Filler Arc

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See also: Story Arc, Adaptation
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In anime/manga fandoms, a Filler Arc is an extra plot inserted into an anime by new writers while the studio waits for the manga on which the anime is based to gain enough lead material for another season. Some examples of series that contain filler arcs are Naruto and Bleach.

Background

As recently as the 1980s it was not uncommon for a series to be produced in one media only. Lately, however, it has become more common practice to make anime based on popular manga while the manga is running. Because action generally takes longer to communicate on the page than on the screen, and because the anime may start production after as few as two or three dozen issues of the manga have been released, such anime often threaten to overrun the manga on which they are based.

When this happens, the writers for the studio which is producing the anime version create a series of episodes, sometimes a whole season, with action that only takes place in the anime. The manga author may sometimes consult on these sections, but it seems more common for them not to.

Fan Reception

Fans who focus primarily on the manga often disparage and dislike filler arcs for a variety of reasons. By its nature, filler must not advance the main plot or character development, or else must reverse what has been done in order to take up the main storyline as presented by the manga once again. Some fans consider this shallow or annoying. For some fans of the manga, the fact that the manga author was not involved renders the filler arc automatically unacceptable.

Fans who have entered the fandom primarily through the anime version may share these feelings, but are generally somewhat more forgiving. Anime-oriented fans seem more willing to consider filler episodes or seasons as a romp, after which the main action can resume with no loss.

Similar reactions can be seen in some cases where the anime version does not wait on the manga version but simply ends at some opportune point. Such anime may pick up the manga storyline later, in the form of OVAs. Some examples of series that have done this are Hunter X Hunter, Fushigi Yuugi and Prince of Tennis. Both FY and PoT created endings that differed significantly from the manga and had to Retcon characters back into the right places to continue. This drew more long-term ire from fans than HxH, which simply stopped broadcast production in the middle of an arc and continued with OVA production on an irregular schedule whenever enough manga material accumulated.

Examples of Filler Arcs

  • The Makai/Doom Tree arc from Sailor Moon's R series, created to fill time until the manga of R was ready to be published.
  • The Orange Islands saga in the Pokémon anime, created to fill time before Gold and Silver were officially released.
  • The Bount arc in Bleach.
  • The first OVA of Fushigi Yuugi.