Fillers and Timing: Thoughts on Anime Adaptations

In my Gantz review, I lamented the fact that the adaptation occurs so soon (volume eight). I’ve given this some more thought and I wonder if I can do this topic justice. I’ve watched the anime of Gantz but I haven’t read the manga. The same is true of X (although I do really want to read both series at some point). I have seen Nabari no Ou and I possess the first volume. I have volumes one and seven of Fairy Tail (and I want more) but not the adaptation. So, I’m limited to, I think, Naruto, Bleach, and Fullmetal Alchemist. But with Fullmetal Alchemist I haven’t seen the first series in some time. So should I focus on Brotherhood exclusively? To a certain extent, Naruto and Bleach have issues that deal mainly with filler (anime only arcs and episodes that exist to allow the manga to gain more distance) while Gantz, X, Nabari no Ou, and even Fullmetal Alchemist are more limited in their episodes. This raises an interesting problem for me- what is my issue with these adaptations? Can I even talk about them if I haven’t seen one or read the other? I think that the fillers I’ve seen have been on the whole less well developed and generally inferior to the adapted arcs. In some cases, that comes from an adaptation starting too soon, not taking breaks, or the manga is not finished yet.

Gantz‘s ending is unsatisfying, but to end it with the manga’s ending means that the manga itself needs to have ended. But the series continues (although nearing its end). So what choice did the team producing Gantz have but to create an ending? Now, not all original or filler endings are terrible. I love how X and Nabari no Ou end. And they both share similarities to Gantz: All three series adapt a only a fraction of the total series (Gantz has thirty volumes[and counting] but adapts only the first eight, X has nineteen [though unlikely to ever finish] though I’m not sure how many volumes they’ve actually covered, and Nabari no Ou has fourteen but adapts the first seven). In part, these series are limited to a single season’s worth of episodes (twenty four-twenty six) so some condensing of the material is needed.

Fullmetal Alchemist has more room to breath given its fifty one and sixty four episode series. Focusing on Brotherhood, I have enjoyed all the episodes but two, “Fullmetal Alchemist”and “Interlude Party.” The first episode makes no sense, it’s a throwaway introduction with a plot that has no bearing on the rest of the series. I understand that the idea is to rush through the first seven volumes (which are shared with the first series). But that episode makes no sense. My objection to “Interlude Party” lies in the fact that it spills too much information before the big reveal of who Father is. Though a quaint episode, it doesn’t do much besides give Pinako more scenes.

My biggest beef, I think, comes from the Naruto and Bleach adaptations. Both mangas are wildly popular and an anime adaptation is a no brainer. But there is just too much filler! I like Naruto more than Bleach so I’ll focus on it from here on out, but it does relate to Bleach as well. The first series almost avoids fillers up until the final eighty episodes, but the sequel has alternating seasons of adaptation and filler (saving the first two seasons which adapt Kazekage Rescue and Sai and Sasuke arcs). Often these arcs are just silly or don’t really lead anywhere. The problem is, as has been pointed out on various forums, that there is no lag time between seasons. A week may be skipped. If the typical episode covers two chapters, then the anime moves twice as fast. This is unfortunate, I think, because it causes whole seasons to be missed. And if one does not watch a series after a hiatus, one may not want to go back to it (like Naruto Shippuden).

All of this said, I get why fillers and original endings and directions exists. On the whole, I don’t like it. So I just skip it and come back when it’s over.

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Posted on April 15, 2011, in Anime and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. One of the only shows that has done anime-only endings right is Fullmetal Alchemist 2003, which I think far surpassed the manga in terms of themes and character drama. But that’s just my own opinion.

  2. I think the purpose of episode one in FMA Brotherhood was to foreshadow the real problem in Amestris.. xD Although the alchemist there, Isaac, has no real role throughout the series, I just think that what happened in the episode was enough to foreshadow everything.. It didnt spill too much information nor became a total filler– it just did a right amount of foreshadowing.

    • Excellent take on FMA: Brotherhood’s first episode. Besides the foreshadowing, I think the first episode also provides a difference from the opening episodes of the original anime series.

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