I want to stress that this is not meant to be a generalization of Americans. This is not mean to represent all American opinions or look down on Americans in any way.
Comparing animation styles between North America and Japan would take a year's worth of posts. I'd love to go in-depth with some of those topics, and I'll surely do that at a later date. For now, I'd like to look into what most Americans expect from animation. It's definitely a lot different from what you get from the Japanese side of things.
Without naming names, I have a handful of friends that absolutely hate cartoons. While I think that's a damn shame, there simply doesn't seem to be much I can do to change their mind. They have a mentality that cartoons are for little kids, and that's all there is to it. They may have watched a few cartoons when they were younger, but since then they've grown up and moved on. We all know that when you grow up you have to stop doing fun things, of course!
To go along with people like that, there are also other people that believe cartoons are only goofy, silly fodder. They expect cartoons to be bright, colorful and jam-packed with easy to understand dialog and happy situations. If a sad or bad plot comes up, it's only because a life lesson will be taught by the end of the episode.
I want to make it very clear that I see nothing wrong with those types of cartoons. I love animation in general, and I'll give any cartoon a chance. While I love anime, I don't absolutely need my animation to go in the directions that anime does. I happen to really enjoy what anime offers, but I can also enjoy more traditional cartoons just the same.
This is where the rub comes in with American viewers. Hearing about animated programs that take on serious topics is completely foreign to them, no pun intended. After watching years of Disney content, they just don't picture another style of animation that takes a more adult approach to telling stories. Live-action shows that are heavy on sex, violence and crime are the big ratings grabbers in the states. Switch that same content to animated form and you've automatically alienated a huge part of that audience.
Again, I don't have anything against people that feel like this. That's just how things are in the states. Serious content is in the live-action realm and cartoons are light-hearted and for kids. Taking the approach of live-action shows in the states and mixing it with animation just doesn't compute. Unfortunately, it seems really tough to find a good solution to getting around that issue.
Personally, I can take any method of storytelling. Watching actors play out a make-believe murder in live-action is just as engaging as an animated cast taking it on. I don't know if that's an adult or child-like quality in myself, but I love it nonetheless.