Anime refers to a stylized (and usually Japanese) form of two and three-dimensional illustration and animation. Anime was officially recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Education as an important Japanese form of artistic expression in the year 2000, according to The Anime Art Museum.
The term “anime” comes from a shortening of the word “アニメーション” (animēshon), which is itself a loan word from the English “animation.” In the West, the phrase “anime” had for a while been used as a way to distinguish Japanese cartoons from products made in the USA but has more recently been used to more broadly describe a certain style of hyper-expressive animation rather than to denote its country of origin.
It wouldn’t be entirely correct to say that “anime” and “cartoons” are the same thing: “cartoons” implies a certain thematic and stylistic simplicity, whereas anime ranges vastly in its subject matter and sophistication.
Anime as its own distinct style has some notable features: people are usually not drawn in realistic proportions, characters usually have oversized eyes and exaggerated hairstyles and facial features. Anime stories are often (but not always!) fantastical, romantic, and over-the-top.
Anime is often separated into the same sub-genres as manga, like the aforementioned shojo and shonen genres. Like with manga, there is anime geared towards adults and children that spans aesthetics ranging from horror to sci-fi to action to romance. Like with manga, there is also a robust erotic subindustry.