Here’s a million dollar question: Why are there so many fillers in long running anime?
An anime is typically adapted from another source material. Usually it’s either a manga (like Naruto or World Trigger), a light novel series (like Kyoukai no Kanata), or even visual novel/computer game (Little Busters!, the When They Cry series). When adapting a manga into an anime, parts maybe cut, changed, rearranged, and sometimes new content is added.
While some changes are welcomed by fans, most are not. One of the most unwelcome additions are the filler episodes. A filler episode can be as short as 1 episode, or as long as an entire season of the anime. These episodes were not a part of the original source content’s story, and usually serve absolutely no purpose in furthering the main story.
One of the main reasons that we see fillers is because they are meant to buy time for the anime when the content catches up to the pace of the source material. This delay give the authors some time to adapt more material for the anime. After all, you can’t really adapt something that doesn’t exist yet.
For example, consider One Piece. The show is still being produced and has more than 500 episodes, and less than 10% of those episodes are fillers. Comparing that to Naruto, the show has almost the same number of episodes (original and Shippuuden combined), but almost 50% of its episodes are fillers. Needless to say, the manga of Naruto is so far ahead (and now completed) that the anime can’t catch up even if they produce 100+ episodes without any fillers. Naruto commonly animates battles really fast-pased, so they tend to catch-up with the manga quickly. Whereas One Piece, while having lots of battle too, tends to make them less dynamic, so in the end, they are longer and don’t catch up to manga as easily.
Generally, fans don’t like fillers for the following reasons:
- They are pointless, and don’t add to the plot of character development in any meaningful way. Sometimes it takes away from the action and go on bizarre tangets only to end up exactly where they began (it’s was all a dream!).
- They sometimes add plotholes or other contradictions to storyline and a considered non-canonical.
- They (usually) aren’t written by the same author as the original source material, so the quality and vision of the story might not be up to standards.
Also, there are a number of risks to including filler episodes as explained in an episode of Gintama :
[Gif Set found here]
If you visit the Anime Filler List, you can find a list of filler episodes and cannon episodes categorized by anime title if you would like to save yourself the trouble of watching episodes that have no point to the plot.