Being a huge fan of Dragon Ball, I’ve always seen the debate over filler content – what’s cannon and what isn’t. Anime in general carries a lot of filler, some more than others, take Naruto for example. After it ended with the Sasuke Retrieval Arc the show had over 90 episodes of filler before going into Naruto Shippuden. In some cases I suppose it’s cashing in on the popularity of the property, but that’s not always the case, jumping back to Dragon Ball there would always be the problem where the animators of the show and airing of episodes would catch up to where Akira Toriyama was in the manga. Naturally this causes problems, so they produce filler to wait for the manga to continue and when it fills the gap between the two mediums the anime then goes back to the actual story – this is common in most anime, some people like it and some people hate it.
For the purpose of this I’ll focus on Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z.
When Dragon Ball Z first aired in the UK that was it, there was no Dragon Ball at the time providing any context or background for any of the supporting cast such as Yamcha, Tien, Krillin and so on. At the time that didn’t bother me, but rewatching the show a while back I found that the filler can provide some much needed character development, some strong examples of this are seen within the first ten episodes, most of which focus on Gohan surviving in the wilderness for six months which has Gohan: befriend a dinosaur and a robot, both of which die from Gohan’s inability to protect them but both also teaching Gohan valuable lessons and the best example being Gohan escaping Piccolo and finding his way back home. Whether you follow the manga or not, this gives both old and new fans a chance to know Gohan who up to this point is a character we know nothing about other than he’s Goku’s son.
Picture Source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/dragonball/images/c/c1/GohanStickingOutHisTounge.png/revision/latest?cb=20130510090005 [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
The other example of this is bringing the main players from Dragon Ball: Yamcha, Tien and Krillin into Dragon Ball Z by sending them back in time using a device called ‘the pendulum room’ to prepare for the Saiyans. Again this gives newcomers time to become familiar with characters already established in the Dragon Ball universe.
Picture Source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/dragonball/images/3/3b/ZTimeChamber2.png/revision/latest?cb=20151113234606 [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
This isn’t to say Dragon Ball is guilty of dragging out its stories, a lot of the filler there is… well… filler. It’ll focus on an intense fight before jumping back to see what Bulma is doing, and you can almost guarantee she’s doing a whole load of nothing. There tends to be a lot of outrage for the Garlic Jr Saga – now, I remember as a kid that arc really annoyed me, we had just seen Goku transform into the legendary Super Saiyan and defeat Frieza, so naturally I wanted more of Goku kicking ass and taking names. What we got was a 12 episode arc that acted more of a sequel to the non-cannon Dragon Ball Z movie, The Dead Zone. After rewatching the Garlic Jr Arc recently I’ve come to appreciate it in its own right, the focus moving away from Goku or Vegeta and giving Gohan, Krillin and Piccolo time to shine.
Picture Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/59/13/bc/5913bcb21af6e17f211b733a7f9dc9e4.jpg [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
In that respect, it just makes for a nice change of pace and gives the other characters something to do. Sure it’s not cannon and doesn’t really have any effect on the overall story but it’s just fun, especially after 100 episodes of having Goku jump in last minute to save the day; but above all else it’s always great to see how deep the relationship is between Gohan and Piccolo.
Picture Source: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/dragonball/images/d/de/GohanVs.GarlicJr..jpg/revision/latest?cb=20110701034818 [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
Overall I’m mixed, I absolutely love the creativity used to create some of the stories but can’t stand when the filler is just two characters staring each other down for a few episodes. After watching the anime before reading the manga, it just feels that the filler enriches the overall experience of Dragon Ball Z – it does have the infamous filler arcs such as Fake Namek, but without filler we wouldn’t have the fan favourite driving lesson episode and my personal favourite, Super Kaioken shown in the Other World Tournament Saga.
Picture Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/96/0c/ed/960cedf0ae3d616600deda7eb8a53256.jpg [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
Picture Source: http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/dragonball/images/c/ce/GokuSKKOWT03.png/revision/latest?cb=20091119191951 [Accessed: 11/03/2016]
I plan to delve more into this in the coming weeks, again with focus on Dragon Ball Z but also other shows I’m diggin’ at the moment.
For anyone new to Dragon Ball Z, check it out… if you want the show without filler, check out Dragon Ball Z Kai – yeah, skips out the filler but contains a revised script and dub of the show which I find to be vastly superior.
…That was this week’s Covert Coot!!! Check Back Tomorrow for this week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!