For anime fans no one word brings feelings of hate, anger, and frustration as much as does the word “filler”. Filler episodes or short “filler miniseries” are a common occurrence in anime. The nature of the industry makes it so, as most anime are based upon manga and follow manga storylines. If the anime series gets too far ahead and catches up to where the manga is then the anime producers make the call to bring out the filler.
Recently the decision was made in Japan to cancel new episodes of Bleach which were airing regularly on TV Tokyo. At a time Bleach was one of most popular and beloved anime series in Japan and North America. But over the last couple of years enthusiasm for the series has been in decline.
A major reason for the show losing support was its obnoxious amount of filler. If you ask me, Bleach is a casualty of filler. But not just any filler, exceptionally bad filler. An anime, no matter how good the main story is, cannot survive if for every normal episode there is a horrible filler episode to match it.
With Bleach it certainly felt like this was the case. The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai arc definitely comes to mind with over 20 excruciating episodes of Ichigo trying to save an annoying little girl.
The popular anime series Naruto and Naruto Shippuden also have their fair share of awful filler. Though in Naruto’s case, the production team opts for smaller mini arcs instead of full season filler storylines like in Bleach. Hard to say which one is worse. Both are terrible in their own ways.
In fact, for these anime there are even entire filler guides dedicated to allowing fans of these shows to bypass filler and escape the pain of having to sit through it.
So what does all this mean?
To me, this is a clear signal that shows like Bleach can’t last if every time a filler episode is aired it makes fans want to bang their face against a wall.
It’s sad that horrible filler ruins what is otherwise great anime. But even sadder is that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Believe it or not, filler doesn’t have to be bad. There are series with watchable or even (get this!) likable filler. Inuyasha and Full Metal Alchemist are both anime with filler that blends seamlessly into the main story. Episodes that are not taken directly from the manga are very well written and cannot easily be told apart from any other episode.
These series have filler that adds something of value to the show. This could be an interesting side story or just flushing out the main characters’ personalities. These types of episodes are not intrusive and don’t harm the integrity of the normal show.
So, to the producers of Bleach and any other anime with Bleach quality filler, if you are incapable of making filler that doesn’t ruin your show, or filler that serves no purpose other than to stall for time, then please simply don’t use filler.
Just wait. Wait until the manga or other source material gets far enough ahead for the anime to resume. Most fans would be far happier waiting a little longer for a new season to begin rather than spending that time wading through filler hell. I know I would be.