Getting this straight first of all: Japanese people use ‘anime’ for animation from all countries, but this is irrelevant. If it were the definition used in the West, there’d already be a word for it: “cartoon”. SpongeBob SquarePants is a cartoon. Avatar is a cartoon. K-ON! is a cartoon. The primary use of ‘anime’ is to specify we are talking about the Japanese subset of cartoons. The reasons I see, firstly, is that the specification has become meaningful due to the distinctive animation techniques and culture developed in Japan. Secondly, having to spell out “Japanese animation” all the time is unpractical.
IMHO: style doesn’t make something japanimation. TV anime started out with large similarities to Disney films; does this make early Disney works anime? Authors and stores may use the word liberally to reach out to current anime fans with Western works likely to appeal to them and I think it is fair. However, if target audience defined what a work truly is, then I think the restriction to “Western anime fans of today” prevents the equation from having more than marketing purposes. What about aforementioned Disney works from before the 70s, very popular in Japan? What about so-called “OEL manga” that would actually never do well with Japanese manga fans?
Ultimately, nothing of this matters. Avatar may be American animation, but does it take away credit from it? Hell no. The Breaker is a manwha; does it mean it can’t appeal to manga fans? Why? Due to the definition I find more accurate, I’d have to say that RWBY isn’t an anime. But whether or not this statement is true:
Unless life (or laziness) gets the better of me, I should be posting miscellaneous thoughts on Ping Pong after it ends. I also intend to write on Blame! — just a few words, but please look forward to that. I have a draft on something along the lines of “do good things come out of anime creators disregarding their audience?”, which should be published fairly quickly if I do decide to use it.