Covert Coot: Anime Filler – what’s canon and what’s not?


Okay, so this kind of follows on from my post last week and once again, I’m using the Dragon Ball franchise as an example, focusing on some of the movies, the new series Dragon Ball Super and of course the infamous Dragon Ball GT.

The big argument throughout the Dragon Ball fan base and probably a lot of other anime properties is ‘what’s canon?’ – We’re talking about people debating this and that, bla bla bla… it’s an endless cycle that draws back to the use of filler that I ran through last week. Filler content isn’t considered canon, yeah it might help with character development but as soon as the anime returns to following the manga that development is kind of irrelevant in the sense of it has no bearing on the story. In regards to Dragon Ball, the fans will acknowledge anything written by Akira Toriyama (author of Dragon Ball) canon and so the episodes of the anime that are a direct adaptation of the manga are considered canon, this is something that divides the fan base where you have Dragon Ball Z which has filler to draw out the story and what not, but you also have Dragon Ball Z Kai which features a more faithful script and stays closer to the source material, cutting out the filler and giving us a more consistent and fast paced adaptation. Some people prefer the original Dragon Ball Z, some prefer the revised Kai – both are great in their own way.

There are 15 Dragon Ball Z movies in total, not including the Dragon Ball movies or any of the tv specials. When I was growing up, I enjoyed the movies but they also baffled me in the sense that they didn’t fit in anywhere within the anime and it started bothering me to the point where I stopped watching the movies, avoiding them almost completely. To this day I have the same problem with the movies, this is in part due to them not being written by Toriyama and therefore not being considered canon; but fan discussion has found a place for these movies, whether intended by the screenwriter or not, most of the movies are considered to be ‘what if’ scenarios, which is certainly an interesting way of taking the movies once the show brings in alternate timelines and later multiple universes. For those interested, here’s a timeline detailing the scenarios and where the movies fit into the Dragon Ball universe.

Click Here to see the Dragonball Z Timeline

Two of these movies are an exception. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013) and Resurrection of F (2015) both had Akira Toriyama heavily involved in the writing and character design, the films being set in the decade between DBZ and DBGT. Due to Toriyamas involvement, both these films are considered canon and now we arrive at the Dragon Ball cross roads, as far as canon is concerned.

The release of Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F saw a rise in popularity for Dragon Ball, this led to the development of a brand new series – Dragon Ball Super. The first new Dragon Ball series in 18 years, debuted in Japan the summer of 2015 and once again saw Akira Toriyama having some involvement with the story. The first 30 episodes of Dragon Ball Super retell the events of Battle of Gods and Resurrection of F, which while adding some more development to certain ideas it has caused a bit of a stir in the fan base of which interpretation is considered canon?

Like I said before, any content following the manga or created by Akira Toriyama is considered canon and the problem we have is both the two movies and Dragon Ball Super in part tell the same story, but which is considered the real deal? Furthermore, while Dragon Ball Super still takes place in the decade between Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT the events of Super end up causing problems in the narrative of GT.

Dragon Ball GT is a sequel to Dragon Ball Z, the only involvement from Akira Toriyama was character designs and the logo and so it’s not an adaptation of any of the manga. GT was produced by Toei Animation and began syndication in 1996 through to 1997 – with Dragon Ball at the peak of its popularity in Japan at this point, it makes sense to milk the cow for every drop… so to speak. Anyway the show comes across as uncertain and a bit of a mess, critically the reception was mixed to negative and fans felt the same way. Toriyama has apparently stated that GT is a ‘side story’ to the original Dragon Ball but I personally can’t find any interview referring to that.

With Dragon Ball GT’s lack of involvement from Toriyama, it is generally considered to be ‘non canon’ and more so now with the inconsistencies trying to link Dragon Ball Super to GT. I feel that Dragon Ball GT isn’t as bad as people say it is, I do get why people have a lot of hate for it – the tone is all over the place in the sense of it can’t decide if it’s following the humour of Dragon Ball or the action of Dragon Ball Z, the biggest let down for me is that the rest of the cast are completely irrelevant other than Goku who is now just a reset button. That being said it does carry several good ideas but these ideas are never really explored… the result is that stuff just happens because the plot demands it. With the two recent movies and Dragon Ball Super introducing different universes, it can now be argued that the events of Dragon Ball GT could happen in one of these universes and if anything, I think it would crazy not to use the multiverse idea to introduce elements into the main universe or into what the fans consider to be canon. Let’s face it… what Dragon Ball fan doesn’t want to see a beat down between Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan 4?

Vegeta Super Saiyan 4

Vegeta Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (Super Saiyan Blue)

Overall… I might be biased. I love everything Dragon Ball related, but when it comes down to ‘what’s canon and what’s not?’ we hit a point where there is no right or wrong answer. People will probably give me hell for that… but at the end of the day everyone sees it differently, so just like what you like, have you own canon for the show. I know some people prefer Dragon Ball GT over Super, which is totally fine!

My head canon follows Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Battle of Gods, Resurrection of F, and Dragon Ball Super from episode 28 onward. I take Dragon Ball GT as being the events in another universe. Have fun with it.

Hope you enjoy me running my mouth of Dragon Ball, if you’ve not read or watched any of it then I can’t recommend it enough! Until next time, see ya later

…The was this week’s Covert Coot article!!! Check back tomorrow for thi week’s BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!


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