Anime Vs Cartoons

by thepurpleturtle

Have you ever wondered what exactly it is that separates Japanese anime from Western cartoons? Discover how to distinguish the differences between Anime and Cartoons with ease.

Distinguishing between the Two

Although anime and cartoons share many similarities there are many more notable differences. For the sake of this argument I will be referencing Cartoons as there are animated.

Cartoons are generally rough or goofy looking animations that display a variety of slapstick humor and are meant to entertain mostly children

Anime however is more of a sophisticated art form that has deeper plot meanings and is geared toward more of a teenage or adult crowd.

Although some say that there is absolutely no difference between Anime and Cartoon there are some undeniable and notable facts that separate the two. Here is a quick guide of of a few common characteristics that will help you differentiate between the two.



Cartoon Animation vs Anime!

cartoon vs anime
cartoon vs anime

Do you know how to differentiate between Anime and Cartoons?

Visual Differences

Artistic styles

The first and most noticeable difference between Anime and Cartoons is art style.


Most Anime are drawn with a hyper-distortion in mind. Notable features of Anime characters are Big eyes, small mouths, and hair that seems to defy gravity and is always in motion. Many people recognize the above description as the "Anime Look." Characters such as Saber(Fate Stay Night), Haruhi(The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), and Haruko(FLCL) are great characters at portraying the Anime look.


Most cartoons are drawn with more conservative artistic element that refrain from going into too much detail. Cartoons usually try to portray things in such a way that they are easily duplicated for quick production. Cartoons that have the "toon look" are Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck.


Another noticeable feature is that cartoons tend to have very still frames in a moment of no action whereas in Anime there is always something moving.


Censor What?

Risqué or Moral

The Second most prominent difference between Anime and Cartoons is Anime's unwavering ambition to cover controversial subject matter.

When it comes to controversial matters such as sexuality and violence Anime freely venture out to display them. Cartoons on the other hand take more of socially "safe" approach and make every attempt to make such things as sexuality scarce and violence humorous or silly. There are even times when anime is hardly suited for children. Therefore it is always best to research your anime before just letting young children watch them.

Spanning multiple episodes

Depth of Character

The third most noticeable difference between Anime and Cartoons is storylines and plot.

When it comes down to the storylines and plot of a Western cartoon is generally straight forward and short. Western Cartoons tend to tell a simple tale of good guys fighting the bad guys. It is also notable that Cartoons tend to complete their story within an average half-hour time frame. Anime story lines tend to be quite a bit more involved. Anime stories incorporate abstract plots such as politics, religion, and humanity into their episodic features. Most Anime shows tend to consume multiple episodes or even seasons before coming to a conclusion.

Anime Spans Seasons

Fall Anime 2011
Fall Anime 2011

Do you feel any better about your ability to differentiate between Anime and Cartoons?

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Although it can be said that there are striking similarities between the two I hope this short guide helped.

What do you think of Anime?

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Updated: 12/19/2011, thepurpleturtle
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