The world is in peril, a powerful Saiyan has arrived from the heavens. He vows to destroy the earth and wipe out all of humanity. But as always where there is a supervillain, there is always a hero. And this time it is Goku, a martial artist with amazing skills. From the immensely popular show Dragonball Z to the cult followings of Spiderman, Batman and Superman, cartoons are an integral part of our world today. However, these works of art and creativity are often disparaged as being childish and unsuitable for adults. I believe people who share this view could not be further from the truth. Cartoons are exceptional creations of human thought and portray genuine emotions. They can teach us a lot, not only when we are young but also later on in life. I grew up on a lot of cartoon shows that were aired on Cartoon Network and still cherish those shows to this day. I never miss any opportunity to catch an episode every now and then. I believe most cartoons do have a powerful message that the creators want to put across. A lot of times a show may just be silly and full of fun and frolic, but there is no shortage of good and mature shows that have something to say to society.
Let’s begin with Dragonball Z, a Japanese anime that took over the world. It follows the exploits and adventures of Goku, a Saiyan (a warrior alien race), who realises that he is not human only when his evil elder brother arrives on Earth with the intention of wiping out the planet and its people. Goku promises to save Earth even if that means fighting his own brother. However, he is too weak for Raditz (his evil brother). So he teams up with Piccolo, his arch rival, and their team finally beats the villain. Thus begins Dragonball Z in which Goku faces a lot of challenges but always trains very hard to push his body to the limit and get the best out of himself. Despite Herculean odds, he emerges victorious in the direst of situations. He never gives up as long as he is alive and his motivation and self-belief are laudable. Dragonball Z teaches viewers the importance of good, friendship, teamwork and dedication. It serves to inspire to not only achieve one’s dreams but be righteous and always oppose evil.
The environmental crisis is the most pertinent threat to humanity’s existence, and cartoons are not far behind to let people know that they need to take action. Captain Planet, a show aired on Cartoon Network featured a group of 5 unique individuals from various parts of the world that are given powers to take up the cause of saving Mother Earth. The show addressed various environmental ills and sensitised the viewership to how badly humans treat their own home and its living beings. This cartoon show sent a strong message to everyone watching to play their part in saving the environment.
Cartoons are also a cultural treat. They can teach us a lot about a foreign culture. Like Pocahontas, that featured a Native American setting and Mulan that was set in China, cartoons can open doors to little known cultures. And there are also examples like Mahabharata and Ramayana that are about the great Indian epics.
I firmly believe that all cartoons are definitely not mindless and dumb portrayals of unrealistic scenarios meant only for young kids. They are a potent medium for human expression. Examples are abound and all serve to point out the fact that cartoons have as much to offer as a documentary, Hollywood blockbuster or a musical. Their messages are strong and meaningful that appeal to society. After all who can forget Popeye’s famous individualistic and self-confident catchphrase “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam”?