Anime versus Cartoon — Understanding the Contrast

5 min readFeb 25, 2023

Let’s talk about Anime and Cartoons — and no, we’re not debating which is better; we’re here to spot the differences! Get ready to flex your pop culture knowledge as we dive into the unique traits that set these two animated art forms apart.

Join me on this adventure as we uncover the distinctions, compare and contrast, and discover the nuances that make these beloved animations stand out.

Anime versus Cartoon — Understanding the Contrast

Distinctive Visual Features that Set Things Apart

Let’s get animated and talk about two popular sub-genres — Anime and Cartoons! Now, before you think they’re the same thing, let’s clear the air — they’re not! Although both are forms of animation with their fair share of characters and plots, they have unique traits that set them apart.

While cartoons can be the source of giggles and laugh with their hilarious storylines that cater to kids, anime has much more to offer! From mature themes that appeal to the older crowd to its action-packed scenes, it’s no surprise that anime has won the hearts of many.

But hold on; we’re just getting started! The differences between these two animation styles are more than just the themes they explore. So let’s dive in and examine the salient visual characteristics that make them distinct.

Get ready to learn, compare, and appreciate the diversity in animation!

Anime illustrations

Get ready to spot the difference between Anime and Cartoons — it’s all in the details! Let’s start with Anime — the style known for its exaggerated physical features that’ll make your eyes pop! It’s all about those “big eyes, big hair, and elongated limbs” that make the characters stand out.

And if you thought that was all, think again! Manga (anime comics) has even more dramatic features, like uniquely shaped speech bubbles, speedy lines, and exclamatory typography that will leave you in awe.

But don’t get too star-struck as we move on to Cartoons. Unlike Anime, cartoons stay a little closer to reality while keeping that whimsical charm. It’s easy to spot human-like features in cartoon characters that will make you feel right at home.

But wait, there’s more — cartoons can still take a hilarious turn with some of the wackiest caricatures! Who wouldn’t recognize Marge Simpson’s iconic blue hair or Brian, the talking dog from Family Guy?

History of Cartoons and Anime

Let’s start with Anime — a sub-genre closely tied to Japan and emerged in the latter part of the 20th century. These productions varied from short films to seasonal television series and mirrored reality, albeit exaggeratedly.

As a result, anime’s art style tends to be detailed, with facial expressions that easily capture the viewer’s attention, for example, with the Anime Girl style. Think Fate, Jojo Bizarre Adventures, or Attack on Titan, where every detail is accounted for, and the expressions are exaggerated for extra emphasis.

Now, let’s move on to Cartoons, traced back to 1499 when they were used as a study guide for a model or painting. Derived from the word “Karton,” which means strong or heavy paper, cartoons are a two-dimensional art form that approximates reality while maintaining their whimsical charm.

While cartoons can be caricatures of reality, they still carry a semblance of real-life situations.

In summary, the differences between Anime and Cartoons are rooted in their origins, art styles, and expressions. So next time you watch your favorite animated series, take a moment to appreciate the unique styles that make them stand out!

Is Anime Superior in Background Design and Plot?

We’re diving into the world of environmental and background designs and the hero-villain concept that sets these two animation styles apart.

First, let’s take a look at the backgrounds and environmental designs. While some cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender put much effort into their landscapes, anime still takes the cake regarding clarity and attention to detail.

Some even argue that anime’s popularity has shifted to cartoon art styles since the early 2000s.

Now, let’s talk about heroes and villains — a classic concept in storytelling. In cartoons, there are unspoken rules about the role of a hero or a team of heroes, often with few female leads. Take the Justice League, for example, where Wonder Woman is the only significant female hero in a team of male heroes.

But in anime, that bias is broken! A hero or team of heroes can be anyone — from girls to non-human entities like dragons or slimes.

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Cartoon and Anime Villians

Let’s talk about villains in Anime and Cartoons — it’s not as black and white as you might think! While cartoons portray villains — usually with an evil or disfigured look — Anime takes a more unpredictable approach. In Anime, anyone can be a villain, even the nice neighbor next door or the quiet kid in class!

Take Ayanakouji from the Classroom of the Elite, a sociopathic character who masks his intentions with a disinterested expression. It wasn’t until the end of the first season that the Anime exposed his inner thoughts, surprising everyone!

Now, let’s move on to storylines — another major difference between Anime and Cartoons. While famous western cartoons like South Park, The Simpsons, and The Amazing World of Gumball lack specific plotlines, they aim to elicit humor.

On the other hand, Anime still manages to have better storylines despite incorporating humor. One Piece and Mob Psycho are great examples of Anime series with engaging plotlines that keep you hooked!

Comedy — Action — Adventure

Comedy, action, and adventure combine to provide a quality experience for fans and viewers alike! But that’s not all — Anime storylines also reflect creativity and brilliance.

Take Attack on Titan, for example — with each season, the storyline takes a new direction that even the most devoted fans couldn’t predict. And when certain information is revealed, such as the protagonist’s true nature, it stuns fans and showcases the well-crafted nature of Anime plotlines.

But the fun doesn’t stop with the Anime itself — there’s so much more to explore!

Anime openings are diverse and enjoyable, unlike cartoons with unremarkable intros. And if you don’t like a specific Anime, you can always check out the manga, light novel version, or even the live-action adaptation. And for the gamers out there, some Anime even have video game adaptations ready for you to explore at any time.

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Anime vs Cartoon Animation Techniques

Get ready for animation production 101 — where we explore the similarities and differences between Anime and Cartoons. While both use traditional animation production processes like storyboarding, voice acting, character design, and cel production, unique traits set them apart.

One of the most noticeable differences is in the animation style. Anime is often considered a form of limited animation, where common parts are re-used between frames to fool the eye into thinking there is more movement than there is. This technique helps lower production costs since fewer frames must be drawn.

But Anime scenes don’t just focus on movement — there’s an emphasis on achieving three-dimensional views and creating immersive environments. Backgrounds play a vital role in depicting the atmosphere of the scenes. For example, many Anime emphasize changing seasons, often seen in shows like Tenchi Muyo!





Hi there! My name is Kenny, and I am a massive fan of animation, cartoons, and all things creative. Can visit my site for more: