On Moe-Moe

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Samu-kun
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On Moe-Moe

#1 Post by Samu-kun » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:56 pm

On Moe-Moe

"Song Liling: Comrade! Why is it that in Beijing opera woman's roles are traditionally played by men?
Comrade Chin: I don't know. Most probably a remnant of the reactionary and patriarchal social structure.
Song Liling: No. It's because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act."
-M. Butterfly

Moe - many have attempted to define its precise nature and all have inevitably failed. It shall remain reasonable that humans shall desire to label, categorize, and organize the world into convenient schemata in a futile effort to make sense of a chaotic world beyond the comprehension of mortal minds. Yet the fact remains that the exact nature of moe transcends language itself. Just as it is no more plausible for a two dimensional being to describe a cube than it is for a human being to describe a tesseract, certain concepts shall remain beyond the boundary of the crude thing called language. Yet, while the tesseract may not be visually conceivable, it can still be learned and understood. Similarly, while the concept of moe shall escape the exact elucidation of vocabulary, one need not take one step further than download a single episode of Lucky Star to instantly feel its true essence. Just as the wonder of first love shall remain impossible to describe before its first embrace, and shall remain even more maddeningly indescribable after it has left, leaving a cold, hollow wistfulness in its wake, one need encounter moe face first to truly feel its taste. And it is a taste of the the heavens itself, encompassing every molecule of gas, liquid, and solid, in perpetual motion, in total, beautiful chaos. Yet while the brain fears such an incomprehensible thing, the heart revels in it, for while moe is difficult to comprehend, it is simple to feel. This shall bring us closer to the heart of the matter - objectifying moe is doomed to failure, for it shall be not too dissimilar from the capital failure of objectifying love. Moe is more akin to a mystical song - one beyond the explanation of science or logic, and one melody that which shall remain indiscernible for some. While the exact nature of the song shall be mercifully left alone in this essay, I shall endeavor to explore why some are haunted by its aria while others remain impervious, and how the writer can best wield this enchantment to bewitch, devastate, shock, and enthrall the reader.

It is not the purpose of moe to inferiorize the other sex, for girls and moe belong on two separate planes all together. In the most extreme of cases, it may be possible to even claim that moe may eventually replace girls in their entirety and become a third, much more appealing sex. Yet that shall not be the focus of this essay, for that hopeless desire exists primarily in the wistful fantasies of men who seek respite from the unthinkable perils of love. To point, gender inequality has always been a favorite topic for writers across the globe and has inevitably coloured much of the discussion on moe. However, while it shall be convenient to examine the world through such preconstructed lenses, the optimal clarity can only be found by handcrafting our lens to our own specifications. Thus, the exploration of the audience of moe shall begin.

The desire of the moe character to love her audience is almost irrelevant compared to the desire of the audience to love the moe character. Here, it is pivotal to realize that the visual novel is not merely a broadcasting of sensory information, but an exchange of emotions between the moe character and the reader. And the very stuff radiated by the readers stand in stark opposition to the claim that moe is merely a simple way to find unjudging, unthinking, and obedient girls who offer nothing but eternal love to the reader. It is not a desire to conquer that the reader feels, but a desire to love. It is not the desire to lead, but instead a desire to be fragile; not the desire to demand, but the desire to be vulnerable. Otakus are fragile creatures, filled with disappointments, regrets, and sorrows. They are neither the strong nor the powerful, nor do they desire for such things. And above all, they wish for intimacy, not obedience. They are seekers of pure romance in its ideal, imaginary form, unadulterated by such real world hindrances like money, time, and modesty. It can be said that the world has little place for individuals such as these, for while otakus wish for a straight, everlasting, unblemished journey, the road that life offers them is one only of compromise, dilution, and unexpected twists and turns. However strong the mind yearns, the body shall be denied. An omnipotent law of the universe, even the sweetest fruit is not without its hard seeds, and even the most Herculean of efforts shall not bring love immortal. Thus moe exists on a plane separate from the mortal realm to provide this eternal, great, wonderful romance, findable nowhere else but in moe.

Yet moe is not suitable for all. Some simply have no desire for such a perfect romance. They can live happily with the lot handed out to them by life and believe that through effort, they can eventually mold their own, satisfactory romances. Perhaps that will be the superior mindset to hold in this world - yet as this essay shall focus primarily on wielding the enchantment of moe, this particular subset of individuals shall be dealt with no further here. Merely be aware that there exist some who shall simply be immune to the effects of moe magic.

Once moe is utilized, its potential to bewitch the reader is endless. It is the power to return the childhood friend whom the reader never managed to work up the courage to confess his feelings for. It is the power to voyage back to the days of the reader's high school days and offer him a second chance at finally completing the romance that he curses himself in the final hours of the night for lacking the courage to pursue. He wishes to be vulnerable, to be fragile, to offer his entire body and soul to the one that means the most to him. Yet in the real world, such a sweet romance is impossible, for such perfect ideals exist only in the imagination of mankind. Thus it is the role of the visual novel writer to offer him a better world, where he need not suffer no longer. It is his duty to create romance itself, in its ultimate, purest form. The moe character must not be dehumanized, but must seem alive, as if she was ready to wake up the reader from his bed the very next day. She must have complicated personalities that demand exploration, quirks, pet peeves, habits, beliefs, birthdays, home towns, family histories, favorite foods, television shows, computer games, and school subjects. She must be the very girl that the reader loved in real life, with only a singular, pivotal difference - here, the bounds of love are endless. That is the essence of moe.

Yet moe can also be used to devastate. Just as the reader realizes that there is such a world where he may exist, where he no longer has to be alone, play the role of a cruel and merciless god and snatch it all away from him. It is imperative for the visual novel writer to understand that exactly as the limits of happiness are destroyed by moe, so too are the limits of sadness. Moe, if utilized skillfully, has the power to tear apart hearts, to reduce men into bawling girls, and to haunt individuals long after the final sentence of the story. Countless visual novels have reached the heights of their fame because of their heartrending stories. Just as the reader comes close to rewriting all the unbearable chapters of his childhood, let a tragedy happen. Its trauma will increase by tenfold.

Perhaps it will be doing moe a disservice to refer to it only as a writer's tool. Indeed, moe is far more than merely a literary device used to ensnare readers. It is an emotion, a longing far more intense, far deeper than any mortal word can describe. Imagining it as a reality separate from our own, where the bounds of love and romance are infinite, gets us closer to the heart of the matter. It is the task of the visual novel writer to create this world and to populate it with its denizens, who seem so hauntingly reminiscent of the girls of our long ago, regretful memories, but who are at the same time so much different. Perhaps if the world had been so merciful as to provide us with such perfections as true love and romance in this realm of existence, then there would have been no need for moe. Yet, for as long as mankind exists, so too shall moe, for it is inescapable that the taste of life is only bittersweet at best.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#2 Post by mikey » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:34 pm

While reading your essay, which is really a wonderfully put description of moe and its appeal, the one single question that bothered me was that if moe in the above described sense is such a general feeling, then (from my own observation) why does it affect practically only men?

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#3 Post by Samu-kun » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:45 pm

Well, I'm not sure if it affects only men. :3 Just taking a look at animes like Ouran High and Fruits Basket tells me that there is a different type of moe that appeals to women as well. In general though, it's mostly about pouring love into fictitious characters that remind you of people you like, or want to like, in the real world. Even though Fruits Baskets bored me after about the 12th episode, it appeared to me that the male characters in it seemed to approximate their moe female counterparts very well.

And for the people who are wondering just what this is, I've been hearing about how our community wiki seemed a bit empty, so I decided to write a random article about moe to fill it up. Anyone's welcome to add it to the wiki if it seems interesting enough to go there. But really, I just wrote this article for fun. Just read it and have a good chuckle. :3

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#4 Post by Hime » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:52 pm

Samu-kun wrote:Well, I'm not sure if it affects only men. :3 Just taking a look at animes like Ouran High and Fruits Basket tells me that there is a different type of moe that appeals to women as well. In general though, it's mostly about pouring love into fictitious characters that remind you of people you like, or want to like, in the real world. Even though Fruits Baskets bored me after about the 12th episode, it appeared to me that the male characters in it seemed to approximate their moe female counterparts very well.
I didn't find Fruits Basket moé at all, but I think that the Lucky Star characters and many VN bishoujos are moé... Aw, now I feel like a hairy otaku man trapped inside the body of a young woman, a twisted creature. ;_;

But other than that (though I'm most likely the problem here), a lovely article indeed.
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Re: On Moe-Moe

#5 Post by F.I.A » Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:32 am

"Song Liling: Comrade! Why is it that in Beijing opera woman's roles are traditionally played by men?
Comrade Chin: I don't know. Most probably a remnant of the reactionary and patriarchal social structure.
Song Liling: No. It's because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act."
-M. Butterfly
Somewhat of a joke quote to me, given that the reason is that women were not allowed to work in front of public.
Otakus are fragile creatures, filled with disappointments, regrets, and sorrows. They are...
For some reasons, I find that someone is basing it on one of the latest series he's just done with. Inbou and Hikki? :lol:
Yet moe is not suitable for all. Some simply have no desire for such a perfect romance. They can live happily with the lot handed out to them by life and believe that through effort, they can eventually mold their own, satisfactory romances. Perhaps that will be the superior mindset to hold in this world - yet as this essay shall focus primarily on wielding the enchantment of moe, this particular subset of individuals shall be dealt with no further here. Merely be aware that there exist some who shall simply be immune to the effects of moe magic.
For me, moe is somewhat a sort of "favoritism" one find in a character. And over time, moe can grow at expontential length and end up being "obsession".

If anything, moe is what japanese will mean by "I am weak at [certain object]". Not that he/she is weak to it, but more like "Can't stop loving it".
Yet moe can also be used to devastate. Just as the reader realizes that...
I will not really relate this to moe. It is more of the literature's department regarding on the catharsis factor instilled into the story.When pulled right, the characters in the story will captivate the reader and successfully influence the reader(Bringing to tears etc). Moe character is one of the many captivating characters, and you can still have a influencing story without moe-able characters.
「通りすがりのメーカだ。覚えとけ。」

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#6 Post by Samu-kun » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:08 am

Mmm... Well, after thinking about what both Mikey and Hime have said, it looks like we have an answer to his question, and a new question. Hime's already answered Mikey's answer - yes, girls too can find moe bishojos appealing. However, since I wrote this essay directly from the male point of view, it looks like we don't particularly have a good explanation why. Mmm... Well, I definitely won't try to write from the female perspective on this issue, so I invite the women of Lemma to speak up. XD...
Somewhat of a joke quote to me, given that the reason is that women were not allowed to work in front of public.
If I recall correctly, the play is set in 1988. I think Chinese women were working in public by then. :3
For some reasons, I find that someone is basing it on one of the latest series he's just done with. Inbou and Hikki? :lol:
I have no idea what you're talking about. >:3
I will not really relate this to moe. It is more of the literature's department regarding on the catharsis factor instilled into the story.When pulled right, the characters in the story will captivate the reader and successfully influence the reader(Bringing to tears etc). Moe character is one of the many captivating characters, but that you can have a influencing story without moe-able characters.
I would have to disagree here. While it is true that you can indeed have sad and dramatic stories without moe, I think the sadness I feel from a nakige (crying game) is different from what I feel at the end of King Lear. In either case, I would really have to say having a "cute sad" is different from other methods of generating catharsis. I've seen how horrifically sad K-movies can get me, so I'm sticking to my argument in this case. :3

Anyways, I think I am just about burned out from writing this. Hopefully, I'll be able to write a better response by tomorrow.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#7 Post by lordcloudx » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:19 am

MOE = Cute with a feminine connotation. This is the simplest and most accurate definition that I can think of.

Really, just try it. What can you think of that evokes that so-called feeling of moe that doesn't somehow fall under that definition?

(I await your dissenting opinions. :twisted: )
How do you make your games? I see. Thank you for the prompt replies, but it is my considered opinion that you're doing it wrong inefficiently because I am a perfushenal professional. Do it my way this way and we can all ascend VN Nirvana together while allowing me to stroke my ego you will improve much faster. Also, please don't forget to thank me for this constructive critique or I will cry and bore you to death respond appropriately with a tl;dr rant discourse of epic adequately lengthy proportions. - Sarcasm Veiled in Euphemism: Secrets of Forum Civility by lordcloudx (Coming soon to an online ebook near you.)

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#8 Post by mikey » Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:55 am

Well, as described by Samu-kun, I find three elements of moe in his article:
- effortless affection (pure love, unconditional love, perfect affection,... whatever your preferred term)
- sexuality (as lordcloudx put it "cute with a feminine connotation")
- regret and/or a personal what-if scenario

I think the need for "effortless affection" is a basic feeling, and everyone has been there at some point - whether it was your imaginary friend, your idol from TV, or a dream girl that existed only in your mind - this has not just appeared with the advent of anime, it's been around for centuries, if not forever.

As for "sexuality", that's a quite clear factor for me, as they are females who are in a certain way attractive - though not in the typical direct erotic way, but in a more "care-for" or non-aggressive eye-candy way. But for me, this is still physical (or at the very least) visual attraction.

And then, "regret", as I would call it, a kind of what-if dream scenario. I found this question to be similar to the contents of Gakuen Redux (not to be self-promoting though). But I suppose the article wanted to point out this specific theme.

So I would really see Samu-kin's definition as a combination. All of these topics - "pure love", "sexuality/attraction" and "regret/what-if" have been around for a long time, maybe the uniqueness of moe is that it just puts them together like this?

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#9 Post by Adorya » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:39 am

The "moe" otaku's behavior is quite similar to the 18th's century Romanticism movement in it's very basic definition : "The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity in untamed nature and its qualities that are "picturesque", both new aesthetic categories."
Thus moe exists on a plane separate from the mortal realm to provide this eternal, great, wonderful romance, findable nowhere else but in moe.
Model kit are one step closer to the real world. "Artificial & moe-able" AI software is another one. Maybe one day both will combine and this limit will be done for, as described in Chobbit from CLAMP.

Moe's feminine counterpart can be also interpreted as "Kawaii" though now it's more considered as a ganjuro/gothic loli slang, but the "strong emotion" definition remain the same (there is a quite nice comic essay also by CLAMP about it, the 2nd chapter of their work Watashi no sukina hito).

For me, moe is no more than an extreme subcategory of fetishism. The character's trait doesn't even need to be emphasized in order to be moe because it's the moe-er who will do that by himself.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#10 Post by mikey » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:58 am

In reality, I'm all for de-enigmatizing the term. I don't really like definitions like "cannot be told, has to be experienced", because obviously that's not really true. Often people will however willingly not even try to rationalize feelings, since they fear that the magic will be lost.

The reason why that article is so wonderful and poetic is that it isn't specific - for all we know, moe could be almost anything (I know I know, not *anything*, but still a fairly wide nondescript positive emotion mostly depicted by situations). But once you start to identify the components, the mystery is soon gone, and most of the time people will not want to do this (and often insisting on the enigmatic nature), because they want the magic to stay.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#11 Post by Samu-kun » Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:21 am

Okay, a day has passed and Samu-kun's brain energy has recharged sufficiently enough for him to be forming complete sentences again. XD
So I would really see Samu-kin's definition as a combination. All of these topics - "pure love", "sexuality/attraction" and "regret/what-if" have been around for a long time, maybe the uniqueness of moe is that it just puts them together like this?
Mmm... Quite interesting you say that, considering that I never tried to define moe in my essay. XD It was not really my intention to define the word "moe," but perhaps I was inadvertently overcome by my own torrent of words and I ended up doing so in the end anyways. Originally, my goal wasn't really to define moe but really more to create a guide for fellow visual novel writers on how to use moe. In particular, I tried to focus mostly on what the audience expects out of moe and some ways in which moe can be applied to a story to improve it - topics of which I thought would be to the interest of VN writers.
I think the need for "effortless affection" is a basic feeling, and everyone has been there at some point - whether it was your imaginary friend, your idol from TV, or a dream girl that existed only in your mind - this has not just appeared with the advent of anime, it's been around for centuries, if not forever.
I'm not sure if I am understanding this point quite clearly. I think the main reason why moe has found so much appeal is because romances can never be perfect in the real world and a particular, perhaps idealistic, perhaps naive, subset of men have difficulty accepting that fact. In any case, I believe that the connotation that men who seek moe only desire to make obedient pets out of girls who love them no matter what is incorrect. I'm not sure if "effortless" affection is the right word to use here, because if anything, the people who are most attracted to moe put in too much effort into their real life loves - they give too much and they expect too much in return, and in the end, they are invariably disappointed. That's why they need moe - a world where they can give nearly infinite amounts of love to moe girls that remind them of the people they like in real life. Just look at the amount of affection the average otaku gives to an anime character - making fan pictures of her, spending hundreds of dollars in merchandise, and obsessing about her in blogs. Perhaps they wish to love real girls as deeply, and yet find that the real world limits their bounds of love too much - and so that is why they need moe to remove those boundaries in a fantasy world - and it is the job of the visual novel writer to create it.
In reality, I'm all for de-enigmatizing the term. I don't really like definitions like "cannot be told, has to be experienced", because obviously that's not really true. Often people will however willingly not even try to rationalize feelings, since they fear that the magic will be lost.

The reason why that article is so wonderful and poetic is that it isn't specific - for all we know, moe could be almost anything (I know I know, not *anything*, but still a fairly wide nondescript positive emotion mostly depicted by situations). But once you start to identify the components, the mystery is soon gone, and most of the time people will not want to do this (and often insisting on the enigmatic nature), because they want the magic to stay.
You are right on this point, I certainly will try avoiding defining moe no matter what. ^_^;; As you said, I think it will doing moe a disservice to dissect it too deeply. In either case, I believe that there is no need to find an exact definition of moe because anyone who has seen it knows how it feels anyways. However, I can try to analyze why people like it, and how it can be used in stories - two questions that I am sure any visual novels writer interested in writing moe will ponder.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#12 Post by mikey » Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:09 am

I'm not sure if I am understanding this point quite clearly. I think the main reason why moe has found so much appeal is because romances can never be perfect in the real world and a particular, perhaps idealistic, perhaps naive, subset of men have difficulty accepting that fact. In any case, I believe that the connotation that men who seek moe only desire to make obedient pets out of girls who love them no matter what is incorrect.
I agree on that one, sure. Fundamentally, we could probably agree to say moe is something one-sided? That would basically be my point. Even though the premise is that the moe character "loves you" or something, the essence is still one-sided (in the sense that it's still your own mind that lets the moe character "love" you back - as opposed to person/person love which both sides actively feel).

What precise mix of which feelings moe is, is another discussion - it probably differs specifically from person to person, and I suppose if you were analytical, you could find some common elements.
In either case, I believe that there is no need to find an exact definition of moe because anyone who has seen it knows how it feels anyways.
See above - however, there is a danger here at least from my perspective, and that would be that I feel that some people may want to say that moe is "more" than love, or that real-life love isn't "as pure" as moe, or something in that direction.
I'm not sure if "effortless" affection is the right word to use here, because if anything, the people who are most attracted to moe put in too much effort into their real life loves - they give too much and they expect too much in return, and in the end, they are invariably disappointed. That's why they need moe - a world where they can give nearly infinite amounts of love to moe girls that remind them of the people they like in real life. Just look at the amount of affection the average otaku gives to an anime character - making fan pictures of her, spending hundreds of dollars in merchandise, and obsessing about her in blogs. Perhaps they wish to love real girls as deeply, and yet find that the real world limits their bounds of love too much - and so that is why they need moe to remove those boundaries in a fantasy world
I do get the point (as you explained above in your paragraph) of being able to just *drown* your moe girl in your affection and not having to deal with giving her her own space or "overdoing" it with love - simply to pour everything in it. However, in conjunction with my first point about one-sidedness, I do think that love cannot be one-sided. So it's really a different form of affection than when you love someone as a partner. But that doesn't mean that moe is "more". What it is, is an easier form of directing your affection (what I meant by "effortless", as opposed to figuring out how and when to express your love to a RL person and how to receive their love as well). It doesn't make moe inferior, but again - it doesn't make it more either, because moe and love are not the same.

Otherwise, some otaku may suggest that his love for some "Mikuru" is more than what I feel for my wife. If he said it's the same, at worst we'd have a discussion. If he says it's more, we have an argument, because that just can't be true.

EDIT: However, it's IMO perfectly possible to love someone in RL and still feel moe for an anime character. At least theoretically - in practice your RL Mikuru will have a problem with your moe Mikuru if you're obsessing with her too much at her expense. But no one said that to really feel moe for your anime character you need to attend to her 24 hours a day, much like it doesn't mean that to truly love someone means not thinking about anything else but her (there are cars and sporting events, for example - and there are also soaps and shoes on the other hand). So I think there can be a good balance - and if your otaku friends insist on you buying bedsheets with some anime character, or else you're not really feeling truly moe, well that's just silly.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#13 Post by M12 » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:04 am

You guys have started an awesome topic. I always assumed moe is something that can't be explained. Now that it's brought up, it's quite interesting.

I posted a response:
http://tdomj.wordpress.com/2008/07/01/moe-tuesday/

I'd love to get some comments on this.

Hopefully this topic will continue, too. It's very interesting.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#14 Post by mikey » Tue Jul 01, 2008 8:48 am

TDOMJ >>
Of course, it’s all fiction. Real love isn’t this wonderful. Basically, people shouldn’t get obssessed over Nanami. She should only be an icon. A representation of, ideal love, or something. Yeah, it’s corny as hell. You know what I’m saying, though.
I get the icon part. I think you can admire such a perfect girl, you can seek comfort in thinking about her and you can also (observe the wording! - make her a base for the dreams about a loving relationship) ... but you cannot love her (in the sense I'll describe below - just not to get hung up on terminology). When you say real love isn't this wonderful you should say real love isn't like this.

Because if you love a real person, with all the imperfections (and not imperfections you *want* or find cute, but also those that annoy you), this is when you are really loving someone. This is when your love is irrational, this is when you are willing to forgive, to adapt, to share and to fear, to take a chance, open yourself, this is when you make memories together - it's the very essence of being human, being imperfect and still love and be loved.
Here’s the conclusion. Don’t make moe an obssession. Instead, it should be a symbol. A symbol of purity, which is regretfully, fictional.
Really, my philosophical question here would be - is true love "loving something pure", or is true love "loving something imperfect"? And it just must be the latter. The former, if you like, can be moe in anime circles.
Sure, go watch your harem and turn mellow. But when the show’s over, return to reality. That’s my approach. This is adult talk right here. Nothing like those fanboy/girls who write/draw hentai doujinshi. Fanservice breaks purity. If it’s not pure, it’s not moe.
Adult is probably a good word for this. I know we get into a fight over our plushies everytime with my wife and I *really* want to sleep with our plushie dog instead of our teddybear or crab, but even if this seems like 5-year olds in kindergarten, in the end, none of us is fixated on the plushies and we can just as easy sleep without them, meaning it causes us no trauma. But we still love our plushies to death. It's just to know from where to where that love ranges and you can then live that love or affection to the fullest.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#15 Post by Samu-kun » Tue Jul 01, 2008 6:11 pm

Your ideas are quite great, everyone. :3 I'm glad that my essay was at least able to spark some kind of a discussion. ^_^
I agree on that one, sure. Fundamentally, we could probably agree to say moe is something one-sided? That would basically be my point. Even though the premise is that the moe character "loves you" or something, the essence is still one-sided (in the sense that it's still your own mind that lets the moe character "love" you back - as opposed to person/person love which both sides actively feel).
Tragically, yes moe is indeed one sided. However, it shall be the job of a visual novel writer to make the reader believe this is not true. That is why moe characters must be humanized to the fullest extent so that they seem real - so it it deceives the audience into believing that she loves the reader back. Honestly, because the audience is already receptive in that they wish for her to be real, I think that this task, while it is certainly not easy, is not too difficult either.
See above - however, there is a danger here at least from my perspective, and that would be that I feel that some people may want to say that moe is "more" than love, or that real-life love isn't "as pure" as moe, or something in that direction.
Of course man shall say that moe is superior to love - but in at the end of the day, it is fundamentally impossible for moe love to be superior to real life love. People love moe because they have such high expectations for romance in real life. They seek for the ideal of love and not for love itself - and in the end they are disappointed by what they find. That is why they turn to moe instead - a world where such an idealized romance is possible. However, for these same men, the appeal of moe is nothing compared to the appeal of true, real life love. So they may claim that moe is superior to real life love, but in fact, had it not been for their desire for real life love, then moe would not exist at all. Moe is completely dependent, subservient to the desire of men to want such a true romance in real life. Offer any man even a shimmer of unlikely hope that such a true romance is possible in real life and he will drop moe in an instant and chase after it.
Otherwise, some otaku may suggest that his love for some "Mikuru" is more than what I feel for my wife. If he said it's the same, at worst we'd have a discussion. If he says it's more, we have an argument, because that just can't be true.
This would be truly embarrassing for the otaku indeed. XD But while otakus may claim that moe is better than love, this is just self deception. Their very obsession with moe is grounded on the fact that they desire to love and to be loved in real life. Thus, no matter what, their desire for moe is compelled by their desire for such a love. Therefore, it is inescapable that the desire for a real life love controls moe. That is why moe is such a wonderful thing for those who seek it. It is the stuff of their dreams - they things that they desire, and yet can never grasp - made into reality. They wish desperately for moe to be reality, they demand that such a thing is possible in real life - and it is the job of the visual novel writer to utilize that demand to craft stories that will engage the reader as never before. But to answer your original question, moe is nothing compared to love. The desire for love is the power source from which the cogs of moe are spun. Without love, moe would not be possible, but without moe, love would still be possible.
Samukun wrote about moe:

http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... f=4&t=3723

Let me discuss about moe, too. It’s Moe Tuesday. Be proud, Opticzone.

I’m always intense. M12 never tries to act cute. But damn it, man. Moe-ism makes me mellower than a marshmellow. Nothing else does that to me. It’s the best relief for people like myself.

Samukun reckons moe fulfils people’s fantasies. I understand that. But to me, moe’s a fascination. I’ll bring up Konoe Nanami again:

Nanami contains no backstory. Yet, she’s easily my choice moe character. The reason is, in real life, you wouldn’t want a girl with terminal illness, or whatever. You wouldn’t go on any epic adventures, either. Your ideal bishoujo would just be normal. That’s what Konoe is. She attends school with you. She’s your friend. She cares about you. She loves only you. She would never betray you. Most importantly, she has long, purple hair. No man would reject that.

Of course, it’s all fiction. Real love isn’t this wonderful. Basically, people shouldn’t get obssessed over Nanami. She should only be an icon. A representation of, ideal love, or something. Yeah, it’s corny as hell. You know what I’m saying, though.

Here’s the conclusion. Don’t make moe an obssession. Instead, it should be a symbol. A symbol of purity, which is regretfully, fictional.

Sure, go watch your harem and turn mellow. But when the show’s over, return to reality. That’s my approach. This is adult talk right here. Nothing like those fanboy/girls who write/draw hentai doujinshi. Fanservice breaks purity. If it’s not pure, it’s not moe. Once things get perverted, it just becomes School Days, and you’re just Makoto.

Opinions welcomed. If you have an anime blog, I challenge you to write about this.

M12 out.
Maybe at worst, I would just say that moe is a writer's tool that can be used to hold the reader spellbound to his or her works. However, since I am not only a writer, but also a lover of moe, I know can't slap such a mundane definition on it. However, your advice is good for the anime fan. It's best not to get hopelessly obsessed with moe and forget about the much more important value of love. The intent of my essay was, as stated before, to serve as a guide for writers. Obviously, this essay illustrates why I believe people like moe and how the writer can make use of this demand. However, I clearly recognize that many other people have other reasons why they find moe so appealing, so I am always interested in other opinions. :3

edit:
Sorry, I read over my post again and it appears that I've ended up saying just about the same thing in both my second and third paragraphs. XD Sorry for the repetition... >_<;

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