Despite decades of evidence many people persist in believing that all animation is light entertainment. At the heart of this appears to be two issues; firstly a conflation of the cartoon and animation art forms and secondly that few western animators show interest in creating anything else.
Let’s start with two examples:
Both show the protagonist of an animated sci-fi talking to a robotic best friend. Where they differ is that Futurama (above) is a sentimental comedy while Ergo Proxy (below) is a philosophical thriller. Both are animated but only one is a cartoon.
In sixteenth century Italy “cartoon” meant a sketch that will later be painted over. In more recent centuries it has been adapted to refer to pictures in newspapers that will be thrown away at the end of the day. In short, disposable art.
Animation on the other hand literally means “creating life”. Obviously the images have to move but more subtly most of the artistic considerations are in how to use the movement to show differences in personality.
Cartoons do not need to be animated and animation doesn’t need to be made up of cartoons.