Anime: Something Fun For Everyone?

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.

I really think a Touhou anime, with all these mythical creatures happily coexisting, might work for many.

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.

What Western cartoons need.

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.

Saya approves of this message.

6 Responses to “Anime: Something Fun For Everyone?”

  1. 1 icystorm January 28, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I pretty much agree with your thoughts. There are a few cartoons from Western animation (Spongebob, for example, which can be enjoyed by adults too) that can be viewed without feeling embarrassed.

    Perhaps it’s also because Japanese animation is much more lax about stuff like sex and violence, when we rarely ever have stuff like that in American animation (for kids anyway, because this certainly isn’t the case for stuff like the Boondocks and Family Guy).

    However, there’s still that audience limiting aspect in Japanese animation as well. For the Western audience we may have Family Guy for teens and adults and Rugrats for the kids. As far as Japanese animation goes, there’s NGE for the teens/adults and Pokemon for the kids.

  2. 2 omo January 28, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    boondocks in japanese is awesome.

  3. 3 wildarmsheero January 28, 2008 at 11:49 pm


    that shit be off the hook yo

  4. 4 Owen January 29, 2008 at 12:39 am

    I’ve read somewhere before that Japan doesn’t really have the “animation = childish, live action = mature” distinction that the West does, which is why they have both adult and kiddish stuff in anime.

  5. 5 TheBigN January 29, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Icystorm: I don’t want to think of things being as simple as laxer standards as the main factor, but it does hold some degree of importance. How much, I don’t know. And I already noted that you can get examples from both ends, so take what I say with salt.

    omo and wah: I agree, though it would have been fun if they could have used the original English OP there. I feel like I should’ve expanded on this post a little bit more, but I don’t know how to phrase it well. :/

    Owen: I don’t think of it as “OH THIS IS FOR CHILDREN! THIS IS ADULT-LIKE!”, but that there are elements that can appeal to both at the same time. But that difference in distinction is also pretty damn important.

  6. 6 marielletjuuh March 3, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    hiiii i have the biggest anime list ever!!!
    i searched on every website and now i have 366 anime movies :D:D:D
    if you want my anime list…you can have it:P
    add my msn…if you want:P

    i`m dutch by the way XD
    sie yah:P

    greeetzzz Marr

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