7 Fantastic Filler Episodes
by Lynzee Loveridge,
There are few things more dreaded than endless filler episodes in an otherwise tightly-paced action show. Filler usually diverts from the main plot for inane comedic adventures at hot springs, beaches, or ski trips. Good filler will take a break from physical fighting to build character relationships or feature a concept so unique that it manages to be funny where others phone it in. For the sake of this column, I'm regarding filler as episodes that are mostly diversions from the main plotline, not strictly unique anime content that doesn't exist in the source material.
Goku's Ordeal (Dragon Ball Z) Goku's been busy saving the world from never-ending onslaughts of alien destruction, so you can't really blame the guy for never getting around to obtaining his driver's license. In the midst of the Trunks Saga, Chi Chi gets fed with constantly being saddled with all the work around the house, including being accosted by wild animals on the way home from the grocery store since the family doesn't have a car. She holds her delicious cooking hostage until both Goku and Piccolo manage to overcome their greatest challenge yet: the DMV. Both continue to fail miserably although their instructors, a barely-living elderly man and a woman with intense road rage, don't make for the best teachers.
Gotta See! Gotta Know! Kakashi-Sensei's True Face! (Naruto) The reveal of Kakashi-sensei's face in 2015 was huge news, but when this filler episode aired in 2007, his gorgeous mug was still a mystery. Team 7 tasks themselves with finding the answer once and for all, attempting to corner Kakashi but getting outmaneuvered every time. The anime staff were in on the joke, using a passing crow to break the fourth wall and exclaim, "Worst episode ever! Ever!" when it isn't outright calling Naruto and friends idiots. The episode ends with Kakashi willingly removing his own mask, but it isn't his face underneath.
Two Is Better Than One. Two People Are Better Than One (Gintama) Two rivals ending up handcuffed together is a classic scenario. In this case it's Gintoki and Hijikata, so don't expect a heartwarming conclusion where the pair end up respecting each other's perspectives and differences. The episode instead plays up the series' strong suit of physical comedy, literally waltzing the pair around and covering each other in mayonnaise as they attempt to pull off a stakeout despite their predicament.
Baseball Blues (Samurai Champloo) Samurai Champloo's charm is in its anachronisms, as the series deftly blends hip hop into 1600s Japan. The Baseball Blues episode is the most extreme example of anachronisms for the sake of comedic effect in the show, given that the sport didn't even exist yet. This episode pits our cast against invading Americans as both current and historical commentary (this scenario is an anachronism too, but let's move on), while showing off Mugen's pitching skills and letting Manzo do his best American impression. "Yankee Doodle!"
Shocking Pink (Beyond the Boundary) In one episode of Kyoto Animation's Beyond the Boundary, the staff took a break from the supernatural story long enough for the characters to take on a different kind of yōumu. The thing, which is effectively a giant eyeball that spews foul-smelling goo, can't be sneaked up on. The crew decide to put together an impromptu idol sequence to distract it while cutting between a montage of their hard work (that never actually happened). The scene is pretty funny, but unfortunately it doesn't save the group from getting barfed on again.
Curried High Trip (Revolutionary Girl Utena) Early Nanami episodes are pretty weird, but Curried High Trip takes the cake. What starts out as one of her usual pranks unleashes a zoo-full of animals, brain-swapping between Utena and Anthy, and utterly fails to get Nanami the attention from her beloved brother that she hoped for. Saionji also gets some comeuppance when it's revealed he wants to share an exchange diary with Anthy and she calls him a dumbass. No tears lost on that guy.
Scribbling Mokona (Tsubasa Chronicle) Li, Sakura, and crew are busy hopping through worlds to recover Sakura's memories but the staff decided to take a breather using the show's mascot, Mokona. The magic bunny-like creature gets full control when everyone discovers they've become super-deformed. Anything Mokona can draw becomes their reality for an episode full of dolphin-based puns and a mecha-powered Mokona. Everything comes to a head with Mokona's mecha version devours the cast and cleanses their memories. It's probably for the best.
The new poll: What's your favorite anime filler arc?
The old poll: What's your favorite Halloween classic monster?
- Grim Reaper
- Frankenstein's Monster
- Lovecraftian monstrosity
- Roswell Greys (classic alien)
- Humans Are Most Dangerous Trope
- Weeping Angels
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Giant Gila Monster!
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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