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Inaction Sequence
"Over the next several years, the talk will increase and the animation will slowly decrease, desensitizing the audience until the ultimate goal is achieved... Viewers will watch a program consisting only of a still frame of Lou Ferrigno, while a voice-over reads the dictionary. It will be mankind's most successful television program ever."

"How many Saiyans does it take to change a light bulb? One - but it takes him seventeen episodes to do it."
— A common joke among Dragon Ball Z fandom

A fair bit of anime is adapted from manga, its print cousin. There are good things and bad things about this.

The trouble is that the narrative style of manga derives from literature, where the amount of space you spend on something is proportional to how important it is, while the narrative style of anime derives from film, where the amount of time you spend on something is (even after all the tricks of time compression and such are considered) proportional to how long things actually take.

So you start out with, say, a 30 page comic book, and you want to turn it into a 30 minute show. This can be a problem if there's a fight scene: a comic book might devote an entire issue to a single fight, which only takes up about five minutes on-screen. Translating a monthly publication to a weekly series makes matters even worse. And it's a dangerous gamble when shows get ahead of the source material.

In addition, the anime industry works on budgets that would make American producers cringe, are expected to turn popular manga into long running series, and one of the biggest costs comes from animating dynamic action sequences.

As a result, characters in anime derived from manga tend to talk a lot.

A whole lot.

At totally inappropriate times.

Often, you'll have heroes spend entire episodes taunting each other mid-battle, explaining their last move in excruciating detail, explaining their next move in even more excruciating detail, calling their attacks, building up their Battle Aura, gathering their composure for the next attack, adopting a silly pose, reflecting on all the things they stand to lose if they don't win this one, or just being randomly philosophical.

This is a very distinctive anime variety of Padding. See also Overtook the Manga, Sounding It Out, Talking Is a Free Action. Talk to the Fist is when someone whacks or shoots a character in the middle of delivering one of these speeches. See Mid-Battle Tea Break for a break in the action for the sake of comedy, rather than stalling.

Examples

Anime
  • .hack//SIGN which took place inside of a video game is well known for its extremely talkative and long conversations. However, because of the background investigations going on with the leads, it's forgiven. There are moments of intense action and suspense, but the dialog to action ratio is easily 5:1.
  • The all-time king of this sort of time-filler is Dragon Ball (or in some circles "Drag-On Ball"), where a single fight scene can last upwards of five episodes before the first punch is thrown. It was one of the earliest examples of this trope, as the rule was to make each episode match one chapter of the manga. To their credit, they did sometimes engage in Lampshade Hanging, such as when Goku tries to emulate the silly pose of his opponent, and points out that it looks cool, but offers no tactical advantage. As the joke goes: "How many Dragonball Z characters does it take to change a light bulb? One, but it takes him six episodes to do it." And that's if it's just a minor event. If changing a lightbulb is a major plot point, it will take half the cast, an entire season, and at least two wishes on the Dragonballs.
    • The most infamous example of this is the 19-episode Goku vs Frieza fight, after which Frieza set the planet of Namek to self-destruct in "5 minutes", and they continue to fight on Namek for an additional 9.5 episodes. In fact, halfway through the battle a computer calculates how long until Namek explodes, and the answer is 3 minutes. I mean, Frieza powering up must have taken longer then that, and none of the previous statements were exaggerations - well, maybe the bit about Frieza powering up.
    • Whenever there is a draw to choose placement in a tournament, expect at least five episodes. This also goes for the original Dragonball.
    • Dragonball Z's spending large amounts of time talking about doing things before actually doing them was lampshaded by Super Buu of all people, who gets increasingly pissed that everyone is just sitting around talking and waiting when he wants to fight. Amusingly, it was an invoked trope. They really were stalling for time in that instance.
      "ALL YOU PEOPLE DO IS TAAAAAAAAAAALK!" (goes into a homicidal rage)
    • Much less egregious in the remake, Dragonball Kai, though it still has its share of monologues. The amount of pointless chattering removed is truly amazing.
    • Thanks to all this padding and every single episode of the dub explaining the plot of the previous episode and the next episode (Next time, on Dragon! Ball! Z!) you only need to watch every third or fourth episode to keep up with the plot.
  • This trope describes half or more of the screen time of Bleach, in which Ichigo and his friends invade the Soul Reaper citadel in agonizingly slow motion. One on one duels with the Soul Reaper officers often take up most of two and three episodes to complete, most of the time occupied in taunts, threats, warnings, and detailed explanations of each character's strengths and invincible spiritual powers.
    • Cutting to a flashback just before the climax of the fight, in order to explain the bad guy's entire life story. Although, those flashbacks happened in the manga as well, just with slightly less detail.
    • In this case, the anime is very faithful to the manga. After the Soul Society arc is over, you get the feeling the writers have no clue how to continue the plot and just shove out more and more Midstrike Dialogs.
    • Just watch/read the fight between Kurotsuchi and Szayel. Just... do it.
  • Another major offender is Yu-Gi-Oh!, which is a show about a (children's) card game. Most duels of any importance are stretched out to three or four episodes, because every single turn involves at least one player shouting "Not so fast!" and revealing an unexpected countermeasure, prompting several minutes worth of explanation as to how the countermeasure works. It seems that skill in this game is dependent on the fact that no player, however skilled, has any idea how any of the cards work except for their own. The phrase "You see, my card has another special ability..." is uttered at least twice in nearly every episode. With almost equal frequency, a character will place the duel on hold in order to tell their entire life story to their opponent. Blofeld would have been proud.
    • Incidentally, the average two-episode duel lasts for about six rounds, and no more than ten. This would take all of about five minutes to play in real life, without the endless exposition.
      • Assuming that the players use half the normal (8000) Life Points, and keep their turns under 30 seconds. Which isn't likely when both players are highly skilled (most of the characters on the show are described as being "the best") and are trying to predict every facedown card, and formulating an appropriate course of action for every possible annoying card.
      • Mitigated by the fact that the Duelist Kingdom arc only had the duelists working with 2000 life points and the Battle City arc with 4000, decreasing the amount of time it takes to win significantly.
    • Oddly, this is averted in most backup or filler duels where not only do the duels take place at a rather fast pace, but they also end up actually being marginally more epic due to the pacing of the duel. An example is the duel where Rebecca is pit against the Chinese duelist. She uses a classic hurt-and-heal strategy that maintained a very consistent beat that puts the other duels in the series to shame. And she did it all in one episode.
    • This is given a Lampshade Hanging in The Movie which was told its entire story in 80 minutes, shorter then most large duels. When Yugi plays a very common card and explains its effect, Kaiba yells at him to shut up, insulted that Yugi thinks he needs it explained it to him.
    • Additional Inaction Sequences come from the large number of flashbacks in episodes. To keep more casual viewers abreast of the plotline, any time a character references a prior event, the scene cuts to a brief flashback of the event. For example, count how many times during the Battle City arc Joey mentions his promise to Yugi, which always leads into the flashback of him saying, "It's true. We'll whip this Marik creep and his Rare Hunter goon squad so hard, they won't know what hit 'em." That same phrase every time.
    • Its Oddly Named Sequel Yu-Gi-Oh! GX started as an anime, so it isn't as bad about this; most duels on that show only last about half an episode. In an ironic turn-around, both players will start out with only a fraction of the standard Hit Points as in a real-life game (except when playing a triangle or tag duel), in order for the duels to not take up so much time. (Nevertheless, Edo/Aster is apparently aware of this trope in the dub: "Is he gonna duel or stand there and ponder his purpose in life?")
      • Even the longest of duels in GX were at most two full episodes, which is half the time of the average long duel in the original series. Most duels, even the important ones, begin in the latter third or quarter of an episode (where the first bit set up the scenario), end on a cliffhangers, then are finished in the first third or half of the next episode, using the remaining time to detail the aftermath of the duel. Most duels that spent at least one full episode on a duel also had several cuts to other characters making progress on other parts of the story. Though the duel pacing is significantly increased, the amount of exposition is still sometimes painful.
    • The BBT movie more or less falls victim to this. It's only an 8 round duel, with two of the protagonists only getting one turn. But it's padded into a 1 hour movie due to explaining Parodox and his deck.
  • Naruto, as you might expect from the vast differences in the speed of the production of the anime and manga, uses this often. Frequently during a fight (especially the Chunin Exam arc), after someone uses a special technique of any kind, another character will spend the next 10-20 seconds explaining it before the attack is even done. The Land of the Waves arc, in all seriousness, flashed back to something that had happened 5 minutes ago.
    • During a section of the first battle between Kakashi and Zabuza, Naruto and Sasuke rescue Kakashi from Zabuza's hydro-prison technique. Zabuza swings his sword, which Kakashi blocks with his fist. For the next 5 minutes, they both stand in this posture, until Naruto completes explaining what they had just done to rescue Kakashi.
    • It gets particularly bad with the first one or two story arcs of Shippuden where they went from covering about 1.5 chapters per episode, to about 1 chapter per episode, necessitating multiple stretches without even any dialogue. Luckily, when they actually started to pad it out with a lengthy filler arc, they came back to more regular levels (or at least adding new scenes instead of nothing). At least 5 episodes have been nothing but Kakashi and Naruto chasing Deidara while Sakura and Chiyo do all the hard work!
    • It appears to have subverted this trope in recent episodes. The last several episodes have covered multiple chapters in one episode, sometimes up to three, resulting in a much faster paced show. It might have something to do with the fact that the manga has been announced to end this year, meaning they don't have to worry about padding as much.
  • The anime Gantz gets ludicrous with this trope later on. One might suspect the protagonist body count to have been significantly less had they just shut up and shot the bloody aliens more.
  • Death Note is, for the most part, people thinking very, very hard. The anime is faithful to this, making it one of the talkiest anime ever.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn!! does this fairly frequently, to the extent of making the battle for the sky ring — which is supposedly a bit over half an hour — take up eight episodes.
  • GaoGaiGar does this on occasion, with the action stopping for a short time while the narrator described what was going on, such as describing the effects of somebody's new attack, though the inaction is never long enough that it keeps the Monster of the Week from being flattened this episode.
  • The One Piece anime usually avoids this, generally preferring to add more scenes instead of dragging out the existing one. However, there is one glaringly ridiculous instance of this trope: during the fight against Enel, Luffy has a brief flashback of something that happened less than ten seconds before. The purpose of the flashback is explained a minute later by Nami anyway.
    • The worst example of this in the One Piece anime was episode 377, which covered a single chapter that had no extended action sequences or was particularly dialogue heavy. The first full ten minutes were a recap of the previous episode and the rest of the episode was full of pans and zooms. However, the events being covered were very dramatic, and the artwork was movie-quality, so it's a bit more forgivable.
      • it seem to be happening more after the timeskip, the punk hazard arc being the greatest offender at the time of writing
  • The matches between big-name teams in Slam Dunk suffer from this too. Not only in the anime, where a single 40-minute match takes up around five 24-minute episodes (in average, being generous) to have a result, but also in the manga, in which they take mostly three whole volumes from start to finish. While other things that usually would take much longer (such as Sakuragi spending one whole week improving on his shooting) are said and done in a single issue.
  • Ninin Ga Shinobuden parodies this, with Onsokumaru into a long series of flashbacks from the previous week of his life... to explain something that occurred five minutes earlier. All of the ninja wonder why he wasted their time.
  • The final episode of The Sacred Blacksmith has the black-cloaked man wait for a minute while Cecilly gives Luke a motivational speech, and then another two minutes while Luke and Lisa use magic to forge a sword to fight him. It's not as drastic as most other examples here, except that neither Luke nor Cecilly had a weapon at that point, and he seemed to have no compunction against killing them while they were unarmed.
  • The anime Monster is 90% inaction, with or without characters on-screen. Even the 'action' sequences drag on with still poses, locked gazes, and held grimaces. Because there's never a pay-off in climax, the other 9% crawls along with exhausted melancholy. That last 1% is the final climactic events of the story.
  • In Street Fighter II V, one of the worst inaction sequences was in the second-to-last episode, where about 4 minutes into the episode consisted of nothing but M. Bison powering up and the Shadowlaw base collapsing.
  • Two rather odd, identical examples in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Twice, the action slows down to... a still image shown for at least a minute. The first is simply two characters standing in a lift; the second is the protagonist literally holding a character's life in his hands before deciding to kill him. It Makes Sense in Context. This was caused by Studio Gainax running out of money near the end of the show's runtime, right on par with the rest of the show's quirks.
  • Often mocked in Black Lagoon. Most who have tried have ended up taking at least one bullet, courtesy of Revy.
  • Being a deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, Muteki Kanban Musume Played this trope so straight it could be a parody at episode 2B: Kankuro and Miki are less than ten meters apart before their fight. Then Kankuro begins to run towards Miki to attack her, and he manages to imitate the voice over of a local train before fighting. Miki stays immobile while she begins to imitate the voiceover of a bullet train and adopts an Ass Kicking Pose. Then she begins to run towards Kankuro. Akihiko desperately cries to Kankuro to stop. Kankuro manages to answer that he will increase the power. Miki and Kankuro take one minute and ten seconds running into themselves a distance of less than ten meters. And itís epic.


Frozen In TimePlot TimeJust in Time
In the HoodJust for PunIncest Is Relative
Inane BlabberingDialogueInflationary Dialogue
Hit FlashAnimation TropesInfectious Enthusiasm

alternative title(s): Not So Fast
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