If you are accustomed to pop-cultural fiction, movies, comics, etc chances are, you have heard the word canon somewhere. And if you are an anime fan and have watched quite a few good series already, you know the word for sure.
But what does it mean? And what does canon mean in anime?
The word canon does not come from Japanese and is not unique to Japan. It is used by fans all over the world, including for things outside of anime and manga.
In fact, canon means something that comes from the original story of a work of fiction and not from a derivative work of the original.
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So, What Does Canon Mean?
Canon is the collection of all information about the fictional universe that the authors or rights holders believe to be correct and original.
Usually, everything contained in books, films, comics, and other works published with the approval of the authors is considered canon. But there are exceptions – the canon can change over time under the influence of circumstances.
What Does Canon Mean in Anime?
Anime series and movies are adapted from manga, generally. Meaning their source material is the manga. The part of an anime that follows its source material, which is its manga, is called canon. And if an anime show does not follow its manga for a certain number of episodes that part will not be considered canon.
In short, as long as the anime stays true to its manga, it will be considered canon. Those episodes will be called fillers.
What Does Filler Mean in Anime?
Filler means the episodes that are not original or authentic according to the source material of that anime. When an anime show starts animating episodes with made-up stories those episodes will be called filler episodes. For example, in the Naruto series, there are (90+205) 295 filler episodes in total.
And these filler episodes do not add any meaning to the original storyline. However, depending on the filler’s story it might add another layer to the character development.
This Is Not Canon
If a character dies in the story, or if he starts dating another character, which didn’t occur in the manga it will not be canon. These are not events supported by the author of the original work.
What is canon is strictly something the original author invented. The great importance of this is that in the future something that is not canon will not be contradicted by something that is canon.
For example, in fanfic, one character marries another, but the anime is not over yet. In an episode later one of these characters dies. It is no longer possible for them to marry. In this way, canon history contradicts non- canon.
This also happens in fillers. A filler can tell a story that will become impossible in the future in the manga. Sometimes even details in episodes about things that weren’t explained well in the manga. For example in the case of physical attacks, it’s difficult to describe in light novels or characters that do not show their faces in the manga to give a tone of mystery.
In short, canon is anime episodes based 100% on manga. Unlike fillers.
When usually writers make something different from canon?
If a spinoff version of a character is very popular, prominent, and distinctive from the original, with a sufficient number of feats or descriptions to scale, it can usually be featured.
However, if he is little known, he does not have a sufficiently distinctive story to be considered an independent character (for example, if he originates from a fighting game) and he has very little information from which it’s hard to scale the statistics, probably it should not appear.
Fanon And Canon
The opposite of canon is fanon – a set of facts that most fans believe to be true, but not necessarily true from the point of view of the authors. Sometimes some of the fanon can eventually enter canon if the authors listen to the opinion of the fans; for example, this was the case with the Star Wars books, some of which relied heavily on fanon.
In turn, elements of the zv book canon (inferior to the cinematic one) leaked into the cinematic canon of the highest standard – the g-canon (first of all, we are talking, of course, about the planet coruscant and its name).
The fundamental difference between canon and fanon is that canon is something fans can’t argue with, immutable facts about the universe. Fanon, on the other hand, is attempting to patch holes in the plot or speculation on the topic of ambiguities and questions that the author often deliberately left open in order to have a reserve for creating the next works of the series, or simply in order to troll his fans.
Canon in fan fiction is what it is, it is worth considering such an important concept as fanon. This is the so-called fan canon. That is, the totality of information about the fictional world, which his fans believe to be correct, but it is not always so, according to the author.
Fanons are often attempted to explain various plot holes or understatements. By the way, it happens that fanons can become canons.
For example, when harry potter and the half-blood prince come out, in its finale, professor snape kills dumbledore and joins Voldemort.
However, the character was considered his act as a clever intrigue to destroy the dark mage. This had become a fan theory for most of them. And when the next novel, harry potter and the deathly hallows, was published, this theory and this fanon became canon. Fanfiction based on “Harry Potter” (dedicated to this topic) after that also became canonical.
In recent years, when working on sequels or prequels, screenwriters have often used fanons set by fikwriters.
One of the most recent examples is the HBO television series game of thrones. As you know, George martin (based on whose books this project is filmed) has released only 5 volumes so far.
And, working on the script for the next seasons (6 and 7), the creators of the tv project had to figure out how the plot would develop further. To facilitate this task, the script used the ideas of many fanfictions. In addition, some fanbones of fans have been converted into canons of the series (remaining fanons for the George martin books).
So, despite the fact that official literary criticism and cinematography treat fan fiction and the fanons they create as a second-rate phenomenon, they do not hesitate to use their best developments for their own interests, and free of charge.
Even if something is official, it doesn’t necessarily have to be canon. The best example is the dragon ball or dragon ball z movies. They are official because they were created by toei and supervised by Akira Toriyama, but their events cannot be canon, because they contradict those of the main story that we saw in the manga and in the anime. Curious, right?
So, to directly specify the definition, if there was only one manga and one anime, and the manga came first, then the manga is canon. I’m just saying because a lot of manga and anime are based on light novels or visual novels. In that case, the light novel or visual novel would be canon.
I hope you have understood what does canon meaning in anime. If you still have any questions, let us know in the comment section.