Anime filler and fans tend to have a contentious relationship, due to the fact that, for the most part, filler episodes are less products than their canonical counterparts. However, this trend should not discredit them entirely. After all, they are still part of some of the most beloved franchises in anime history.
There are plenty of examples of successful anime filler episodes, many of which introduced characters who have become fan favorites in their respective series. In particular, a few of these filler characters stand out as exceptionally worth noting, whether for their solid writing, dazzling character development, or all-round entertainment value.
10 Muramasa and the Zanpakuto are the best addition of bleach
Bleach is notorious for its copious use of filler, but with a total of 163 non-canon episodes, it had to do something right after all. Standing head and shoulders above the competition, at least in terms of new characters, is the Zanpakuto Rebellion arc, which introduces Muramasa and the other rebel Zanpakuto ghouls.
Muramasa has more charisma than many of them Bleach‘s canon villains, and this, coupled with the other Zankpakuto ghouls, whose personalities vary considerably based on their wielder, makes the Zanpakuto Rebellion fun to watch throughout the entirety of its 38 episodes.
9 The fridge monster is an iconic part of Cowboy Bebop
Rarely does a filler episode cause much discussion, but that’s certainly the case with Cowboy Bebop‘Toys in the Attic’ episode. Some argue that given the show’s semi-episodic nature, “Toys in the Attic” should not be classified as non-canon. But because of the damage done by its opponent, the refrigerator monster, it feels necessary to classify it as such.
The Fridge Monster serves as a fantastic parody of several popular horror styles, and aboard the Bebop, it does a number on the crew. Most of the crew, minus Ed, were left incapacitated by the entity, leading to a hard reset to subsequent episodes.
8 Shura adds to the mystique of Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin often draws on historical references and cultural myths/legends, a theme that becomes apparent even in the show’s episodes. The Kairyu pirates, led by their masked leader Shura, steal from those who have obtained their riches illegally and make a clear comparison to the actions of Robin Hood.
Shura took charge of the Kairyu Pirates from her father, and her dedication to honor his peaceful practices perfectly complements Himura Kenshin’s behavior. While her brief appearance only leaves fans wanting more, the charming pirate certainly left her mark on the series.
7 Pikkon appeals to the Piccolo fanbase
Dragon Ball Z rarely uses filler, but when it does, it often delivers some of the funniest episodes of the entire series. Immediately following the Cell saga is the Other World arc, a five-part, anime-only addition centered around Goku’s bid to win the Other World Tournament. Between him and that target stands Pikkon, the warrior who represents the western quadrant of the universe.
Pikkon resembles Goku’s ally Piccolo in several ways, a comparison that seems clearly intended given their similar names, stoic demeanor, and green skin. The West Kai’s top student has a tough fight with Goku, which gives him enough fans to appear in multiple Dragon Ballspin-offs.
6 Taneo The Journalist is a great addition to my hero academy
Izuku Midoriya has met many good people on his journey to become the world’s greatest hero. But for all his high-stakes battles, perhaps the most impressive stranger he’s encountered appeared in one of the My Hero Academia‘s filler episodes.
Taneo Tokuda uses his Quirk, which allows him to create functioning camera lenses anywhere on his body, to practice his trade as a journalist, eventually learning that Deku has inherited One For All from All Might. Rather than making a name for himself by publishing the scoop of his life, Taneo Izuku learns the value of empathy and compassion and makes himself the best anime-only addition to the series.
5 Noah Kaiba should have been added to Yu-Gi-Oh!’s Canon
Most filler episodes stray away from introducing characters directly related to their series’ core stories, but as evidenced by: Yu-Gi-Oh!‘s Noah Kaiba, it doesn’t always have to be this way. The antagonist of the Virtual World arc is Seto Kaiba’s adoptive brother, who is somehow never mentioned in the show’s canonical events.
It’s a shame Noah Kaiba isn’t canon, because his relationship with Seto Kaiba and the impact he has on Seto’s relationship with Yugi are both fascinating. He represents everything Seto could have been and marks the best use of filler in the anime.
4 Alois Trancy Justifies Much Of Black Butler’s Long Filler
During black butler‘s 49 episodes, the dark fantasy title managed to release more fill episodes than canon material. This would come at the expense of most anime, but luckily for the A-1 Pictures product, it allowed the introduction of Alois Trancy, who might black butler‘s most memorable opponent.
Trancy first appears in season 2 of the series and his sadistic, unpredictable behavior takes over the screen every time he appears. Unraveling his backstory proves to be as captivating as any of the show’s canonical episodes and cements him as the best filler in the entire show.
3 Sora’s struggle parallels Naruto .’s
Naruto portrays and highlights the plight of the Jinchuriki throughout its run, so it should come as no surprise that one of the series’ many filler characters is defined by this dynamic. Sora carries the remaining chakra left by Kurama’s frenzy through the Hidden Leaf Village, allowing his life to serve as a clear parallel to the struggles Naruto faces.
While Naruto handles the real Nine-tailed Fox with humor and determination, Sora leans instead on fear and frustration. The monk-in-training’s decisions result in the release of all of his Nine-Tailed Fox chakras, sparking a battle between him and the show’s protagonists that’s worth watching.
Fullmetal Alchemist may not be received as well as rebooting, Brotherhood, but despite its shortcomings, the original is almost certainly more successful in one respect – padding characters. The 2004 series ran out of manga content to adapt, forcing the creators to generate new additions for the series, such as the youthful Wrath.
Wrath is a Homunculus created by Izumi Curtis’ failed attempt to resurrect her son, and due to the events taking place at the beginning of the series, he ends up with Edward’s right arm and left leg. The character is a fun presence, which makes it a shame he didn’t appear in Brotherhood.
1 Commander Jonathan brings much-needed nuance to One Piece’s Marines
With over 1000 episodes in total, A piece was bound to provide his fans with plenty of non-canon adventures. The series features over 90 episodes, 11 of which are devoted to the Straw Hats’ struggle to escape the clutches of Vice Admiral Jonathan, the commander of the G-8 Marine Military Base.
Jonathan’s laid-back demeanor belies his tactful mind, and on multiple occasions during the G-8 arc proves that he is one of the best minds in the Marines. Fortunately for the Straw Hats, the Vice Admiral never really considers them a threat, allowing them to escape unharmed en route to Long Ring Long Island.
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