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Anime often provides better narratives than cartoons.

Japanese animation, known as anime, spiked in popularity since the 1990s across the U.S. for the younger population and even caters to different audiences, such as children and older adults. 

Anime genres vary from action and adventure, comedy, romance, gore, drama and tragedy, historical, mecha and military, psychological and supernatural. Anime is almost always based on manga, which are comic books and graphic novels. The art, emotional investment, character development, drama and storylines are always evident in powerful anime, and there never seems to be a dull moment. Artistic style including colors, tones and drawings are based on the genre and are critical for story development. 

Some are drawn with vibrant and loud colors and exaggerated features, whereas others are drawn with soft, pastel colors. Aside from art, a huge element of interest for people is the ability to relate to the main protagonist of the story, who’s almost always human in some aspect.

This is how western animation is deficient in comparison to anime: American animation relies on imaginative characters to appeal to children — their target audience — which excludes the interest of younger adults. 

One big reason why anime is so much better than western animation is because of the strong, relatable characters. Anime characters have such a wide range of personalities and appearances to make them more realistic and relatable for real people. Cartoons lack this realistic aspect and relatability, and anime is emotionally investing, so the mood of the anime — sad, happy, scary or funny — matches the mood of the viewer. 

People develop emotional connections with relatable characters because the people writing and illustrating them are putting everything they’re feeling into their work; otherwise, it wouldn’t be so powerful. Anime is much more raw and unfiltered and doesn’t exclude real life experiences and feelings that are associated with them, such as death, heartbreak and solitude. 

Children haven’t been exposed to the real world enough to relate to real experiences, so cartoons rely on imaginary characters and situations that don’t apply to real life. Additionally, anime tends to have better stories with greater depth and more drastic developments. Cartoons tend to have light stories without deeper meaning, which requires little thought or emotional investment. Plot lines in anime are always so well thought out because they’re usually based on manga, and they use such clever plots to develop the story.

Anime accelerates character development by strengthening relationships between characters, giving characters moral lessons and leading them to achieve some ultimate goal or overcome some huge obstacle. But it never fails to throw in turning points and surprise the audience. In cartoons, it often seems like the characters are working toward a specific goal, but the lessons aren’t carried along with them. Most anime shows are the exact opposite — they always show flashbacks to help people remember and to exaggerate the fact that the characters have identified with those experiences, which has made them better. 

Additionally, anime often has strong and powerful female characters, although there’s often a large male appeal to the drawings of anime women in sexual detail. While the art can vary for every anime, most have incredible animation that make cartoons look simple and lackluster in comparison. Anime is also full of great fight scenes that are drawn realistically yet exaggeratedly, and they range from gory and violent to light and fun. The villains are given lots of screen time to develop their background and help people understand them and their battle against the protagonist. It intensifies the fight scenes and makes the audience root harder for the protagonist. 

Anime has better romance and stronger plots and incorporates real emotions that go into romantic relationships and the situations around them. It makes the audience invested and becomes applicable to one’s own love life. It’s rare to find romance in cartoons because the focus is to entertain children who haven’t yet become familiar with romantic relationships and ideas. 

Another powerful element of anime is that they encourage nonconformity by breaking stereotypes and the status quo to create a message of free identity. They want to encourage unique people to feel proud of their differences because in many societies, such as Japan’s, there’s strong homogeneity, and people have to hide their true identities. In Japan, they use terms like “honne” to express a person’s true feelings, and “tatemae” is the behavior they exhibit in public — that’s the reality of a homogenous society.

Cartoons are better for children who haven’t had many strong real life experiences, but anime is better for younger adults because people desire something they can relate to in their own lives to keep their interest. Anime is directed toward a larger demographic and never seems to age, whereas western animation can be outgrown once a child has developed a better sense of reality. Overall, anime is much better than western animation.

Madison Roach is a senior WRTC major. Contact Madison at roachma@dukes.jmu.edu.