Humour in Cartoons and Anime

As an avid watcher of cartoons and anime one thing I have noticed it that in the west if a movie or a tv show is animated it has to be driven by humour. Regardless if it’s a cartoon directed to an older audience like Bojack Horseman, Archer or something like Bobs Burger these shows have to be laugh out loud funny. While as with Anime, it’s easy to find series where humour is barely present yet that is directed to an adult audience like Death Note, Erase, Spychopass and many more. It’s as if the west think that for something to be seen as serious it has to be live action, which would explain why someone would go out of their way to make a live action remake of Your Name, which is completely useless since is animated form is already perfection. Japan and anime has already proven that animated material doesn’t need to have humour to be successful, why do you think the west is set on always linking cartoons with humour? Is it because of the word "cartoon" itself or is it because the medium will never be as respected as something live action, and why is that. Can an image or a voice actor not convey the same kind of emotions than a traditional actor? Will we ever see a mainstream tv show or movie that is animated that isn’t a comedy but that gets the same kind of respect than a live action movie. Or do you think some animes are able to avoid the comedy title because of the different types of animes that exist (shonen, seinen, shojo, josei and kdomomuke). Should the west possibly follow these different types of categories in order to have more variety in the cartoon world?

  • You have an interesting topic suggestion here, but I would suggest more research is done into western animated storytelling, so as to avoid the generalisation that it is driven by humour. There are some very fine examples of non-humorous animated tales that could be considered, such as: Fantastic Planet (1973), Watership Down (1978), When the Wind Blows (1986), Flatland (2007), The Illusionist (2010), April et Le Monde Extraordinaire (2015), Ethel and Ernest (2016)...the list is practically endless. – Amyus 4 years ago
  • I guess I should have added more of an emphasis on mainstream cartoons targetted to adults. Never meant to make the claim that everything produced by the west in driven by humour, like I said I love anime and cartoons so I watch a lot of a variety of things and I know we have some serious animated movies on our end too, but mostly the popular cartoons that are known about by the general public are almost always comedies which isn't always the case in Japan. – tmtonji 4 years ago
  • I get what you're saying. Mainstream cartoons in western society are almost always humour based. I think a large part of that is because of Disney and Nickelodeon's corner on the market. I really do think it's how we've been fed cartoons culturally. In western society, cartoons and animation have been marketed to us almost exclusively as either for children or for light-hearted humour and nothing more. In regards to Japan and anime, it seems that it is more respected as an art form and seems to focus on the characters and their development as opposed to the typically plot driven western productions. Seeing how anime so popular, I think if the west followed in the footsteps of Japan in taking part in more serious animation, they would find a large market for it here. – Melissa 4 years ago

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