Saturday, March 14, 2009

Deconstructing Cartoons: Eastern versus Western

It all comes down to one thing: do you like Looney Tunes, or do you like Gundam? Would you rather watch a Ralph Bakshi film, or a Miyazaki one? Is your favorite cartoon character Arnold Shortman or Spike Speigel?

It's Superman versus Goku.

Lately it seems that Japanese anime has taken over the cartoon world. All the best cartoon shows I can list post-Nickelodeon circa 1992-1997 (the "Golden Age" of American animation) are either pure Japanese anime imports, or bald-faced imitations. I mean, kids nowadays know more about Pokemon than they do about Bugs Bunny!

Take Adult Swim from Cartoon Network for example. All of their cartoon programs, with the notable exception of The Boondocks, are anime. (Toms goes to Mayor, Robot Chicken, and Space Ghost don't count, as they aren't pure cartoons, though they are animated.) They showed YuYu Hakusho, Outlaw Star, Inuyasha, and Big O, but not anything by Chuck Jones or Hanna-Barbera.

Anime is basically a category killer. Like those plastic chairs at Walmart. They're so cheap, easy to make, and popular, that nothing else can compete.

I want to see a renaissance of Western cartoon animation. I want to see Kids Next Door meets Ren & Stimpy meets Daria meets Doug meets Heavy Metal. Let's bring back the good old days of Yogi Bear and Rugrats. I'm sick of impossibly big-eyed, big-breasted heroines and all those "fan service" moments. I'm sick of Digimon and One Piece and Yu-Gi-Oh. I'm tired of hearing about the next episode of Bleach or Naruto or Fullmetal Alchemist.

I want a new Walt Disney to take over the world and give us the next Mickey Mouse who'll take his badass guns and blow those fuckers and their randomly colored hair to the drawing room floor.

9 footnotes:

JacqueRoxx said...

This is going to be a crap load of random:

Well, I rather watch a Miyazaki film than a Bashki film. If I'm not mistaken he made Coonskin, right? I didn't really like that movie... Maybe because I'm use to the type of movies we have today, but that movie just looked poorly made.

Kids probably know more about Pokemon than Bugs Bunny because I think Looney Tunes was originally made for adults. I've seen some disturbing Looney Tunes on Youtube where they stereotyped black people, japanese people, and jewish people.

Anime stereotypes too. I always thought it was odd that anime comes from Japan but none of the characters look asian. And whenever they have black characters, they have big ol' pink lips and such. Look at Mr. Po-Po from Dragaon Ball Z(?)..yikes

I always thought the Boondocks took from Anime a little. Huey, Riley, and basically all the kids have those "anime" eyes and they sometimes perform anime style martial arts.

Anyway, yeah I miss those cartoons too (doug, ren and stimpy, etc). Now cartoons have to be either dumbed down or come with a card playing game to be popular. My little brother spent 64 DOLLARS on a Bakugan set. 64 Dollars! After he already got a Pokemon set and a Yu-gi-oh deck..

ok, I'm finished now.

isityouorme? said...

I used be really into Anime in high school. now not so much. I miss all the old school cartoons that CN used to play in the afternoons. I loved to watch Space Ghost and Birdman. now all the old stuff is on Boomerang, grr. sometimes you can find stuff online. I've been watching the x-men cartoon from the late 90's on youtube. if you go to the Internet Archive (, they have a few cartoons and things on there. You can download for free cause its basicially like a library or storehouse. Most of the stuff is no longer under copyright or has the Creative Commons license.

I agree w/ Jacque about some of those looney tunes/merry melodies cartoon. I remember siditty did a whole post once about that. definitely fucked up.

Zek J Evets said...

@jacque: yeah, bakshi made coonskin, which was pretty crazy - but he also made fritz the cat and cool world, which were A-mazazing.

looney tunes WASN'T made for adults. it makes use of cultural & racial stereotypes, but there are so many, it doesn't come off as racist to me - not even when it makes fun jewish people - just hilarious and random. exaggeration is part of the art in cartoons/anime/whatever.

and yeah, the boondocks have been borrowing a lot from anime recently. the second season more than the first, but the similarities are still there.

@isityou: thanks for the link. i think i SHALL download a little bity of it.

JacqueRoxx said...

"looney tunes WASN'T made for adults."

ok, I guess I was told wrong. And sorry for bringing up race on a blog and a post that is NOT about race. I guess certain things trigger my inner al sharpton (who I don't like so that's not good).

Anyway I looked up Ralph Bakshi because I can't just judge him on one movie and I actually have seen Cool world and hated it. And I watched some parts of fritz the cat. I thought it was going to be all gross but it was kinda funny

Angelyca said...

I agree that CN should play Looney Tunes instead of those god-awful Neo-Scooby Doo movies they play now. I love Foghorn Leghorn! But I disagree that LT was made for children.

They were (along with Merrie Melodies) originally screened in theaters as a stand-alone attraction, and sometimes before films. Which is why some of them feature smoking, drinking, and toons with very adult bodies.

CN does have some decent originals on now, like Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack...ok, just one.

Zek J Evets said...

@jacque: that's okay, don't worry about it.

you didn't like cool world!? shame... but at least you can appreciate fritz the cat a little.

@angelyca: disagree? with me? on my own blog? never! (kidding, go right ahead.) you raise some good points, but i still feel justified in saying that looney tunes is wasn't made for adults.

sure, adults would watch these cartoons, but they were not the primary audience. most movie-goers have always been children/adolescents/teenagers, particularly between the ages of 7-14. the subject matter was simply a product of the times, whether that be in racial stereotypes, or in smoking, drinking and other things of that nature. many kids began smoking at twelve years old! the hays commission - which was the major governing body for the film and television industry over what content they could and could not show - did not have as strict standards for animated features.

when you watch looney tunes, the major gags and - we'll call them "plots" - were based off things that children would know, like fairy tales, and other simple things like when the coyote keeps making elaborate machines that continue to fail, leaving him with a long drop or getting crushed by a boulder.

the view that looney tunes could be for adults is a relatively new phenomenon, based off that fact that the generation that grew up watching them has grown up, but still retains fond memories and respect. also, i think it has to do with the change cartoons have gone through over time, becoming more catered to what parents will "allow" their children to watch, but still be interesting enough to attract them as viewers.

wow! anyhoo, i guess we can always agree to diagree. right? no hard feelings.

Anonymous said...

Too long, did not read.

Zek J Evets said...

@anonymous: >_<

alex teal said...

misadventures,adventure time, chowder, and a whole new wave of other completely annoying cartoons destroyed half of the realm of my favorite channel, i could survive one of those hitting the stone wall of awesomeness of that, but a bombardment?
now im in a race against time to cancel them be4 they gain too much viewers and momentum to cause a significant death on the surviving non-stupid channels, leaving only two to keep fighting