Does Being Accurate to the Source Material Matter? What about Filler?

I have a question for all of you. How do you feel about adaptions of manga and light novels? Do you feel like they are always supposed to be heavily bound by source material and supposed to be accurate as possible? Do you think that adaptations should make some adjustments to the source material to make it more interesting and unique for the medium it’s appearing in? What about if the adaptation took a materials characters and its world in another direction to make it something nobody has ever scene before? I’m sure that there are very nuanced and interesting discussions to all these questions. Of course there should be, I hope. Just like everything else, there are positive aspects and negative aspects to all these things. That being said, I am going to make the argument that source material shouldn’t be end all be all.

I’m going to get killed for this, aren’t I?

Immediate Counter Argument to What I Just Said

So what are the problems with not being attached to the source material? A lot of things. For one thing, having a series being unchained and not lead into any general direction could hamper the story to an incredibly large degree. Such things known as filler arcs are the worst example of those because they are entire arcs that have nothing to do with the anime’s story at all. As you would expect, these are things that long running shonen series have to do sometimes to remain attached to their source manga.

You can possibly say the same for other series that kept going when they run out of source material. You know, like Soul Eater and FMA 2003? I feel like those are half and half in these regards. There are advantages and disadvantages to what either of those series did. That being said, consider they are adaptions and not the works themselves, I don’t think anyone can call anything that these series have done in the end not canon. They are their own entities. At least, I think they are.  

Adding some personality

Filler isn’t always bad. Especially when it’s just an episode here and there in a series adaptation or just a thrown in element into episode can do so much to give a character more personality. For example, let’s talk about Dragon Ball Z versus Dragon Ball Kai. First of all Dragon Ball Z has a lot of flaws. It’s paced too slow a lot of the time, focuses too much on characters yelling to power up which takes up a ton of run time, and who knows what else. Kai fixes a lot of those problems by trimming down Z quite a bit to make it more consumable, but I think that means it takes out a lot of Z’s personality as well.

I know that this is a small thing, but Goku being afraid of needles adds a quite bit to his character. Well to me, anyway. Also, it’s kind of funny and adds comedy when it’s needed in some very dramatic moments. Here is this infinitely strong warrior that isn’t afraid of facing death and severe injury to face the strongest opponents in the universe, but one prick from a needle can scare him to death. It doesn’t add any complexity to Goku at all, but it does give him some more personality and that is always a good thing.

Also, let’s talk about the filler episodes. Or perhaps a filler episode. You know, when Goku and Piccolo learn how to drive. First of all, it’s placed in the perfect spot. It happens between two arcs that is separated by a certain amount of years so this insanity can happen. Also, how fun and funny is it that super powerful characters that can fly are learning how to drive when they don’t have to? It doesn’t add anything to the story at all, but it adds fun and personality to Z. Considering how dramatic Z is a lot of the time, this is nothing but a good thing. I’m not saying that Kai doesn’t have personality, but quickly cutting between arcs hurts it for me.

Fixing a Stories Flaws

With this aspect, I am going to look at Angelic Layer and its adaptation. If there was something that Angelic Layer’s adaptation did better then it’s manga, according to online research, it’s Misaki’s mother’s story line. In the manga, Misaki’s mother never sees her daughter because she is incredibly shy. I mean, same, but having a more dramatic story in the anime about how she can’t walk and the Angelic Layer systems are paying for a method for her to walk is a lot more meaningful and powerful. Maybe a lot more dramatic, but it makes a lot more sense. At least to me.

What about Attack Titan season three that cut down a lot of the meandering and politics that were in the manga to make it all flow naturally and humanly? The flow of ideas and story elements can be changed for the better I anime adaptations. I mean, it’s the second chance for this story to be told. Why not improve on it when you have the chance to?

More eye popping Action Scenes

Ok, I am being a little picky with this aspect. Along with that, this could be also a positive and negative aspect for adaptation platform. Just going to say that right here and now. Also, there are some manga that have amazing action flow that makes each blow feel powerful and meaningful with some great action choreography.

At the same time, there are some who have pretty standard flow that just have action to have action. If there is something that an anime can do better than some manga in the action department, it’s making the action actually like action spectacle. You know, these would be the anime’s sakuga scenes where everything suddenly looks amazing and everything flows well and feels like everything has weight. At the same time, an anime adaptation’s fight scenes could be extremely lame compared to a mangas when they aren’t directed correctly. It’s a double-edged sword.


Unique Directional Style

This is yet another main point on how an adaptation can improve the source material in it’s own way. How an anime’s scenes are show to compared to a manga, or the addition of different color elements to a show’s background can add so much more personality and feeling to a series. Like, March Comes in a Lion or instance. The opening scenes of Rei living in an empty room or the numerous scenes where he feels like he is drowning because of his depression. March Comes in like a Lion does a great job of putting you in Rei’s head space, which is another reason why I love it to death. It’s very needed in an emotional piece like March Comes in like a Lion. Other series taking the effort to make a show feel special and emotional should be encouraged.


In the end, I would definitely choose a well-crafted anime adaption over it’s source material any day. An adaptation that is its own thing and high lights the strengths of where it comes from in its own way is the ideal anime for me. Especially when an anime is an adaptation of a light novel and the anime uses its medium to improve on the source material in its own way. The change of mediums can be hard sometimes, but it can always create something special that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. It doesn’t happen for everything, but when it does….

By reading this post, you might have an idea about what is coming on Friday. If you don’t, then you are in for a good surprise. Here’s a hint, it’s a post centered around a story that has been adapted twice. That’s it, that’s the clue you’re getting!


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  1. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said here. Sometimes filler can get in the way, other times it shows us a little more of the character which is cool.

    One series that highlights some of the differences between the manga and anime. In Akame ga Kill they completed the anime before the manga had finished. This meant that several characters that appeared in the later books were completely missing which was a real shame. Also the final war was massively toned down in the anime. All that said I actually preferred the conclusion of the anime over the manga. Both were good, but the anime really closed off things in my view.

    It’s similar to A Song of Ice and Fire compared to A Game of Thrones. Instead of getting upset about the difference we can focus on the fact that we have two similar stories set in the same incredible world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh wow, I’ve heard mixed things about Akame ga Kill and following the manga was definitely an issue. Still, I’m glad that you liked it’s conclusion. Maybe I should check it out at some point.

      Yes, that exactly. Having more of something to enjoy can’t be a bad thing, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I started with the manga first, got to volume 14, and had to wait for 15 (the final volume) to be released so I watched the anime while I was waiting. At the beginning it followed the manga almost religiously, but then it got to the point where it overtook the manga. There it kind of followed the plans, but the detail wasn’t there or the extravagant villains which was a big miss. The anime ended how I though the manga would so when volume 15 was released I was a tiny bit disappointed that it didn’t end the same way. Just a tiny bit. I think it’s a very good series with some clever ideas and well worth watching/reading.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy both medium — manga and anime, most of the time, though I tend to love the manga more as a lot of series do not adapt the entirety of the story. However, I agree that both have positives and negatives.

    Being accurate to the source material is a plus for me, but not being accurate isn’t necessarily a minus either. It depends on how it’s handled. If they chose to cut on scenes because they didn’t really add much to the story, then fine. However, if they cut something relevant to the story and/or the characters’ developments, I usually get disappointed. A lot of times, for others who didn’t really know the source material, the story is still enjoyable, so it’s really just my own problem. Hahaha!

    I remember one of the shoujo series I liked (Daa! Daa! Daa!) and it really only has some 40+ chapters. Its anime has 70+ chapters. Not even everything in the manga is adapted, but I enjoyed both of them. The anime indeed gave more personality to the characters, especially to the supporting ones.

    On fillers, when they are well-done and well-timed, then they’re easily enjoyable. It can be frustrating when they go on frequently or for so long, though.

    I agree to your last two points, too! I crave the animation especially for series about sports, adventure, fantasy, and music. (I loved Nodame Cantabile’s anime adaptation way more than the manga because it saved me from the trouble of having to search for and listen to the music pieces given.) Sometimes, though, I find that some scenes of some anime can’t fully capture the emotions evoked by the strokes and filling of the ink on the manga. Idk, maybe it’s just me again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I do think anime should be accurate, but I’m relaxed about filler as long as it isn’t excessive. If I read the manga first and then watch the anime, I’m almost always disappointed if they change the ending.

    This wasn’t really talked about, but live action adaptations on the other hand, should be accurate in my opinion. Otherwise they should not use the same title for the film. It would be based off of the original work/manga, but they should not keep the name if they change too much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, fair enough. So minor additions and flourishes here and there don’t bother you too much? Cool 😎

      I guess I haven’t thought live action movies too much. Hmm. As long as the heart of the characters, their stories, and story over all of the original is there, then I think I’m mostly ok. I’m not sure how accurate that would leave everything.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I must add, a bad anime original ending can also hurt the popularity of the source material. It’s definitely possible for anime original endings to be good, but they often aren’t, perhaps in part due to time/episode number constraint, and in part because they tend to overlook previous foreshadowing set-ups. Deus ex machina is often the inevitable go-to.

    I did not enjoy Soul Eater or Claymore’s endings, and have yet to see a brilliantly executed anime finale!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That is a hard one… you make really strong points here. When thinking about filler versus source material I thought of Rurouni Kenshin. In the first season we get some filler, and it makes sense because they needed to expand to make a complete first season. The Kyoto Arc didn’t need filler and they didn’t mess with things too much. That was a pretty solid plot in the manga. The third season was not based on the manga at all. Part of that was the Samurai X stuff, I think. But basically that season wasn’t atrociously horrible but it also didn’t make a lot of sense… It went in directions that didn’t work with the world. Magic…
    But I do think anime series can have an awkward situation if the manga series isn’t completely done when they start production of the anime, also if they aren’t sure if they’ll get another season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s a good example to think of. I suppose it all depends on how much freedom one is given the source material. Like how Miss Kaoru played a more active role in the anime. Not a negative thing at all.

      But yeah, season three wasn’t boring. It was just directionless and that was a little disappointing.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not too fussed on whether something follows the source material accurately or not. I am concerned with whether it tells a good story and for some reason anime original seasons or endings tend to be pretty lame when they leave the source material. They don’t have to be. They could get someone to really think through where the story might go and write a decent ending even if the source hasn’t finished, but they don’t tend to do that (or at least not well).
    Still, I’ll take interesting over accurate any day when it comes to adaptations. If you are just retelling the story exactly as it is written there’s no real point in adapting it in the first place. They need to take into account the different medium and way people view anime over reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, you stand exactly where I do on this. Even with the most lame anime ending and interesting is the better choice for adaptations as was. Taking liberties to make one interesting should be considered ok.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Filler is not always bad. It often adds characterization or breathes life into the world. Or sometimes, it’s just plain fun! Obviously, when it’s clear the anime is stalling, it’s probably bad. At least those types of fillers are slowly fading out because now Japan is starting to do anime seasons with breaks in between airings instead of continuously producing new episodes.

    But 100% agreed on Angelic Layer. I don’t know why CLAMP had Misaki’s mother not raising her for such a dumb reason. Maybe to be different? To be unexpected? Still, in regards to that, the anime did it better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that those fillers are slowly disappearing, but it’s crazy that some studios want to keep going and do it the old fashioned way regardless of what the current climate wants.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I especially agree with the first point about developing the characters. I think a big reason on why I enjoyed the original Sailor Moon show was how much “filler” was in it which gave the characters a lot of personality. They got to hang out as a group and talk more between fights.

    Speaking in a more broad sense, I think filler is the best form of going away from the source material. A show that was adapting 1-1 the whole time only to have a sudden fake ending is a little iffy for me. It just feels late in the game. If you were a loose adaption from the start like Black Cat, then I think it works really well as an AU of sorts. Especially if you already read the manga.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sailor Moon was sort of on my mind when I wrote that.

      And definitely agree with that. A canon ending should still be one that happens at the end of an anime. (Black Cat was pretty fun.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. In general, I am against filler. It’s almost never very well done, although occasionally a non-canon movie may be worth watching. Usually the strength of most anime is how true to the the source the anime adaptation is…

    That said, can’t blame the animators for trying their own thing sometimes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, that’s something that I just can’t agree with.

      On what sort of level would you consider something to be accurate? If the anime does some of it’s own thing to bring some new perspective to the source material, but still follows it pretty heavily, would that be bad?


      1. It doesn’t have to be bad, just usually I prop up the manga as sacrosanct. And if I read it first, the filler episodes make me impatient to see the important arcs. Depends though, always exceptions.

        Some examples that come to mind, the Dragon Ball movies are terrible and don’t even make sense in the continuity.

        Also, I do like One Piece Z which was directed by Eichiro, and the Naruto The Last directed by Kishimoto, which are canon and therefore ‘count’, so there


  10. Depends on the thing I saw first, because if I finish both then I normally side with that. If the anime comes first and I never pick up the source, I wouldn’t mind changes (because I wouldn’t know they exist). If I pick up the source because I saw the anime, I’d expect at least initial main story beats to match. If the source comes first, I’ll be a bit harsher on the anime in my expectations of matching the source, but if I like the anime as its own thing then that’s fine too. (Source = manga in this case with rare exceptions for LNs)

    Good filler fleshes out underutilised characters and storylines in canon IMO, plus it is possible to make good anime-only endings – Noragami’s first season is one of my favourite examples because although it introduces an anime-only character, this character fleshes out Yato in a way that’s not intrusive to any canon aside from the last few episodes of the anime and the deviation can be safely disregarded once you start watching Aragoto.

    Since I’m playing the game Merc Storia due to the anime, I find phone game adaptions tend to flesh out their stories by virtue of having less animation limitations, but whether that’s for better or for worse is up to the consumer of both to decide.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. when I first read the source material for SAO and FMA I was a bit disappointed. I’m Coming from the view that the book is better then the movie, since the movie can’t adapt everything perfectly due to run time. Anime is so different and can usually adapt more. this is what disappointed me, that the source material wasn’t more unique to the adaptation.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yeah, I completely agree with pretty much everything you’ve said in here.

    Particularly the filler injecting more personality into the series or adding some extra content that helps to flesh out the characters or a particular scene. Dragon Ball Z naturally comes to mind here, with one of my favourite additions being the extra scenes during the Trunks vs. Frieza and King Cold fight. It did an excellent job of building up Trunks and his Super Saiyan form, by having the strongest villain we’d seen so far throw everything he had at him, only to fail horribly. It was really satisfying.

    The same goes for stylistic differences. While it’s a near perfect adaptation of the source material, the Hunter x Hunter (2011) Anime changes up the art style quite a bit, which was originally really rough the sketchy in the Manga. It made things very hard to follow sometimes, but the Anime altered a lot of these panels to make things more “clean” and easy on the eyes. A change that I feel improved the series quite a bit.

    In short, great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Toei added a lot of things to Dragon Ball that gave it a good amount of personality it seems. I had no idea about the Trunks thing. That’s pretty good, because it felt natural.

      Oh yeah, I’ve seen some of the scribbles online. I’m glad the anime looked as good as it did.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very interesting points. The Angelic Layer example was spot on. I’m not a fan of filler when it’s done at a minimum and if there’s redeemable qualities to it. Something doesn’t have to be exact like the original if it’s still done well.

    Liked by 2 people

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