If you live in America, it's easy to see that animated films are dominated by computer generated imagery. It's been that way for a number of years now, and it doesn't seem like it's a trend that's going to stop anytime soon. I can definitely appreciate the work that goes into computer animated features, but there's just something about it that doesn't sit right with me. I think those CG features lack a lot of charm...a lot of warmth.
Even with American TV cartoons, there's a mix of CG and hand drawn. Some series' are fighting back against the trend of computer animation, but it's still not like it used to be back in the day. It's clear that computer animation has a number of advantages to traditional animation, and that all plays into the decisions of what makes it to air and what doesn't. If a series can be made cheaply and quickly, computer animation has to be a factor.
I think that's why I have such an appreciation for anime. Now don't get me wrong, I know a lot of anime features rely heavily on computers. Hell, most shows are done with nothing but computer work. The thing is, in America we see computer-created series' and films that strive for a CG look. In Japan, animators aim to make their work look as close to hand-drawn animation as they can. That doesn't happen by accident. A ton of painstaking work goes into those features to make that visual result stand out.
There's just something very organic about anime...something so beautiful. It's almost like some American animation houses have stopped taking pride in their creations. They're just pumping out feature after feature with the next best thing in CG animation. What was an eye-opening and interesting visual approach so many years ago is now the standard. It just doesn't seem to do anything for me anymore.
Anime never gives me that feeling. I'm always humbled and very impressed by what anime features pull off. I repeatedly see anime features that wow me with new techniques and visual styles. It's these sort of things that show me just how much more there is left to the more traditional style of animation.
BONUS - If you don't mind a few spoilers, there's an episode of Birdy the Mighty: Decode that really shows how amazing anime visuals can be. This kind of animation seriously gives me goosebumps.