Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why Bleach was Cancelled: And Why Filler is an Anime Killer


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 ShÅ«suke 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.

23 comments:

  1. I agree totally. Each manga creates a huge and diverse universe within its own story. To not be able to focus on side stories that are aimed at quality characters (which can easily be done) or for e.g. fight scenes in Naruto that were bypassed, this creates a perfect opportunity to flesh out what was more or less grazed over. As long as it conforms with the creator, and a direction HE envisages that the filler takes and what main events should unfold, you will get a better reception from the fans I think....

    One thing i like is continuity, a nod to an arc that's already come to and gone. I don't see why Fillers should be any different...

    My two cents anyway ;)

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    1. I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. Old topic, but my thoughts nonetheless.

    Bleach and DBZ had similar methods for most of their filler: extend fights. I can't say why DBZ succeeded in the long term when Bleach didn't. I think the plots of both got worse the longer the series lasted.

    Sailor Moon did pretty good with the half-season Doom Tree arc being enough filler to pretty much let the rest of the series run at a good rate, but that may be timing more than anything else in the anime vs. manga.

    Fullmetal Alchemist took a new direction: when filler was completely needed, the anime just detached from the manga and kept going, telling a pretty good story that is just as entertaining as, if not as good as, Brotherhood.

    Maybe a DBZ Kai-type restructuring could breathe new life into Bleach.

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  3. As much as I love Bleach, I think the anime ending with the Fullbringers is actually more decent. The current, final manga arc is full of inconsistencies and other nonsense. I like the Vandenreich, but wasn't Harribel supposed to be dead?
    And now, it's implied that Grimmjow has returned. And more overhype for Zaraki, basically saying that Zaraki was holding back in every fight he's ever been in. Gimme a break, I guess if he loses in the next fight he's in it'll be because dust got in his eyes. And yes, a lot of the filler in Bleach was horrendous. The Bount Arc was ridiculously long. The Beast Swords? UGGH! I am not suprised the Bleach anime got cancelled. They could try to revive it once the manga is finished, but I probably won't bother to watch it.

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  4. In the third databook the said that Orihime healed Harribel, apacci, sung sung and the other one, then they went back to Hueco Mundo, Grimmjow never died, he was K.O after the attack by Nnoitra, Kenpachi was holding back to enjoy each fight but every time he faces someone stronger than him, he increses his power to match up his enemy

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  5. Cash cash cash... if you get paid by sponsors to air something, you'd rather air bullcrap rather than being cut off from your funding. mcDonalds Namco Bandai and co. need their weekly bleach/naruto/pokemon time, and fillers are there for them, not the spectators

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  6. What The hell happened to Acid, the Shinigami in Hueco Mundo? What about Nel!!!!!!

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  7. I disagree. I love fillers. I never lost faith in bleach, even through the fillers. I LIKED the Bount arc, the Amagai arc, the Kisuke arc, and the Zanpakutou arc. I don't get why people are hating on fillers this much. Like, seriously, I don't get why people would be disappointed that their anime is getting longer, even if it isn't the main storyline. Fillers also tend to give more insight to the lore of the anime. Haven't you always wanted to see what the Zanpakutou really looked like? Haven't you wanted to know Kisuke and Yoruichi's story? Haven't you pointed out before that there are three captain positions empty, and then Amagai takes one up? There is a main storyline, and then the fillers fill in the information regarding everything else. For Bleach, anyway...

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    1. You have such a low standard, pathetic.

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    2. You have no call to come someone else's opinion pathetic.

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  8. I agree having fillers do anwser how some of the characters got to be the way they are. I think if bleach had a filler to explain Aizen became the way he is it would be an awesome filler

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    1. I actually have to agree with this. A filler on Aizen's background would be great.

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  9. The biggest problem I have with Bleach filler is that it so often outside the timeline. Naruto filler at least fit it into the story. It either expands things that were glossed over in the manga, or it takes place between story arcs. Unlike Bleach, where it will suddenly stop in middle of a major story arc for something else.

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  10. I am way behind on Bleach because I am following it up on Toonami/Adult Swim (Cartoon Network). I kept up with bleach throughout the filler episodes, but what started to anger me was when the series stopped at Hueco Mundo and then we got the sword filler. Now it was interesting, but it went on for too long. Then they finally got to it after what it seems two or three years to me, but the fight between Ichigo and what's his name didn't last crap! Okay so they move on to Aizen and they stop it to go to the festival crap?! Come on! It is too.... jarring. If at least they did something that made sense like Aizen background or Gin's background that would make more sense and it would be important and not make me upset.

    I don't even know why not just go hand in hand with the manga and that's it? I don't even understand why it must so apart. Anyway thank you for writing the article. It helped me understand things better, but I do share the frustration.

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    1. they don't go hand in hand because it takes anywhere from at least 5-10 manga chapters with extra added in to equal 1 episode and the manga takes 1-2 weeks per chapter

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  11. I'm in the boat that fillers actually don't bother me at all, especially when it gives you more insight. What truly did bother me though is the fact that the final fight between Ichigo and Aizen was complete CRAP. It was such a cop-out for Ichigo to gain that much power and the reasoning behind it was just lame as hell. In fact, I've never really liked how Ichigo gained his powers, I mean did I miss it? Or did they explain why Ichigo can get so strong? It just feels like everything falls into his lap at the most opportune time almost without explanation. The Hueco Mundo Arc really bothered me because he was basically killed twice by Ulquiorra and he still came back somehow stronger than ever, it was ridiculous. At least Naruto had to train for years with a master to get to where he is.

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    1. the manga has explained it. Spoiler for those who haven't read it. what he thought was his swords power wasn't. zangetsu is his quincy powers from his mother who was a quincy and it has been restricting his death god powers and allowed him to gain more abilities as needed like when he may die. in the manga it finally let ichigo get his full death god powers.

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    2. And for those of you paying attention, that's the FOURTH explanation that's been offered for why Ichigo can't access his full powers. I think it shows how desperate the writer is for Ichigo to not become too powerful, despite the fact that he wins so many of his fights by pulling power out of his bum.

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  12. I'm not that shocked it got cancelled. I actually lost faith and stopped keeping up with the DVD releases after the crap that was the Bount arc. Combine horrible filler seasons with only releasing 8 or so episodes per boxset every 6 months or so and and you get a lot of people who realize they have much better things to do with their time. I will say this though, watching the anime got me into reading the manga. The only drawback is it's black and white, so I can't really tell what's going on sometimes.

    Fullmetal Alchemist though...that's how anime should work. It didn't matter that it was completely different from the manga, the storyline was so original and intriguing. The follow-up movie should be praised, too, for how well it tied everything up and that you didn't really need a lot of prior knowledge of the series to enjoy it.

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  13. I am so sad to see bleach go like this! I hope the bring it back without the cruddy filler.;(

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  14. Anime daisuki LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111

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  15. I'll never understand how some Bleach fans can be unaware that the series is considered a complete joke among the broader anime community, and is most commonly held up as a prime example of how NOT to do a shonen series.

    Think about every complaint you've ever heard about shonen. Every single one can be applied to Bleach. The anti climaxes, the Deus Ex Machinas, the plot twists for the sake of having plot twists, one of the most drawn out arcs in shonen history, the cast becoming so bloated that character development ends up being minimum for everyone, a villain who was ridiculously overpowered, the repetitive writing, the lack of world building, the fact that the series became fights with a plot instead of a plot with fighting.

    Bleach's popularity sunk like a rock the further the Arrancar arc progressed. It wasn't just the ratings, book sales dropped too, and I hear that Bleach tends to rank relatively low in popularity polls too.

    Bleach wasn't cancelled because of filler. It was cancelled because the main story wasn't that much better than filler. Heck, I've actually seen people praise some of Bleach's filler. Compare Naruto, which is widely considered to have some of the worst filler ever written, and had over 80 episodes straight of filler. And despite that, it's anime is still going, and has gone on significantly longer than Bleach's did.

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    1. At least, Bleach anime stopped cause it reached the manga's releases, and as it was said before, fans weren't enthusiastic to see other fillers and i think that the studios didn't get at time a "suitable" filler to make the deal ...

      By the way, Bleach fans are not dupe, and Naruto is still going cause there is a large distance between manga and anime releases that can be hold without incrusting fillers (they lost also an amount of fans due to the last 6 months fillers and also the bad quality of the main story - War arc is just ... A joke - ), so on ...

      In last, we can wait until the manga finishes, many fans want studios to resume it and make pressure on tokyo tv, nd i think that we can't see the end of the manga without the resume of the anime ... That's my point of view ( The final arc is way better than the other arcs, so i think that it will get more popular than the others in the adaptation and wil lget a better audience ;) )

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