Has it ever happened that you are watching an anime series and in one chapter everybody is in a serious matter, maybe they are fighting against some incredible enemy or they are about to solve a great mystery, and the next chapter everybody, out of the blue, is in the beach having fun? like if nothing in the previous chapter ever happened?
Well if you have encountered with one of this chapters, congratulations, you have encountered with a filler chapter.
But you may wonder, what is a filler chapter?
Probably what you are thinking, a chapter that is there to make more space in the anime, a chapter that if you take it out and don’t watch it won’t matter, it doesn’t make any contribution to the story.
So why? Why would people create this chapters that add nothing to the series and make us just waste our precious time with something so useless?
Well, for starters, they are not completely useless, there are many reasons to add a filler chapter in the anime.
Maybe they are about to catch up with the story in the manga and need another week to take some distance so the anime is not shut down for not having enough content or maybe the story is too short and without that chapter they can’t meet the minimum chapter quota to publish it on TV so they need to add it or maybe they just simply think that there is more charter development needed to make the next scenes more shocking.
There are many reasons to use it in good way, when they are really needed. But! there are also those ones that exaggerate and go to the extremes and use the filler chapters as much as they can just for the sake of making the anime take longer to finish and take up the last penny that they can with the series.
I’ll give you one example, just to make clear what I am trying to express. Naruto, a shounen series that is just perfect example.
I started watching Naruto for more than decade, I stopped watching the anime and started reading the manga(for reasons that I will tell later), and finished the manga approximately a year and a half ago, so you would imagine my surprise when I do some reasearch and find out that the anime is still airing!
How is this possible? They had like a year and a half to finish it up and they where not that far from the ending. Obviously there is something weird there. I had my suspicious. So again I did some research and found out that what I tought was real. They are adding Filler Arcs to the anime! Even Though they are not needed anymore, the manga is finished! and when I say Arcs I refer to many.
You know what? On second thought I should not be that surprised. Remember that I wrote that I dropped the anime and started reading the manga? Well, it was not always like that. I began to read the manga when some Arc finished long before Shippuuden started. They began to add this Filler Arcs to the anime, at first I didn’t know this chapters were fillers but after some chapter I started to notice that something was off. There wasn’t any progress with the main story. I was getting anxious with this chapters and then after reading some forums I found out that they were fillers. So I put the anime on hold and started reading the manga with the idea to continue with the anime when they started to follow the story again, who would thought that I had to wait almost two years with a total of 83 filler chapters?
So they continued the story but then they added more filler chapters, then they started to make the scenes longer and longer and I continued watching and watching until one day. I watched and special 40 minutes chapter that made me drop the anime. The reason? I can assure you that in more than a half of that chapter nothing happened. They were just standing, looking at each other doing nothing, not even talking. So that was enough and I dropped it. They were not just adding chapter anymore they were also ruining the experience in the chapters that really mattered.
And like this there are other examples like in One Piece or Bleach, but you get the idea.
It is not that I don’t understand it, I get it, it is a business, if the series give them money why stop?
But at what cost? They transform a great anime that they made with a great story, characters and animation into a mediocre money needy monster anime where nothing happens.
Isn’t there any other solution? Why can’t they put the anime on hiatus and give other series a chance? Is it that risky? Or is it that they don’t even want to consider it because they feel safe like this?
On the other hand, probably my favorite anime of all time did something different and it succeeded on it. Fullmetal Alchemist(2003) at some point catched up with the story in the manga, and what did they do? Instead of making everybody wait for years or lowering the quality of their anime, they decided to continue making their own story, and it was a success, they did it great, they continued making the anime and created a great and more mature story. It was so great that for my own tastes I like it more than the original story.
So I hope that you got my point, it is not that the filler chapters shouldn’t exist but the studios should be cautious of when to use them because it is a double-edged sword and if it is not used correctly they could end up losing the audience instead of keeping it by making a horrible experience.