If you know anything about me you knew this post was coming, I had to bring this up sometime.
I would get right into it but there are some of my readers that dont know what moe is so for their sake and for your amusement or nerd rage I am going to try and do the impossible and define this here word. Oh boy this is gonna be great.
I have come across two good definitions of the term moe and these are;
- The feeling invoked when you see something cute/cuddly. This is very subjective. I will give an example. When two people see someone attractive and say/exclaim “wow”. The first person may say “wow” because they like the persons clothes, height and hairdo, while the second person may have said “wow” because they liked the persons facial features, shoes and hairdo. The important thing is feeling not what made them have that feeling. Stay with me people hehe.
- The sub genre or trope in anime that utilises the cute/cuddly charactersitics in its story.
Here is an example of a moe character, my personal favourite I might add. Yui Hirasawa from K-on!
Now that we all know and “agree” on what moe means (never gonna happen) Ill talk about how I discovered this genre. I remember going through ANN’s top 10 list looking for a new show to watch just after I completed Canaan. I wanted something different “a little light hearted comedy” I remember muttering to myself and right there in the top 10 was siting a show I had always overlooked…
It had a crazy “synopsis” for a comedy so I decided to pick it up, The first episode was unique to say the least. It was animated as though seen through a video camera being used by an amateur cameraman. the narration was very sarcastic as if saying” look this show sucks who makes a show this stupid.” The big punchline is right at the end of the episode when you realise the cast were creating a film with themselves as the cast. The sudden realisation of this alone made me re watch the episode and changed my WTF expressions to insane laughter. It was genius who came up with this stuff? how did I not come across this sooner? The following episodes were just as funny if not better and the episodes seemed to be jumbled up but I could still somehow make out the plot, it turns out that was also a gimmick used that made the show even better and more unique. I had found myself a classic people.
There were a lot of things in the show that were new to me, like the character designs and the blatant sexual themes (no nudity people hold your horses) The character Mikuru was always forced to dress up in costumes like Bunny girl and maid outfits. It looked cute on her i’ll have to admit and the silent characteristics of the other lead character Yuki Nagato caught my attention too. Somehow she reminded me of Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion and I like Rei. I didnt know what it was that made me smile everytime i saw her reaction to various situations, it turns out what I was feeling was moe and it was addictive.
The Ironic thing about this show is that it was a parody of moe, I ofcourse didn’t realise this at the time but still enjoyed it for its story and characters. For anyone new to moe i suggest watching this first because even without the moe elements it is still a very solid piece of entertainment.
I remember rushing to the forum with excitement to discuss this show I had just seen that was amazing and so different only to find it already had a behemoth of a following. It was insane, it was everywhere. I quickly found out there was a second season but was told to watch..
I had a problem with the character designs in the beginning but I quickly overlooked this. The main character was an Otaku named Konata Izumi, the show parodied everything under the anime sun and even though I was still new to the fandom at this time I caught a lot every episode. It was devine. whats the plot you ask? well there really isnt any. Its just four high school girls going about daily life and asking the important questions in life like which end of the chocolate coronet you eat first? Yes it was funny very very funny. i found myself relating to Konata like no other character ever. She was a gamer, loved anime, loved manga, procrastinated but did well at school, related real life situations to anime/manga etc This show was a clincher and the first one I watched for the moe. Id like to add that this was another stellar Bang Zoom dub with Wendee Lee (Haruhi Suzumiya) as Konata. Yes they had the same voice actor just like in the Japanese and it was amazing.
Thats it I was hooked onto moe I needed more and I got more with the second season of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the only series that was good enough to make me sit through “8 of the same episodes” and still enjoy it! This was good I was on a roll. Finally I had something I could sit back and watch while relaxing.
I took a break from the moe/comedy genre for a while and saw some serious shows but one day while browsing DeviantArt I came across a very beautiful piece of fanart and the description said “Dont mind me, Im just being the most awesome show this season” and all the comments followed were talking about how no one expected the show to be so good, some even went as far as comparing it to the awesomness that was Haruhi Suzumiya “blasphemy!” I said to myself no such thing exists. I decided to check out this show one early morning weekend and ended up not leaving the PC seat until 7 hours later. I have never done that before not even for a video game. the show was non other than the much beloved/hated…
This was moe at its pure best. The fact that they played J-pop/rock was a super bonus and its not like the songs were bad or even generic they were good really good. All the characters were super cute and to this day the silly smile this show puts on my face everytime I watch it is un-describable. After K-on! I saw many other good moe related shows like Squid Girl, Gunslinger girl, Toradora and Tamayura some better than others but still entertaining.
Looking back I dont think I would have enjoyed this show had it been presented to me before I saw Haruhi or Lucky Star and this is the case with a lot of people I know. Shoving moe in the face of someone completely new to it is a huge risk they will most likely misunderstand the intentions of the show and completely dislike the entire genre, a few might like it but those people are rare. Theres a lot of luckluster moe out there and it will leave a bad taste so be careful when picking what shows to watch. Completely blacklisting a genre you haven’t given a fair go is such a waste. That said moe is not for everyone, being subjective to the viewer some aspects of moe just wont be moe to everyone.
The current trend in modern anime is to implement a moe character in its story. The above shows sold incredibly so every animator and his dog wanted to cash in on this niche thus flooding the market with moe. I personally think this trend will continue and if done right makes shows very intersting a curent example would be …
With the character Mayuri and constant visits to maid cafes being the moe element in this show. An example of the incorporation being successful in an anime series would be …Bakemonogatari.
There are countless other examples and with the continuous popularity of the moe genre, sub genre, trope, characteristic its proven that it is here to stay. Why just look at how many blu rays Puella Magi Madoka Magika sold.