Japanese Anime vs. American Cartoons - A Comparison
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.
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.
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.
Yu Yu Hakushow
Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z
Shakugan No Shana
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.)