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Anime vs. Animation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 27, 2023
Anime refers to a style of animation originating from Japan, characterized by distinct art, themes, and storytelling, whereas animation is a broader term for all forms of animated media.

Key Differences

Anime is a genre of animation that originated in Japan and is known for its unique art style, including colorful artwork and fantastical themes. Conversely, animation is a method of creating motion and shape change illusions by rapidly displaying a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other.
The storytelling in anime often includes complex characters and emotional depth, often targeting both adults and children. Animation, in a broader sense, encompasses a wide range of genres and styles, from traditional cartoon animations to computer-generated imagery used in various media.
Anime typically features cultural nuances specific to Japan and often includes elements of Japanese mythology and philosophy. In contrast, animation as a medium can come from any part of the world, each with its own cultural influences and storytelling techniques.
The visual style of anime is distinct, with characters having exaggerated facial expressions and often large, expressive eyes. General animation varies widely in visual style, depending on the artist, studio, or country of origin.
While anime predominantly refers to animation produced within Japan, animation is a universal art form practiced and produced globally, not restricted to any single country or region.

Comparison Chart



Target Audience

Often both adults and children
Can vary widely, including children and adults

Cultural Influences

Primarily Japanese cultural elements
Varied, based on region and artist

Artistic Style

Characteristic art with exaggerated features
Varies widely based on technique and origin


Often complex and emotionally deep
Covers a broad spectrum of storytelling styles

Anime and Animation Definitions


Animation characterized by vibrant characters and fantastical themes.
The anime Spirited Away showcases imaginative storytelling.


Art form involving the design and sequencing of moving images.
Pixar's Toy Story revolutionized computer-generated animation.


Genre of animation often focusing on complex themes.
Death Note is an anime that explores moral dilemmas.


Moving images created using techniques like drawing, CGI, or stop-motion.
Wallace and Gromit is renowned for its clay animation.


A style of animation known for its emotional depth and cultural references.
Your Name is an anime acclaimed for its emotional storytelling.


Visual storytelling medium through sequential graphic art.
The Simpsons is an iconic example of cartoon animation.


Japanese style of animation with distinct art and storytelling.
My Neighbor Totoro is a classic example of anime.


Creation of motion and shape change illusions in art.
Into the Spider-Verse showcases innovative animation techniques.


Animated productions originating from Japan.
Attack on Titan has become a globally recognized anime.


The process of creating the illusion of motion by displaying a series of pictures.
Disney's The Lion King is a landmark in traditional animation.


A style of animation developed in Japan, characterized by stylized colorful art and often adult themes.


The act, process, or result of imparting life, interest, spirit, motion, or activity.


(uncountable) An artistic style originating in, and associated with, Japanese animation, and that has also been adopted by a comparatively low number of animated works from other countries.
I can draw an anime version of you, if you want.


(countable) An animated work that originated in Japan, regardless of the artistic style.


An animated work, regardless of the country of origin.


Alternative spelling of animé, the resin of the courbaril.


Of a different tincture from the animal itself; - said of the eyes of a rapacious animal.


A resin exuding from a tropical American tree (Hymenæa courbaril), and much used by varnish makers.


A hard copal derived from an African tree


Any of various resins or oleoresins


Are all anime from Japan?

Traditionally, yes, anime refers to Japanese animation.

Is anime aimed only at children?

No, anime targets a wide range of age groups, including adults.

What defines anime?

A Japanese style of animation with unique artistic characteristics.

Do anime characters have a specific look?

Often, they have exaggerated features like large eyes.

What is animation?

The process of making static images appear to move.

Can animation include live-action elements?

Yes, some animations blend live-action with animated elements.

Can anime be hand-drawn or computer-generated?

It can be either, depending on the production.

Do anime often include cultural references?

Yes, they frequently incorporate Japanese culture.

How has animation evolved over time?

From hand-drawn cells to advanced computer-generated imagery.

What techniques are used in animation?

Traditional drawing, CGI, and stop-motion, among others.

How is anime distinct from Western animation?

It often has more detailed art and mature storytelling.

Is 3D animation a separate genre?

It's a technique within the broader field of animation.

Is the audience for anime growing globally?

Yes, anime has gained international popularity.

How important is the soundtrack in animation?

It's crucial for setting tone and emotion.

Are animated films only fictional?

No, they can include documentary or abstract forms.

What's a popular form of animation in the West?

Cartoon-style animation is very common.

Do anime often explore complex themes?

Yes, they frequently delve into sophisticated and mature topics.

Can animations be educational?

Absolutely, many animations are created for educational purposes.

Are anime series different from anime films?

They can differ in length, scope, and storytelling style.

What is stop-motion animation?

A technique using physical objects photographed in sequence.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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