When viewing a long anime series, the recap episode or what others would call filler episodes would often act as a break in the series to give viewers a rundown of what has happened so far in the story. Sometimes recaps don’t come in the form of a full-fledged episode, but a five minute recount of the events that has happened in a previous episode.
Depending on how most people feel about recaps, sometimes they can be a helpful refresher of what happened in the series thus far or it can be an irritating break from the main story when all you want to do is keep watching until the end.
One episode of just recaps doesn’t bother me too much. Sometimes if a series is particularly long and a recap episode is placed somewhere in the middle to give us a break from the main story, I actually enjoy seeing the first half of the series being narrated by one of the characters in a nutshell. At times it highlights the best moments from previous episodes, and it’s nice to go back and relive those moments without actually going back to an episode to watch the whole thing again. Sailor Moon has some recap episodes like these, and I watched them for my own benefit. With a series mainly on DVD these days, it’s easier to skip filler episodes to get back into the main story. I still like the option to watch the recap episode if I felt like it. Usually the way they present a recap episode is through a main character reminiscing on the events that have passed with another character in the series. It’s the best way to include a recap episode into a series without it feeling like it shouldn’t be there in the first place.
The times where I think recaps are at its worst is when the beginning of each episode recaps the previous episode for the first two to three minutes of it opening. The worst offender of this method is Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. I don’t know why each episode is set up like this, but I absolutely can’t stand it. Is it really necessary to recap the last episode I just finished watching not too long ago? The start of each episode of Tsubasa ends up making me lose interest in watching the episode for a millisecond because of the time wasted on recapping the previous episode. Why can’t we just go straight into the new episode without the recap? It has been done without any problems in past animes and recaps only prolongs my enjoyment of the actual episode.
Another instance where I wasn’t a fan of the recap episode has happened in Clannad After Story. Just before the final episode of the series (which has nothing to do with the main story at all) viewers get a recap episode entitled Under the Green Tree. In this episode, Tomoya tells his daughter Ushio the story of how him and Nagisa met, became friends, and eventually fell in love. This is a recap episode where it’s set up in such a way that as Tomoya tells Ushio the story of her parents’ lives, the viewer gets to relive all the key moments from the entire series as a whole. While it was nice to go back down memory lane with Tomoya, I was disappointed by this episode. I was really hoping for an episode where we see Tomoya, Nagisa, and Ushio living their lives as a family before finally saying goodbye to these characters. Instead, we are left with an episode of recaps before the final episode of the series where we have an alternate reality type situation concerning Tomoya and one of the girls from the series.
Recaps in an anime can be a good or bad thing. It can remind us of all the events that have happened in the story so far and how far the main character has grown since the first half of the series. On the other end of the spectrum, recaps can be an annoying deterrent to keep us from enjoying the rest of the story right away.
What are your thoughts about recaps in anime? Do you enjoy them, hate them, or wish they never existed at all?