1. Humor. Mainly because Asian countries seem to run with a completely different sense of humor than at least me. They seem to fancy the 'fall on your ***' sense of humor and I haven't been into that since around fifth grade. Either a character says or does something, usually to a pretty girl, which backfires onto him in some way, and his utter lack of being able to make up snazzy comebacks on the go makes him grin madly while blushing and sweating. Charming, but not very funny.
Most of this comes back to bad anime. Pick a western sitcom at random; what is the likelihood it will have quality humor? There are a lot of comedic animes out there that just aren't funny, just like western television.
Some of it has to do with cultural references that don't make sense to foreign audiences.
Some of it has to do with different visual cues used in teh cultures. Bleeding from the mouth is often used in western television (and somewhat in anime) to indicate severe injury, even if such a wound wouldn't normally cause bleeding from the mouth. A bloody nose is used to indicate arousal in many anime, and jokes that play off this point require an understanding of this superstition/belief.
2. Facial expressions. I mentioned it briefly in the previous point, but anime drawers seem to want to exaggerate everything about a character's facial expression. If they blush, they don't just turn pink, they turn tomato red, sometimes even blue/black(?) and start to sweat heavily, all while trying to deflect the shame with a facial expression that somewhat resembles xD
, but with teeth visible. As well-drawn as animes can get, it seems like facial expressions were last on the budget list, or maybe not. I don't know, I just know it looks silly.
When overdone, usually evident of--again--bad anime.
However, you should know that a lot of anime has influences from early western animations. Those Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Roadrunner cartoons where characters expression and behaviors are hugely exaggerated.
3. Avantgarde or crazy? A lot of animes feature some sequences wherein the viewer is bombarded with audio-visual stimuli through crazy electronic sounds accompanied by a character yelling and/or flashy colors. Lots of flashy colors. Sometimes enough flashy colors to make me think that either the drawers were using illicit substances during the coloring process, or that Asian people are mildly colorblind in general. On the more detailed animes, these crazy scenes are often replaced by a very hallucinogenic dream scene where crazy stuff happens.
There is nothing that can be said to defend this. The Japanese are fudging crazy. The Gainax staff probably woke up one day in a hotel room to find 3 empty bags of coke, 2 dead hookers, and 1 script for Evangelion.
4. Voice-overs. Most of the animes I've enjoyed have been dubbed ones. There's something about the Japanese language that just seems... angry. Constantly. Either they're yelling at each other like they're severely ****** off, or they're just yelling like they're deaf. Seriously, the dB in some scenes makes an F-16 firing up sound meek. If you've ever heard an F-16 firing up its engine, you'd know how serious I am about it. It seems like when they're surprised, they draw out their vowels for too long. Gasping, panting and moaning sounds like they're reaching sexual climax every single time. It was hot at first, but not so much now.
I've never noticed anything like that. Japanese is another language though, so it is going to sound different.
Maybe anime is good simply because it's anime? It's cult?
Those people definitely exist, and I loathe them greatly. Those are Otaku.
There are animes I've enjoyed, like Avatar and Paprika, but it definitely hasn't been the epiphany that others seem to have received. Maybe it's because I'm from that last generation that avoided the whole Pokémon era. Maybe it's just because my sense of humor is different (I know it is, it ties into my nationality). I consider anime to be cartoons and that's why I was so curious to see people talk about it as if it was finer art.
I think it has largely to do with two factors.
1. You're probably seeing lots of garbage. I know this is the kind of excuse that can be easily overused to defend anything, but most of the anime that gets exported is the anime that sells well to one of two demographics. Either it's targeted to kids (the obvious pokemon, digimon, etc.) or it's targeted to Otaku who will buy anything with the word Japanese on it. This is because most western adults hold the view that comics and cartoons are for kids; so the result is that more mature series are not often exported.
2. Some of it is acquired taste. I don't want to sound overly fancy, but the most accurate phrase I can think of is that "you need to develop your palate." Your first time trying anything, even if it's the best that category has to offer, probably isn't going to allow you to appreciate or even like it. This Streetfighter video
may look somewhat impressive knowing nothing about SF, but it becomes even more impressive when you understand the mechanics of the game.