In the world of anime, “filler” is usually a dirty word. Normally, it refers to episodes that aren’t based on anything that happened in the manga and are often inserted to prevent the anime from overtaking the source material.
It can be a tricky endeavour to make the two join back up again, as Gintama helpfully explains, and most of the time anime filler can be skipped without missing out on the plot. Unless, of course, it is a beach episode.
Sometimes, however, there are episodes of filler that are too good to skip. They might be goofy and silly, showing the characters in weird and wonderful new situations. They might develop the world in a fun way or let the support cast shine without the main characters stealing the spotlight. So here are our favourite anime filler episodes that we just can’t skip.
The “Goku Learns to Drive” Episode — Dragon Ball
What do you do when you have three years before world ending androids show up to wreck the place? Train to punch them in the face, of course. But as much Goku might want to focus on fighting all the time, he’s still a husband and father so he has some parental duties to take care of. In this filler episode, that means taking driving lessons and dragging Piccolo along because Chi-Chi knows what he did the last time he trained Gohan alone.
This episode is pure anime filler. It has no basis in the manga and it contributes nothing to the overall story of Dragon Ball, but it is so weird and dumb that I can’t help but watch it now and then to remind myself it really happened. From Goku struggling with the basics of human interaction to Piccolo’s attempt at disguising himself by wearing a hat, as though he doesn’t have a big green face, the episode is hilarious, in all the best ways.
The “Girls Get It Done” Episode — Trigun
When a character as powerful as Vash the Stampede is the main character, it is rare that we get to see anyone else accomplish anything. Any problem that the cast encounters can be solved by Vash just being better than everyone around him, so it’s fun for the two insurance girls to get the chance to shine. They take on the job of protecting a small farm in the middle of nowhere from bandits and the surviving members of the Nebraska family, and manage to hold their own with minimal help from their angel-armed companion.
The episode titled Little Arcadia is one of the few times we get to see Meryl and Milly live up to their potential in the show. Though it isn’t technically anime filler since it is based on events in the manga, the anime deviates so wildly from the source material that this episode stands out.
The “Body Swap” Episode — Fairy Tail
The main cast getting their bodies switched is a trope that isn’t exclusive to anime, but this episode of Fairy Tail takes that cliché and leans into it completely. A spell causes several of the characters to get their bodies swapped with each other, so they must try to reverse the damage without falling to pieces watching someone else pilot their body. Happy running around in Erza’s body is an absolute delight to watch every time this episode pops up somewhere.
The fun of this episode is that the bodies retain their original voice actors, meaning that the actors get the chance to play a different character and everyone seems to be having the time of their lives with it. This anime filler is one of the best because it knows the concept is silly and doesn’t mind. Instead, it uses the situation to showcase the strange habits that the characters have. Grey’s habit of taking off his shirt is weird, but it becomes slightly more troublesome when he does it in Lucy’s body, after all.
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