questionable topic – uneasy matters since 2008

Cartoon rating guide for smart adults v2.0

Posted in amazing, culture, entertainment, films & animation, opinions by questionabletopic on Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why watch cartoons if you’re an adult? Because cartoons have the best scores, most interesting plots and/or most humorous dialogue, and the best “cinematography” of any visual media. The best are stunning works of art and imagination.

This is a rating guide, not a review book — hit up Google & Wikipedia, then Amazon and IMDB forums for extended analysis. Its purpose is to quickly alert you to animation you may never have heard of. It is also skewed from the perspective of an adult animation fan — a lowly-rated show may be immensely enjoyable for small children and even competently-made, but was of little interest to me; a highly-rated show will be competently-made, and may or may not be enjoyable for or even marketed to small children. Lastly, if a show has English-language versions, those are the versions I have likely watched (and I appreciate good dubbing and loathe bad dubbing).

This list covers mainly animated television series, although many films are included. I have not seen every episode of some shows rated 7 and lower and many episodes of shows rated 5 or lower; indicated ratings may change if I see new episodes of better or worse quality than those previous, or if many better or worse episodes of other shows alter the landscape.

Anything rated at least “5” is in the category of “average show worth watching, provided you have time”; you probably won’t watch re-runs, however. A typical “5” cartoon features arch-type characters and villains, with serviceable if unexceptional dialogue, animation and plots. “4”s and lower feature too much bad animation, one-dimensional characters, lousy voice-acting, plot-holes, dumbed-down or just plain stupid writing and spastic slapstick for this adult reviewer to stomach — although kids will like many of them. “3”s and lower will have the smart adult scrambling for the remote. “6”s and “7”s feature more charismatic characters, more innovative drawing and intelligent scripting than average, and anything rated “8” or better is likely to pull you in to watching a re-run while you’re channel-flipping, even if it’s well-memorized already. Anything rated “9” is truly exceptional, and perfect in nearly every way. “10”s are reserved only for those shows which, IMO, will become or already are timeless classics. Highly-rated shows generally have unique and memorable musical scores associated with them. Make an effort to see every “9” and up before you croak, and most 7s and 8s.

– “3D” indicates a computer generated style as opposed to a 2D cel-painting.
– “adult” indicates overly lewd sexual references and/or foul language. Some adult-oriented cartoons are superlative witty parodies or taut thrillers; many are rancid, fast-buck trash.
– “cards” means the show is a marketing vehicle to sell trading cards; most of these involve children with strange monster pets or summoned creatures who fight each other.
– “comedy” describes humorous shows that are neither toons nor spoofs.
– “DCAU” refers to the “DC Animated Universe” created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini.
– “east” denotes an oriental-themed samurai or martial-arts cartoon.
– “family” indicates a show with very broad appeal; it isn’t specifically written for any age group, and is neither “dumbed down” nor “sophisticated humor”.
– “fantasy” indicates the presence of magic or “chi” and/or spirts, gods, demons, undead, fantastic animals, etc, but the setting is in an otherwise more or less realistic world.
– “Ghibli” indicates the acclaimed Japanese animation studio, or to anything prior involving its founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.
– “girl” indicates the presence of important female protagonists.
– “kids” means the show is appealing to small children (whether or not dialogue is dumbed-down).
– “mecha” indicates giant robots.
– “movie” means a single, stand-along show, regardless of whether it played in theaters.
– “realistic” indicates real-world physics are observed, nobody has superpowers, and animated characters are essentially like real people and don’t take inordinate risks, speak “one-liner dialogue” or “mug for the camera”.
– “scary” means weird monsters may frighten very small children and give them nightmares, even if it’s a comedy otherwise popular with kids. I afix this term only to shows marketed toward family or children’s audiences (I take it for granted that teen- and adult-oriented shows are filled with imagery guaranteed to frighten toddlers, especially anything rated “violent”).
– “series” means plots span multiple episodes and even seasons (so they are best watched in order); lack of this term doesn’t mean, however, that all of a show’s episodes are “stand-alones”.
– “spoofs” parody cultural or other-show references which younger persons are less likely to be aware of; a kid’s cartoon which is also a spoof is likely to drag up this reviewer’s rating due to intelligent writing.
– “superhero” means some characters have extraordinary abilities or “mutant” powers which permit them to cheat real-world physics which others have to obey in an otherwise more or less real world. While many cartoons feature characters who trend in this direction, superheroes are invariably costumed protagonists who are (in)famous for their abilities.
– “toon” means real-world physics are expressly NOT observed, animals talk, characters have “three fingers & thumb” hands, gravity is defied until noticed, etc.
– “ultra-violent” shows so wallow in gore that many would consider them completely depraved.
– “violent” means there’s realistic combat with injuries and blood, and/or on-screen death, and the show is usually inappropriate for small children (the lack of this term, however, doesn’t mean that a show lacks fighting).
– “WMT” indicates Japan’s “World Masterpiece Theater”.

10 – 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother – series, family, adventure, realistic, WMT
10 – Adventures of Prince Achmed, The – movie, family, fantasy, girl, adventure
10 – Cowboy Bebop – series, sci-fi, violent, girl
10 – Future Boy Conan – series, family, adventure, Ghibli, girl
10 – Kiki’s Delivery Service – Ghibli, movie, family, girl, fantasy
10 – My Neighbor Totoro – Ghibli, movie, family, kids, girl, fantasy, adventure
10 – Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water – family, girl, violent, adventure
10 – Oban Star-Racers – series, adventure, sci-fi, girl
10 – Popeye: Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp – toon, family, fantasy, movie-short
10 – Romeo’s Blue Skies – series, family, adventure, realistic, WMT
10 – Samurai Champloo – series, spoof, violent, adventure, adult, girl, east
10 – Venture Bros., The – adult, spoof, violent
10 – Whisper of the Heart – movie, girl, family, realistic, Ghibli

9 – Avatar, The Last Airbender – series, fantasy, adventure, girl, east
9 – Beauty and the Beast – movie, Disney, fantasy, girl, family, scary
9 – Courage the Cowardly Dog – toon, family, spoof, scary
9 – FLCL (Fooly Cooly) – series, comedy, girl, sci-fi, fantasy
9 – Gauche The Cellist (Sero Hiki no Goshu) – movie, Ghibli, family, fantasy
9 – Grave of the Fireflies – movie, drama, realistic, violent, Ghibli
9 – Laputa (Castle in the Sky) – Ghibli, family, movie, adventure, girl, sci-fi
9 – Lupin III (or the Third, English dub version) – comedy, adventure, girl, spoof, adult
9 – Mysterious Cities of Gold, The – series, kids, adventure, girl, fantasy, educational
9 – Nausicaд of the Valley of the Wind – Ghibli, movie, girl, fantasy, adventure
9 – Pom Poko (The Raccoon War) – Ghibli, movie, fantasy
9 – Porko Rosso – Ghibli, movie, adventure, girl, fantasy, family
9 – Princess Mononoke – Ghibli, movie, fantasy, adventure, violent, scary, girl
9 – Rocket Power – kids, comedy, girl
9 – Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, The – kids, spoof, toon
9 – Spirited Away – Ghibli, family, movie, fantasy, girl, adventure, scary
9 – Superman, The Animated Series – superhero, DCAU, girl, family
9 – Teen Titans – spoof, superhero, DCAU, girl, family

8 – Akira – movie, sci-fi, violent
8 – Batman Beyond – superhero, DCAU, sci-fi
8 – Batman, The Animated Series – superhero, DCAU
8 – Cat Returns, The – movie, Ghibli, fantasy, girl, family
8 – Full Metal Alchemist – series, fantasy, violent, comedy, east
8 – Futurama – adult, spoof, sci-fi, toon
8 – Gargoyles – series, fantasy, mecha, violent, girl, Disney
8 – Ghostbusters, Extreme – fantasy, scary, comedy
8 – Ghostbusters, The Real (seasons 1-3 only) – kids, fantasy, scary, comedy
8 – Heavy Metal – movie, fantasy, sci-fi, comedy, violent, adult, girl
8 – Howl’s Moving Castle – Ghibli, movie, girl, fantasy, violent
8 – Iron Giant, The – mecha, comedy, family, movie
8 – Jackie Chan Adventures – family, fantasy, girl, comedy
8 – Justice League, Unlimited – superhero, sci-fi, DCAU
8 – Kappa Mikey – spoof, toon, girl
8 – Lilo & Stitch (animated TV) – kids, sci-fi, comedy, girl, Disney
8 – Mulan – movie, fantasy, girl, Disney
8 – My Life as a Teenage Robot – kids, toon, sci-fi, spoof, girl, superhero
8 – Pinky and the Brain – kids, toon, spoof
8 – ReBoot – toon, fantasy, spoof, 3D
8 – Static Shock – kids, superhero, DCAU
8 – Star Wars: Clone Wars – series, sci-fi, fantasy, adventure, violent
8 – Valhalla – movie, kids, fantasy, girl

7 – Afro-Samurai – series, east, adult, ultra-violent
7 – Batman, The – series, superhero
7 – Ben 10 – kids, sci-fi
7 – Big O, The – series, mecha, sci-fi, violent
7 – Bleach – series, sci-fi, fantasy, violent, comedy, scary, east
7 – Case Closed (Detective Conan) – series, family, mystery, adventure
7 – Daria – girl, comedy, realistic, adult
7 – Dexter’s Lab – kids, toon, spoof, sci-fi, girl
7 – Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig – series, sci-fi, violent, girl
7 – Infinite Ryvius – series, sci-fi, drama, girl
7 – Invader Zim – toon, kids, spoof, sci-fi
7 – Korgoth of Barbaria – adult, spoof, fantasy
7 – Martin Mystery – sci-fi, comedy, scary, girl
7 – Megas XLR – kids, mecha, spoof, girl
7 – Naruto – series, east, violent, girl, fantasy, comedy
7 – Outlaw Star – series, sci-fi, comedy, girl, adventure
7 – Popeye – toon, family, spoof, girl
7 – Powerpuff Girls, The – kids, toon, spoof, girl, superhero
7 – Robot Chicken – toon, spoof, adult
7 – Rock & Rule – movie, fantasy, sci-fi, girl
7 – Samurai Jack – kids, sci-fi, superhero, adventure, east
7 – Scrapped Princess – series, fantasy, sci-fi, girl, adventure, scary
7 – Shuriken School – kids, toon, spoof, girl, east
7 – The Tick – toon, kids, spoof, superhero
7 – Time Warp Trio – kids, fantasy, educational
7 – Trigun – series, sci-fi, violent, comedy, girl
7 – Tutenstein – kids, toon, adventure, girl
7 – W.I.T.C.H. – girl, fantasy, comedy
7 – Yin Yang Yo! – kids, toon, Disney, spoof, east

6 – A.T.O.M – kids, superhero, sci-fi
6 – Aeon Flux – series, sci-fi, ultra-violent, adult
6 – Aladdin – kids, toon, fantasy, Disney
6 – American Dragon Jake Long – kids, superhero, east
6 – Beastwars – toon, mecha, 3D
6 – Blu Gender – series, sci-fi, mecha, violent, drama, girl
6 – Danny Phantom – toon, sci-fi, spoof, girl
6 – Escaflowne – series, fantasy, mecha, violent
6 – Eureka Seven – series, mecha, violent, sci-fi
6 – Fafner in the Azure (Dead Aggressor) – series, sci-fi, mecha, violent
6 – Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, The – kids, toon, spoof, girl
6 – Hercules – kids, fantasy, superhero, comedy, Disney
6 – Hobbit, The – fantasy, adventure, family, movie
6 – InuYasha – series, east, violent, fantasy, girl
6 – Johnny Bravo – toon, spoof
6 – Kim Possible – comedy, girl, sci-fi, Disney
6 – Legion of Superheroes – kids, superhero, DCAU(?)
6 – Mar – toon, fantasy, comedy, east
6 – My Dad the Rock Star – kids, spoof, girl
6 – Ninja Scroll – movie, adult, ultra-violent, fantasy, east
6 – One Piece – kids, toon, adventure
6 – Paranoia Agent – drama, violent, comedy
6 – Recess: School’s Out – movie, kids
6 – S-CRY-ed – sci-fi, mecha, superhero, east
6 – Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! – kids, toon, mecha, superhero, scary
6 – Tenchi Muyo! – series, fantasy, girl
6 – Legend of Tarzan – kids, toon, girl, adventure
6 – TaleSpin – kids, toon, girl, adventure, Disney
6 – Thunderbirds – series, adventure, comedy
6 – Totally Spies – comedy, girl
6 – Witch Hunter Robin – series, fantasy, girl, violent
6 – Wolf’s Rain – series, fantasy, violent, sci-fi
6 – Xiaolin Showdown – kids, toon, fantasy, comedy, east
6 – Zeta Project, The – kids, girl, superhero, sci-fi, DCAU

5 – Beavis and Butthead – toon, adult, spoof
5 – Berserk – series, adult, violent, fantasy
5 – Beyblade – kids, east
5 – Blue Submarine #6 – series, sci-fi, realistic, violent
5 – Buzz Lightyear of Star Command – kids, toon, sci-fi, Disney, 3D
5 – Digimon – kids, toon, cards, adventure
5 – Dragonball Z – series, east, violent, fantasy, comedy
5 – Duck Dodgers – toon, spoof, sci-fi
5 – Duel Masters – kids, cards, spoof
5 – Get Ed – toon, kids, sci-fi
5 – Gigantor – kids, mecha
5 – Goof Troop – kids, toon, Disney
5 – Gotham Girls – series, girl, superhero, DCAU
5 – Gundam Wing – series, sci-fi, mecha, violent
5 – Hey Arnold! – kids, comedy
5 – Horus, Prince of the Sun – movie, Ghibli, fantasy, adventure
5 – Johnny Quest, Real Adventures of – adventure, girl, fantay
5 – Metalocalypse – adult, spoof, ultra-violent
5 – Mobile Suit Gundam – series, mecha
5 – Proud Family, The – comedy, girl
5 – Pucca – kids, toon, girl, east
5 – Record of the Lodoss Wars – series, fantasy, violent
5 – Reign: The Conqueror – series, fantasy, violent, adult
5 – Rocko’s Modern Life – kids, toon
5 – Sailor Moon – series, kids, east, girl, fantasy, comedy
5 – Silverwing – series, kids, scary, adventure
5 – Samurai Deeper Kyo – series, fantasy, violent, east
5 – Shinzo – series, kids, fantasy, cards, east
5 – Skyland – sci-fi, adventure, girl, 3D
5 – Speed Racer – adventure
5 – Spongebob Squarepants – kids, toon
5 – Swat Kats – kids, toon, fantasy
5 – The Secret Show – kids, spoof, sci-fi, superhero
5 – The X’s – toon, sci-fi
5 – Time Squad – toon, spoof, kids, educational
5 – Timon and Pumba – kids, toon, Disney
5 – Trinity Blood – series, vampires, violent
5 – Wizards – fantasy, movie, violent
5 – Xyber 9 – mecha, sci-fi
5 – Yakkity Yak – kids, toon
5 – YuYu Hakusho – series, east, girl, fantasy
5 – Zatch Bell! – kids, cards, comedy

4 – Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The – kids, toon, 3D
4 – Animaniacs (without Pinky and the Brain) – kids, spoof, toon
4 – Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo – toon, kids, spoof
4 – Camp Lazlo – kids, toon, girl
4 – Class of 3000 – kids, comedy, sci-fi, girl
4 – Codename: Kids Next Door – kids, toon, girl
4 – Corneil & Bernie – kids, toon
4 – Dragon Booster, kids, fantasy, cards(?)
4 – Dungeons & Dragons – kids, fantasy
4 – Emperor’s New School, The – toon, kids, Disney
4 – Family Guy – adult, spoof
4 – Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends – toon, kids, fantasy
4 – Growing up Creepie – girl, fantasy, comedy
4 – Idaten Jump – kids, toon
4 – Johnny Quest (original) – kids, adventure, violent
4 – Kong: The Animated Series – kids, fantasy,
4 – Little Mermaid, The – kids, toon, fantasy, Disney, girl
4 – Lord of the Rings (Fellowship, Return of the King) – fantasy, movies, violent
4 – ЎMucha Lucha! – kids, toon, superhero
4 – Mummy, The – kids, adventure, scary
4 – Pepper Ann – girl, Disney
4 – Pokemon – toon, kids, cards
4 – Rugrats – kids, comedy
4 – Scooby Do – kids, toon
4 – South Park – toon, adult, spoof
4 – Special Duty Combat Unit: Shinesman – sci-fi, comedy
4 – Super Milk-chan Show, The – toon, kids, spoof
4 – The Secret Show – toon, kids, spoof
4 – Thundercats – kids, fantasy, girl
4 – Voltron – mecha, sci-fi, kids
4 – Yugi Oh! – kids, toon, cards

3 – Aqua Teen Hunger Force – toon, adult, spoof
3 – Dora the Explorer – kids, toon, educational, girl
3 – CatDog – kids, toon
3 – Dragon Tales – kids, toon, fantasy, girl
3 – Ed, Ed & Eddy – kids, toon
3 – Fantastic Four – superhero
3 – Flintstones, The – kids, toon, girl
3 – G.I. Joe – kids, action
3 – Grossology – kids, toon
3 – He-Man & Masters of the Universe – kids, fantasy, superhero
3 – Inspector Gadget – kids, toon
3 – Kenny the Shark – toon, kids
3 – Krypto the Superdog – toon, superhero, kids
3 – Legend of the Dragon – toon, superhero, girl, east
3 – Magic School Bus – kids, fantasy
3 – Mike, Lu & Og – kids, toon, girl
3 – My Gym Partner is a Monkey – kids, toon
3 – Prince of Tennis, The – series, girl
3 – Proud Family, The – toon, Disney, spoof
3 – N.A.S.C.A.R. Racers – kids, girl, sci-fi
3 – Spider Riders – fantasy, kids
3 – Spiderman – superhero
3 – Superfriends – kids, superhero, girl
3 – Superman: Brainiac Attack – movie, superhero
3 – Top Cat – kids, toon
3 – Tracy McBean – kids, toon, girl
3 – Transformers (various) – toon, mecha
3 – Ultimate Avengers – movies, superhero, sci-fi, girl, violent

2 – Amazing Chan Clan – kids, toon
2 – Captain Planet – kids, toon, superhero
2 – Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos – kids
2 – Frisky Dingo – adult, spoof, violent
2 – Home Movies – toon
2 – Jabberjaw – kids, toon
2 – Little Bear – kids, toon
2 – MaggieBeast – kids, toon, girl
2 – Sealab 2021 – adult, spoof

1 – Assy McGee – adult, toon, violent
1 – Gary Coleman Show – kids, comedy
1 – Squidbillies – adult, toon, violent

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5 Responses

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  1. Matthew Gee Kwun Chan said, on Friday, May 9, 2008 at 11:00

    Enjoying Time Warp Trio

  2. tetris11 said, on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 12:44

    I kind of went off this after Avatar: The Last Airbender finished (no season 4)…..

    But who actually writes this guide?
    Is it just re-editted by many different people over the years?

    This one seems to be the most recent, but who is the original author of this wonderful guide?

  3. questionabletopic said, on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 17:56

    @tetris11:
    dunno. it’s just a copy-pasted article.
    maybe you’ll be lucky trying to google the phrase ”
    Cartoon rating guide for smart adults v 3.0″

  4. glee music said, on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 9:13

    Youre so appropriate. Im there with you. Your weblog is absolutely value a study if anybody comes across it. Im fortunate I did since now Ive received a whole new view of this. I didnt realise that this problem was so critical and so universal. You certainly place it in point of view for me.

  5. Inés said, on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 2:41

    Being 2011 I would now add Phineas and Ferb to the list. I’m 25 years old, about to become an IT engineer, and totally love that show.


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