Japanese Animation VS American Cartoon

Below is an ignite presentation about how a Japanese anime show, My Hero Academia, and an American cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, depicted emotions. It was a comparison to find out if they represented the emotions in the same way or not.

10 thoughts on “Japanese Animation VS American Cartoon

  1. Hi Kim,

    I thought this was such an interesting topic and a great take on emotions within anime and cartoons. Your introduction gives insight into the differences between Japanese and American animation, allowing your viewers to understand why you chose your topic. Personally, I have seen both anime and cartoon shows, and this helped me learn to appreciate what makes both of them unique and memorable.

    It would be interesting for you to go in-depth for more of the emotions for your essay. Why is it that anime creators have emotions much more exaggerated than cartoon characters? This is especially interesting, considering many anime characters are human, whereas cartoon characters can be a whole range of people/creatures.

    Furthermore, I would be intrigued to see your take on Hayao Miyazaki films. Although they are anime, I feel as though they have elements of cartoons interweaved throughout. In addition, you could address how the emotions these character exhibit can evoke different emotions from an audience. What is it within these animated films and shows that make a viewer laugh, cry, be angry, etc? Overall, I thought you did a great job and there is a lot of content to work with for the essay.


  2. Hi Kim!

    First off, I love the idea of Japanese vs. American cartoons. I’ve recently just started watching a lot of anime, and I know how different the storytelling can be from American shows.

    I agree that emotions displayed on someone’s face can be a universal signal of what someone feels on the inside. (I just read that it’s been more challenging for us to communicate during COVID because we cannot rely on facial features if we miss something.) With anime/cartoons, these emotions are exaggerated as a part of the style of drawing.

    When you talk about emotions, I also think of time anime usually allots for expressing emotions. For example, when I first starting watching Attack on Titan, I remember the main character going on four or five-minute tangents to explain how sad he was (rightfully so after everything they went through). That is something we don’t see much of in American cartoons/cinema.

    It was also interesting to note the differences in embarrassment. For My Hero, the exaggeration in temperature completely contrasted Aang’s simple blush. I also believe this has to do with the different cultures and expectations of the show.

    Overall, I think this ties in with the different tiers of emotions. Clearly, the characters in My Hero experienced more intense emotions than Avatar.



  3. You put together a really informative and clear presentation. From the start, I love that you focus in on and name/explain the emotions you’re going to discuss. You don’t brush over theory, but really take the audience along for the journey. It seems like a small thing, but you really introduce anime and cartoons for the general audience without dumbing it down. It would be easy to fall into the in-group trap and miss the actual information (what makes anime and anime, and what makes a cartoon a cartoon). Animation is where the creator has actual control over the visual composition of an emotional story—that makes this a really interesting topic selection.
    Facial expressions associated with anger are clearly explained and illustrated with a good image, at the right time.
    You apply visual storytelling theory to a specific entertainment genre in a way that is approachable, accessible, and really sophisticated. I can tell you understand the material and the medium, but I’m not intimidated.
    The comparison between eastern and western facial expression associated with anger is so great!
    You made me consider cultural context and visual cues in a new way.
    There’s room to explore the visual story of sadness in animation further. Specifically, how do cultural context and artistic choices influences the way tears are depicted in each style?


  4. Hi Kim!

    Overall, I really enjoyed your ignite presentation. The concept was fascinating and as an audience member, it was clear to me you knew what you were talking about, which will definitely aid you when it comes time to write your final paper. I also like how you used the visuals to tell the story and did not just explain the differences between two using other images We could see the differences and I think that has a stronger impact and someone will be able to learn more from that. So overall, I think your ignite presentation was great and really hit the mark for how to tell a story visually. It also spoke to some of the lessons we learned in class which was good to incorporate.

    Maybe to go deeper when you write your paper, analyze not only the expressions on their face but the colors. What made me think of this was your examples for sadness. The first image had a more icy, blue look to it, while the second was warmer toned with various shades of brown. Do the east and the west also use colors differently to describe an emotion? Might be something to consider since colors can factor into emotions as well!


  5. Kim,

    I was immediately drawn to your topic because I love animation as an art form. I grew up on a steady diet of American cartoons and mixed in some Japanese anime as an undergraduate.

    You make some really good points on how both series depict similar styles of emotion within the context of visual storytelling. What can be tough here is how to properly define the term “anime”. To any Westerner, anime is animation native to Japan. Conversely, the Japanese view anime as ANY form of animation – including non-Japanese.

    I guess listening to some of those 2am arguments over Adult Swim’s anime content at my college TV station had some use after all! Digression aside, I think keeping your argument rooted in the Westerner perspective of anime is the best route to take while acknowledging Japan’s viewpoint.

    While I agree with your statement suggesting our ability to read facial expressions is universal, I disagree that translation isn’t required. Despite the outward emotions looking similar, the differences in American and Japanese cultural norms provide contextual differences. The same holds true for certain words or phrases in one language being difficult to translate into another. I think by examining the role of emotion between the two cultures further, you can strengthen your argument.

    I can’t wait to see your final essay!



  6. Hi Kim, this was such a unique topic, and I very much enjoyed viewing it. The beginning of your presentation reminded me of my own, needing to speak quickly to throw in a lot of key topics that you wanted introduced from the top. You do a great job of setting the tone and explaining things with a tone that would come across strongly to either an expert of novice. I enjoyed the slide of Aang when you talked about happiness and what we universally look for to indicate that emotion. It was equally as strong when you continued on to the other emotions such as embarrassment. It’s funny how in cartoons and anime expressions can be “over the top” even though just one giveaway might tell us what we need to know. I think it would be less interesting if creators did that however, and I am sure the cohesiveness and expectation of this over the top style is what leads some fans back for more. I am curious to know (and perhaps you can mention this in your essay) if there are any limitations to either of the methods, or if technology allows for basically any sort of display that creators want to show. I can’t wait to learn more about this topic in your paper!


  7. Hi Kim! I love watching cartoons especially growing up since they can give an escape from whatever is happening out in the world. You spoke clearly and it flowed smoothly. I haven’t seen many Japanese animated shows so I don’t know much about it, but I feel like I learned a lot through your presentation. I feel like you can expand by not only talking about how emotion is expressed between the two styles as you did here, but you can also talk about the amount of detail that goes into the Japanese animation versus the American cartoon which can also add a lot to the emotions that the audience should be feeling and prove how Avatar is more of a cartoon than Anime. These details can be on the character itself or in the environment that can help prove your point. I definitely agree that emotion is universal and you can expand in your paper by talking about other ways the two express an emotion whether it’s through color or even with the aid of other characters like I saw in some of the images. Also, I feel like that a character from anime can say a lot of what they are feeling and what the audience should be feeling by doing less, and then in American cartoons, the emotions are shown very dramatically at times. Look into this more, why are American cartoons more dramatic when expressing emotion? Lastly, you can discuss how American cartoons have shows where the characters are either only human, only animals, or even a mixture of both, while the majority of anime seems to be only human. Now I don’t know much but I feel like this can be very interesting to cover that can tie into emotion as well. Overall, the presentation was very interesting and I now have a whole new perspective on cartoons and anime. Great job!


  8. Hey Kim,

    I love this presentation! You can tell right from the beginning that you know what you’re talking about and that you are an avid watcher of both. When it comes to you presentation style you had such amazing information and you can tell it was well thought and planned out. The only thing I would say is that at times you were speaking incredibly fast trying to pack everything you could into each slide. (I completely relate because I do/did the exact same thing).

    Your use of the Plutchick’s wheel was fantastic and I think in the paper you can dive even further into not only the use of certain facial features but the use of color can have on each emotion since sometimes different cultures relate different colors to different emotions.

    One suggestion I would make for your paper is to continue to compare Avatar and My Hero Academia, but to also find another two cartoons that are complete and polar opposites. Since you said that the two you compared are from different cultures but have many similarities I would find it interesting if you had two cartoons from different cultures that also had almost nothing in common and to see how different the facial animation is then.

    Overall, I loved the presentation and as someone who doesn’t watch a ton of cartoons I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to your paper.


  9. Hi Kim,

    Great topic. I just got done wrapping up a re-watch of all of The Last Airbender as well as packing up a birthday gift for my cousin themed entirely around My Hero Academia, so timely viewing for me over here. I appreciate the effort put into differentiating cartoons and anime for the average viewer. You clearly put extra thought into ensuring that your presentation is accessible for all audiences, which does not go unnoticed.

    I wonder if you could consider incorporating photographs of real humans in comparison to the emotions you’re demonstrating for both shows. This was my first thought in spotting the differences in the anger emotes.

    I would personally consider swapping out another character for your example of sadness in The Last Avatar. My first thought was the obvious difference in expressing emotions when we’re talking about a child or an older adult. Another thought is that Iroh is traditionally known to be a more peaceful character, which does influence the types of emotions expressed. There might be something to explore there in regards to the differences in emotions portrayed across characters of different ages, personalities, etc.

    Good luck with your final paper!


  10. Kim

    I like the idea of relating different genres and especially cultures in how they portray emotion in their works of art. I also liked your choices of shows as ATLA is an American animation that takes a lot of inspiration from Japanese and other Asian cultures and MHA which is a Japanese Anime with some inspiration from American culture. These shows both bridges the American and Japanese cultures well and I believe are popular in both countries. This means that there have to be some similarities between the two that make these two very different cultures both enjoy them. I think that you could make facial expressions one of the main points in your essay as reading expressions is something we learn as humans before we can even speak. Expressions are used in silent films because, in a similar idea, words are not needed to explain how someone is feeling or how they react to an action. I think it would be interesting to talk about the context leading up to the individual emotion. Illustrating the context behind each emotion could allow drawing similarities or differences in culture. For example, why does an American character feel embarrassment in a scenario where a Japanese character might feel rage or sadness? It adds some more depth to the comparison rather than just having the still images.



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