I’m afraid this is a post with more questions than answers.
I just finished my fourth anime; reviews of all four are on the Castalia House blog.
I’ve also seen over a dozen Studio Ghibli films, including such films as “Princess Mononoke”, “The Wind Rises”, “Porco Rosso”, and “Only Yesterday.
None of the shows I’ve watched or any of the movies mentioned were made for children.
In western animation, we can divide animation into roughly two categories:
- Children’s animation, ranging from very young children to, rarely, teenagers
- Adult humor
And that’s it.
American animation has never produced and simply cannot produce a “Cowboy Bebop”.
And the real question here is…why?
I have a couple of theories. Western animation seems to have had a parallel rather than intertwined development with Japanese animation, with each side influencing the other but ultimately following separate paths.
It’s just unfortunate that western animation has chosen to limit itself in this way. I know from experience that no matter how much I praise certain shows, there are people who will absolutely refuse to give it a chance because it’s animated. Something in their heads makes them connect animation to children’s entertainment and limits their enjoyment, which is really a shame. I imagine it’s something like the metric system – Americans know it’s a good idea but we’re so used to the standard measurement system it’s never going to feel natural to us.
I’m not sure what happened, but it’s to our detriment.