Static vs Active: Another Moe Discussion Part 2

Yesterday, I made a post about how the “issue” of moe basically came down to whether or not it was personally offensive to someone. I didn’t go into what “is” or “is not” moe, as what was important there was not to get people to agree to any one definition but to point out the fundamentals of why moe can make for such heated debates and arguments. Today though, I want to talk about one of the possible reasons why discussions regarding moe can often seem like the two sides are arguing two entirely different topics. Keep in mind that my goal is not to show one side being right and another wrong, but to help you better understand why it is you, I, or anyone has developed their respective opinions on the topic of moe.

In the past, I’ve defined moe as a strong empathy for a character’s weaknesses, but knew that not everyone would necessarily agree with my interpretation. The more I studied my own definition and others’ however, the more I realized that there was some mix-up as to what different people considered the most important element in defining moe. From there, I thought up two general categories: static moe and active moe.

Static moe is where a character’s design and basic attributes are moe. The character’s voice, personality, unique physical traits, etc. all contribute to static moe. The idea is not to pull a character completely out of their context, but to see them in a stilled moment and gain moe from that.

Active moe is achieved through a character’s actions or what happens to them in the context of an animation. It is in the way they change or interact with their world that creates moe. In a way, this moe lacks concrete evidence, and is built into how the character grows on the viewer.

If we look at Tsukimiya Ayu from Kanon, her love of Taiyaki, tomboyish personality, lack of cooking skills, and penchant for saying “Uguu~” are all elements of static moe. Ayu’s interactions with Yuuichi, the way the two characters grow closer as friends, and the manner in which we learn about her true identity are what comprise Ayu’s active moe. To generalize, static moe is the stationary character, while active moe is the character in motion.

Now, what contributes most to your perception of moe? Whether you like moe or not, do you view moe as primarily static, where the most vital aspect of it is the design of the character, or do you view it as primarily active, with the greatest emphasis on the path the character takes?

Using myself as an example, when I examined the characters I found to be the most moe (Ogiue, Eureka, Hinata, etc.), I realized that my views on moe were shaped mostly by my own emphasis on what they had done as characters. In other words, I was moved strongly by their active moe. Again though, it’s not as if moe as active will make you like it, or thinking of moe as static will make you dislike it, but I think that the view of moe people have shaped in their mind relative to this dichotomy strongly influences their opinion as a whole, whether they realize it or not.

That’s Part 2 of Another Moe Discussion. Is there going to be a Part 3? A likely possibility, as I do have something in mind.

25 thoughts on “Static vs Active: Another Moe Discussion Part 2

  1. Knee crab is a better example, but yeah.

    As you state it, I think it’s closer to the cliche “I love the way she moves.” Not “I love something about the way a dojikko moves.” Correct me if I’m wrong here.

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  2. Feeling moe for a character doesn’t make them moe. No one is going around saying, “I hate that Ogiue, she’s so moe it creeps me out.” Atleast not to my knowledge. This just throws a whole other set of problems into the mix.

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  3. Narutaki: But you could say that if you feel moe for a character, that character has moe qualities to you. What’s important is that moe is mad complex and subjective, so it make sense that SDS’s proposition would show another aspect to that complexity.

    As to the topic, I’d go with what omo said again. More than likely for me, it’s what someone does to evoke those feelings rather than how they look. But it doesn’t mean that the two are separate, as your example of Ayu explains, so having these two options is a little limited. :P

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  4. I think my 100 characters list males it pretty evident that I appreciate these aspects in total equilibrium. You could say I like active since my favorite character is Taiga, but then you could stay I like static because the character I find most attractive is Nobue Itoh.

    Then again, maybe I’m not making enough distinction between liking a character and being moe for them, the latter of which probably involves more static for me.

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  5. Liking how a character develops as a character =/= moe. I like Jean Valjean from Les Miserable because he is an awesome character. I wouldn’t call him moe. I like Horo from Spice and Wolf because she, to me, has an interesting personality/character. Did I find her moe? No. A character wearing pantyhose is moe. Moe is purely a jap word for fetish. Moe is a distinct point or trait a character holds UNRELATED to their personality.

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  6. @Koji Oe:

    Tsundere, one of the archetypical moe examples, is in it’s original and purest a line of character development. See when Minoru Shiraishi explains “tsundere” at the end of Lucky Star ep 10. This contradicts your assertion.

    I think your view on moe is highly oversimplified.

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  7. Very interesting proposition, SDS. I like the idea of looking at the problem as “static” versus “active,” though maybe we should try looking at it from a slightly different perspective.

    What if we look at static moé as the feelings of attraction that the creators are trying to evoke, and active moé as the feelings of attraction that the viewer actually feels? That way we can separate what the show does and how a viewer reacts to it. So Ogiue is still active moé as per your definition, but that feeling is based on your own interpretation. Ayu, on the other hand, is static moé because she is clearly *supposed* to have those cute attributes.

    @linger: Well, he’s got a point. If moé can be anything that you’re “into,” then it sort of is just a more acceptable way to talk about fetishes.

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  8. Koji Oe: Given your specific objections to this moe discussion, what you’ve done whether intentional or not is answered my question and have established yourself as someone who prioritizes static moe.

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  9. Active Moe? WTF there are types now? Your description of it is just fucking characterization. Didn’t you learn this in English class?

    Moe =/= characterization

    Moe is a superficial aspect of a character used to turn the viewer on.

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      • It can be. Tsundere, shy girl, sporty girl, yandere, etc are all moe personalities. They’re superficial and stupid. I’m talking about real DEEP characterization that you never see in anime anymore except during the 80s and occasional now. Those are in no way moe. It’s like apples and oranges.

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  10. Static moe and active moe go hand in hand and I see very little use in trying to separate the two. A character with static moe characteristics is bound to act moe and be active in her moeness, unless there is some form of parody going on. An example of this would be Kogami Akira from Lucky Star, in which she has static moe but behaves with a violent, raw and chain smoking pesonality.
    Unless we are talking about a cardboard cutout of a random moe-designed character that was never fully realized in a manga or anime, static moe never really fall far from the active moe tree.

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    • Oh, it was never my intent to say that the two exist separately from each other, or that you could not feel both static moe and active moe towards the character, but from what I’ve seen people take somewhat different issues with each kind without realizing that the two aren’t quite the same. I gave the example of Ayu for the reason that both her static moe and her active moe are very prominent, except one hits immediately and the other is a slow burn which takes time to process. It’s less a matter of depth as it is a matter of time and immediacy.

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  11. This “define moe the way you want to” wishy-washy commitment to vagueness is why I hate, hate long, complex discussions about the deeper meanings of moe. Moe seems to be such a muddled, ambiguous concept, evasive in definition and purposefully obfuscated by some proponents, that it just devolves into an exercise in arguing parallel, non-intersecting points and semantics, with everyone leaving the conversation confused, angry, and with all of the exact same preformed notions of moe they had going in. It seems like such a waste of time and energy.

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  14. I like your break-down of static vs active. I’m sure you could probably agree that looking at it as just the two categories however, is an over-simplification. But, for the purpose of your commentary it is appropriately simple.

    My view of moe is a moving target. For instance, Clannad’s Ushio is uber-moe in the static manner. But she’s the complete moe package: character design, voice, mannerisms, etc. On the other hand but also in the static vein, I just finished watching the first installment of Yamato and found that in her utter simplicity, Mori Yuki is one of the most moe characters I’ve ever witnessed.

    Contrast that with, for instance, Bakemonogatari’s Hitagi Senjōgahara. I found her to be quite moe despite not having the uber-cute factor. However, when we first meet her we’re initially presented with a character that doesn’t explicitly exhibit any weaknesses. Eventually, we learn that she has plenty at which point, for me anyway, the moe took over and I became quite fond of her.

    Basically, what I’m saying is that I don’t view moe as being only one or the other: static or active. The character dictates whether I find the moe in her. Sometimes I find it in the static way and sometimes in the active way. Sometimes the character is uber-cute, sometimes she isn’t cute in the traditional fashion at all.

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