"Aren't you too old to be watching kid shows?"
If you're old enough to be in high school, there's a good chance an adult has asked you this question before. The attitude that question carries with it is demeaning and judgmental, but the simplest way to describe it is bullshit.
For whatever reason, some adults don't understand the appeal of animation, and they feel the need to accost others for liking it. Watching cartoons is only ok if you watch it with kids who belong to a more fitting age-group. Maybe it's only ok to watch Disney and Pixar movies, but you can't like anime or anything on Cartoon Network. Or perhaps shows like The Simpsons or Family Guy are all that's ok because they have adult jokes in them.
Regardless, just because people hate on those of us who enjoy animation of all kinds doesn't mean we have to take it. And if you ever find yourself being harassed for watching "kid's shows," here are some points you can use to set them straight.
There are so many reasons to enjoy animation, but one stands above them all. In animation, as thousands of TV shows, movies and shorts of all kinds have demonstrated, the creator has unlimited freedom. You can explore the deepest corners of space just as easily as a suburban, east-coast neighborhood. You can even do both in the same episode.
Not only is the scope of an animated show bound only by what the artists can create, the medium in general is a lot more flexible than live-action. Just look at Family Guy, for example, where the story is frequently and characteristically interrupted by tangential cut-away jokes. If that happened in the middle of The Big Bang Theory people would probably hate it (not that people don't already hate the Big Band Theory…).
But more than that, animation is free to get weird in a way that would either be impossible or too alienating with live-action. Just look at the works of animator Don Herzfeltd. Despite being immensely bizarre, people find his short films extremely entertaining and full of deeper commentary on the world at large. And while a live-action story can also be entertaining and comment on something, it can't do it in the same ways animation can.
Something also worth considering is the freedom animation offers when it comes to exploring different cultures. A live-action story can do it too, but few things are more telling about a group of people than what kind of animation they enjoy. Japan, for example, is often exclusively identified by anime, and American animation can be known for its faux-violence on shows like the Looney Toons.
Another kind of freedom found in animation comes down to one of its main tenants — how the animator draws. Continuing on with the comparison between Japanese and American animation, the visual distinction is as clear as night and day. Regardless of that, no one could ever look at a cartoon and say it doesn't have value as a work of art. Just because it isn't hanging in a museum (and plenty of animation is featured in museums) doesn't disqualify an animated story from being artistic.
Even beyond the visuals, animation is art for the way it blends visual creativity with story. Nothing tells a tale more vividly and gorgeously than a work of animation — and yes that goes for the CGI in live-action too.
Plus, while not every story is going to be the literary equivalent of Shakespeare and not all the art will be as beautiful as Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night," that's ok. Art can be simple and accessible to the masses and still have value. Art can be something that both children and adults can enjoy together.
On the list of things adults and kids can enjoy together, animation is definitely at the top. That fact is another reason why adults should be encouraged to watch animation — so they can relate to their juniors better. It can be plenty hard to get a child to open up and talk to an adult, but few things work better than discussing the latest episode of Adventure Time.
And just because you don't have kids doesn't mean you never interact with them or will never have to understand them. Animation, especially animation aimed at younger audiences, can be extremely enlightening for adults. A lot of the time cartoons capture the same problems kids face on a daily basis, and it's important to see what stories are resonating with them. At the same time, animated stories provide great teaching moments, allowing adults to put difficult and sensitive issues in a context that kids can understand.
More than that, it can just be fun sitting down with a big bowl of sugary cereal, your kid (or niece/nephew, family friend's child), and laugh the day away. There's nothing wrong with simply using a cartoon as a method of enjoying time with the youngins.
Even if you somehow never see or interact with children ever, animation is also great because it can remind you what it's like to have been a child. Nostalgia certainly plays a large role there, and few people would hate to marathon their favorite childhood cartoons. But even watching new animated stories as an adult can be valuable if, for a half hour at least, it whisks you away to a world where all your bills are gone.
Look — the world can be a tough place to live in. Listing all of the average adult's daily worries is an article unto itself and every day is full of enough tragedies for its own website. And though live-action TV can often be an escape from all the bad things in the world, animation is a better one.
Live-action stories, even ones that focus on a younger group of characters, often have serious problems that the audience who are looking for a mental break don't need to deal with, like death, drugs, or depression. Even comedies, which are supposed to be more relaxing, often play serious problems, like romantic rejection, poverty, or difficult in-laws, off like a joke. And while you may laugh, you'll still be thinking, "oh shit, my mother in-law is coming in next week and I have $1,000 in bills to pay by next week."
A lot of cartoons are much more lighthearted, and even when they're not, the realistic problems are presented in a way that no one would grow any gray hairs worrying about them. Again, there are exceptions, but you don't really see people losing sleep because a brutal show like Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan) reminds them of their real life, do you? What's more, it's a lot easier to find an animated story that linger so long on the hard parts of life.
Speaking of Shingeki No Kyojin, animation can be plenty serious when it wants to be, and it isn't all as childish as some might claim. That show, for those who are unfamiliar, is a harrowing story set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity cowers behind a series of three massive walls to protect themselves from building-sized monsters called titans that ate the majority of the world's population. It starts when one of the walls is breached and everything goes to complete hell. Then it keeps going to hell and fucking everyone starts dying all the time. Seriously, it's a wonder that anyone is still alive. Does that show sound like "a kid's show"?
I think the biggest problem most animation haters (or perhaps misunderstanders, if I may make up a word) have is that they've rarely been exposed to stories for adults. No doubt they've heard of the The Simpsons or Family Guy, but if they're not into comedies they're left to assume the rest is just childish-silliness. In reality, there is a vast collection of animation that is specifically for adults who like serious stories about serious things. And no, not all of it is as extreme as Shingeki No Kyojin. There is an animated story out there for everyone.
Finally, the last weapon people who find animation immature use is that it's just not the same as live-action. It's too hard to connect emotionally to an animated character or I can't relate to the crazy world they live in because it looks all cartoony. Well, that sounds like a personal problem and not a problem with the medium.
Plenty, if not most, animation-lovers connect with cartoon characters, worlds, and stories on a regular basis. Many of us have shed tears over the loss of animated character or jumped with joy when they triumphed over a difficult task. Just because a character doesn't look like a real human doesn't take away their humanity. After all, they were created by fellow people just like you. In the end, that's what really makes allows us to relate to animation.
So if you're the kind of person who condescends to those who love animation or chide them for being childish, I hope you now understand why you're wrong. Animation is a rich medium for story telling that is just as good as live-action and better in some ways.
And even if you're loved animation from the day you could hold your head up on your own, I hope you can at least appreciate this highlight of why animation is so wonderful. In fact, if you're such a person, feel free to include your own reasons below. These may be the big ones, but there are plenty more worth talking about.