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6 Differences Between Anime and Cartoons

NearlyWes506 views


Many people that are not familiar with anime, place them all in the same category as cartoons. In fact, there are a few key differences between the two. I should point out that this doesn’t cover all cartoons or all anime, some from each topic will stray from what I am about to point out. Last thing I want is for one of you lovely readers to go all Lucy on me and rip my head off. This is a list taking the majority of each into account.

If I upset you, please spare my life…


AC cartoon

There are two definitions for cartoon. “A motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.” and “A drawing intended as satire, caricature, or humor.”

AC anime group

In Japan the word anime is just a short version of the word ‘animation’. In the English language though it is described as “A style of Japanese film or animation.

Country of Origin

Cartoons to a majority are western animations. To be honest with the definition given above, a cartoon can really be anything made outside of Japan.

Anime is created within Japan…yep…

Target Audience


Cartoons for the most part are made to aim at children or teenagers. Most of them stray away from anything too mature, anything that a kid might not be able to grasp. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t adult humor for the parents to enjoy while watching with their kids.


Anime’s don’t stick with just one age group. There is some anime that are enjoyable for kids, with comedy or it’s fun characters. There is also anime that are aimed for adults, these anime’s may have more violence or have obvious sexual situations.



Cartoons are intended to make people laugh, so for the most part a lot of cartoons are of the comedy theme. Examples of these can be ones such as ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Loony Toons’.

AC anime themes

Anime reaches far and wide with the types of themes they are willing to portray. Even though there are anime based in comedy, there are also ones in Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction. Anime sometimes deal with real life situations; an example would be an anime like ‘Tokyo Magnitude 8’ which is an anime based around what would happen is Tokyo was hit with a terrible earthquake.


AC sponge

Since a majority of cartoons are aimed at children, they have fairly simple storylines. Instead of a show unraveling through the episodes, each episode holds their own story. Each episode has a beginning, middle, and end. Most of the episodes have nothing to do with the one that came before and most likely will have nothing to do with the one after.


Anime is a bit different in that way, the storyline in anime is a bit more complexed. A lot of long running anime will have things such as ‘Story Arches’ which are a group of episodes that pertain to a certain event within the anime. Because of this character development is much more evident in anime than it is in cartoons majorly.

Art Style

Last but certainly not least there is the way that both anime and cartoons are animated.

Cartoon style

Cartoons convey their character to a more humanistic standard, though this isn’t the case with all cartoons. For the most part the characters within cartoons are made to look closer to reality. Cartoon characters are still exaggerated to an extent, something such as Stewie’s football head in ‘Family Guy’.

anime art

Anime is much more exaggerated in physical features, it has a very iconic art style to it, one that easily identifies itself as an anime. These features are something such as the large eyes that consume a chunk of their face, the colorful huge hair that some character possess, as well as the elongated limbs that some anime convey.



I stated in the very beginning this does not cover all anime and cartoons. A main example of a cartoon that this does not apply to is ‘Avatar The Last Airbender’. A main example of an anime that this does not apply to is ‘Pokémon’.

As always though, I hope you all enjoyed my name is NearlyWes and just like last time Happy Holidays.

Are there more differences that I missed? Do you not agree with what I stated? Or do you just want to yell at me? Comment below and let me know.


Sources:, Google Images.


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  1. So what about Japanese Animation created that’s more focused on children? The art style resemble that more of Western cartoons. It has the cutesy Japanese aesthetic, but it’s still very “cartoony”. And also, the statement regarding Western cartoons and their themes/plot is only half-true. “Gravity Falls”, “Over The Garden Wall” and “Rick and Morty” are all modern cartoons that do have a slight leaning on the comedic, but at their cores they all have a narrative thread crawling under the surface, and deeper themes that even anime won’t touch. Sure “Rick and Morty” is an adult swim show, but just because a show is vulgar it doesn’t mean that it’s mature (though Rick and Morty certainly is), and same goes for anime, just because there’s violence in it or has sexual themes doesn’t mean that it’s mature (and if you think that violence and sexual themes make something “mature” then you’re a fucking imbecile). Also, there’s been cartoons that had storylines and themes that delved deeper than the ones I’ve given as example from the past. “Batman: TAS”, “Daria” and fucking “Hey Arnold” had shit that dealt with “real life” situations or at least themes.

    Older cartoons “G.I. Joe”, “He-Man” and “Transformers” also had storylines… and just like anime, the whole storyline doesn’t need to take up the whole fucking season. I’ve seen anime where they just have random adventures every other episode and then they’ll have like a finale, similar to how a fucking cartoon works. It’s mostly just Shounen anime that does the whole story ARC thing (not arches, that’s a form of architecture). And the whole child focus thing is simple, kids want toys and so they market to them. In Japan, fucking creeps buy figmas and body pillows, so they market to them.

    So in a way, they’re really not that different.

    You didn’t seem like you were completely putting anime on a pedestal, but I’m just going to assume that you prefer anime over cartoons and if so, you shouldn’t really be writing anything like this when you don’t right know what you’re talking about.

    1. Hey I completely see where you are coming from, honestly it’s my first time writing an article such as this one that has such broad spectrums. I know now that next time I do it I should certainly research it way more extensivly, thank you for commenting and bringing up points that I hadn’t looked at. 😀

  2. You left out perhaps the most important aspect which is that, unlike in western culture where the film industry (e.g. Hollywood) dominates the entertainment business, in Japan, anime IS their film industry – which is why anime targets all age groups. The Japanese make very few movies and thus their film industry is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent.

    1. Good point, I should have thought about that. Thanks for bringing it up, it will help me in the long run if I ever try to do anything like this again in the future. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  3. i find plots more interesting in anime than in a cartoon, dont get me wrong there are some good cartoon plots, but i rarely find one that’s really good

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