A: "Hey, what are you doing tonight?"|
B: "I'm going to watch some anime."
A: "Anime, what's that?"
B: "You know, Japanese animation."
A: "Oh! You mean, like cartoons?"
B: "NO! ANIME ARE NOT CARTOONS!!!"
Sound familiar? Recently, I've been trying to introduce some of my friends back home to anime, but they just shrugged me off, saying that anime are nothing more than cartoons. Now this just ticks me off. Anime and cartoons are worlds apart.
First of all, when I think of the word "cartoon," I picture in my mind The Flintstones or Tiny Toons, to name just two, that are made with an elementary or middle school audience in mind (apologies to those who still watch "cartoons"). Therefore, since they are made specifically for kids, the theme of each cartoon is either (1) the good guy chases the bad guy and the good guy wins or (2) the excessive use of stupidity to create comedy. Now, of course there are some anime that fall into this category, but there are a heck of a lot of anime that have deeper and more complex themes. Maison Ikkoku, for instance, captivates us with the love polygon, a trademark of romantic comedies. Wings of Honneamise portrays mankind's hopes and dreams of the future, and how can anyone forget the images depicted in Grave of the Fireflies and The Cockpit, showing us the harsh realities of war?
Another crucial difference between cartoons and anime is the quality of the art and animation. Speaking now only of TV series, how can we even compare visually a cartoon like Darkwing Duck to an anime series like Ranma ½? In general, cartoons nowadays have characters that look ridiculously out of proportion, probably intended to humor the young audience. Also, it seems that character and background animation are at the very bottom of the cartoon creators' minds.
To be fair, while cartoons on TV are not well animated, some movies certainly are. (With all the money they put in for state-of-the-art visual effects, I should hope so!) But I would venture to say that Hayao Miyazaki's movies, for example, are even more visually appealing than anything Disney has animated to date. In My Neighbor Totoro, when Totoro for the first time takes the girls and the smaller totoros for a ride around the countryside on his top, the animation is simply majestic. Furthermore, the little subtleties in animation that are prevalent in anime movies, such as the way a stream of water flows or the facial and body expressions of a child crying, add a sense of realism that is often missing in "cartoon" movies.
I guess the point I'm trying to get across is, if you're a newcomer to the world of anime, please don't think that just because something is animated, it's "only a cartoon" and just for kids. It would indeed be a tragedy if, in Americanizing anime here in the US, the TV or movie executives didn't understand this point and instead altered anime in some way to specifically target the elementary or middle school audiences. Then my response to Kisu's question would be, no, I do not want to share MY anime with an America that does not appreciate the intricacies for which it was originally intended.