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Fan Service or Filler: What is the Real Poison of Anime?

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If you were to ask most anime fans what their least favorite aspects of anime, they would probably say one of three things: fan service, filler, and fandoms. The last one will be talked about in it’s own article, because it’s a vast topic to discuss, but we’re here this week to talk about what the most toxic thing to the anime community is, fan service or filler. Now, as a pretense, this is all my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. My opinion most likely differs from your’s, so you don’t have to take everything I say as fact. And actually, you could voice your opinion in the comments below, because I do read them and usually respond.

Let’s start off with a definition of what fan service and filler is. Fan service is material intentionally added to anime to please their audience, thus servicing them. It usually comes in the form of ecchi situations, such as a beach or hotspring episode or a particularly suggestive scene. Filler is the addition of non-canonical scenes in anime, which wasn’t in the original source material. Examples of this would be the two years of fillers after Naruto and Sasuke’s fight in the original Naruto, and the Bount arc in Bleach. It is essentially useless fluff to the main story.

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Fan service is really bad because of how it treats the audience.

It makes us otakus seem like depraved sexual deviants, especially in the areas of yaoi and every shonen anime ever made. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to explain my way out of situations when my mother showed up right when fan service happens…let’s just say awkward is an understatement. Fan service just further paints a bad picture of us, in a world where we’re all looked down on anyway as simple geeks. Now, in their eyes, we’re geeks and perverts.

This wouldn’t be bad, if fan service really didn’t ruin the anime they were in. I’ve seen countless promising anime tarnished by the black spots of audience pandering, such examples being Sword Art Online, Highschool of the Dead (would have been a great horror zombie survival show), and Agame Ga Kill. I feel like these anime would have been much better if we didn’t have suggestions of tentacle rape or the balancing of an AK-47 on someone’s chest. As far as Agame Ga Kill went…yeah, that was already soulless to begin with. They try to increase the interest of testosterone-fueled fan boys, but it makes the anime seem immature and childish.

Like a ten year old who figured out how to turn 8008 into the word ‘boob’ on a calculator. (Don’t lie, every boy has done that sometime in class to pass the time.)

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Filler is probably one of the most annoying things known to any anime fan, ever. Not saying it’s necessarily worse than fan service, as that’s more offensive and annoying at the same time, but filler is more rage inducing.

There was no worse feeling than having a battle in the middle of Bleach stop, only to be replaced by an entire arc that never even existed in the source material. Having original content in an anime adaptation isn’t bad, because it’s an adaptation, but half of it is done so lazily. When was the last time anyone said that their favorite part of Naruto was the part with Sora? Or that the Bount arc of Bleach was the best written storyline? I never have.

Most of the time, it happens because the anime catches up with the manga, as is the case with a lot of the shonen series. Instead of ending a season, as anime like Attack on Titan were smart to do, they decide to cut off their running content and start their own. As if we didn’t notice the difference.

The worst part? If the filler arcs were to affect the main story drastically, the people who enjoyed the source material would get furious that the anime deviated for the original story. How am I supposed to be invested in an arc if it technically never happened? And there’s never any suspense if the main character fights a powerful enemy, because if a character were to die in a filler, the amount of hate that people would feel towards your anime would be unparalleled.

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For my personal opinion, fillers are worse than fan service.

Don’t get me wrong, fan service can be horrible, but it’s easy to overlook as it usually lasts a few scenes and at most an entire episode. However, with fillers, it’s blatantly in your face the entire time. It can take up 13 to 25 episodes, which is absolutely absurd! And half of us wonder why these Shonen Jump series are hundreds of episodes long!

To me, filler represents some corporate greed. Think about why they didn’t just end on a season finale when they ran out of source material. Because their anime is making a lot of money! And you won’t make as much money if you don’t have any episodes, right? I applaud series like Attack on Titan, that stopped to let the manga catch up with it, as opposed to making fillers about Connie’s or Sasha’s back story.

And if you wanna think about it this way, fillers can house fan service, too. Now that’s a horrifying thought, isn’t it?

That’s it for now. If you want to tell me what you think is worse in the anime community, filler or fan service, leave your comment down below. And if you liked what you read, consider leaving a “like” so I know. Until next time, this has been the Anime Analyst. Zachary, out.

Disclaimers:

Header image: “Kill la Kill” from Studio Trigger

Image 1: “Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club” from Kyoto Animation

Image 2: “Bleach” from Studio Pierrot

Image 3: “Naruto” from Studio Pierrot

Neither Zaktaku or UnimeTV owns the screenshots used in this article. Please don’t sue us…especially Zaktaku.

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6 Comments

  1. In my opinion, bith can be equally as bad depending on what’s happening. Filler annoys me if it cuts something important in half, but if it genuinely adds something to a series (even if just entertainment), then it’s not too bad…and now I’ve typed that I’m struggling to think of a good example of decent filler…
    Fan Service…when I got into anime it was through stuff like Ninja Scroll and Fist of the North Star on VHS. Anime back then had a lot of nudity from what I remember (look at Ranma 1/2 and sone scenes in Tenchi Muyo for example). My issue with fan service in general these days that when it stumbles into shows that I’m watching, it always seems to feature teens. I get that the shows that this affects are aimed at teens and that they feature teen characters, but being in my 30’s now, I find it to be a combo of dull and discomforting. That is likely an age thing though: it bothers me less with say, Revy in Black Lagoon.

    1. Now that I think about that, it is kinda creepy having teenagers like that. When older characters do it, like Revy, or someone else I really can’t think of at the moment, it’s not as bad. It’s still annoying to see it flaunted around in a promising anime, just because you wanted your audience to be ‘interested.’ Save that for the doujinshi writers, right?

      Also, the best filler I can say off of the top of my head is a few from the original DBZ and the Bleach arc with all of the Zanpakuto fighting their masters, and even that got a bit convoluted near the end and was the only really good filler I could think of from the show

  2. You complain about “fanservice” by posting images of Kill la Kill and Free! – two well-designed shows that both use ecchi to augment their stories in constructive ways…

    Anyway, I don’t think ecchi is such a trivially removable aspect of anime as you imply it is by proposing that a number of shows would be “better” if they took it out. I would argue that the ecchi aspects of those shows, in part, make them what they are. These “improvements” you offer feel like you’re just creating an entirely new show. Your desire for an undistracted story may be better satiated by seeking shows that intend to tell such a story in the first place.

    1. I used those images because I actually knew what those anime were (Typing fanservice into google shows off a lot of anime I don’t recognize. My mistake though). I meant no ill will towards the anime. I was just simply giving examples of fan service, both to what the male and female audiences perceive as such. I’ve never actually watched Free!, but I know Kill la Kill was a parody on fan service today. In short, neither of those shows were meant to be bad because of fan service, it was just a popular example of such.

      However, I feel like ecchi should not define what an anime should be. Anime has shown that it can have complex story lines and a popular cult-like following without the use of your common beach or hotspring episodes. Sexualizing your character, in both gender’s regards, is a way to really disrespect that character. Fan service has become so evident in the geek culture, I think it really is a problem.

      What you suggest, with going to watch an anime that has a good story and ignore the fan service-y ones, is ignoring the problem. And if you ignore a problem like that, it’s going to get bigger and bigger to the point where it’ll be impossible to ignore.

  3. Having grown up with Dragon Ball/Z I’ve become sort of accustomed to filler in anime. It can actually be good for the show if it’s actually interesting or fits in with the plot of the series somehow. Fan service, or at least too much of it, will always be the biggest cancer of anime.Too many shows have been ruined because of giant breasts and unneeded panty shots.

    Great post, by the way. If you have the time, check out my post on the subject when you can.

    https://neetaku86.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/fanservice-a-lovehate-relationship-mostly-hate/

    1. Filler is tolerable if you grew up on it, especially growing up on something like DBZ. However, a lot of fillers nowadays are so…bad. I applaud shows like Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online, who were smart enough to end the season instead of making subpar fillers.

      And thanks for the compliment!

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