Whew, okay I think I've held off on trying to answer all your posts enough. I'll try to keep this as organized as possible, since it looks like a small army has gathered around this topic. :3
First, we'll start off with Mikey.
I thought of another element to this theory - time-specific perception.
You see, *maybe*, you can "have moe" IRL, but only for a certain time. Let me explain: For example, you are in a very good stage of your relationship and on top of that, you've had another great event and confirmation of your love - at this point your brain is overloaded with happy substances, you have no negative emotions, everything seems completely perfect - your girl is the most beautiful, you gloss over the "bad sides" since it feels you love them, too - and so on. You're intoxicated, the world is (for that brief moment) perfect and happy. Isn't this qualitatively the same as moe in terms of the feeling?
I mean, at this one moment there is nothing negative, you are optimistic and believe everything is easy and there are no problems, everything is possible.
Well, just a thought. It doesn't mean this is moe IRL, but it can mean at these moments, when life, love and everything feels perfect, you actually perceive (perceive, not have) the same perfection as moe, in real life. Of course by your definition moe means that this perfection actually exists, and you perceive perfection from this "fact". But for the perception of perfection it doesn't matter whether it comes from an objective fact (moe), or from a subjective feeling (life's great).
So... it doesn't change the definition of moe as you proposed, but it may mean that qualitatively the same kind of feeling of perfection that moe gives people can also be felt through other channels - maybe just for a short time, but still.
Seeing how it's incontestable that life is filled with both ups and downs, I agree with this statement. But it's still a fact that life is a struggle and you must claw your way through layer after layer of work and place yourself at extreme emotional vulnerability just for a chance to see just a glimmer of these moments. I will say that moe appeals the most to those who have felt these brief moments of happiness but has, through some sort of tragedy, lost the opportunity to feel it again. The world is an unstable place and while it gives individuals moments of happiness, it also bestows tragedies upon them. Thus moe was created to provide a plane where individuals can live out their idealized lives that they were kept from in real life because of the inherent instability of the universe. People wanted to love and be loved, but because of the circumstances around them, they could do neither. And even if the world turns out to be in their favor, real life relationships will still require adaptation and compromise if they are not to crumble with time. That is what makes moe so appealing. It's not because they want submissive lovers and it's not because they're sexually immature, but because the world is unstable and restrains what they've always wanted the most.
Next, we'll go to zanaikin. For the sake of organization, I'm going to summarize his main arguments again. From what I'm getting, he defines moe as merely being a collection of character traits. So I'm thinking that according to him, creating a character who is moe will probably involve (but will not be limited to) these two key steps.
First, you will have to compile a list of attributes that you think is moe. So...
-Horrifically bad cook
And then you construct a coherent character that makes reasonable sense and is likable from these traits.
Now, I will response to this definition of moe.
There are still some short comings with this method of classifying moe. First, this idea is still vulnerable to the world's instability. Your quote,
Not to mention even if they're perfect in your point-of-view, it doesn't necessarily transfer to another.
is a good place to start explaining the short coming of this definition. Just as reality is too complex and unstable to provide people with true love, reality will be too unstable to provide a list of traits that people will love. Different people will love different traits, and there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are looking for moe, and each of them have their own unique sets of traits they desire in their ideal love. Thus, your list will run on to such an grotesque length that it will be of nearly no practical use.
However, it can still be said that by now, a few traits have become moe trademarks. (Such as the set of traits making up a tsundere, a childhood friend, or a robot girl) Thus it can be said by some that moe is merely these sets of traits. However, once again this definition of moe has its severe shortcomings. This definition is good for identifying moe archtypes, but is worthless for creating the romance. Ultimately, it is romance that the audience seeks and not the characters themselves. People want to love and to be loved by Tsukasa. Merely having Tsukasa in her form is not enough. Thus, this is the definition of moe that most of the spectators will use, but from the perspective of a creator, it is of little value. The spectators merely need to identify moe. All they have to do is compare a character against a list of traits they've understood from past experience to be moe in order to determine whether or not she is moe and then expect the creator to do the rest. However, from the perspective of a creator who must actually write the romance, all these traits will do is create shallow, lifeless husks. The characters and their stories must come from the creator's imagination and heart and not from an almighty list of adjectives. Once again, moe is not about merely possessing a girl, but is sharing love and intimacy with her. All a list of adjectives does is describe somebody. It does not fulfill neither love or romance. Love in an integral part of moe and a list of traits cannot hope to fulfill this requirement.
Besides, I don't think true love in any ways involve a complete lack of argument, that simply isn't possible in real life, and in my opinion too boring even in simulation. Anime/VN couples still have their disagreements, even if it is nowhere as often
The key difference is that in real life, you have to live with these problems every day and in the end, they may or may not ruin your entire relationship. Moe must give perfect, idealized romances that the audience has always desired, but because of real world circumstances, they have never actually had. Mikey's time-specific perception theory is a good place to start explaining this idea. In our world, there are absolute moments of bliss. But because of the instability of the world, they are invariably taken away from you, sometimes in the most harshest of manners. That's why moe cannot exist in the world - reality is far too complicating for it. Moe only belongs in the realm of fiction and imagination, and it shall be there where it shall always stay. It is foolhardy to expect such a thing to exist in real life.
How many heroines in anime/VN could you classify as 'perfect'? Not to mention even if they're perfect in your point-of-view, it doesn't necessarily transfer to another.
Not to mention some moe traits revolve around a heavy dose of disagreements ( even it does not necessarily involve compromising ), tsunderes being an obvious one.
This two charges are actually problems with your own definition of moe and not mine. Your definition focuses too much on the concrete bodies of the characters. You must understand that moe is not merely a character herself, but the intimacy people want to share with her. While the characters themselves may have their short comings (eg. Clannad: Nagisa's too frail and weak, Kyoh's too rough and violent, and Fukuu's just problematic all over), the real world's instabilities will not be a factor in the audience's relationship with these characters and true, eternal love will no longer be an impossibility but a reasonable expectation. To the point where moe is possible in the real world, it stops becoming moe because such a perfect thing is impossible to find in this universe. No matter how flawed a character, the reader's intimacy with her will be however great he wishes, to the point where perfect and pure love is possible.
However, creators should take note that just because moe can create perfect and flawless intimacy, it is not necessary for moe to be present through a story beginning to end. Everything I've said up to this point have really attempted to describe why people desire moe. With this knowledge in hand, it is the job of a creator to use moe to craft their stories. Be aware that moe eliminates all of real life's restrictions on the maximum levels of love and use that knowledge whenever you need to craft a story. It can be used to craft stories of wonderful, dreamlike, romance or devastating, heartrending tragedies. It is really your choice how you wield it. I only hope that with this essay, people have a better idea of how to best put it to good use.
( not to mention they typically only live in a high school environment anyways, where one's reality is far more sheltered ).
Oh-hohoho... High school is war.
Now, let's shift to Rocket's post. Since he too seems to be intent on forming a list of moe traits, I will respond mostly in the same manner.
As for the self referential nature, let me then try to be specific as to the attributes which embody/elicit moé:
Moétic attributes: Hyper idealized, yet accessible, femininity as expressed by the specific tropes of Anime Culture. Most commonly childishness/infantility - including behaviors such as clumsiness, sensitivity, selfishness, poor emotional control, or visual attributes like extra large eyes, etc., dependency, innocence/purity, naivety/unwavering optimism or equally guarded aggressiveness (tsundere type), mothering/domestic skills.
I will repeat everything I've said for zanaikin to Rocket here. Moe really isn't about a set of traits that describes a character; it's the intimacy shared between the reader and that character.
However, perhaps it will be interesting to confront just why exactly this set of traits have become such a staple of moe. It certainly is curious why so many moe characters seem to invariably display all these attributes. While I am mostly limited to speculation here as this was not the exact topic of my essay, I would wager that the majority of these traits are actually a refection of the audience themselves. Those who are naive, idealistic, optimistic, and sensitive are the people who are most vulnerable to the world's instability and have the most difficulty accepting the fact that their ideals have difficulty surviving in an unstable world. Perhaps because they feel that everyone else in the world as having sacrificed their ideals, they feel the most attracted to individuals who reflect their own struggles against such a difficult world. Because they are suffering because they are naive, idealistic, sensitive, fragile, maybe even clumsy, they want to be intimate with others who can relate to their pain.
Okay, now we'll head to what Deji has said.
I was reading the other day about Heian Era (japanese) literature, and I can see where did the current japanese woman ideal came from (at least from there, I don't know about earlier ideals)
I don't think moe existed during the Heian Era. There shall always be barbaric periods in both history and in the future, but merely because something has a historical link does not prove anything. That's like saying the autobahn's evil because it was constructed during the Third Reich. But then, I think my essay and my subsequent posts should answer most of your points.
Next on, to FIA. It looks like he's still saying that some moe traits exist in real life.
That said, my thoughts on the existence of moe in real life:
- Most(Not applied to all though) girls I know of have phobias for roaches and rats. It can be some rather cute, albeit mean, humor when they try their best to stay away from those critters.
- Tsundere, the usual archetype of hard-outside/soft-inside is actually portrayed in most girls around me. They hardly try to display their feminine in any way.
- Also, a crush happens when you like a person for some of his/her traits. Those traits might be moe in your opinion
Moe is a feeling of intimacy you share with a character. You're still trying to describe the individual traits of a character. While these are indeed common traits found in most moe characters, the intimacy is still missing. Moe is about loving and being loved by a character in a story. I still stand by that moe is impossible to find in real life because the level of intimacy possible with moe is simply impossible in the real world.
Next up is a theme that has been prevalent in most of your topics: Are those who find moe attracted mentally unhealthy?
The answer is simple. The world remains a complicated place with instabilities. Some of them are and some of them aren't. All in all, moe is fiction. It does not exist in the real world. Some people may say that those who find moe appealing have not adjusted to the real world and are instead clinging onto fiction instead of facing reality. However, those who find moe appealing can shout back at them that they have sold out their ideals to the real world and have accepted diluted replacements as bare substitutes. So the next question is, are those who are NOT attracted to moe mentally unhealthy? Well, the answer to that will be the same answer as the one above. The world is too complicated to provide us with any firm answers. Just as this proves, the real world is marked foremost by struggle because there are no definites. That is why we need moe, a world separate from our own, where the world is simple and where the words "I love you" mean exactly that.