A lot of people ask me: why do you still watch cartoons?
The first thing I wonder is: should I not be watching cartoons? Should I spend my free time doing something “serious?”
And you know, I have been thinking lately: why do I love animation so much? Earlier this week, I poured my heart, soul and life into my “Top Ten Studio Ghibli Movies” list. Everything I wrote about my love for those films magically appeared on the page, as if Totoro himself took a bag of scrambled words and gracefully placed them there. Sometime after I finished the list, I was home, completely engrossed in the humor and wonder of the shows Steven Universe and BoJack Horseman.
Have I always been this way, have I always seen animation as something more than merely entertainment? Yes, yes I have. I like animation because it is clearly not reality, but the degree of this unreality varies depending on the work. And despite this, animation can always represent our actions, lives, ambitions, or whatever to some degree. For example, the events in a show like Avatar: The Last Airbender are not going to happen to us. We can’t bend the elements and attack people with them, but many of us can understand the difficulties of war as the show’s characters do. Or conversely, many people live an ordinary life like Arnold from Hey Arnold!, but many of us cannot relate to his family situation, living only with his extended relatives.
I think by now you understand what I am writing about: art. My description of why I like animation can be applied to any form of art: paintings, music, literature, etc. And like any form of art, animation has the potential to be enjoyed and understood by millions across the globe.
So is animation based on relatability? Yes and no. If I can relate to something in a work, I feel a connection with a character or circumstance, which might strengthen my understanding of something I already grasp. If I cannot relate to something in a work, I see another perspective I would not have know otherwise.
So, “Why do you still watch cartoons?”
“To further learn about and experience the expression of humanity.”