Written by TheBigN
This train of thought comes from a comment that I posted on a nice post:
“I think the fact that I could still watch a Warner Bros cartoon and find it awesome at 21 says something about how those cartoons were the type of things that everyone can enjoy. Nowadays, it’s very hard to find that sort of cartoon that can transcend age and experience (lol politics): We either have stuff for the young, stuff for the not so young (adults from 20-35ish, maybe), and nothing really for the older adults. I think anime is the closest thing that we have to meeting that.”
I still watch Western (I still wonder why these “West” and “East” designations are used for hemispheres; it’s so arbitrary) cartoons when given the chance, and I get a kick out of some of the newer shows out there (the choices of these shows are also arbitrary; i.e., stuff I like off the top of my head), and the Pixar works are always very awesome. Each of these shows has a different target audience, but resound with me in some way, more often in a humorous matter than anything else (in the case of the Boondocks, I am in that target age range, so results may vary in the future). And at the same time, there are anime for certain target segments that tends to resound with those segments alone [like Pretty Cure for girls and men in their 20s (oh shi-), and the “adult stuff”]. So on further looking at that statement, I’m probably talking out of my ass there, or at least showing off my lack of knowledge. Doesn’t mean that I’m not standing by the statement about it, so let’s go on.
More often then not though, I feel shows like Chowder and Peep are exceptions to the rule in Western animation. Most cartoons are for a specific age set, and thus only really work with people in that age group. I certainly can’t see people below 10 or above 60 enjoying the wonders of Metalocalypse, for example. Some times, the “problem” is situational, such as focusing on typical problems relating to the specific audience: I can’t see myself having nyctophobia nowadays (though a severe trauma in the future might change that) if you want a fun example. I think a lot of it relies on how the story (or situation) is told. If you can somehow convince someone that a plate of kiviak is chocolate pudding for example, there aren’t a lot of people that wouldn’t eat it, save for lactose intolerant people and godless heathens who don’t like chocolate (I forgot about people who know better :P).
I think the general mindset in the US has always been “cartoons are for kids”, and for the most part they are (same thing in Japan), but it doesn’t have to stay at that level, and there are some cases where some people take that to heart. The Warner Bros cartoons of the 1940sworked on more than one level for me. As a kid, the slapstick was what brought the giggles and the guffaws, but now, the setup was as much fun as the payoff. Seeing Bugs convince Daffy, Elmer or a random boxer to essentially help in their own future “pain” is always fun to watch. Or in watching Rocko’s Modern Life, where the fun for older viewers came from things like wordplays, references to the current state of the world, and pop culture references. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older myself, but as wildarmsheero put it: “Well, I’ve always liked cartoons, and as I grew up, the cartoons around me didn’t”, and I’d like to claim that the majority of Western cartoons today remain at that first, target audience level, and never attempt to appeal to a wider audience. But as long as it works for companies, I guess you don’t really need to change that.
Making the animation appealing for more than just the target is something that I think anime does well. Be it in terms of story, atmosphere, characters realistic in actions, personalities, or body types, the myriad of subject matter covered in it’s many works, or some other random quality, there’s something about the medium that can speak to a lot of people. Or at least speak to people in Japan and fanatics elsewhere who find Western cartoons inferior (lol elitist). Maybe it’s a cultural difference. Maybe it’s just more heart. Whatever it is, I never really get that “Just for kids” vibe watching anime than I do from most cartoons here in the US. It keeps me from being embarrassed at least at still watching so many cartoons at 21. 😛
So in short for this rambling, snootish post: ANIME (and Pixar) BANZAI. US ANIMATION, less BANZAI.