Anime’s Rumble to Popularity

“Avatar: The Last AirBender” and “Naruto” might be two of the most widely known anime to this day.  Although they aired alongside cartoons, they weren’t as popular as shows like “Tom and Jerry” or “Fairly Odd Parents.” There’s a line between anime and cartoons. Anime covers more serious topics. Cartoons are more light-hearted. Anime can be immensely gruesome. They can touch on subject manners such as sex, death, and abuse. Cartoons generally steer clear from all of those. 

Growing up, the only places to get your Saturday morning cartoons would be Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or Cartoon Network. Disney’s more action-packed cartoons are, “Lilo and Stitch,” “Kim Possible,” and “American Dragon: Jake Long.” Nickelodeon has cartoons with an edgier sense of humor with shows like “Invader Zim” and “Aaahh!!! Real Monster.” 

Finally, there’s Cartoon Network, home to more mature cartoons. “The Grim Adventure of Billy and Mandy” told the tale of two kids and their forced friendship with the grim reaper while “Courage the Cowardly Dog” was heavy with horror undertones.

Anime hasn’t always been as popular as it is today. There was a time when anime was considered “nerdy” or “uncool.” Anime’s rise to popularity could be due to social media. It could be due to the pandemic and the need for new activities; however, the only justice is to examine animes at their core. 

Anime’s Alternative Messages

Anime can teach messages of morals, self-confidence, the importance of family, and more, which are messages that can’t be received from Nickelodeon’s “Invader Zim” or Disney’s “Gravity Falls.” 

Cartoon Network’s “Samurai Jack” started in 2001 before being canceled in 2004. “Samurai Jack” followed a serious consecutive plotline and heavy cartoon violence. It was moved to Adult Swim, a late-night programming block geared towards an adult audience in 2017.

“HunterxHunter” is an anime that drives messages of morals and self-growth. It takes viewers on the tale of Gon Freecss, a 12-year-old boy who embarks on a journey to become a hunter. What sets this apart from the average Saturday morning cartoon? We see him encounter and deal with death, and how he deals with the abandonment of his father, all while having superhuman abilities. He also faces constant ever-looming death. This is not your typical cartoon subject manner.

Demon Slayer is another anime that handles heavy topics. “Demon Slayer” tells the tale of Tanjiro Kamado who must deal with the death of his father, and not soon after, the murder of his family. “Demon Slayer” gives viewers a look at the ups and downs of growing up and the pressures of growing up without both parents in a gory setting.

The subject manner of anime can cover things like suicide (“Sankarea: Undying Love”) or sexual assault (“Banana Fish”).  It’s possible anime’s ability to be versatile and inclusive in content is the main reason it’s popular.  Whatever it is, anime has now started to become more mainstream, spawning reboots and movies. Anime has certainly earned its spot in mainstream media, taking adult animation and stretching the horizons.


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