Two Questions: Another Moe Discussion Part 1

Hi kids, it’s time to talk about moe again.

There’s two things I want to address here, the first is what is up with the strong feelings towards/against moe. The second topic I’m going to address tomorrow, so hold onto your hats!

We as anime fans on the internet can argue about moe all we want, whether it’s hurting or helping the industry or anime as an art form, whether it’s a boon or a detriment to storytelling, but when you strip away all of the noble back-and-forth posturing and gesturing, it basically comes down to two “yes” or “no” questions.

Does moe creep you out?

If so, are you okay with that?

And this is based on however you yourself interpret moe to be. Of course I’m generalizing, and there can be other reasons to dislike it, but from what I’ve seen this is the origin of the most vehement opposition to it is from the people who just cannot handle the idea that anyone proper of mind would like moe of all things, and its most ardent supporters are the ones who take offense to the idea that they are somehow developmentally insufficient.

Now it’s okay to be creeped out by moe, as that’s totally your prerogative. I may like moe myself, but it’s not like there hasn’t ever been an instance where I was creeped out by a piece of fiction and I was not okay with that. Specifically, I’m talking about that awful Thundercats comic from a few years back where they had Wily Kit and Wily Kat as bondage slaves to Mumm-Ra. Sure, they were adults in the comic but what the hell. That really weird sexualization of two comic side characters from a children’s cartoon bothered the hell out of me, especially because this was not some guy’s fanart but an actual official comic that was supposed to be like canon to the Thundercats story. In many ways I think it’s similar to the reaction that a lot of its opponents have against moe, replacing Thundercats with anime as a whole.

As to what influences perception of moe, that’s for the next post.

23 thoughts on “Two Questions: Another Moe Discussion Part 1

  1. Doesn’t this again defers to what define moe? Some definitions would render both questions meaningless.

    It would almost seem that you’re talking about some manifestation of fandom, like a doujinshi, rather than anything about moe per se as an aesthetic. Do fan-produced work catering to fans creep us out? I’m sure it happens from time to time.

    And I guess people can be creepy and do creepy things. We all have been creeped out at some point. I guess it’s okay that it happens, as it does invariably at times, but it’s not okay to be creepy.


    • In this instance I’m not arguing about what does or does not define moe. Rather, I’m asking you if based on your own ideas of what moe is or supposed to be, do you feel positively or negatively towards it.

      The example I gave was something that I don’t think was moe, but is similar to how I think anti-moe folks feel towards it.


      • The bigger question I’m trying to get at is–can we even ask questions about moe that will yield meaningful answers to (almost) everyone we ask?

        A very common “defensive answer” I hear about “what is moe” from Japan is “it’s whatever you’re into.”

        “Does [whatever you’re into] creep you out?

        If so, are you okay with that?”

        From a “moe-neutral” perspective I’m not sure if it’s the best query. Are you coming in with a pre-supposed notion of what moe is? If so, what is it?


  2. Let’s just agree that we aren’t discussing the aesthetic but rather the idea works rotate about. I say this because I want to modify the second question (if I may). Personally, I’m not AT ALL creeped out about moe shows, but as a fan of the Japanese animation industry as a whole, I believe it’s time the industry takes a different route. I can’t, fans can’t force evolution, but it’s been a good decade now since moe shows came into prominence (ignoring Evangelion TV for the sake of the argument). Surely the powers that control anime production (fans and creators alike) must be getting tired of the trend?


    • I’d say “fans can’t force evolution alone” is a more accurate statement. The discourse that takes place between fans and creators, both on a verbal and financial level (the cynic in me says this primarily happens on the latter) demands that fan behaviour and opinion must, at the very least, influence the creative process. But I’m kinda of the same train of thought. The evolution is coming, and moe’s days as the dominant component of anime are numbered. Moe is probably going to be around as long as anime is, but in the future it’ll become one of many alternatives in anime, just as mecha and shounen action are today, both of which have had their time in the limelight in decades past. The questions remain: when will this happen, and what will replace it? Who knows, but if I had to guess, I’d say this is going to happen sooner rather than later.

      Answers to questions:
      “Does moe creep you out?” – Sometimes, but more often it’s the more extreme responses from the fandom that creep me out rather than the moe itself.
      “If so, are you okay with that?” – I’m ok with it in most anime I see it in. I’m starting to get tired of it being the dominant component in anime, but like I’ve said, I think this is going to change in time.


  3. Omo’s got a point there. Your question is really just going to get the same sort of reactions you usually get, since both sides of the argument typically have their own definitions of moé that they operate on anyway.

    For example, my answers to your questions:
    1. Frequently, yes. Many (but certainly not all) moé shows represent a sexualized image of the underage female figure, masked behind the guise of “innocence” and “protective instincts.”
    2. No I am not okay with that, because, to me, shows that have that hidden sexualization are not just creepy, but morally wrong. (Not all moé shows do that, mind you.)

    The problem with that answer is that somebody else will come on here and say that it doesn’t count as moé if it has ANY sexualization whatsoever, so therefore my opinion wouldn’t even apply to an argument about moé. We’d still be going in circles because we all define it differently. An agreed-upon definition, as difficult as that is to reach, is step one in the process of discussing this like adults.


  4. Unfortunately questions like these aren’t, for many of us, all or none answers.

    Am creeped out by moe? Sometimes would be my response. As to whether or not I’m okay with that, no I don’t like to be creeped out. Does anyone want to be? But does that really answer anything, since I am only creeped out part of the time I am not calling for the destruction of moe. So am I only calling for an end of the sometimes-creepy kind? How about the kind that doesn’t creep me out but to my view is plain poor?

    I am not sure anymore.


  5. A girl tells me… 家の外に車です。 I kinda felt the concept of outside cars [and conversely inside cars] was kinda moe. It came off in a confused moe tone as well… possibly. I was okay with it, not the slightest bit freaked out… but, the more I think about it… it’s kinda weird. I should be scared… especially when she started talking about a “house in the river” or buildings inside and outside one another. It was all quite apocalyptic… thank god a security alarm went off.

    I’m not sure I’m ready for RL moe, but 2D moe is okay… it can’t follow you home at least. >_>


  6. That’s the argument I tried to use in that whole debate in the comments on Colony Drop’s most recent post. I tried telling them that not all moe shows are creepy and sexist, but when I said it, people just basically repeated that it creeped them out.

    I guess there’s no real median point in this discussion, even though I’m trying to stay in the middle and cover my ears hoping the people on the far sides would shut up.


  7. I think that the questions are too streamlined to get anything but hemming and hawing answers from anyone other than a crazy fanatic. I would be like asking are action movies exciting or do horror movies creep you out? Some people will have definitive answers but most people will have conditional answers.

    I myself enjoy moe shows but there are some definite parts of moe that either creep me out or turn me off and make me avoid shows like that. But not everything with moe in it. Just the parts I dislike. I dislike the parts of moe that have strong elements of pedophilia or weak subservient females. Both have the potential to creep me out as well but moe is broader than that and I refuse to discount all moe shows just because there are some moe shows I do not like.


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  9. I don’t think I can say that moe is creepy, which I think is mainly due to the fact that I guess I’m “used” to it? What DO think moe is is problematic, and specifically, the whole domination aspect of it.


  10. It doesn’t creep me out, which bothers me. I totally should find it a disgusting waste of effort, but it’s just so sad and pathetic a trope. I almost feel sorry for it. Shit, that’s so moe.



  11. I have somehow become someone who can’t stand people who can’t stand moe. I ask myself, how can you be such a piece of shit? Rather, I guess I’m only off on people who are vehemently opposed to it, because I tend to disagree with anyone who wastes their time on vehement opposition, but still. Peoples’ reasons for disliking moe are mostly fucking utterly retarded (it r pedophilic lolz) fuck you people, die. Just die for not liking moe.

    Is that a proper way of thinking? No. Those are simply my true feelings ‘in my heart of hearts.’


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  14. I can’t answer these questions well, since I don’t have a certain definition of what moe is, and as shown, there are many different thoughts as to what moe is, as omo said. To me, it makes more sense answering what moe is on your terms, since it provides a constant background at least for this point.

    But to answer, 1) sometimes, and 2) sometimes, based on what moe means and based on what of the many aspects associated with moe are focused on.


  15. I don’t really understand how moe came to be interpreted as a very specific genre in the West instead of covering the whole range of character traits that people dig.

    Not too long ago, I asked a japanese friend what was up with the headphone thing and he just said, It’s a moe genre. That made sense, it was all the answer I needed. In an English blog, on the other hand, the author is usually talking about a very specific style of cute slice-of-life anime or manga along the lines of Lucky Star or Yotsuba and going into detail about the secret child-lust intrinsic in the series.

    A couple years ago, I figured Rally Vincent was my Queen of Moe, but now I have everybody trying to tell me moe means surrogate lolis who want to bake you a cake. Judging from the other comments, I’d say I’m not the only one who missed the memo either.


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  17. I’ll first preface my answer by saying that most people, when confronted with the most extreme, degenerative form of something, will either say “that’s creepy as hell” or “that’s awesome.” So I’m going to throw out what I perceive as the extremes of moe, and only consider the baseline, my POV of the generalities of the genre.

    1. So, does moe creep me out?
    No, not really. To me it’s just an aesthetic style, with some predefined archetypes built in. How it’s used is what I really care about. And right now moe is overused; moe is the crutch of bad writers and lazy producers who don’t want to think too hard or have anything new to offer. Like how vampires seem to be the hip trend of current American pop media. They’re stale ideas recycled endlessly.


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