Anime Canon Vs Filler: What’s the Difference?

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Anime Canon Vs Filler: What’s the Difference?

Once you start to watch a lot of anime, you’ll discover a whole wealth of new terms. Two that you’ll often hear when talking about popular series are anime canon and anime filler, but what’s the difference between these terms?

While commonly used to talk about major anime franchises with many seasons and episodes, these terms can actually apply to almost any show.

Both refer to the relative importance of an episode (or episodes) to the main plot of the story but tackle it in different ways.

Related: Anime Seasons Explained

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What is Anime Canon?

Anime Canon Vs Filler: What is Canon
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Anime canon is something that is considered by fans to be part of the original or main story.

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Generally, anime canon is subjective, but there are some factors that can indicate whether something is canon.

The phrase comes from the word canon, which originally referred to works worth studying or works by a particular person.

Many anime are adapted from a source material, such as manga or light novels. If the anime adds new scenes that didn’t appear in the source, these can sometimes be classed as ‘not canon’ or non-canon.

Likewise, anime remakes can be classed as non-canon if they are made by different people and change elements of the story. Such works are largely considered irrelevant by the original show's fanbase.

However, there are many examples of added scenes and remakes that are considered canon, either because of their quality or because the original creators were involved.

A good example of a canon remake is the Rebuild of Evangelion movies, where the original creator produced a new ending at his own request.

In this sense, canon can be subjective. For example, a large portion of Naruto fans believe Boruto to be non-canon as the story has different creators from the original.

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What is the Difference Between Anime Canon and Filler?

What is the Difference Between Anime Canon and Filler?
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The simplest explanation is that canon refers to whether something is considered a part of the original story, while filler refers to a particular impact on said story.

Anime canon, as mentioned above, is a subjective view of a moment, episode or series’ relevance to whatever’s perceived as the ‘main’ story. Canon ultimately determines if something is considered as part of a story or not.

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Anime filler, on the other hand, refers to a particular moment’s importance in a series’ main plot or storyline. A filler can still be seen as part of a story (canon) but is not classed as an important step on that journey.

The term filler commonly refers to anime-only content where a studio may produce a ‘filler episode’, such as a recap, due to production issues or delays. The term can also be used for additional content outside of the main series, such as OVAs.

Anime fillers are seen as missable episodes, where someone wanting to rush through a series could skip ahead and not miss anything that will impact the show’s main plot.

Can Anime Canon Be Considered Filler?

Anime Canon Vs Filler: Can Canon Be Filler?
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Yes, anime episodes that are canon or non-canon can also be filler. This distinction is another good way of understanding the difference between both terms.

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Filler episodes appear in both canon and non-canon anime content. Whether it’s a remake, a new scene or an honest adaptation of source material, filler moments can still appear.

Generally, most anime that are seen as non-canon can be classified as filler, as they are seen to have no importance to the main storyline.

However, it’s important to remember again that anime canon itself can be subjective.

Just because someone suggests that an episode or series is non-canon doesn’t mean that there’s no importance to a story, original or otherwise.

Can You Skip Anime Canon?

Anime Canon Vs Filler: Can You Skip?
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Generally, you would not want to skip anime that is canon, as this will be part of the show’s main story.

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This is the last important distinction between anime canon and filler. The latter usually indicates a part of a story – canon or non-canon – that can be skipped without losing track of said story.

Anime canon, on the other hand, is usually where the main story takes place. There may be some filler here, but all the crucial moments will take place here, also.

Hopefully, this guide will help you navigate the world of canon and filler! For a more visual representation of these terms in practice, check out our One Piece filler list.