...and, wait a minute, in talking of visual aesthetics, I'd actually chalk-up Layton to French animated stylings way more than Japanese (which could be a point of appeal for non-J-ers).
Which brings us back to whole ignorance thing. The visual style used for JRPGs is quite diverse. But you tell the right person it's from Japan and they poo poo it no matter which country's artistic style was most influential in its development.
They can be. I'm kinda deviating here...but... Some games make a blatant effort to be something other than J (Layton), but I can't help but think how ...ubiquitous "anime" styles are in Japan - it seems if you're a cartoonist in that country, you ARE drawing anime's big eyes, full and colourful hairdos, and whatever else. I personally find American cartoons more diverse in terms of style at times; even Japanese realism tends to look unquestionably anime -- in fact, have they ever made a cartoon that *wasn't* anime-esque? (as is, FF titles containing almost impossible looking humans at times, and Prof Layton titles squeezed some anime broads into their title's youthful females).
Then I stop and question -- is this all a mere matter of perspective?
Anime is sort of interesting in that a lot of the common features you see in it aren't really limited to anime. I don't know a lot about cartoons in general, but I think what you see in a lot of Western animation is like, heavily rooted in Chuck Jones and Walt Disney. Which wasn't that dissimilar from what you saw, IDK, from Osamu Tezuka (Lion King being a shitty ripoff of Kimba notwithstanding).
Although I probably would also raise the point that I think anime's just gotten really bad looking lately. I don't really watch a lot of it anymore thanks to my lack of cable, but it's like, yeah, there's really great looking stuff like Ghost in the Shell, but then you also get stuff like Full Metal Alchemist that's pretty generic looking (albeit not badly animated), or Naruto which is BARELY ANIMATED AT ALL apparently I mean seriously 50% of an episode will just be closeups of eyes shifting back and forth or dramatic pauses where nothing happens.
Also I think a lot of Westerners tend to call everything from Japan anime even if it isn't. Jack Layton was brought up as an example of being closer to French animation. Kaneko's art is... idk something between modernist and art deco. Legend of Mana and Romancing Song were pretty much based in like, Indo-European folk art. And Odin Sphere seems REALLY heavily inspired by Indonesian shadow puppetry. I've heard them all described as anime, though. There is an anime influence in a lot of JRPG art, but there's an anime influence on a lot of Western art as well. I wouldn't say that MOST JRPGs have a hardcore anime style in the same way that IDK Tales does.