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Analysis / Animation Age Ghetto

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The main thing to look out for here is:

  • Is this medium, obviously for older audiences, being put with media that's obviously for younger audiences (i.e. loads of hentai in the edutainment section)?
  • Do critics/viewers/older people look down upon the medium for the sole reason of being animated or using cartoon tropes?
  • Is it automatically rated something oriented for children just because it's animated?
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  • Is it automatically put under 'Comedy' or 'Family' media regardless of content?
  • Does it lose out to awards or being taken seriously for award nominations because it's animated?
  • Is it a teen/adult oriented movie that flops because it's not for kids?
  • Do critics attack it for not being for children or family?
  • Since people think that cartoons have to sell toys, is it attacked for not selling merchandise?
  • Is it attacked because it's not funny or trying to be funny (because it's not a comedy)?
  • If it's a book, manga, or comic, is it always placed in the children's section regardless of content?
  • Are certain quality expectations set, such as cheesy voice overs or a lack of character substance, and are people surprised or put off when these expectations are vastly superseded?
  • Is it not taken seriously at all?
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  • On a streaming site or purchase/rental storefront, is animation listed as a "genre" in the same way as comedy, horror, or drama, rather than being treated as a medium the same way live action media is?
  • Is something trying too hard to not be a part of the Ghetto, such as emphasizing that it's not for kids?
  • Are people surprised by — or critical towards — slightly objectionable content in a animated film, when they would not raise an eyebrow if similar content was in a live action film?
  • Do ask yourself "Why are cartoons generally geared towards children?" Psychology has the answer: Children are more susceptible to being drawn to the simple art and feel more connection with brightly colored drawings than they do real people and grittier colors. And because children respond to laughter and happiness over other emotions, cartoons were created squarely with comedy in mind. Adults tend to more realistic fare, even if animated, and most don't like being made to feel like children. Because of the dumbed down writing of the Dark Age, adults couldn't find any serious emotional depth to attach to. "But if they couldn't like it, who would? Children, of course!" Children are far less critical of finer things, and care much less about realism and depth. Children are generally excited by action, and Dark Age cartoons were mostly action with very little in the way of the mellower moments of live-action acting. This emphasis on action (action meaning "events occurring", not necessarily "fighting") further removed adults from the equation.
However, it should be noted that this does not mean that adults cannot appreciate or like animation, or take animation seriously like children since animation is simply another form of media (raping a woman in a live-action movie or raping a woman in an animated cartoon are both shocking- and
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not real) By our very psychological hardwiring, cartoons were bound to have found a wider audience with children. However, thanks to the Age Ghetto, entertainment culture also led to a baseless psychological belief that not only is it weird for adults to like cartoons, adults shouldn't like cartoons because cartoons are for kids- the only reason why is because cartoons are 'not real.' (As aforestated, live action fare technically isn't 'real' either, but there is more emotional attachment and recognition with real actors than drawings, especially since animation very rarely capture the nuances of real life acting due to budget constraints) Even if a growing number of adults watch cartoons, it's less to do with the content and more to do with downfall of the idea of cartoons being solely camp or crude edutainment. In fact, there's absolutely nothing stopping adults from liking cartoons outside of cultural norms. It is merely noted that adults prefer depth, which almost all cartoons for decades sorely lacked.
  • Also because of bad dubbing of anime prior to the 'Animation Quality Revisionism' of the New Millenium, most English-dubbed anime featured horrendous voice work. As mentioned before, a major reason why many adults look at animation in disdain is because of the fact that, traditionally, animation has had a much lower standard for voice acting that, in live-action, would be seen as wholly unrealistic. Anime's long trend of extremely over-the-top dubbing led to many seeing it as having an almost schizoid quality= adult content, but "kiddy" voice acting, besides leading to purists disavowing dubs. But in recent years, especially thanks to said revisionism by artists and animators, dubs and voice work in animation in general has improved manyfold. And thanks to an exponentially rising quality of writing along with it, even average cartoons are gaining critical acclaim for their direction.
  • A quick note: sometimes, people assume the "adult" in "adult animation" means lots of foul language, sexual content, and violence — but "adult" can also refer to content too complex for children to handle (as in "Would kids really understand this?"). Such content often ends up interpreted as either Parental Bonuses or Getting Crap Past the Radar. Further confounding this is that some things may be too complex for kids...but is presented in a way that actually wouldn't be out of place in something meant for kids, such as a movie about the oil industry's excessive greed and ignorance towards the environment, and the hero of the day being a talking superspy tow truck. Many shows featuring humanoids and anthropomorphic animals but are not directly meant for kids (usually due to portraying stereotypes, such as the 'fat cat Wall street executive' actually being a fat cat) sometimes suffer this.

Actually, most shows featuring humanoids and anthropomorphic animals but are definitely not meant for kids will suffer this without reasonable doubt. You use a talking animal, you are for kids, even if you have mindless sex orgies, gratuitous cursing, intense violence, and/or realistic tense situations. The Ghetto then kicks into full swing- you will immediately find a major resistance, even amongst some of those against the ghetto, of using Funny Animals in such things simply because the ghetto is so built into them that the very concept of Funny Animals in realistic situations is something that shouldn't be done. Although some countries such as Belgium and The Netherlands avert this trend and consider using the Funny Animal with the intent of sex, violence etc. to be OK the catch is that these shows always tends to be inspired by medieval Dutch animal fables such as Reynard the Fox.

It should be noted though that if you want to work with any kind of visual media the above is one of the very first mentalities one should avoid stepping into, as animation and live-action are very interconnected to each other when writers are still working on the script. Plenty of times drawings will be made to understand which location is the best to shoot film footage in and where objects are going to be set in live-action films. Similarly plenty of animation relies on live-action photography to give a general direction which style of animation is going to be used in an animated work.

Anime, with its extension to extremely controversial topics such as horror and Hentai, is often cited as the reason for the annihilation of the Animation Age Ghetto. Anime, and Hentai, is the prime rebuttal against any argument that animation was for kids. Anime remains a hot button issue in the debate over the Age Ghetto thanks to the fact that some Anime is adult and was never in the Ghetto to begin with, and that it only enters the Ghetto when dubbed to other languages, and even that was toned down in the early 2000s in favor of more faithful dubs.

  • The case for Anime and Manga when dealing with the Animation Age Ghetto (without trying to deal with All Anime Is Naughty Tentacles) is as laughable as it is sad considering that so much anime that the West knows (shonen, almost completely)- while considered safe for kids or teens in Japan - could end up with R ratings in other countries, and yet countries such as Mexico, who are still deep inside the Age Ghetto, refuse to see it any other way than 'if it's drawn, it's for kids, even if there are exposed penises, exposed breasts, on-screen decapitations, and cluster F-bombs.' Anime is what students of the Age Ghetto (for and against) use to prove that there is, in fact, an Age Ghetto. Some of the outright funny/ridiculous/laziest examples occur when studios try dubbing out suggestive or offensive dialogue, but the show itself still features massive levels of sexual themes or gore — a character tries playing it off with 'cute' or 'cheesy' dialogue that suggests that the sword clearly impaling her and pushing her heart out through her chest is actually nothing more than a trick and she actually caught the sword under her arm.
  • What most in the west don't know is that there is more than just shonen, but in terms of shipping it to the West, at least on major broadcasting, the ghetto prevents anyone from learning about this because executives/moral guardians are going to make it shonen. Any anime that isn't acceptable for kids and not set on a network that plays such stuff uncensored- or is acceptable for kids to an extent and has to be excessively censored- will suffer this. However, that particular aspect is not Age Ghetto- it begins with Bowdlerisation and continues from there.
  • In terms of fame and recognition, any series in the West (English-speaking countries in particular) that doesn't have a successful family-friendly English dub is unlikely to break into pop culture at large. Some series that are mainstream in Japanese culture, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Attack on Titan, are mere cult classics in the West (or part of youth culture if they're lucky) merely because they were marketed towards teens/adults from the beginning. On the now-defunct "Sliding Scale of Anime Obscurity" page on this very wiki, anime series were ranked based on their recognizability in English-speaking pop culture; every single series ranked at Level 0 (i.e. part of mainstream culture) has had a family-friendly or kid-oriented English dub and is most well-known for such.
  • Another factor is Values Dissonance between the Anglosphere and other cultures: The idea in Japan, France, The Netherlands etc. that cuteness is meant for the entire family means that cute characters and settings are enjoyed or at least tolerated by every demographic, whereas cuteness in North America is associated with childishness or femininity. In addition, the Japanese concept of the Christmas Cake (which states that a woman is old once she reaches 25 years of age) clashes with the American Pædo Hunt. Hence, while a fan of Moe is considered a social outcast in both Japan and overseas, liking moe is simply geeky in Japan, France and Belgium but appallingly immature in North America and the United Kingdom. All together, the prevalence of anime and manga with a cute aesthetic causes anime fans in North American countries to appear immature and childish.

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