How many times have I heard that said, in my years of watching anime? I don't know, but nothing exemplifies the stereotypes that anime has had to overcome more than that statement. I'm sure it all started when some video store clerk decided to watch some random anime title that their store carried, and it really WAS animated porn.
Of course there are those titles out there, but once the story of "cartoon porn" started spreading, people just heard about that, and nothing else. Thankfully enough people actually saw through that rumor and after actually watching some anime, convinced more friends to watch it, and gradually anime has become more and more respected.
Unfortunately, today anime is facing what seems to be an even greater challenge. With the success of anime in the DVD market, more and more US anime companies have tried to tap into even more lucrative markets, with a larger audience: TV. Starting last year, more and more shows have been coming to TV. First Gundam Wing, then Tenchi, Cardcaptors, and recently Escaflowne.
Even more series are planned, too. ADV Films is planning to put at least two more series on TV soon. However, a bigger audience isn't necessarily better. The problem with the current trend of putting anime on TV is that the companies are trying to put anime that really isn't geared towards children in time slots trying to capture a children's audience. Gundam Wing was a step in the right direction, with its minimal cuts, uncut versions airing at night, and its general correct fitting to its time slot. However, Tenchi is not a series geared towards kids at all. Major cuts had to be made to the series in order for it to be allowed on television at the time it aired. Escaflowne is also not aimed at a kiddy audience. While Card Captor Sakura is definitely aimed at girls, WB took the series and chopped it up so that it would appeal to an audience of more boys.
The truth is, television networks are not looking for any change. They just want more cartoons to put in their kiddy time slots, and it's cheaper to buy already-completed series like Escaflowne than to produce their own. Obviously this is a good short-term strategy for the television companies and for the US anime companies, but the fact is that they are turning anime into another kids' fad. First Pokemon, which was huge, but now they're also doing more and more shows. Luckily, for now they have stuck to shows which also have gotten a DVD release with original uncut footage and Japanese language track, but in the future it is easy to see companies acquiring anime from the Japanese, then only releasing the TV-edited version at all. It already happened with Pokemon, and only massive fan interest saved Card Captor Sakura from the same fate.
Anime is not just for kids. In fact, only a small portion of it is even made specifically for a children's audience. In Japan anime isn't considered just "cartoon porn" or a kiddy fad like it is becoming in the US. What people need to see is that there is anime for almost everyone, and that animation is not just for kids' movies and cartoons. Once we can see that, maybe anime can really gain a large audience in the US. Steps are being taken, but if the companies aren't careful, those steps may lead anime right back to where it started, labeled instead this time as a kiddy fad. Of course, if it all ends up being for nothing, at least we can still just sit back and relax while watching our "cartoon porn."
P.S. In a fit of me not paying attention last week, I incorrectly stated that DVD stood for "Digital Video Disc." The actual acronym is "Digital Versatile Disc."