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"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) at least roughly 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 a hurried schedule, with staffs and budgets small enough to make American producers cringe. They are expected to turn popular manga into long running series, and one of the biggest costs in both time and money 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, telling their life stories, or just being randomly philosophical.

Sometimes this trope is used for artistic purposes, but usually it's just 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • .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 the Dragon Ball Z anime, 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 Dragon Ball 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 Dragon Balls. These examples were mostly due to Filler, as the original manga was a lot faster paced.
    • 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. Frieza powering up must have taken longer than that, and none of the previous statements were exaggerations - well, except for 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 Dragon Ball.
    • Speaking of the original series, this trope is kinda unbuilt early on in the story. When Oolong first confronts Goku, he transforms into a bull and smack-talks him in an attempt to drive him off, since Oolong isn't all that strong. Goku is pretty much unfazed, and asks Oolong to fight him already. This ends up dragging on long enough for Oolong's transformation to wear off, forcing him to run out of sight before anyone finds out that he's just a tiny little pig.
    • Dragon Ball 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.note 
      "ALL YOU PEOPLE DO IS TAAAAAAAAAAALK!" (goes into a homicidal rage)
    • Much less egregious in the remake, Dragon Ball Z 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.
    • The material covered by Kai is half the length of the same storylines in Z. (Kai is often said to have covered it in a third of the time. However, Kai doesn't go all the way to the end of Z until recently, so some material definitely isn't there. However, the material that was covered was cut in half and loses nothing; remove the endless speeches and flashbacks that cover material we just heard/saw, and you have an infinitely more watchable show.)
    • This trope was parodied mercilessly in the video Dragonzball P, where the battle is so consumed by clunky exposition, childish and incoherent banter, and characters staring each other down and making funny faces, that the actual fight consists of one second of Goku lightly slapping Vegeta, at which point the latter falls over and announces his defeat.
  • 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.
    • The fight between Kurotsuchi and Szayel is a particular offender; the two of them are Mad Scientists, so they more or less spend the entire fight just staring at each other and explaining all their countermeasures.
    • Seemingly subverted when Ichigo fights Renji the first time. While Renji pauses to gloat about how much more powerful he is than Ichigo, Ichigo strikes. Of course, then it's Ichigo's turn to stop and gloat.
  • 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 maybe ten minutes to play in real life, without the endless exposition.
    • 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 than most large duels. When Pegasus plays a very common card and explains its effect, Kaiba yells at him to shut up, insulted that Pegasus thinks he needs it explained it to him. Amusingly enough, Kaiba then explains the exact effect himself.
    • 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 Bonds Beyond Time 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 Paradox and how he acquired his deck and plan.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS ends going back to this practice thanks to Power Creep tied to real life, with turns growing increasingly complex and having to devote a significant time in each episode to explaining each card's effects, summoning animations and long combos. Thus, despite most average duels taking 4 turns at best, they're still 2 episodes long - with the last duel between Playmaker and Bohman taking the cake. Despite being only six turns long, it still takes four episodes to end.
  • 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 later 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 these episodes were made after the manga was announced to end, meaning they don't have to worry about padding as much.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion is infamous for its use of this trope.
    • The 53-second long elevator scene, where Asuka and Rei stand motionless in an elevator.
    • After Kaworu reveals himself as an angel, there is a long shot of Unit 01 holding him in its hand before decapitating him.
    • Misato's several minute long sex scene with Kaji is depicted from an angle that only shows the dresser in the bedroom. The long silent periods make this particularly uncomfortable.
  • 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.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal is a Shot-for-Shot Remake of the original manga, and as a result it gets hit with this hard. Examples include one of the Shittenou killing Tuxedo Mask with a shot meant for Sailor Moon, after which he does nothing for eight minutes while the other characters stand around mourning, and the final episode of the Death Busters arc, which starts with a three-minute recap followed by ninety seconds of Combat Commentary before anything actually happens, ruining the dramatic tension of the previous episode's Cliffhanger.
  • Reborn! (2004) 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 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 seems to be happening more after the timeskip, the Punk Hazard arc being the greatest offender.
  • 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.
    • Sports anime series in general tend to be guilty of this. Perhaps the earliest offender would be the original Captain Tsubasa anime series. Later remakes would shorten the matches somewhat,though.
  • Ninja Nonsense 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 Cecily 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 Cecily have a weapon at that point, and he seems to have no compunction against killing them while they are unarmed.

    Web Comics 
  • Discussed in one of the "Fourth Wall Week" strips of Kid Radd, which discusses how, more often than not, the transition of manga to anime often results in the creation of these to fill time, since it's simpler and cheaper to animate lengthy conversations between characters instead of action sequences.
  • Parodied in a Questionable Content strip in which Dale and Marigold are watching Ass Swordsman Tetsuo, an anime about a guy who pulls swords out of his butt and fights demons.
    Dale: The first six episodes were just a scientist explaining the physics of butt swords. The second arc was him meeting a demon and convincing it to be nice using logic.
    Marigold: Then there were 4 filler episodes about a trip to the hot springs with his dad. His dad is really boring.
    Dale: We are 22 episodes in. He has yet to pull a single sword from his ass.
    Marigold: I can't tell if it's a brilliant deconstruction of shonen anime tropes or if it's just garbage.

    Western Animation 
  • Defied in Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi. In one episode dedicated parodying Yu-gi-oh!, Ami starts thinking about a strategy while she's fighting Yumi...only for Yumi to tell her to get on with it.

Alternative Title(s): Not So Fast