18

The general rule seems to be that filler is made when an anime is being produced faster than the manga. The thing I just can't seem to figure out is

  1. How an entire freaking episode takes longer to produce than a manga which practically only equals a story board.
  2. Why would they start producing random filler rather than just overtaking the manga with their own story.

I mean, is this some Japanese cultural thing where a lot of credit is given to the author of the manga and he isn't allowed to collaborate with others to speed up production or is this a cultural thing where Japanese actually like those fillers or what? After all, there are a lot of economic incentives not to produce filler episodes as they tend to irritate fans a lot and still cost a lot to produce.

  • 3
    Possibly relevant? – Maroon Aug 23 '15 at 2:23
  • 3
    1 - Because a manga is usually drawn by only the mangaka and perhaps a few assistants, whereas an anime is drawn by tens or hundreds of animators. 2 - Because then you end up with things like the FMA 2003 series or HxH 1999, after which point the fans want to see the actual manga story turned into an anime (Brotherhood or HxH 2011). – Killua Aug 23 '15 at 2:32
  • 1
    If you have multiple questions, please split them. As Maroon implied, one of your questions is a duplicate. Also, the second part of your question is loaded – ton.yeung Aug 23 '15 at 2:35
  • 1
    @ton.yeung Well, writing a complex filler arc takes a lot of time to write as well... I mean, it would then still from an economic point of view make more sense to send the same writer to help out the mangaka. Or even more sensible to just have the mangaka focus on the story 100% and have others do the production work. – David Mulder Aug 23 '15 at 2:40
  • 1
    Chrno Crusade had its own ending, as the anime had overtaken the manga. Quite honestly, the anime ending was awful and no better than any other random filler. At least a filler you can skip. – Nolonar Aug 23 '15 at 9:36
28

TL;DR - It's because financially, it pays off for longer, more popular anime series. It allows them to retain broadcasting slot, as well as sponsors and advertisers, by sacrificing a bit of quality.


First, it needs to be pointed out that many anime don't have filler. Filler episodes are only common in long-running popular anime such as One Piece, Naruto, or Bleach. This is because of the particular profit model they have. These long-running shows make a profit through sponsorships and advertisements. In contrast, shorter works, especially late night anime, only make a profit through sales of blu-rays and other merchandise. Hence, for long-running shows, the quality of individual episodes is somewhat less of a concern.

Given that the episodes need to be around 20 minutes long (excluding OP and ED sequences) and air once a week to fit into TV programming schedules, the anime almost always needs to go faster than the manga. Hence, there are essentially 3 options for what to do. Most commonly, they will just add a few irrelevant "filler" episodes occasionally. This does tend to make viewers unhappy if they're too common, but production studios have determined that viewers are less likely to stop watching if fillers air than if the anime just takes a break.

Another option is to take a break whenever the anime gets close to the manga. This is the strategy Gintama takes as well as most late-night anime that are popular enough to be adapted fully (e.g. To Love-Ru). It results in higher quality, but it's harder to keep sponsorships and TV slots when the show airs infrequently, and viewers may drop it during the break. One Piece has done this at times and aired fillers at other times. The third option is to abandon the manga entirely and write an original story. Some works that did this are Fullmetal Alchemist (the original), Hayate no Gotoku (1st season), Hunter x Hunter (original) and Soul Eater. This used to be much more popular, especially in the 1990s, but it makes it more difficult to continue the anime and fans usually aren't happy with the changes, so these days it's become very uncommon. Notice that 3 of these 4 ended up needing to be rebooted or have large retcons to have anime continuations, and the fourth hasn't been despite a large following simply because of the difficulties involved.

So, to put it simply, these long-running shows have filler because that's their best option to keep their TV slots, sponsors, and viewers. It does cost a bit of quality, but that's acceptable for highly popular shows like this where quality is somewhat less of a concern.


As for why they can't just speed up the manga production to accommodate the anime, that wouldn't really be feasible. Manga production is mostly done by a single mangaka with an editor and sometimes one or more assistants, while a single anime episode may have dozens of animators working on it. In the case of popular works, essentially everything that can possibly be is left to the assistants. Apart from splitting up story and artwork, there isn't much that could be done to speed up the process, and few mangaka want to do that (though it has been done in some cases). Furthermore, managaka are already ridiculously overworked; the rate at which manga is produced right now is basically as fast as it can possibly be produced. To get rid of fillers, production would need to be sped up significantly (roughly 50-100% faster for most works), and it's hard to imagine any way to do that.

In addition, it wouldn't really help the manga to be produced faster. Most of these manga are released in weekly magazines which contain a chapter of several works. If production was sped up drastically, this would mean fewer works could be included in a single issue. It's likely that this wouldn't really increase revenue, since these works typically target younger children and adolescents without a large amount of disposable income, but it would drastically increase the production costs per series. Given that the manga and anime are produced by two completely different companies, that relatively few manga ever get adapted to anime, and that the manga is often more profitable than the anime, there's really no reason (and no realistic way) to speed up the manga just for the sake of eliminating anime fillers.

  • I really like the concrete answers as far as specific anime/manga that did it X way, and I am curious if you could provide any examples for where the manga production was split by story/artwork – user2813274 Aug 24 '15 at 1:22
  • 2
    @user2813274 Most of the works by Clamp do so. To Love-Ru also comes to mind, as do Death Note and Bakuman (both by the same pair). I'm sure there's more examples, but it's rather uncommon. It's perhaps most common for spin-off series; for example, Saki Achiga-hen was written by the author of the main series Saki, but had a separate illustrator. – Logan M Aug 24 '15 at 1:55
9

Logan's answer covers most of the relevant points, but I also want to add that in many cases, one chapter of manga is not enough story to fill one episode of anime. You often need two or even three chapters of manga to have enough story for an anime episode. So it wouldn't be enough to just produce the manga one chapter ahead of where the anime story is; you'd have to get two or three chapters ahead. This isn't possible for the reasons Logan described.

Anime series choose different ways of dealing with this problem. This depends a lot on the particular series:

  • In the Dragon Ball Z anime, there were a lot of extra clashes and inconclusive exchanges of blows than in the manga, which filled up time so the story could progress more slowly. While this sometimes grew tiresome, it was generally a low-impact way to stretch out a manga chapter so it would take an entire episode.
  • Full Metal Alchemist, on the other hand, had a much tighter sense of continuity, so the story couldn't be slowed down without damaging it. The earlier stories mostly played out just like in the manga; later, the 2003 anime took its own path. Some other series do this in a small way; for example, Aria did an original story early on that introduced several of the main characters, where in the manga these characters were introduced in separate stories.
  • Series which are more episodic, like Yuru Yuri, will sometimes combine multiple manga chapters into a single anime episode; in these cases, the manga itself typically contained what could be called "filler", stories which can be moved around in time without affecting the continuity, so the anime producers slot them in as needed.

Creating original filler material is another way of solving this problem. It works reasonably well when you have a show with a fairly strong sense of continuity, meaning the episodes can't be stretched, combined, or swapped, and you don't want to do an entirely new story. Logan's answer gives other reasons why the staff might choose this method.

3

To give more perspective on a character or event that wasn't able in the written work. Not all characters have time to develop or exist in the book. For instance we know that the Bleach has 13 Squads but only in the anime do we really get know the background of characters that is meaningless to the plot. This question stem from book vs TV.

There's will always be more details (qualified in words) on average in books compared to on TV. Though there will always be more details (qualified in images) on average on TV compared to Books. Simply this means that these Two separate have a different purpose, one is display visual perspective while other is two display written perspective.

The translation of media and purpose allows more freedom on the priority of the perspective. In the Book a Fight scene may take fight chapters( Ex. Shura's Wrath) while the Tv may online give it half an episode ( 15mins). Of course, this decisions on perceptive can affect the continuity of the series leading to the negative feelings of "filler episodes.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.