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Nostalgic Cartoons: What Do They Mean to You?

Most of you reading this right now will understand that warm, fuzzy feeling that is nostalgia. The one thing that makes you feel nostalgic instantly is a childhood cartoon. Recently, Avatar: The Last Airbender was released on Netflix. Kids who were growing up in the early 2000s was hit with a pang of memorable flashbacks. For some, that feeling of sentimental happiness holds different meanings that have inspired or even shaped their perceptions towards life today.

Photo by Cartoon Network

From the perspective of one of the 2000s’ kids that I have interviewed, Ethan, nostalgia for him means courage. “When I think of a cartoon, Courage the Cowardly Dog comes to mind. It brings back many childhood memories,he said. Courage the Cowardly Dog was a 1996 children’s horror-comedy cartoon on Cartoon Network, which centered on Courage the Dog, saving his owners from various dangers. Although the cartoon had frightening imagery, the message behind the horror-comedy cartoon taught that “fear is nothing but in our own minds.”

When looking back at the cartoons we grew up watching, the nostalgic feeling gives us a mood boost, or in this case, a courage boost. According to The American Journal of Psychology, nostalgia can be more of a coping strategy to implement, thus increasing support during a challenging time.

Nostalgia can also be inspiring. Digital artist Angel grew up watching cartoons just like any other kid, but the one that brings more nostalgia is the 1998 all-female superhero cartoon The Powerpuff Girls. “Every now and then, I look back to how my art all began because of The Powerpuff Girls. Without it, I would not have started showing my art or even considered digital art,” she mentioned. Through this, we can see that nostalgia possesses that sentimental feeling of the happy memories we held as a child, where our inspiration comes within our own memories.

Photo by Cartoon Network

Nostalgia to others may bring back feelings of pride, especially when revisiting memories of watching cartoons with accurate representations of their culture. Avatar: The Last Airbender, is the one cartoon that brings nostalgia to 96’ baby Audrey. A cartoon based on different Asian cultures was the main highlight of the show.  “For me, the fact that I could understand all the words that were in Mandarin from Avatar: The Last Airbender made me excited every time I watched it. Even until now, I still enjoy that feeling,” she said. A cartoon that many young adults grew up watching explains why that show brings so much nostalgia, especially when they feel their culture being represented on a western-based network.

Photo by Nickelodeon

Ultimately, nostalgia means different things to different people. The basics of it being an emotion we feel when reminiscing on the memories are the ones that hold the true meaning of nostalgia.

By: Ashley Teoh


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