You’ll have a hard time finding people who say they don’t like cute things. We’re psychologically engineered to have a soft spot for any baby-like qualities. This causes us to become attached to those adorable child characters, like those in "Princess Sofia" or "Chi’s Sweet Home". Once we become emotionally invested, it becomes quite difficult to not watch those characters in their day to day lives.
With animation, artists tend to use brighter colors than what we normally see in the real world. Take anime for instance; It’s not uncommon to see girls with pink, green, or yellow hair. Using such unnatural colors and hues allows for the animators to give more personality to the characters. In fact, most anime characters are drawn with such skill that one doesn’t even need to see them move to know what their personality is.
For example, the picture to the right is of Amu from "Shugo Chara". If you’ve watched enough anime, you can quickly assume that her personality is that of a cheery rebel. Her pink hair can symbolize fun-loving but the way she has customized her school uniform leads the viewer to think she does things in her own way.
"My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" is another great example. Just like Amu, Pinkie Pie’s coat is all pink, her mane and tail are curly, and she has balloons for a cutie mark. Pinkie’s character design screams “FUN!” while Rarity’s white coat and luxuriously curled purple mane declares her character to be “regal”.
Being able to use such a wide assortment of colors only adds to the allure of cartoons.
Why are animated shows so popular? Because their animated. With animation, artists can control exactly how things move and look. They can choreograph every movement to perfection. They can tint the lighting for the right atmosphere. They can even have their character morph into something or someone else. Live-action can’t do that. They need CGI to do that. Ever notice how the top grossing movies always have amazing effects? That’s not because someone lit dynamite behind a car to launch it into the air. That’s because someone behind a computer screen created a virtual model of a realistic looking car and animated it flying through the air. Live action can be fine by itself, but if you want your viewers to be entertained with action, sooner or later you will have to hire an animator to fill in the void.
One of the top reasons people watch child-targeted shows is to learn. And, no, I don’t mean like 1-2-3s and A-B-Cs. I mean life lessons like how to tell the truth even if it makes someone unhappy, how to help others overcome their fears, etc. That’s why shows like "MLP: FiM" and "Princess Sophia" are so popular. While highly entertaining, every episode has a life lesson to be heard. An though adult viewers know most of them, it’s still nice to be reminded of them and/or to see how our beloved characters deal with those problems themselves. These shows teach us how to see issues from another’s point of view or see the solution with a slightly different problem.
Anime heavily falls under this category. It’s not that the episodes themselves are the target; it’s the hidden statements that characters make that otakus love. For example, the first anime I ever loved to the point I had to buy the DVDs for was "Wolf’s Rain". Only three episodes into it Kiba, the main character, states, “Everyone’s gonna die. It’s a natural part of life. But if life has no purpose, you’re dead already.” It’s the intense realization moments like these that make people so quick to watch them.
The last reason for cartoons being popular for adults is the ability to feel like a kid again. Think about it – stereotypical adults frown at others for watching cartoons because they say cartoons are for children. Adults are supposed to watch stuff with guns, sex, and violence; not musicals, fairytales, and pie fights. Social deviants will immediately claim that there is nothing wrong with wanting to watch the latter. And, indeed, there isn’t. In my life, adults who readily watch cartoons have a more varied sense of humor, are more playful, and seem to be happier in life.
Because cartoons can do more than live-action, viewers’ minds are always open to the extraordinary circumstances that may occur in those shows. This encourages adults to retain their childlike abilities of imagination. Have you ever noticed how boring kids are these days because so many of them do nothing but playing video games and text? When I was a kid, we played board games and maybe played video games when they were first released. But mostly, we played outside – which means we had to use our imaginations to create adventures and games. Because today’s kids barely seem to go outside, their imaginative abilities are disappearing at a much earlier age. Watching cartoons brings us back to a simpler time.
© 2014 Kaitlin N-M Bell