Have you ever been in this situation?
Random Person : Do you watch anime?
You : Of course!! I can’t live without that stuff
Random Person : So whats your favorite anime?
You : Thats a hard one, Death Note probably, although Shingeki and Mushishi are pretty good too.. How about you?
Random Person : Avatar
You : -.-” Avatar isn’t anime..
Random Person : Well then what is it?
So what is Avatar? And why is there so much confusion surrounding it?
Short Answer: It was not made in Japan, therefore it’s a cartoon.
Wait… you’re still reading? Okay, let me explain the confusion…. *inhales*…. When one sits to watch an anime, he/she expects a few things that I will call the ‘Three Potential Anime Classifications 😎 ‘ and they are: That the artwork/animation be ridiculously good (compared to american cartoons);. an actual plot/soryline and finally a vague sense of realism.
Avatar, being inspired by anime contains very similar artwork to what one would find in Japanese shows, throughout any sitting one would notice that everything, even the frequently overlooked background art was very well done. Now, while this is the main reason while individuals claim it’s not a cartoon, the fact remains that this metric has nothing at all to do with what is and isn’t anime. For example, let’s compare ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ with ‘Panty and Stocking with Gaterbelt’. They both have similar animation yet no one even questions the fact that only one is a cartoon. In fact, judging what is and isn’t anime by its artwork is like saying all casino sites belong to The Venetian Macao.
Now, you may be thinking, ‘well powerpuff girls is episodic (one episode does not rely on another) so it cannot be an anime’. And that, would indeed be a good observation. The majority of anime have a set sequence where we move from Point A to B, following a certain plot, to achieve a goal at the end of x episodes. Cartoons on the other hand are completely random, it does not matter if you watch Spongebob or Boondocks episode 8 followed by 3 then 6, it will always make just as much sense to you. Try that with Fooly Cooly or Code Geass.. I guarantee you’ll be pulling out your hair before the end of the episode trying to figure out what is happening.
Sadly, as promising as this proposed classification seems, we have instances like Mushishi (clearly anime but episodic) and Samurai Jack (Cartoon, but follows a plot.) so we can’t use that to classify which is which either… So now we are left with only one, the vague sense of realism. This I believe is the most definitive potential classification here, reason being that when cartoons are created they have the intent of being lighthearted and comical. Anime on the other hand tries to tell a story, sort of like a book, broken in to multiple little portions [sort of is actually, since most anime are manga adaptations]. Even with anime focused on aliens and/or giant fighting robots, one can stop and think, I wonder if this will ever happen, or, if I was in this situation, what would I do? Ever thought of yourself as a character in Adventure Time? I didn’t think so.
Now, This is where I planned on giving examples to rebut the last point and prove that being vaguely realistic does not make an anime an anime…but at this moment I can’t think of any so i’ll leave it to you do so in the comments below. So yea, to conclude, Avatar is most definitely a cartoon, albeit a pretty darn good one. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, do a quick search at http://myanimelist.net/ … Didn’t find it? Oh well….