Does filler have its place?

Is it just me, or does there seem to be a hell of a lot of filler in anime lately?

Filler seems to be a topic that breeds much discussion amongst anime fans, and it seems to be pretty much black and white – some people love it, others hate it.

There are a few good reasons for anime based on an ongoing manga to contain filler. The most important reason is that anime episodes are rarely based off of one chapter alone, and every week you get a new episode. This churns through manga chapters in no time at all, making it impossible for the manga to keep up.

It makes sense then, to get through as much of the storyline as possible and spend the rest of the time pumping out filler until there’s enough of a gap, right? Sure, I’m happy with that. But there’s a whole other side to this too which isn’t nearly as friendly to the viewers.

In Japan DVDs and Blu-Rays of anime episodes cost an absolute fortune. A lot of the studio’s secondary income after all of the money from the TV Studios is through disk sales. It stands to reason then that the more filler you make, the more cash you can rake in for exactly the same amount of chapters, right?

Now I’m sure not every studio out there does this, but I bet there’s more than one anime out there that’s brought in profits this way. Take Naruto for example – the final few arcs were pure filler, and Shippuden isn’t faring much better, the Ninja War has barely even started in the anime, yet in the manga it’s almost over!

Despite this though, not all filler is about making a quick buck. There’s filler out there that genuinely aims at providing more character development and background story to the main characters. There’s also anime-originals out there that whilst aren’t present in the original material, are far from non-canonical.

Is it so wrong then for studios to try and recoup their costs any way they can? Even on the cheaper end of the scale, 20 minutes of animation can cost at a minimum ¥8,000,000 yen per episode. Hell some studios charge ¥5,000,000 per minute! At the end of the day, the more episodes you can sell, the more money you can make, and that money can be put towards even more episodes later on.

I confess I’m not a fan of filler personally, but that’s because I’m an extremely impatient person. If I don’t feel a series is going anywhere, I won’t watch it. Not everyone’s like me though, and it’s quite clear that this is one issue that doesn’t have a definitive answer.

One thing’s for certain – filler isn’t going to disappear overnight, and I don’t think I’m convinced it should.