Don't dare call them mere cartoons. To its cultish fandom, this medium is known as "anime." Their creators, like Hayo Miyazaki, Yatoshi Kon and Osamu Tezuka, are considered geniuses on the level of Chuck Jones and Walt Disney. Movies like SPIRITED AWAY and AKIRA and series such as Cowboy Bepop and Ranma 1/2 are considered classic achievements. And their dedicated/demented fans go by the Japanese term "otaku."
These people take their anime seriously. For example...When was the last time you saw crowds participating in Bugs Bunny lookalike contests? Or ruthlessly competing in Popeye trivia? Or paying big money for rare LILO & STITCH material, downloaded from the internet off bootleg Far East laserdiscs and edited and translated by obsessed fans in home computers?