Of Fillers and Concerning Bleach/Naruto

I haven’t posted about these two yet and considering they’re currently among the most popular, well-known anime currently airing I thought I should address that. I’m a pretty uppity, high brow anime hobbyist. Quite simply, I don’t watch trash and won’t put up with average. That usually includes 90% of dubs, every run-of-the-mill procedural anime based on some ero-game, a lot of romantic-comedies, low-brow humor, and low-budget animation. I’ve seen enough anime by this time to discern what I like and dislike and know that I can pick and choose what I want to watch. There was a time when anime was so sparse that I could literally watch any anime and like it. Seriously, it didn’t matter what it was as long as it was anime. Ah, those were the days…but that’s a post for another time.

Where am I going with this? Do I hate the ever-so-popular Naruto and Bleach? No. I mean, I’ll be perfectly honest with you, Bleach and Naruto are among my favorites of anime. However, being the 100+ episode adventures they are, they have this disgusting, yet unavoidable habit of constantly using what’s known as “filler”. Fillers are one of the main problems with anime that use these epic adventure formats. Every format has its flaws. In an earlier post, I gave a little jab at procedural anime even while my examples were top-notch, first class of their kind. To be clear, I adored Mushishi, Monster was absolutely brilliant, and Wolf’s Rain was awesome. My jab wasn’t at them but rather at their nameless, forgettable siblings that always seem take place at a high school and center around average, everyday, “you’d-be-completely-uninteresting-if-it-wasn’t-for-the-heart-of-gold-and- ability-overcome-any-obstacle” joe.

I said that procedural anime live-or-die by their ability to tell compelling, self-contained short stories in the span of a single episode. Conversely, epic adventures need to deliver on their climaxes and be able to keep the interest of the viewers over the 30+ episodes it takes to get to those plot pinnacles. Fillers have the complete opposite effect of that. They disturb the momentum and dilute the quality of the series because they’re not even canon storylines (meaning they’re not true to the source material or have any effect on the main story). I’ve said this before, but fillers are animated fanfiction. Imagine if, in the middle of one of the Matrix movies, Neo went back into the Matrix and had an adventure that was completely unrelated to the main plot. You’d be like, “Wtf is this? He was just about to save Zion!”

It’s a sad truth for the great series they are but Naruto and Bleach are the worst offenders of this filler trash. Unfortunately, because of how the japanese animation industry is structured, they simply can’t avoid using fillers. I’ve come to terms with that and have found my own way to deal with it: I just don’t watch them. That’s right, I completely skip entire episodes, mini-arcs, and even saga-stretching fillers. And I can do this because none of the material is canon so there will be no penalty to me for not having watched the episode. That shows just how useless fillers are. Can you imagine skipping 3-4 episodes of Lost and then jumping back in at the most current episode? You’d have no idea what was going on.

You might be thinking I’m being too harsh on fillers. To be clear, there’s a time and a place for fillers. For instance, procedural anime are perfectly tailored for filler. Filler done right won’t even be noticeable to someone who hasn’t read the manga and I’m fine with that. But epic adventure anime like Bleach and Naruto are the worst type of anime for filler because they stick out like sore, bloody, infected thumbs.

So that’s my reason for not posting about Naruto and Bleach. It’s not that I don’t watch them or not care about them. It’s just that I’m not watching them or don’t care about them at the moment. That’s a trend that looks like is going to be continuing for a while since both Bleach and Naruto have committed to doing entire saga-spanning fillers because they’ve made brand new openings just for these non-canon characters.

Sigh, damn shame…. damn shame it is. Such a love/disgust relationship I have with these series. Oh well.

/rant

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2 Responses to “Of Fillers and Concerning Bleach/Naruto”

  1. Flopjack Says:

    You’ve /ranted for me so I don’t have to. Thank you!

    I completely agree about the fillers. In essence; they suck. I watched Naruto and it was a blast. The fillers started and I figured out it was filler about the time they didn’t catch that strange bug. Not knowing how long the fillers went, I skimmed episodes a few at a time, then 5 at a time then like 10 at at time until I found myself at Shippuden and watched the intro for the first episode and was back to that entertained state. Save for possibly a few episodes/parts of episodes Shippuden has sucked in terms of animation and overall plot interest. It just seems to fall short when compared to the first 100(ish) episodes that aren’t fillers.

    Bleach is basically the same way. Fillers suck. My friend insisted I should watch all of the Bount section after I threatened to skip them because of boredom so I did. I regret it too. I told another friend to skip the entire section.

    They should just not air ANYthing and put those resources and time that they would put into fillers into making the next arc or original comic related that much better and polished; quality > quantity.

    On your minor note of dubs, I disagree. I prefer high quality as much as you do I’m sure but I think I am more apt to choose dub overall. I am there to watch, listen and enjoy, not read. I hate spending my time reading the bottom of the screen EVERY second. I want to see what is going on. I want to hear the character WHILE looking at their movements and the action. I have to quickly read the bottom then quickly read the top note on an untranslated word because it says something like. “I’m going to hit you with my qual-kack!” (Note: qual-kack is a very poor example of inserting an off the top of my head Japanese word or like a weapon… or something.) That is frustrating! The job of a translator is supposed to make the dialog as close to my language AND culture as possible. I will never understand why people prefer Shinigami to Death God. Shinigami means NOTHING to a typical American. Death God sounds like… 80x more hardcore anyways!

    Secondly, I am unable to pick up on nuances in voices because I am not listening to my native language. For example: In English I can hear when someone puts an subtle emphasis on a sentence like: “Why don’t YOU go there?” which would be a different meaning then: “Why don’t you GO there?” I could emphasize any one word in that sentence and it has a different meaning to me. Or for example sarcasm. I can’t get that in voice alone unless it is explained to me through typically poorly done subtitles.

    However! Having said that I will generally opt for subtitles if there is no dub avaliable, the dub is horrid (see Neon Genesis Mechness whatever, which by the way does NOT live up to the hype as far as I’m concerned.) or the dub is edited/cut for content.

  2. i hate fillers too

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