In terms of animation styles, there are three heavy hitters that have successfully dominated the market since the 1930s: Looney Tunes, Disney, and anime. While anime is a genre, Looney Tunes and Disney are brands. However, both brands offer distinct and easily recognizable styles. Their respective styles have proved so popular over the years that many others have tried to copy them.

If you had to choose between the three, which would be your favorite? Looney Tunes-style animation is still developed today, but it is nowhere near as popular as Disney-style animation and Japanese anime. In that sense, the competition for animation domination is really a competition between Western and Eastern preferences.

1. Looney Tunes Animation

Looney Tunes was the creation of Warner Bros. Studios. Warner Bros. continually churned out Looney Tunes shorts from 1930 to 1969. They also added Merrie Melodies in 1931, effectively combining it with Looney Tunes from its earliest days.

The signature of this animation style is slapstick humor. If nothing else, Looney Tunes-style animation always goes for the joke. Its characters find themselves in perilous situations that would end in tragedy if they were real life. But through slapstick heroics and actions that defy the very laws of nature, characters always escape with their lives and honor intact.

Another key component of this style of animation is that it utilizes animal characters almost exclusively. There are human characters from time to time, but the big names are animal-based characters like Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Foghorn Leghorn, Sylvester the Cat, and Tweety Bird.

2. Disney Animation

When Walt Disney first got into the animation game, he found himself working in an emerging field that was still seeking to define itself. His first commercial character was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, designed to help Universal Pictures compete against Felix the Cat and Krazy Cat. You know the rest of the story. Disney eventually let Oswald go and turned his attention to Mickey Mouse.

Disney would go on to dominate American animation with feature films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella. The Disney style of animation ran the gamut from Looney Tunes-style animal characters to realistically portray humans. Disney also put a lot more effort into storytelling. For that reason, feature films were preferred over shorts.

3. Japanese Animation

Animation was born in Japan about the same time it started here. Japan’s earliest animated films and shorts were more similar to Looney Tunes-style animation than Disney, with the possible exception of a heavier influence on human characters. By the late 1930s however, Japanese animators wanted to separate their work from anything in the West. What we now consider anime was born.

Modern anime is unique and distinct in so many ways. It is easily identified on sight, though it’s difficult to truly understand what it’s all about without getting involved in the stories. Anime stories are so compelling that brands like Umai Clothing can sell original anime artwork and still command a significant audience for their clothing and apparel lines.

Anime’s signature is realism. In both artistic expression and stories, creators strive to present their ideas in ways that strike at the heart of what fans experience in their daily lives.

If you had to choose from among the three, which would be your favorite? If revenue were the deciding factor, the race would be a neck-and-neck run between Disney and anime. If the styles were ranked according to the nostalgia factor, American audiences would probably lean more toward Disney and Looney Tunes. In the end though, it doesn’t matter. It is all good.