Back in 2010 in the height of controversy surrounding the first season of Ore no Imouto. I find myself defending moe anime as elitist fans blame it for the reason Anime getting worse. However, I felt that the editorial I wrote felt more like a rant, which is why I want to revisit it since Frog’s editorial on Moe inspired me to do this.
The term Moe basically describes a character that is cute or endearing that you want to protect him or her. Of course, this quickly became a cash cow in the late 2000s as companies and authors start making stories with these kinds of characters. However, it has become a rallying point against elite anime fans, since they feel that moe is to blame for the lack of action and mecha anime (which is not true since mecha anime is still being made). However, I think their arguments are a bit questionable. I believe that moe Anime is still relevant and is not necessarily killing Anime.
First, having moe characters doesn’t mean that a show becomes a mindless cute girl doing cute things. Some people seem to perceive moe as mindless because of the sheer popularity of K-ON, which have girls doing silly things to look cute. However, moe only describes the feeling you get from a character, not the overall plot. As seen with some shows like Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, it has a good amount of serious moments throughout its story such as the infamous Mami beheading. In these instances, we can feel more sympathy towards a character that experienced some kind of hardship.
Furthermore, moe plays a certain role in some Iyashikei anime. To me, it reminds us the little things in life. This can range from remembering a special time with your friends or something that we take for granted. For example, most Iyashikei places a lot of emphasis on friendship. In addition, these shows rely on their unique settings such as terraformed Mars in Aria to give a unique experience to add more to the story. However, the ideal personalities seen with moe characters also adds to the escapism of Iyashikei. Moe is not entirely about cute and endearing characters, but rather creating an ideal personality for a character that doesn’t exist in real life. For instance, Rikka from Chuunibyou has a playful personality and insists that she has an “Evil Eye,” which grants her special powers. While it’s very unlikely you will find a girl like her in real life, this aspect reinforces the escapism factor and can make the story interesting or enjoyable.
Lastly, Anime is always tailored for a Japanese audience opposed to a western one. In Japan, cuteness plays a big part in Japanese culture. This is why you see construction signs with a cute designs or the thriving idol industry that focuses more on cuteness rather than on sexiness. Because western cultures prefer violence and maturity, this might be the reason why some western anime fans have a dislike towards moe and shows with a lot of fanservice, not just its prevalence. However, disliking these type of shows without watching will cause them to miss out on shows that can be potentially good. Because of this, I think it’s a good idea to have an open mind.
At the end of the day, I don’t think there is anything wrong with moe in Anime. In some aspects, I think moe can be used creatively such as creating ideal characters to make a show more interesting and/or make the overall story feel immersive. That’s saying, I don’t think moe should be blamed for the reason why Anime is getting worse, but rather the lack of an open mind for the viewer. Regardless of genre, I believe in Sturgeon’s Law that 90% of stuff is crap will always apply. Since tastes are highly subjective, people should just watch what they enjoy watching instead of contributing to the never-ending debate that shows the ugly aspects of the Anime “fan dumb.”
With that, how you feel about the moe debate? Feel free to share your thoughts about the issue, but please keep it civil since this is a very controversial debate.