So today whilst chatting with my Japanese friend T I started questioning what anime actually is, what it’s defined as in both Japan and non-Japanese countries. He sent me a link to this Japanese show which, to me, was a cartoon, but to him, was anime. He said; ‘I like this anime hehe’ and I was like ‘Is it animeeeeeeee….?…Really. Is it?!’
This is the anime he sent me: Episode 2 The Monster-making Machine
Haha! What a nutjob but anyhoo! This anime, as he called it, doesn’t seem to be drawn in the traditional anime style. It seems to be drawn in the same way (what westerners call) cartoons are drawn.
^ what I call a cartoon character
^ what I call an anime character
The short answer is that anime and cartoons both mean exactly the same thing.
The long answer is that they are different depending on whether you’re Japanese or Western/non-Japanese.
Obviously I’m going to elaborate on the long answer because, well it’s the long answer so it makes sense hohoho. Short answer is done. BOOM. So long answer:
In the Western world cartoons have many different styles of being drawn but only Japanese cartoons have the distinctive features of ‘anime’. These are features such as the eyes, for example, which is one of the biggest give-aways. The general layout of the movements and the exclamation art that occurs when someone is maybe shouting/fighting or feeling a strong emotion. Anime has it own unique characteristics which, and along with the fact that it does not originate from the Western world but from Japan, is why it is referred to by another word other than ‘cartoon’. We know when something is a Western Cartoon and we know when something is a Japanese Cartoon. We simply use the term ‘anime’ to describe Japanese Cartoons. It’s literally just to distinguish between the two, it’s the same as if you’d say ‘Oh I was watching that German Cartoon the other night’ but instead of saying German you’ll have some word for it. If you say ‘oh I was watching that Japanese Cartoon the other night’ it’s the same as saying ‘oh I was watching that anime the other night’. We have a distinctive term for it so we use it.
Finally, ‘anime’ アニメ is literally just short for ‘animation’ which Japan refers to as any animation Western or Japanese or Korean or Chinese or any cartoon. Cartoons are anime in Japan, they’re the same thing, they’re animations therefore they are anime.
They have this shortened word which means exactly the same thing as cartoon does. To us all cartoons are cartoons, in Japan all animations are anime. There is only one thing that could possibly blow this whole explanation apart which is that in the Western world, yep, we do say cartoon for cartoons however, this seems to only apply to drawn cartoons. Things like Wallace&Gromit however are seen as animations. I’ve just tried to elaborate on this query but it’s made my brain go nuts trying to word it and I’m much too lazy to try and spend time doing so. Bum. OOOOOOOOH. I’ll leave you think on that but anyway sorry if I ruined this whole explanation for you with that HAHA! If you do have a definite answer or if you even just have a suggestion/idea please comment and let me know, I’d love to hear peeps’ thoughts!
P.S. I feel bad for starting this insane thinking cycle all over again, what does animation REALLY mean?!!! Let me put an end to the misery. Anime, for Westeners, is a Japanese Cartoon, any Japanese cartoon, and anime, for Japanese, is any animation at all. (: