The difference between between anime and cartoons.

Many people think that anime and cartoons are actually the same thing. I know that every person who will read this will most likely know how to distinguish, but I felt the urge to write this post to prove to all once and for all, that it’s normal to watch anime no matter how old you are.

First I would like to show you two pictures one featuring a cartoon character another an anime character:

I think that the first thing a person would notice in an anime is the eyes, which really stand out. Actually almost every anime has it’s own unique drawn eyes.  To be honest I first look into the character’s eyes and see if they appeal to me. The problem is that I haven’t managed to find an anime that has “ugly” drawn eyes. On the other hand, cartoons often show us the same old characters, with non unique personalities. Also the drawing is often kind of dull and as you can see the character shown here has 4 fingers instead of 5.

The second thing which is also important is the hair. You can see that the cartoon character’s hair can be drawn very easily by practically anyone and the color is just to plain. Whilst in the anime character we can clearly see a difference, the hair has probably taken more time than for the cartoon producer to draw his own character. Also he has used 3 different colors: blue, dark blue and light blue.

Finally I would like you to make a distinction between both proportions of the character. I mentioned earlier about the number of fingers on the cartoon character I assure you, that you won’t find anything like that in an anime (well maybe if the character had one of their fingers cut). The cartoon character is just made out of triangles and the anime character is not only beautifully colored but also perfectly drawn, it’s a real copy of a human and yet it has those sparkling eyes and that fantastic hair which makes it different.

That’s all I can say about this discussion. I’m hoping that I have managed to convince at least some readers who can’t make a difference between both anime and cartoons to finally understand great Japan’s (there are other countries I know, but Japan is the main producer) culture and stop thinking that it has to do something with America’s “fantastic” cartoons which are very “interesting” (dull) and would make you “laugh” (more like make you lose brain cells) any time.

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37 Responses to The difference between between anime and cartoons.

  1. Hellfire says:

    Pretty good analysis of the problem. You probably should have used a more well known cartoon like southpark or Mr.Bean for comparison.

  2. TMRNetShark says:

    Bravo, tackling the war of the cartoons… Never call an anime a cartoon!

  3. desti says:

    “[…], but I felt the urge to write this post to prove to all once and for all, that it’s normal to watch anime no matter how old you are.”

    Where is the proof?

    Of course I don’t need any since I know for myself but I couldn’t find anything other than the comparison of cartoon and anime characters.

    It’s a nice and short comparison, though. ;D

  4. blubart says:

    if that’s everything you “can say about this discussion” you shouldn’t have started it in the first place.

    your chain of arguments is flawed.
    starting with your “thesis” that you want to

    prove to all once and for all, that it’s normal to watch anime no matter how old you are

    which you never bring any argument forth to support.

    over to the fact that you are comparing a rendering (not actual anime content) of a relatively high budget anime to a (i don’t even know how to describe it) crappy cutout of a random cartoon character which is biased at best.

    you continue with a comparison of eyes, but instead of actually weighting the aspects of both sides (eyeshapes, details, expressions) you already assume that anime eyes are superior because they are to you subjectively more beautiful and don’t even talk about cartoon eyes anymore aside from stating they are always the same (which you could equally say about anime eyes)

    the argument about the more detailed work on the hair is heavily based on the biased confrontation of the two images. if you would’ve chosen for example a recent disney production you would probably not only find 3 colors in the hair but shades (uhuuu!!).
    one might also want to consider the point that anime hair generally tends to be less realistic (dragonball z anyone?) which contradicts your closing argument of anime characters being a “real copy of a human”.

    where we are at your last argumentation paragraph that is actually trying to argue that anime characters are in their proportion more correct/humanlike/alive. am i the only one noticing the huge eyes and absurd hairdos? the absurd, always repeating stereotypes?
    the example of 4 fingers is easily found in animes too (f.e. k-on – half the time the complete hand is missing) but not really an issue in the first place. it’s fiction after all, so i see no reason for the creator not to take some liberties in regard to those aspects.

    the probably in its core most important difference, the way the animation is handled in both formats (f.e. broad switch of cartoon to 3d animation with low detailed backgrounds vs traditional panning in front of static high detailed background in anime) and the diversities of stories that are presented aren’t even touched in the post.
    neither is the difference in budget and production cycle.

    to summarize: the only persons you could possibly convince of the superiority of anime over cartoon with the arguments presented would be those that either are already convinced or gullibly accepting anything without question.

    that coming from someone that can’t stand american cartoon.

  5. desti says:

    Haha, a comment nearly worth its own blogpost. Nice one blubart. But I guess you’re right…

  6. Soryon says:

    Opinions are opinions. There is a forum topic regarding this where many people have stated their opinion and quite a few disagree that they are actually so different aside from the common name given to them.

    My opinion; anime is just a word that we give Japanese cartoons.

    The difference between anime and cartoons? its quite simple- Where it originates from.

  7. 1000mAh says:

    Soryon, I agree with your opinion of the word anime 😛

    We could use this:
    Cartoon (animation) -> Japanese Cartoon (anime) or Western Cartoon.

    That should make everyone happy 😛 Certainly, anime has its own unique style, but still it is Cartoon and Cartoons are Animations and Animations are Animated Films and Animated Films are made of Drawn Pictures and Drawn Pictures are art.

  8. dankles says:

    Bravo ain’t a cartoon damnit!

    And yes. Anime *is* a cartoon. Look up the dictionary definition plox.

  9. rostheferret says:

    I’m actually astounded that the EYES were used as a point of comparison. Seriously? The eyes? Go re-watch Looney Tunes. We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t fans of anime but the large eyes used as a way of expression came about in post-war Japan and was influenced strongly by Disney. In fact, much of the style we know now was.

    This comes from an anime called Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka, a high brow production from the late 1930s. Notice the eyes?

    Yeah, your entire argument is pretty badly flawed. The difference between anime and cartoons all boil down to the manner they’re constructed. Cartoons run at 24fps, anime only 14fps, the style of art is more invested in traditional Japanese art (no really? I’d have thought this one would have been blindingly obvious), and cartoons have each scene hand drawn, in anime the background and foreground are drawn separately. I’m sure there’s others, but everything else; that the “characters are more realistic in appearance” or that “they appeal to a more adult audience” are generalisations at best, and not defining characteristics.

  10. Shows like Panty and Stocking are quite Western-looking, yet we still classify them as anime. Shows like Avatar and Teen Titans are quite anime-influenced, yet we still classify them as cartoons.

    The eyes thing is an incredibly poor argument, because it originated in early American cartoons. Also, there are a hell of a lot of anime that don’t have “the anime eyes” (GitS comes to mind).

  11. Soryon says:

    I think the best way to describe it would be this-
    Cartoons are not anime, Anime are cartoons.

    The difference remaining lays almost solely in its country of origin because just about any other argument you can make differentiating the two can be easily countered by anyone who knows more about either of the two then just what you see on the surface.

  12. rostheferret says:

    I always thought of them both as different subtypes under a broader “Animation” heading myself. The country of origin does work as another valid differentiator, but I think there has to be more to it than that.

  13. newy says:

    Wasn’t it Osamu Tezuka in the 60s (or earlier) who was inspired by that American cartoon figure… what was her name again… I have forgotten… curly hair, big eyes(!), drawn in b/w… anyway, wasn’t he inspired by that character to draw manga characters with big eyes?

  14. Eso_Teric says:

    If your argument would have been “The differences of Story Telling Between Anime and Western Cartoons”, then this probably would have made sense. I’m going to have to agree with the majority of those who commented, and say that your arguments are weak, and you really haven’t convinced any of us, well at least me, what the difference is between a cartoon and anime. But, that’s just my opinion.

    But, if you want to be nit picky about differences, then I’d have to say that the story telling is what sets it [anime] apart from your average “cartoon”. Japanese anime covers a wide range of various topics such as religion, the supernatural, science fiction, politics, the struggle for humanity, as opposed to the western cartoons about the quirky mouse being chased by the resilient cat in every single episode, or that damn sponge at the bottom of the ocean with his retard friend the starfish. There are some western cartoons that are like this, but they don’t really go into too much depth like Japanese anime do. Let’s look at American cartoons again. Most of the cartoons that come out are geared towards children, and the ones that most of us adults watch are watched for it’s satirical content.

    In my opinion, there really isn’t that much of a difference. “Anime” is just a word the Japanese give to their animated cartoons. Somewhere along the lines the word became exclusive just for Japanese animation. Before that, it was called Japanimation. There are many styles of cartoons, and “anime” just so happens to be one of those diverse styles.

    • Soryon says:

      However, there are quite a few “anime” that have no character depth or plot and vice versa, many theatrical “cartoon” films are full of depth and plot. Just like you have anime geared exclusively for children while you have “cartoons” geared exclusively for adults and cartoons that cover social/political and cultural grounds.

      Not knowing about them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Not all cartoons are meant for children and in recent years the percentage of shows aimed at older audiences has been steadily increasing.

      The bottom line is this; If America made a cartoon that was identical to what you know as anime, would it suddenly become anime? I mean, all the elements are there, the only difference is that it is not Japanese in origin.

      That is not to say I don’t make a distinction between the 2, but it is not due to its art style or story lines.

      Also, Newy- yea I am pretty sure you are thinking of Betty Boop, and much of early Japanese animation emulated the Disney shows of the era.

  15. Eso_Teric says:

    Oh And PS, not to mention you tried comparing Johnny Bravo to Hayate no Gotoku. You could have at least tried comparing Hayate to Heavy Metal, or maybe Spawn. I forgot to add to the comment above, that there are many American and other Western animated series that are like Japanese anime, it’s just that sometimes none of them ever get too much credit, and are more of cult classics.

  16. Deviant says:

    “Definition of ANIMATED CARTOON

    : a motion picture that is made from a series of drawings, computer graphics, or photographs of inanimate objects (as puppets) and that simulates movement by slight progressive changes in each frame”

    Gee, “anime” sure does sound like the beginning of “animated”– OH WAIT I ALMOST FORGOT THE JAPANESE CALL AMERICAN CARTOONS 「アニメ」 TOO HURRRRRR

    10/10 For the blog post. It’s almost like the person who wrote it is actually unbelievably retarded. There’s no way my human being could be this stupid!

  17. Eso_Teric says:

    If anyone is wondering what Deviant wrote in kanji, it says “anime”. I won’t go as far as saying the writer is “retarded” because they have their own views. Their argument is weak, and they don’t give enough valid points to support their belief, that’s all.

    • Eso_Teric says:

      and PS, in response to the writer’s comment about american cartoons not being entertaining, I say maybe not anymore but when I was growing up there were awesome cartoon shows that I loved watching like the amazing spider-man, the centurions, James Bond jr and many more. So, not all American made animations are horrible, just some of them.

      From the sound of this, you sound younger, and probably too young to remember the great cartoons of the 90’s in America. Every country has good and bad animations.

    • Soryon says:

      Sorry to nit-pick but that wasnt kanji, it was katakana =P
      That aside, I dont think he is retarded either, just misinformed and prolly desperate to distance himself from what he views as “childrens entertainment” (and lol, he uses Hayate as an example)

  18. indifference says:

    Aqua Team, assemble!

  19. surdumil says:

    Sigh. The OP is trolling with over-generalizations. It’s a silly non-issue.

  20. Meomix says:

    *Prepares popcorn*

  21. Jarudin says:

    I’d say this just boils down to production value.
    The reason ‘Johny Bravo’ only has 4 fingers is because it’s cheaper and faster to draw 4 rather than 5.

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  24. Innotech says:

    Anime is a cartoon. Straight up. It fits every definition of a cartoon and is created using MOVING DRAWN PICTURES.
    In fact, some series are entirely designed around sight gags and slapstick, very similar to many american CARTOONS. What this really comes down to though, is some people’s ridiculous refusal to take Japan down off its pedestal. Japan created a very fun medium of storytelling with anime, but there are many countries which have done the same thing, all falling under the umbrella of CARTOONS. Im sorry if I sound like a meanie baka and my words are not kawaii but everything does not always go according to keikaku my friends, its just the shinjitsu.

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  26. motsu says:

    The simple answer is….”Anime is the animated version of the Japanese comics called manga. Cartoons are simple animation.”
    – some dude on Yahoo answers

    That is the difference, PLUS cartoons are made for a much younger audience (children) however you also have to distinguish cartoons* from adult cartoons* whereas adult cartoons are made for a much older audience (ADULTS) such as Family Guy, The Simpsons, and South Park.

    You must factor in all of the things that also disinguish different types of animation, like the content, the story line, the length of the story line, the country of origin etc…

    Ultimately yes its ALL animation, just different types, made for different audiences.

    Now THERE is the difference.

    PS. I honestly don’t agree with the original post, you belittled cartoons. Your argument is week. You are right though, anime is different than cartoons, but there isn’t anything wrong with them, or the way they are drawn. All animation is unique, they pretty much have to be.

    It does makes sense though for Americans to call anime cartoons, because anime fits the description of how westerners see cartoons, just like to the Japanese, cartoons fit the description of how they see anime. However there IS clearly a deference. Like I said, it is ALL animation no matter how you look at it…just different types.

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