What is moe?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

While watching anime you might stumble upon this term sooner or later. Either the anime or manga brings it up or the (internet) community does.
But still, many people don't know what it means or what Moe Szyslak has to do with it....
He is obviously the total opposite of what "moe" represents today so he shall be banned from this discussion.

But wait, "today"? Yes, "moe" is not a very concrete term and changed a bit during the last years. In this post I want to try explaining my definition of "moe".

But first a short text how wikipedia and other sites explain it today:

"Moe" (萌え, [mo'e]) is a Japanese slang term for an affection for characters in video games, anime or manga. The term often occurs in conjunction with stereotypical features. For example a 眼鏡 っ 娘 萌え (meganekko-moe) is a person who finds  characters with glasses attractive.

The term also refers to manga containing cute characters or describes these characters. It is usually used in connection with manga for male audience, but it's appearance is increasing in shojo manga as well. In these "moe" can be used as a synonym for "kawaii".

Moe and cute

Like mentioned above moe is often used to describe cute (kawaii) characters but they are different in my opinion.
Cute is used in many cases, especially in today's "kawaii culture".  Sure, a puppy is cute but is it moe?
It also applies only to people who reached a certain age. Kids (or lolis..) might be considered as moe at a certain point but babies certainly are not.
I mentioned that lolis might be considered as moe but that depends on the person you ask.
As an example, Yui from K-ON! 
When she, once again, acts totally stupid, then I can not deny that she is cute, but is she moe? In my opinion, she is not.
I'd get the urge to pat her head like I would do with an animal because she is sweet but deeper feelings are not involved, at least not for me and I will never understand people who elect her as their "waifu".

I guess the super "kawaii" characters do not conform to my idea of ​​moe. Can a grown woman be "kawaii" in the eyes of an otaku? I doubt it (The exception proves the rule!).
Can they be moe? Yes. Since moe is the attachment to a character for a specific reason, there's chance that older girls or grown woman can actually be more moe than a generic "kawaii" loli.
There are actually many great examples for characters after their teen ages but I'd prefer referring to Hitagi Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari. There's a certain fascination about her and she might be on of the most memorable characters in anime.
Senjougahara practices verbally sparring with the male protagonist, she is beautiful, tough and strange.

In one episode she was giving a long explanation of "tore" (蕩 れ), "fascination," saying it was a higher level of moe, and that she expected it to become a popular word in the next generation.

bakemonogatari senjougahara hitagi moe

Panty and Stockings with ~derebelt.

Certain pieces of clothing and character personalities have become quite popular and show up in the most harem anime. But are they moe?
Some accessories may be a fetish and can increase the moe-level, but no one can tell me that panties are moe.
Moe depends on the overall package. I would never refer to someone as moe, if the character does not visually appeal to me. But again, Gahara-san is a good example. She is based on NisiOisin light novel series, and her level of moe was undeniable even in the situation where I had no real picture of her.
But I can't deny that Saito Chiwa's voice increased the moe factor...

Liking a certain cliché type is no difference than calling a character moe. Including even the clumsy, the naive, a kuudere, a dandere, a tsundere or even a yandere.  
I am someone who likes characters that stand out a bit more and those stereotypes don't appeal to me, but I can't deny that a tsundere or any cliché type is moe, because of the large fan base they have gotten.

Moe has a lot in common with love and how you feel about that character. After a while, the feeling might fade and you don't understand why you were attached to that character in the first place. The feeling of moe can develop into a long-term love, which constantly pushes people to find a "waifu". But this "love" usually fades as well after a few months.

4 Replies so far - Add your comment

  1. my defenition is a cute clumsy yet smart girl.

  2. Thanks for this, been trying to figure it out for a while

  3. Thanks so much. This is very helpful. Xoxox