Top 10 Non-Canon Anime Storylines
Written by: ClayDragon & Shiggins
Filler is a funny thing. On one hand, if it’s done right, it can bring more enjoyment to an already good show. However, if it’s done wrong, many people get sick of it and stop watching the show altogether. For this list, we’ve taken a look at the best filler out there, although we have expanded our definition of ‘filler’ slightly. In this case, we’ve looked at storylines in an anime series that weren’t in the original source material, regardless of their length (although they do have to be at least one episode long). Be sure to check out our Top 10 Non-Canon Anime Characters list as well!
Thanks to the anonymous Ask.fm user who requested this Top 10!
As is this the case with many of these lists, SPOILER ALERT. You have been warned.
10.) Someday In The Rain (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya) (Written by ClayDragon)
Haruhi Suzumiya is an utterly mad show. When you have gods, time travellers, aliens and espers in the cast, it would be pretty much impossible for the series to be classified as ‘normal’. However, the episode Someday in the Rain shows what it would be like for the SOS Brigade to have a completely normal day. For the most part, it turns out to be pretty boring, although there are one or two nice moments sprinkled in.
|"I wish I had a TV..."|
This episode, which is the last one chronologically, but not the last in broadcast order (it’s confusing, I know), focuses on Haruhi declaring that the SOS Brigade’s common room needs a heater during the winter, and instructs Kyon to go out and fetch one. The episode has a fairly slow pace, with the focus alternating between Kyon’s journey and the things that the rest of the club get up to whilst he’s gone. As it turns out, this means Haruhi taking pictures of Mikuru in various outfits.
If this sounds dull, then that’s because it sort of is. But the reason I like this episode is because it’s the only one to show how the cast live their lives under normal circumstances. There are no time loops or giant monsters or anything, and it serves as a relaxing end to an off-the-wall anime. Plus, there are some touching moments between Kyon and Haruhi towards the end that always make me smile.
9.) Virtual World Arc (Yu-Gi-Oh!) (Written by Shiggins)
When I was younger, I didn’t know anything about the horrible labyrinth that is the anime fandom. I didn’t know the rules or words like waifu or any of that other shit, but I did know one thing; Yu-Gi-Oh was fun! I liked the characters because they were so cool, and I liked the super-awesome-badass-monsters because awesomeness! Now that I am older, wiser and even greater, I do realise that this series was not the masterpiece I thought it was… Still pretty good in its own way though.
If you’re a “cool person” who never watched this arc, here’s a quick summary: Trapped inside a video game! Yes, it’s like what Sword Art Online did except instead of swords and weak girls, it’s card games against multiple executives who want to take over the main character’s bodies using science, because that’s totally how it works. With the main threat being Seto Kaiba’s own stepfamily, tension does get surprisingly high.
As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s hugely entertaining to watch the characters face off against all the random threats including a possessed Tristan, a child in a near-death state who uses a giant ark as a deck master (his name is Noah… Yeah), and my personal favourite, evil penguin in suit! Which I now realise might be a genius reference to Batman. If so, then that’s just fantastic. If not, then that just sucks. Oh and it gets just a bit better because I can think of no other story arc that has the greatest creation of all time: A robot monkey!
8.) Medusa’s End (Soul Eater) (Written by Shiggins)
More of an alternate ending than an interruption of the main story, the anime adaptation of Soul Eater chose to just end the story in its own way before the manga was ready to do the same (and in our opinion, the manga wasn’t ready to end despite it already being over). The final episodes of Soul Eater gave us giant robots, a rematch between Shinigami and Asura, and most importantly, a proper final showdown between Maka and Medusa.
Wrapping up storylines in a quick but efficient manner, the anime even dealt with issues that the manga somehow completely forgot, including the mysterious figure that was Eibon (I can tell you right now that ClayDragon is not happy about the manga ignoring his plotline). While one or two elements were a touch anticlimactic, it still kept to the appropriate, if not predictable, spirit of the series.
In the manga, the death of Medusa was shocking but a touch confusing and full of plotholes which left me unimpressed and for a villain I actually loved, that’s a real shame. The anime adaptation gave her a proper confrontation and death which actually made a lot more sense and gave her less reason to return… which makes it odd that we see obvious signs she’s still alive at the end.
7.) Orange Islands (Pokémon) (Written by ClayDragon)
Following on from the original series of the Pokémon anime, the Orange Islands arc saw Ash and his friends travel to the Orange Archipelago to fulfil an errand for Professor Oak. Somewhat controversially, this arc changed the characters in Ash’s travelling group – namely, swapping Brock out for a Pokémon Watcher called Tracey. Sadly, Brock had decided to stay with a local professor to help out with her research, although seeing as he joined the team immediately after this arc finished, their relationship evidently didn’t pan out too well.
Unusually for an arc which wasn’t based on any of the games, this season did forward the story in a number of ways. For example, Ash ended up catching two of his most iconic Pokémon on the islands – Lapras and Snorlax – and it set up the plot of the GS Ball that carried on over into the Johto arc (and then sadly never got resolved). It also marked the point when Ash’s Charizard finally began to listen to him, and introduced Team Rocket’s often-used Magikarp submarine.
These episodes offered a nice change of pace, as instead of Ash following the usual route of battling Gym Leaders to get badges, he was made to perform different tasks, such as climbing a mountain or undergoing target practice with his Pokémon. Plus, the Orange League Championship remains the only League Tournament to date that Ash has actually won. It’s just a shame that he’s never been able to repeat his success since…
6.) Zanpakuto Rebellion (Bleach) (Written by Shiggins)
Bleach and Naruto have many things in common, and one of them is the atrocious amount of filler their anime dishes out to us like a pathetic parade of mediocrity. Having to suffer constant disappointments like the Bount Arc is enough to make me never buy the DVDs, as I only save my money for series that deserve to be bought. Nevertheless, the concept of this arc intrigued me enough to actually check it out. And it wasn’t half-bad.
A series that focuses entirely on the spirits of the Zanpakuto, there are quite a few good designs and personalities here including Matsumoto’s cat-like Haineko, Soi-Fon’s tiny Suzembachi, and Hisagi’s insane Kazeshini. Most of the battles are fast, the animation actually doesn’t look like crap and the pace stays at a good speed that doesn’t bore me to tears.
Of course, this arc does have a lot of crap but that’s part of the charm. You don’t ever go into filler expecting a quality performance, and even a good action scene that captures some of the enthusiasm the canon has is worth a mention. However, as I said, the crap is noticeable and aggravating. For example, the final villain of this arc is so bland and so obvious that it made me sleepy. And the voice acting at times was… well, let’s just say I wasn’t exactly too upset when I realised I could listen to the sounds of brutal colonoscopies instead of hearing Rukia’s obviously repeated line over and over and over again.
5.) Black Butler Season 2 (Black Butler) (Written by Shiggins)
Oddly enough, nobody in the world thought this was needed or even wanted. The first series literally ended with Sebastian taking Ciel’s soul, now that he had gotten his revenge. There was nothing else we needed and suddenly, this was released! What’s even stranger is that it almost looked like the show would be about the newcomer, Alois Trancy, instead of Ciel. Thankfully, that confusion didn’t last long and what followed was an odd little journey through the psyche of the writers.
Season 2 of Black Butler thankfully ignored a lot of the putrid shit that came from Season 1, most notably the god-awful Ash/Angela story, and instead gave us completely new antagonists and a concise story arc. While I wouldn’t ever consider it something to cheer about, the interaction and dialogue between Ciel and Alois did keep me invested enough to pay attention, while the rivalry of Sebastian and new demon butler Claude kept the action flowing and strong.
What really stood out for me though were the darker elements. In one bizarre scene, Alois actually forces her maid Hannah to strip, then puts on her clothes and attempts to seduce Ciel! Taking into account how old they are meant to be, how well-known this series is, and how unusual Alois already was, this was quite a bold and daring move. It’s brief but a good example of how twisted the series was prepared to go in order to keep me invested. And of course, I will never forget the backstory of Alois. In fact, I won’t dare mention it here because I think you deserve to find out for yourself.
4.) Key of the Starry Sky (Fairy Tail) (Written by Shiggins)
The arc that’s so good, Hiro Mashima himself considers it canon! That alone should be enough to put this arc on the map… of story arcs… It’s a good arc, alright! Starring both recurring and debuting villains, giving importance to characters we’ve only seen in the background, and providing plenty of jokes and shipping moments, this arc is so well-done that it almost seems like the animators planned this from the beginning.
Completely focusing on Lucy and her relationship with her dead father, the mystery in this series is constantly growing and changing as churches are destroyed, Kinana actually becomes relevant in a surprisingly romantic story that made me blush like a schoolgirl during her first sex education class, and of course, the return of the Oración Seis!
You could argue that it went on too long and a lot of the jokes don’t work, but I’d argue against that with two common words: “Shut up”. It was a good arc and there’s not much else I can say really. The fan service was unnecessarily shoved in, as is the case with every series, and characters like Lucy’s mysterious cousin grated a bit but I can honestly walk away from this thinking “Well, at least one mainstream anime cared enough to actually try this much!”. Maybe the Naruto anime should have taken a page from Fairy Tail’s book!
3.) Poltergeist Arc (A Certain Scientific Railgun) (Written by ClayDragon)
Sometimes the anime adaptation can be done so well, any alterations to the source material are indistinguishable from the canon events. Such is the case with the Poltergeist arc in Railgun, which I didn’t even realise was non-canon until a few weeks after watching it. The first story arc in the series, called the Level Upper arc, focused on Mikoto Misaka trying to stop Harumi Kiyama, a well-meaning but somewhat unstable scientist who was willing to destroy Academy City if it meant she could wake her students from their comas.
In the manga, Kiyama’s fate (and that of her students) was left ambiguous, and a number of plot threads that were set up were either quickly resolved or hand-waved away. In the anime however, the Poltergeist arc brought them back in order to save the city from a series of earthquakes and other strange occurrences caused by ‘poltergeist activity’. Naturally, everything is linked together, and the revelations that occur in this arc don’t seem as if they were shoehorned in for the sake of it.
The final battle is one of the high points, especially since the first half takes place at high speed on a motorway and gives every main character (and even some secondary ones) at least one awesome moment. The best part of this arc, however, is definitely the return of Kiyama, as it takes a character that seemed to have been forgotten about after her fight was over, and makes her into a believable, sympathetic character that finally gets the happy ending she deserves in a wonderfully heartwarming way.
2.) Steins;Gate OVA (Steins;Gate) (Written by ClayDragon)
The ending of the Steins;Gate anime was brilliant enough as it was. Then we were given this OVA which made everything ten times better. Two months after the events of the anime, Okabe and his ragtag group of misfits are invited over to America by one of their friends in order to watch her compete in a card game tournament, during which they will meet up with Kurisu again. The plans that the Future Gadget Laboratory group make for their trip go well…until Okabe lands in Los Angeles and steps off the plane. Things go downhill from there.
Firstly, he dons his ‘Hououin Kyouma’ persona at the wrong time, causing him to be mistaken for a terrorist. Then, once that is cleared up, he gets picked up by the police due to them overhearing his claims that America will soon face the end of days. Then, it’s revealed that he cancelled everyone’s hotel reservations, forcing them to stay in a run-down old motel in the middle of nowhere. THEN, he ends up miles from the motel without a car after chasing Daru’s future wife, causing him to wander back to civilisation without a mobile phone signal. Thankfully, he’s found by Kurisu, and the two have a heart-to-heart conversation whilst they wait to be rescued.
Despite only being an episode that seemed to be added as an afterthought, this OVA hit the right notes on so many levels. It was absolutely hilarious from start to finish, and the final scene with Okabe and Kurisu is one of the most heartwarming moments I’ve ever seen. Whilst most other series have OVAs that can be passed over without much bother, the Steins;Gate OVA is absolutely essential.
1.) The Entire Show (Love, Chuunibyou & Other Delusions) (Written by ClayDragon)
The relevance of the Chuunibyou anime to the original light novels can get a little confusing at times. For starters, there are a large number of anime-only characters that never appear in the novels, and so everything related to them is non-canon. On the other hand, some events that happen in the anime after these characters are introduced are actually lifted from the novels, so it can be very difficult to work out what sections of the anime are actually non-canon. However, for the sake of simplicity I’ve decided to classify most of the anime as non-canon, as there are a lot more differences than there are similarities.
Sadly, the light novels haven’t actually been released in the West, so it’s hard to draw an accurate comparison. Mind you, any comparisons that can be made always place the anime in the better position – for example, the characters of Kumin Tsuyuri, Touka Takanashi and Sanae Dekomori are all only in the anime. Given that these are three of the best characters in the show, their absence in the novels would be enough to put me off reading them. As if it wasn’t bad enough, Satone Shichimiya, who wasn’t a very likeable character in the anime, is even worse in the novels.
|How can you hate a show with someone this adorable in it?|
The fact that the anime has so many good characters is more than enough of a reason to watch it, but the interactions involving the non-canon characters help to add an extra layer of depth and emotion that the light novels just don’t have. Even though the story mostly goes off on its own direction at the very start, Chuunibyou is one of those anime series that is better than the source material in every way.
|Chikara Arc (Naruto Shippuden)|
|Goku and Piccolo learn to drive (Dragon Ball Z)|
|The final battle (Noragami)|
Is there an entry you feel we missed out? Or do you have any suggestions for another Top 10 list? Let us know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993, but he doesn’t use it that much. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He also has difficulty with crystals.
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.