helped to immerse the audience, whereas Sailor Moon Crystal moves far too quickly without much time for the audience to digest what happened, relieve any pressure, or get comfortable before the status quo breaks.
2) Akame ga Kill!
What happens when an anime overtakes its manga and then tries to do its own thing without adapting the rest of the manga first? The answer is Akame ga Kill! This anime started with admittedly quite a strong start and promise of more. The problem came in the second half of the series, with an infamously bungled ending.
A common complaint shared among fans of this anime is the omission of various storylines. From the skipping of Bolic's arc to the battle of Night Raid vs. Esdeath being horrifically rushed, sudden deaths like Lubbock and Mine, and Tatsumi and the Emperor, many manga fans hated how the anime rushed through everything instead of taking its time.
This gets to the point where plenty of critics stated the anime should've waited until the manga ended to conclude its story rather than trying to shove a 78-chapter manga into a single-season, 24-episode anime. In other words, have some filler to whet the audience's appetite while the manga catches up or goes on break.
3) The Promised Neverland
Much as many readers are arguably sick of hearing about how badly handled The Promised Neverland's second season was, it bears repeating for the record as it makes a similar misstep as Akame ga Kill! Essentially, The Promised Neverland skips over far too many arcs, omits too many characters, and seems extraordinarily eager to reach the end.
While this was a common criticism of the manga, the second season is far more infamous. The reason is straightforward: The Promised Neverland's anime adaptation takes a 181-chapter manga and condenses, skips over, or rushes through all of it to fit it into a 23-episode anime.
Why would this prompt complaints for anime filler or just slowing down? The anime adaptation skips over the fan-favorite Goldy Pond arc, which deals with other humans resisting demon "poachers," it cuts out fan-favorite characters like Yugo, and its ending involves Emma getting to go back home without remaking the promise, which is considered worse than the manga, and all without any buildup.
As much as many Naruto fans may hate the fact that the anime has plenty of anime filler, at 293 out of 720, many of them are starting to get behind a lot of that filler. Why? Because for every filler arc or bad episode, there were a few shining gems that ultimately made the difference, especially in Shippuden.
As several have pointed out, many side characters that become important, like Hinata, get plenty of focus from filler episodes. Several filler arcs and episodes that are considered quality concern the Kakashi ANBU arc, the 12 Guardian Ninja Arc, which involves an attempt to clone Kurama and zombies, the Infinite Tsukuyomi episodes that show everyone's dreams when trapped by the God Tree, and several that deal with the backstory of Asura and Indra.
While they're not all gems, and the fillers in Naruto lasted far longer than necessary, many felt that there's so much there to cover that there are a lot of good anime fillers. While the practice of using filler to let the manga catch up isn't truly done today, it certainly provided Naruto fans with something to watch while waiting for Shippuden, and several even bridged the gap between Naruto and Boruto.
5) Dragon Ball Z/Dragon Ball Super
Again, this is going to be a controversial placement. Although Dragon Ball Z was notorious for having anime filler, the original was pretty low, with 41 episodes out of 291 being filler. That said, if pressed, most Dragon Ball Z fans will say they prefer Dragon Ball Z Kai which streamlines the story without the unnecessary weight of the filler episodes.
Dragon Ball Super, likewise, had only 14 total filler episodes out of 131 that aired. So, why are they both here? Because, as stated in the Sailor Moon and Naruto entries, in the main story, anyone not named Goku and later Vegeta has nothing real to do once the filler is stripped out.
Several notable anime filler episodes from Dragon Ball Z that are highly praised include the one where Goku and Piccolo learn to drive and the Other World Tournament saga. Super includes the "Copy Vegeta" arc, two episodes showing Krillin's training for the Tournament of Power, and two humor-based episodes canonizing the android Arale and Yamcha's baseball skills against Beerus and Champa.
This is another controversial example, given that the Thousand Year Blood War arc is currently in the process of rescuing Bleach, according to some fans, after the anime descended into anime filler hell. Out of the 366 episodes of Bleach, there were a total of 163 filler episodes. That's almost half the anime that was filler.
This isn't necessarily bad, however, as seen with some on this list and some arcs that fans wished were canon. Bleach is no exception to these particular feelings. The arcs usually included in those discussions include the Zanpakuto Rebellion, where the souls of everyone's weapons rebel against them, and the Reigai Uprising, which showed evil souls body-snatching various Shinigami.
While Bleach's original series might very well be infamous for its amount of filler, those anime filler episodes were considered some of the better ones. It also typically featured much more characters than just having Ichigo solve the problem half the time.
7) One Piece
One Piece is the third of the Big Three that isn't overladen with filler episodes. Out of One Piece's record-breaking 1064 episodes that have aired, a frankly minuscule 95 filler episodes exist. So, if the filler percentage is so small, why is it on this particular list?
It's a testament that One Piece's filler is not only good and befitting of the adventurous theme the seafaring anime has but also that it easily fits into the story being told whenever the filler happens to come in. It also tends to breeze by quickly, so whatever story is being told can get right on track.
A few anime filler arcs are not only great in their own right but also help to flesh out the Straw Hats' personalities and help them decompress after huge events. The G-8 Saga, despite being the longest filler arc in the series, is a highlight as the Straw Hats try to get back to the Going Merry after nearly being captured.
8) My Hero Academia
In the olden days before the 2010s, most anime movies based on series were totally filler and/or standalone. My Hero Academia is one big example of breaking that particular mold, among other things. With hardly any filler episodes in its current 138-episode run, a mere four compared to others, My Hero Academia's filler stands out for setting up its movies.
There are roughly two of the four anime filler episodes, 58 and 104, aka Special Episode: Save the World with Love! and Long Time No See, Selkie, that preview the Two Heroes and Worlds Mission movies. This helps connect the movies to the canon of the show, especially with the idea that it can test the waters with new concepts or finally reveal backstories like All Mights.
The other part of why this is good is that it keeps the anime movies in the continuity without necessarily clogging the series up. This likewise helps highlight the rest of Class 1-A, particularly in Heroes Rising, whereas in the series, Bakugo, Midoriya, and Todoroki are the usual objects of focus.
Trigun is a slightly weird example: Of the 26 total episodes of the original, 17 are considered anime filler. Here's the thing about this: the show was in "monster of the week" format and didn't seem to have a big overarching plot until Knives got introduced. A large amount of filler helped to extend the narrative by filling in gaps the manga left open such as Knives' entire backstory, the "Lost July" incident, Vash's true power, and others.
This proves to be a surefire case of why anime filler is necessary, as it caught up to the manga extremely fast and had to make its own ending. This was actually preferable for anime fans since some don't consider the anime episodes "filler" as such.
One of the better filler episodes was a recap episode titled Vash the Stampede. It revisited many of Vash's escapades with one major change: the recap is told through the eyes of Vash's friend, "Derringer" Meryl Stryfe. Not only does this add major character depth to Meryl, but it also helps to reframe Vash's invincible aura from the eyes of someone who isn't invincible.
10) Black Clover
Black Clover had 170 episodes, with only 17 filler episodes. That may overall be a small portion of the show, but it is absolutely essential in this case. Why? Because there are plenty of filler episodes that help give the audience and characters a break from the action.
Certain episodes like The One Who Has My Heart, Mind, and Soul help give a nice side story away from the larger events. The filler episode sees Luck, Asta, and Finral in a manufactured group date situation. The result was a hilarious spree of miscommunications and hijinks, especially when Charlotte Roselei got involved.
The first three episodes were likewise criticized and considered filler, but the production team did that to give the manga time to breathe before starting on some of the more epic fights. The complaints about breaking the Three Episode Rule can be largely discarded since not every anime, especially not longer-running ones, will begin with an amazing fight scene.
The problems with anime fillers are largely documented, but not all anime fillers are the worst things to exist. The reputation anime filler usually gets is due to the perceived lesser quality of the episodes and the fact that they don't usually affect the plot's events.
However, this list has hopefully shown how and why anime filler can be a huge benefit. If there are any examples, disagreements, or things left out, readers are encouraged to comment on them.