The basic definition or description of anime is any cartoon TV series or movie that is made in Japan. The word “anime” is actually a derivation of the word “animation.”
There are some unique characteristics of Japanese anime – the characters have very large eyes and they have spiky hair. Most of the characters are also sometimes sexually ambiguous in terms of their looks because most male characters, especially the protagonists have a girlish facial quality. But anime is different from the cartoons that originate from the West. Anime does not usually rely on humor, slapstick or an oversimplification of what is good and evil. Anime offer complex characters that slowly evolve as the series continues. They are also faced with real moral dilemmas and can be quite serious sometimes.
Anime is a very Japanese art form and just because it is seen as cartoons doesn’t mean that it is just solely for children. While there are indeed some anime that are directed towards children and the youth, most anime series actually have adults as their main audience.
Manga is a word that is also typically used when talking about anime but anime and manga are two different things. Manga actually refers to Japanese comics but the two forms still have a very close relationship. One can consider manga as the book form of anime and in fact a large number of anime series actually started out as manga, for example, Ranma ½. People who are die-hard fans of anime and manga are called “otaku.”