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Japanese Anime vs. American Cartoons - A Comparison

Updated on June 3, 2012
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American or Japanese?

American and Japanese animations, or cartoons and anime respectively, are contributors to cultural imparting to the children of both countries. They are a reflection of the two cultures. Because of this, both animations also have inherent differences, some arguably good and others bad. As far as entertainment value is concerned, preferences are as different as our cultures, so it all depends on the individual watching. Not to say that one animation is ever better than the other, but there are obvious distinctions between the two, and a person might lean towards animation more than the other. In my own personal opinion, anime from Japan is far more entertaining than American cartoons. Sometimes though, I also enjoy sitting back and watching a good ol’ episode of Tom and Jerry because while the differences in style are usually profound between the different types of animations, they are not always definite.

Not Just For Kids

First of all, I would like to clear up the bias that animations are for kids only. Just because there aren’t physical actors, doesn’t mean that concepts, intellectuality or even maturity are sacrificed. As an example, I’ll use Death Note. This particular anime delves into the ethical dilemma of whether or not killing can ever be justified. It also involves a thick plot with characters that use, dare I say it, cognitive thought and intellectual inquiry to suit their causes. Does that sound childish? On the American end, cartoons such as Family Guy and Futurama are meant to appeal to adults through humor.

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To Laugh or Not To Laugh?

Humor is one of the most severe differences between Japanese and American animations. Generally speaking, American cartoons stick to pure comedy in comparison to Japanese anime. Think about it. There is Looney tunes, Johnny Bravo and most recently, Adventure Time.

One of the biggest exceptions to this rule is the superhero scene in America, including Batman, Superman and Spiderman. These cartoons ironically usually originate from comic strips, just as most anime productions originate from manga. These American superheroes have also been recycled throughout time, making them seem to carry more weight than those cartoons that are original productions.

Anime tends to be more serious in nature. Not that they aren’t humorous, as many serious anime often contain jokes, but they tend to focus more on a defined plot and deeper thought. Anime that fit this description include Naruto, Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach.

Just as there are serious cartoons in America, There are also humorous anime in Japan, usually derived from gag manga. These include Hetalia – Axis Powers andArakawa Under the Bridge. These anime, in my opinion, are harder to follow due to a different type of humor than the typical American is used to.

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Ethics and The Afterlife

Another distinctive difference is that American cartoons tend to point to a well defined answer to moral dilemmas. In shows such as Superman, there is a good guy, being Superman, and a bad guy, being Lex Luther. Using the example of the anime Death Note, however, it’s evident that the Japanese do not set definite values in their animations. Spiderman is a somewhat borderline exception to this rule, but generally speaking, an actual ethical analysis is rare in American cartoons.

In anime, the afterlife is very often a factor in the storyline. Death Note, Bleach and Inuyasha all contain some form of shinigami or ghosts. Cartoons on the other hand do not usually touch on death and the afterlife. I cannot come up with a single example of an American cartoon that touches on death for more than an episode.

Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Death Note

Cowboy Bebop

Code Geass

Samurai Champloo

Fullmetal Alchemist

Inuyasha

Rurouni Kenshin

Yu Yu Hakushow

Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z

Wolfs Rain

Eureka Seven

Gundam

Shakugan No Shana

Bakuman

Conclusion

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my little analysis. Just because I’m an anime junkie and I always enjoy sharing my favorite bits of entertainment, I’ll list some of my favorites (Most are listed above.) Considering HubPages is pretty much all American, I’ll assume that you all know the same cartoons that I do. I suggest watching a little bit of everything though (or just reading instead.)

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    • Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      I agree with a lot of what you said. But the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy deal with death almost every episode., since they are actually hanging out with the Grim Reaper.

      Frankly, I am a huge cartoon enthusiast, both American and Japanese. Thanks for making this hub! It was enjoyable to read.

    • colpolbear profile image
      Author

      colpolbear 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Haha. You're right. I can't believe I forgot about Billy and Mandy.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      Well I don't really agree that animations are for kids only, especially the works of "Family Guy", "South Park", Japanese Hentai, etc. But it seems as though you did put a lot of thought into this Hub. It is very well written and there are things that I do agree with. Keep up the good work, and I vote Up, and Interesting :)

    • colpolbear profile image
      Author

      colpolbear 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I agree with you on that. I'm sorry if the hub was a little bit unclear but that was the point I was trying to make. Thank you for the feedback!

    • Crazzykylex profile image

      Crazzykylex 5 years ago from Incredible India!

      What is the most weird thing I found in cartoons is that these toon characters wear the same dress everyday and suprisingly nobody bothers about it.

      By the way, great hub, colpolbear.

    • colpolbear profile image
      Author

      colpolbear 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are absolutely right, Crazzykylex. I always sit back and consider that. I notice that many modern anime are starting to shy away from this trend. Bleach, for instance, redresses many characters (it leaves some outfits constant.)

    • profile image

      katniss everdeen 3 years ago

      what is manga? I have heard of series, but I draw characters, like me, Hell yeah dweebs look at me its me the real katniss everdeen

    • profile image

      Your Name 3 years ago

      First of all, I would like to clear up the bias that animations are for kids only. Just because there aren’t physical actors, doesn’t mean that concepts, intellectuality or even maturity are sacrificed. As an example, I’ll use Death Note. This particular anime delves into the ethical dilemma of whether or not killing can ever be justified. It also involves a thick plot with characters that use, dare I say it, cognitive thought and intellectual inquiry to suit their causes. Does that sound childish? On the American end, cartoons such as Family Guy and Futurama are meant to appeal to adults through humor.

    • profile image

      Your Name 3 years ago

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      Japanese Anime vs. American Cartoons - A Comparison

      Pin It

      See all 2 photos

      Source: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=public+domain+adven...

      American or Japanese?

      American and Japanese animations, or cartoons and anime respectively, are contributors to cultural imparting to the children of both countries. They are a reflection of the two cultures. Because of this, both animations also have inherent differences, some arguably good and others bad. As far as entertainment value is concerned, preferences are as different as our cultures, so it all depends on the individual watching. Not to say that one animation is ever better than the other, but there are obvious distinctions between the two, and a person might lean towards animation more than the other. In my own personal opinion, anime from Japan is far more entertaining than American cartoons. Sometimes though, I also enjoy sitting back and watching a good ol’ episode of Tom and Jerry because while the differences in style are usually profound between the different types of animations, they are not always definite.

      Not Just For Kids

      First of all, I would like to clear up the bias that animations are for kids only. Just because there aren’t physical actors, doesn’t mean that concepts, intellectuality or even maturity are sacrificed. As an example, I’ll use Death Note. This particular anime delves into the ethical dilemma of whether or not killing can ever be justified. It also involves a thick plot with characters that use, dare I say it, cognitive thought and intellectual inquiry to suit their causes. Does that sound childish? On the American end, cartoons such as Family Guy and Futurama are meant to appeal to adults through humor.

      Pin It

      Source: macuser.com

      To Laugh or Not To Laugh?

      Humor is one of the most severe differences between Japanese and American animations. Generally speaking, American cartoons stick to pure comedy in comparison to Japanese anime. Think about it. There is Looney tunes, Johnny Bravo and most recently, Adventure Time.

      One of the biggest exceptions to this rule is the superhero scene in America, including Batman, Superman and Spiderman. These cartoons ironically usually originate from comic strips, just as most anime productions originate from manga. These American superheroes have also been recycled throughout time, making them seem to carry more weight than those cartoons that are original productions.

      Anime tends to be more serious in nature. Not that they aren’t humorous, as many serious anime often contain jokes, but they tend to focus more on a defined plot and deeper thought. Anime that fit this description include Naruto, Code Geass, Fullmetal Alchemist and Bleach.

      Just as there are serious cartoons in America, There are also humorous anime in Japan, usually derived from gag manga. These include Hetalia – Axis Powers andArakawa Under the Bridge. These anime, in my opinion, are harder to follow due to a different type of humor than the typical American is used to.

      Pin It

      See all 2 photos

      Source: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=public+domain+shini...

      Ethics and The Afterlife

      Another distinctive difference is that American cartoons tend to point to a well defined answer to moral dilemmas. In shows such as Superman, there is a good guy, being Superman, and a bad guy, being Lex Luther. Using the example of the anime Death Note, however, it’s evident that the Japanese do not set definite values in their animations. Spiderman is a somewhat borderline exception to this rule, but generally speaking, an actual ethical analysis is rare in American cartoons.

      In anime, the afterlife is very often a factor in the storyline. Death Note, Bleach and Inuyasha all contain some form of shinigami or ghosts. Cartoons on the other hand do not usually touch on death and the afterlife. I cannot come up with a single example of an American cartoon that touches on death for more than an episode.

      Death Note - Vol. 1

      Death Note - Vol. 1

      Amazon Price: $1.99

      List Price: $5.98

      Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete First Season (Viridian Collection)

      Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete First Season (Viridian Collection)

      Amazon Price: $19.96

      List Price: $49.98

      Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

      Death Note

      Cowboy Bebop

      Code Geass

      Samurai Champloo

      Fullmetal Alchemist

      Inuyasha

      Rurouni Kenshin

      Yu Yu Hakushow

      Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z

      Wolfs Rain

      Eureka Seven

      Gundam

      Shakugan No Shana

      Bakuman

      Conclusion

      Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed my little analysis. Just because I’m an anime junkie and I always enjoy sharing my favorite bits of entertainment, I’ll list some of my favorites (Most are listed above.) Considering HubPages is pretty much all American, I’ll assume that you all know the same cartoons that I do. I suggest watching a little bit of everything though (or just reading instead.)

      Last updated on June 3, 2012

      You can help the HubPages community highlight top quality content by ranking this article up or down.

      Useful • Funny • Awesome {3} • Beautiful • Interesting {2}

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      Follow (5) Comments 8 comments

      Cammiebar profile image

      Cammiebar 24 months ago from Upstate New York

      I agree with a lot of what you said. But the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy deal with death almost every episode., since they are actually hanging out with the Grim Reaper.

      Frankly, I am a huge cartoon enthusiast, both American and Japanese. Thanks for making this hub! It was enjoyable to read.

      colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 24 months ago from Pennsylvania Hub Author

      Haha. You're right. I can't believe I forgot about Billy and Mandy.

      CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      CarltheCritic1291 24 months ago

      Well I don't really agree that animations are for kids only, especially the works of "Family Guy", "South Park", Japanese Hentai, etc. But it seems as though you did put a lot of thought into this Hub. It is very well written and there are things that I do agree with. Keep up the good work, and I vote Up, and Interesting :)

      colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 24 months ago from Pennsylvania Hub Author

      I agree with you on that. I'm sorry if the hub was a little bit unclear but that was the point I was trying to make. Thank you for the feedback!

      Crazzykylex profile image

      Crazzykylex 20 months ago from Incredible India!

      What is the most weird thing I found in cartoons is that these toon characters wear the same dress everyday and suprisingly nobody bothers about it.

      By the way, great hub, colpolbear.

      colpolbear profile image

      colpolbear 20 months ago from Pennsylvania Hub Author

      You are absolutely right, Crazzykylex. I always sit back and consider that. I notice that many modern anime are starting to shy away from this trend. Bleach, for instance, redresses many characters (it leaves some outfits constant.)

      katniss everdeen 4 months ago

      what is manga? I have heard of series, but I draw characters, like me, Hell yeah dweebs look at me its me the real katniss everdeen

      Your Name 1 second ago

      First of all, I would like to clear up the bias that animations are for kids only. Just because there aren’t physical actors, doesn’t mean that concepts, intellectuality or even maturity are sacrificed. As an example, I’ll use Death Note. This particular anime delves into the ethical dilemma of whether or not

    • profile image

      lucas 19 months ago

      1 good the first point that you want to arrive and death note when you say you have the discurçao between killing or not good ne American cartoons also have some of that as Justice League Unlimited that the whole subject of the fourth season and trying to stop Superman Lex Luthor mate and also have it in super man vs elite designs

      2 not all adults designs appeal to comedy has many designs adults who have a good history as the films of dc spawn wathmen the maxx etc.

      3 has many good designs that are not based on comics that are so serious or more serious than own avatar as gargoyles, swat kats, samurai jack, trasformers beast wars, shawdow raiders, thundekats 2011 among others

      4 good on good ethical dilemmas and so see the various designs adults that were done here we mention spawn wathemen the maxx and not to mention certain youthful drawings with some characters that are not good nor bad here we can say land and Ravenna young titans demona Gargoyles cold master and two faces in Batman the animated series among other characters these drawings

      5 good anymore does not mean that animes are bad for not having this plan and this and more cultural issue than the anime itself since it shinigami comes from their culture

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