Question to fans of animation, is anime a cartoon? There have been many argument around the question, is anime a cartoon. Before we go further into explaining the difference between these terms, please bear in mind that they both are animation. Though they somehow different from each other, they are still two different genres of animation. Each represents for the difference in styles, art directions as well as the origin that it comes from.

Is anime a cartoon? Let’s explore the difference in origin between Anime animation and Cartoon animation

Too many of you who might have come up with the question is anime a cartoon. The first difference between these two genres of animation is the origin. Animes are distinct styles of animation as it refers to Japanese animation. Animes are primarily in Japanese and cartoons are always mostly in English. According to dictionaries, anime animation is defined as “a Japanese style of motion-picture animation”. Some would define it as “a style of animation developed in Japan.”

However, it’s not wrong when one says that an anime is a cartoon and an anime is a Japanese style of cartoons made by the West. In Japan, the term “anime” refers to all forms of animation from around the world (both foreign and domestic). The word “anime” is loan word referring to “animation”.

As some of you may know, in Japan, the term “anime” serves as a generic term to refer to all forms of animation without specific referring of the origin, where it comes from. Anime basically means animation. The word “anime” is a loan word referring to “animation”. Anime is adapted from the English word “animation.” In Japan, Disney movies are referred to as “Disney Anime”. So, anime is a Japanese word for animation. Anime can come from any country or region around the world.

Is anime a cartoon? Well, cartoon animation is mainly made for entertainment while anime animation is made with more complex plot

Cartoon is a different form of animation and usually refers to animations of comedic nature. Cartoons are mainly produced for entertainment, with topics about friendship, fun, exploration and similar things. Cartoon is one type of animation which is generally made for kids. Cartoon animation rarely contains sex, violence, or blood related scenes, so cartoon is often made to serve all ages. Examples of cartoons made for children are Betty Boop, Tom and Jerry. Although, there are still other types of cartoons which are not for kids, they are rare. Such kinds of cartoons only make up for 20%.


Source: Google Image


Source: Google Image

Yes, there are many animes meant “for children”, but this isn’t always the case. Anime are produced to target many ages. Anime have a complex plot and varied amount of details that younger generations may not be able to understand. Anime isn’t always meant to be made for entertainment. Examples are plenty.


Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

Source: Google Image

Example of complex plot is its synopsis, you can refer to here.



Fate Zero

Source: Google Image


Ghost in the Shell


Source: Google Image

There are plenty of anime that have very adult content and complex plot. You name it.


Is anime a cartoon? Anyone would easily spot the difference between anime animation and cartoon animation by art direction

Its easy to spot the difference between animes and cartoons by noticing the way the characters are animated. And most importantly, what it’s based on and what language they’re speaking.
Western cartoons and anime can both vary in drawing styles, based on the staff, budget, and character/set designs. Anime series are typically more detailed than your average western show.

The cartoon has vibrant colours, exaggerated motions and stretching. Characters usually have features that are not relative to the rest of the body and therefore further from reality than anime.

tom jerry

Source: Google Image

Meanwhile, anime has distinct facial expressions such as larger eyes and smaller mouths in order to make the characters look cuter.

anime cute

Source: Google Image


You get the point. Anime isnt a type of cartoon. Its a type of animation. And cartoon is also a type of animation.

In short, once you have read through this post, you would never be mistaken between anime animation and cartoon animation any more. To find out your own answer, you should see more animation of both types and make the comparisons yourselves. Have fun watching animation!

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network:
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology:
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist:
  4. Stackexchange question:
  5. Quora forum:
  6. My anime to go:
  7. Charlottesville City Schools: