My Descent into Insanity: One Man’s Research into Moe

Topic started by Jecht on Nov. 7, 2010. Last post by thekokapelli 3 years, 6 months ago.
Post by Jecht (39 posts) See mini bio Level 9

This will be part one.
I was sitting in front of my computer at work one day when I said to myself “ I know what moe is but what IS it really?”. This idea was the spark to the flame that started my research into “what is moe”. Little did I know that this would be only floor one in my Dante’s Inferno journey through the hell that is moe.

Part1: I read Daryl Surat’s article on moe. Then I read the follow up articles from fans. This gave me an understanding and also told me that some of the shows I have already watched have moe elements ie: Haruhi, Tenchi, Black Lagoon, Kannagi etc. So I decided to watch a full on moe show. This is where I made my 1st mistake.

My 1st level of hell, Pretty Sammy. I found this in my giant Tenchi folder on my computer. I sat there starring at my computer thinking “one part of moe is magical girls and I like Tenchi, so im going to watch a magical girl show with Tenchi characters”. The show starts and a part of me dies, I understand that most of moe over sexualizes everything and most of moe is about lolis but Sasami is around 14. This brings up one part that hurts my soul; I don’t understand the loli thing. After enduring all 3 OVAs I crawled a way having a better understanding, but I felt I need to know more. I don’t like hurting myself with bad plots, horrible dubbing and pulling my brain apart questions like “why did they feel they had to have a panty flash at that moment” but I need to know why people care about shows like K-on.

Question> what are your thoughts on moe? And can you help me understand the moe movement?    

Post by adoggz (210 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Moe? Hes a pretty good guy. Gets tricked by Bart too much but i like him........... but really I just consider it a creepy term for cuteness and I find some stuff that people think is cute nasty (babies) and like other stuff people think is cute (kitties) so I like some stuff that is moe and dislike other moe stuff.
Post by Rokujo (100 posts) See mini bio Level 10
Post by PenguinDust (1,008 posts) See mini bio Level 13

 Will the real moe please stand up?
 Will the real moe please stand up?
Black Lagoon is moe?  Are you referring to the twins?  I don't consider them moe, although they are darkly depicted loli archetypes.  One does not necessarily follow the other, in my opinion.  The purest definition of moe is as an obsessive quality often represented through a character or type of character.  Using that definition, I think Black Lagoon could qualify as moe under the category of "girls with guns".  However, I believe that the word has come to personify cuteness in design rather than a broader portrait of any individual focus.  So, when people talk about moe today, series such as K-On!, Lucky Star, and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya immediately come to mind, as well as characters like Hatsune Miku and the Touhou games' girls.  Youth is always a factor when publicizing a person's or character's appeal, and as such, it weighs heavily in what's thought of as moe.  Puppies and kittens are cuter than dogs and cats.  And, so elementary and middle school age characters are cuter than older ones.  That's the basic understanding even before those same characters are potentially sexualized.  Much like loli isn't necessarily moe, moe doesn't need to be sexualized in order to be moe.   As salacious as the after-market has transformed the character, there's really nothing offensively sexual about the Cardcaptor Sakura series, and I would consider her moe.  Quite the opposite, in my opinion, since she seems to exist in a world without carnality.  But, that's not true for every show.  The fundamental truth is that sex (as fantasy) sells.  In a perfect concoction of the marketable qualities of cuteness and titillation, the last few years saw a preponderance of sexy moe such as Strike Witches and Needless.  The latter being a parody of the absurd limits the genre has reached.  I'm not going to argue the rightness or wrongness of it since each of us have our own levels of tolerance for sex, violence and profanity.  All I will say is that my own level isn't terribly offended by every questionable depiction of a moe character.  I am usually more disturbed by excessive violence than I am by sexuality, and I accept that I am probably in the minority with that opinion.  I can acknowledge that the character design is meant to be sexual without it becoming erotic, if that makes any sense.   In a similar fashion, I can accept a painting as "art" without having any opinion or emotional attachment to it.    
Save the moe, save the world. 
Save the moe, save the world. 
I'm not sure what caused the moe movement.  I don't understand the importance of "cuteness" in Japanese culture, either.  I just know it exists.  Perhaps, there were changes in Japanese society which people found disturbing, and moe provided an escape from those anxieties.  Maybe the societal divisions between the sexes, or the strict and stressful educational process in Japan creates a desire to relive those days again vicariously through the stories of these young people.  In the West, that longing spawns movies like Freaky Friday, 17 Again and all the other body switching films plus the cheerleader fantasy icon.   As I write this, I can see a Comic Vine link with a photo of the cast from Heroes.  Hayden Panettiere's character in that show could also be viewed as moe in the same vein as Miyuki Takara from Lucky Star
To add further confusion to the lexicon, there is the bishoujo or "pretty girl" genre.  These characters might not necessarily be moe, but they can be.  For example, I wouldn't consider Rangiku Matsumoto of Bleach a moe character but I would categorize her as a bishoujo type character.  On the same note, Lala Satalin Deviluke of To Love Ru would fit both definitions.  Looking over this now, I am probably guilty of further muddying the distinction of the word, so perhaps, like obscenity, it's a "you know it when you see it" thing.  
Post by hitsusatsu11 (10,747 posts) See mini bio Level 20
K on is good
Post by Gaff (213 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@Jecht I'd love to get a link for Surat's article, if it's at all possible? Google is failing me, hard.

Anyway, on moé:
I always thought moé was athat was
Post by Jecht (39 posts) See mini bio Level 9

You’re a wise man/women (sorry im not sure) mr/ms Penguin (why is that not the 1 time I called a penguin wise?) Let us go down your post. You are right Black Lagoon is pushing the idea of moe. The twins ark was the closest thing I can come up with. But made a really good point, cute alone moe doesn’t make. I have debated the idea to moe to a lot of people and you have the soundest idea. Not everything cute is moe and not all moe is sexual in nature. The line of sexual and not is a thin line that varies from person to person (just look at anything on, people can sexual anything… and I mean anything) For example I am sure there was someone out there thinking the twins from Black Lagoon was hot (I am so glad the show didn’t go there and in fact they went the more human route when Rock freaked out because of the girl’s “gift”) Anyway back to the subject at hand, moe is a hard thing to pinpoint. Could anyone that is dizzy and cute be considered moe? By that reasoning is that why people loved Jessica Simpson?   Maybe it’s the simplicity of the characters that people love.   More maybe moe is just a phase anime is going to overcome and in the next 10 years (im really hoping the next phase is hyper violence, we haven’t had anything like Fist of the Northstar in years)  


That article was in Otaku USA some time ago. The magazine had a big “what are your thoughts on moe” after Mr. Surat blasted moe the month before. I guess that’s why they let him write for the magazine, it really got a lot of people reading.


Post by Gaff (213 posts) See mini bio Level 11
@Jecht: While it's hard to stick a definitive definition on most terms anime-related (just look at the Zettai Ryouiki page here on the wiki or watch Minoru's speech on tsundere here) I always thought of moé as a quality in a person that inspires an urge to protect and / or shelter, in short dote. Yeah, it's not a very elaborate definition, but that's my opinion. 
And argh, print only, I presume?   
   Might I suggest the various Saimoe leagues as your next stop? 
  Might I suggest the various Saimoe leagues as your next stop? 
Post by thekokapelli (98 posts) See mini bio Level 9
All moe shows are based off hentai games (Air, Kanon, etc) and the reason they were created was because of the attempt to make childish innocence subversively erotic.  That's right; it's Freudian.  There are girls who enjoy moe, and some guys who enjoy moe for non-sexual reasons, but that's not what it was created for. 
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