Meditations on Moé


So moé~~

…I died.

Moé moé moé moé – what does the term mean any more? We all know it started simply as a means of denoting a feeling one has for cute characters, that feeling that you get of wanting to protect the character in question. But the word has more or less ended up devolving into another synonym for ‘cute’ (or, for my weeaboo audience, ‘KAWAII DESU~!!1’)… or, more accurately, the word has devolved into a term used by loli-cons to describe the adorable characters they dream of defiling (as said adorable character probably blushes profusely and calls out, ‘O-oniichan! Pl-please be gentle…’). So has it outlived its usefulness? After all, if a person can say it and have it interpreted three different ways, doesn’t that seem to imply that the term itself has become problematic?

Oh, sorry, I took time out to read an OoFuri doujin because I’m a nasty pervert. If OoFuri isn’t male moé, I don’t know what the hell is.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand: moé.

Actually, how about this – what is moé for a female/from a female perspective? Moé is generally envisioned more in a male fan to female character sense, not the other way around – and not really in a male fan to male character (with the exception of traps, but they kind if get their own category) or female fan to female character manner (although this more often than male-male or female-male). Do these versions really have any business in the pantheon of moé? And what does it mean for a female to feel moé for her favorite characters?

If you consider it, females feeling moé for male characters plays fairly neatly into conceptions of motherhood and mothering – think of the stereotyped response of young women to small children. Instead of it being positioned as a desire to protect, it comes across more as a desire to nurture and care for. And I would suggest this explains, in part, why we see much more sexualization of lolis as opposed to shoutas – yes, there are more male fans to begin with, but even in looking at female fans, shouta-cons don’t show up as often as loli-cons do in the male anime-viewing population.

I could go further and point to the simple facts of cultural acceptance of May-December relationships – with men, its pretty much a go (unless you’re in a Nabokov novel!), but women still catch more flack societally for going around with younger guys (how sad – I adore freshmen!). So although being a loli-con isn’t socially acceptable, its closer to cultural standards than being a shouta-con is (aside: loving freshmen doesn’t make me a shouta-con – they’re legal~). I feel that this may relate to the notions of motherhood in most societies – women are supposed to be mothers, and mothers are supposed to rear and care for the children of the society; if the mothers are then messing around with the children, it undermines the overall agreement, since they were the ones who were supposed to protect the wee ones [1] in the first place.

TL;DR of that last paragraph – women are the ones taking care of the kids, so we have to trust them with the kids. Therefore, shouta-con comes across as less acceptable, so women are less likely to be interested in that sort of thing in the first place based on societal pressure.

Unfortunately, I can’t really comment too much on male fan to male character moé – it seems fairly rare, probably in part because of just general ideas about masculinity and the like – its alright for female fans to feel moé-moé over female characters, but male fans squealing over male characters doesn’t tend to sit all too well (although it does seem easier to get away with within the aniblogosphere). The only times you really see it is when it concerns traps, but traps are in a separate category from other male characters, honestly – the point is that they look and act like girls, after all.

And what about female fan to female character?I honestly feel like female fans in general are just more likely to call moé characters cute and not even bother with the word ‘moé’. Maybe, then, ‘moé’ is just an alternate way for males to say that they think a character is cute/adorable/whatever. Masculine mores and all that – go figure.

Anyway, to segway into the more self-centric portion…

I know I myself consider moé to be when I just want to hug a character. I don’t feel sexually attracted to moé characters (I don’t feel sexually attracted to anime characters period); I just wish I could pick them up, swing them around, and, I dunno, watch them be cute (chase butterflies? play with kittens? hmm.. definitely play with kittens). This applies to both female and male moé characters, as I would be just as happy to hug Ayu (Kanon) versus Mihashi (OoFuri).Or, y’know, watch them play with kittens – TOGETHER. [2]

So, yes, I like moé – so long as it isn’t simply moé for the sake of moé. This is probably why I tend to cringe when lolis start traipsing across my screen and avoid most harem like the plague. Also, a character who is so clumsy she can’t crack an egg? That’s not moé – that’s fucking retarded.

Speaking of moé, I have to go pack my rucksack. That actually has nothing to do with moé, but I’m trying to pretend it does so it feels less soul-crushing.

*      *       *

[1] Hilarious fact – I referred to 1970’s era Osama bin Laden as a ‘wee lad’ today during a presentation I did on international terrorism.

[2] Actually, watching Fuuko and Mihashi play with kittens would probably be the most hilarious possibility, especially if, for some reason, these kittens were actually adorable, caricatured starfish.

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11 Responses to Meditations on Moé

  1. >>(I don’t feel sexually attracted to anime characters period)

    This is exactly why you don’t and will never understand moe

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I’m not sure I agree with that – you end up in the same old circular arguments about whether the person that can know something best is the detached observer or the avid practitioner (its one of those things I swear we go around and around, never reaching an actual decision, in all my religion classes). I don’t know how one best understands it as a whole – and I’m inclined to think that being sexually attracted to anime characters oneself means only that you understand your own sexual attraction to anime characters, but not necessarily anyone elses.

      On a less serious note, if not being attracted to anime characters in a sexual manner means I can’t understand moe, I can’t say I feel like I’m missing out.

  2. animekritik says:

    I think digiboy’s right. Whatever people (by which I mean the guys) might think they mean by the term “moe” it definitely carries a sexual component IMHO, not accidentally but intrinsically.

    • precisely. Moe and sex are practically one and the same.

      • animekritik says:

        yes. although adaywithoutme has a point. rather than using the term “understand moe”, we should use “feel moe”. You can understand it and study it, just not feel it etc..

      • Baka-Raptor says:

        So, is there widespread misuse of the term moé? I think I see moé used frequently to mean cute instead of sexually attractive (though I hear plenty of the latter as well). Or perhaps pedophilia is more widespread than I imagined.

      • Sorrow-kun says:

        That’s not true. There’s crossover, but they’re not indistinguishable.

        I’m starting to think moe is more an artstyle than anything else. Or a style of anime at the very least. Marimite is moe, but it’s hardly sexual. Ditto Kanon (and yes, I know the VN had ero-scenes).

  3. 2DT says:

    Trying to pin down moe in an absolute sense is an exercise in futility, because “the Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” And yet, moe plainly exists, in the minds of its devotees if nothing else. It’s fun to wrap one’s head around.

    But speaking of male-on-male moe, There’s an amusing bit in the afterward to Kaoru Mori’s Victorian Romance Emma, where she says she’s gotten a lot of fan mail over the youngest male character, Colin: “He’s so cute,” they say, or “You should write him in more often!”… And then she reveals that those letters are mostly from men. “Isn’t that great, Colin? You have a lot of big brothers cheering you on!”

    It’s probably an exception to the rule, but a counterexample nonetheless.

  4. animekritik says:

    My point is not that people are misusing Moe, I think they’re using it at the right time for the right “objects”. My point, and I think digiboy would agree with me, is that Moeness is deeply linked with sex, and that sometimes people just miss that. Then again, that’s just my opinion.

  5. TheBigN says:

    Moe may be linked with sex, but that does not mean moe=sex or that when you talk about moe you have to talk about the sexual aspects associated with it as if moe doesn’t exist without it. For some reason, that sort of thing is some of the gist that I could be getting with ak and db’s answers, though I’m missing that point.

    Either way, moe is pretty fucking complicated to try and define, if you ask me. 😛

  6. micchan says:

    Ya know, if I didn’t know better, I’d suspect the mangaka INTENTIONALLY puts all those slash factors to make the manga sell better with girls! Crazy, huh? Oofuri is such a shamless slash-sellout. I love it ❤

    Honestly, I love baseball [yes, even with this sucky season we're having. Kids, can you say SNORE?] but what made me watch this and read the manga is A)Tajima [hehe, forgotten to masturbate? I'm sure Hanai can help you there, the trusty captain] and B)The psychotic teams they're up against. Seriously people, isn't there therepy in Japan? Or better yet, drugs? With the exceptions of one character, everyone is all "noooo we lost a high school baseball game WHAT DO WE HAVE LEFT TO LIVE FOR". Fucking faggots with sands in their vaginas. This fangirl wants homos, not fairies! sheesh.

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