Ask any student in college about old cartoon shows like Looney Toons or X-men, and you'll probably get a response like “I used to love watching that show!”. Children in America today are raised on cartoons, as most American animation is directed at children. If you were to ask the people who said that they used to watch cartoons if they still watch animated shows today, they would probably say that they grew out of watching cartoons a long time ago. However, this is not the case everywhere, in Japan animated shows are directed to all ages instead of just children. Animated television shows are made for children in America, but in Japan animation has a much broader spectrum.
In America one of the first popular achievements in animation was the Disney production of a short seven minute animation called Steamboat Willie in 1928, which was the first animated show to feature sound synced to the animation. The show also featured the soon to be famous Mickey Mouse, who would grow to be one of the most well known trademark figures of American animation. During the time of WWII many animated shows, which were now called cartoons, were shown in theaters as a kind of break from the troubles of the real world, which was now facing war and the Depression. The cartoons during the time were comic and featured a lot of slapstick comedy.
Most cartoon characters were not humans, but instead small rounded cute versions of animals, with bodies that seemed to be made of rubber, as they were able to stretch and bend to impossible shapes. Cartoon characters usually were very basic and didn't look human at all. Most characters have only three or four fingers and have very out of proportion body parts. Most surroundings were very basic, most trees and mountains are large round blobs of green or brown. Most backgrounds are reused, for example if a character is running the background never changes it's just a repeat of the same thing over and over. This made animation much easier and soon became a trademark of American cartoons.
As the years went on cartoons did not diverge from the successful slapstick routine that was shown. But as the years passed and local televisions were introduced, cartoons were no longer something you could only see in theaters. Adults became less interested in the cartoons, and began considering cartoons as something that only children should watch. As such animation companies began directing all of their shows at young children. Merchandising was now the best way to make money off of these cartoons now that the cartoons could be watched at home, with constant advertisement, companies could sell all kinds of merchandise based off of cartoons, a great example of which is Disneyland. Up into the 90s cartoons were still directed at children urging them to purchase the next cool toy based off of the show.
Today some animated shows are becoming more adult oriented with shows like The Simpsons, or South Park which contain more...