Follow-up QTfromK: Naruto filler
Well, well, well. Little annoys me just as much as how Naruto, particularly Shippuuden, cripples itself with filler. Aiming for a relatively short post that doesn't seem too much like a rant here, so here are the main reasons as to why I hate it:
1) It's not entertaining.
I've seen, at max, five entertaining filler episodes in the entirety of Naruto and that says something about the general quality of the stuff - seeing as I've watched pretty much all of it, including the near-on 100 stint before Shippuuden. There's barely any originality in the mix, despite the sheer quantity of filler episodes they've put out. Your classic standalone filler episode consists of picking up on the one defining trait of a side-character and making it into the focus of a whole twenty minutes. Yes, we get it, Lee never gives up, Hinata likes Naruto, yadda yadda yadda. As if these points hadn't been hammered home enough in the real episodes. It just works towards making characters that you like utterly less likeable. As for the filler arcs, well, if they're not ripping off something that already exists in the canon then they're chock-full of blandness and/or silliness for your viewing pleasure.
2) It's not good quality.
Let's face it, it's nowhere near the standard we're used to in the rest of the show. That's because filler is rarely left to the main team of artists and animators whilst they either take a break or work on something else. In my opinion, if it's not going to be up to scratch then don't do it at all. Otherwise it's just a disappointment.
3) It just doesn't make sense!
"Where does this fit in?" "Who are these people?" "Shouldn't he be...?" Not uncommon questions in response to the filler that hits our screens, and not unreasonable ones either. For the most part, filler really just doesn't fit with the main story arc. Fair enough if it's supplied as a standalone OVA, but when it's dished-up in the middle of a season with complete disregard to the context, how are we supposed to deal with it? One of the arcs in part 1 (possibly the race around the Tea country?) sees Sasuke playing a heavy role, despite being hospitalised before the story takes place and being returned to hospital afterwards. Similarly one of the long filler arcs before the Hidan/Kakuzu arc saw an enemy who was able to use all of the chakra elements, and yet then when the team is introduced to Kakuzu later on it's all "ZOMGWTF HE CAN USE ALL THE ELEMENTS". It's like the stories are just tripping over each other.
4) It's unavoidable.
This is the bit that really grinds my gears. Gone are the days where you could skip a good 90 episodes safe in the knowledge that they bear no weight whatsoever in the grand scheme of things. Now you have to be really careful about skipping anything in case it contains a minute or two of canon exposition, and thus are almost forced to watch the dross that surrounds these little nuggets. Take the recent sequence of episodes, in which people flock to help rebuild Konoha but in reality just sit around and have flashbacks all day. I don't want to watch these episodes. In fact if I remember rightly, one of them even featured a talking ostrich. But almost every one of them contained within it something to do with the appointment of the next Hokage or other vital information which would be completely overlooked if the less clued-up of us decided to skip the blatant filler entirely. That's just not fair.
I fully understand why they put out filler though. They need to leave themselves some breathing room so as not to catch up with the manga as they did for part 1. But there is definitely an overcompensation here, a paranoia if you will, leading to a shockingly slow pace and almost repulsive canon:filler ratio. It would be simple enough to deal with this problem, and that's as they have already done so in the past - big blocks of filler episodes rather than small arcs or one-offs intermingling with the canon. This way the filler can easily be skipped by those who don't want to watch it without the fear of missing some crucial development (not to mention those incredibly dear box sets won't be clogged-up with rubbish). In this case there is also little risk of conflicting with the main story arc. And lastly, seeing as you're going to be releasing it anyway as a necessary evil, why not staff it properly and release something half-decent? Then at least you won't get as much of a dip in views or sales every time filler has to air.
That's about that then. A bit longer than intended, but ah well. Here's a sad Lee: