On Moe-Moe

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#46 Post by rocket » Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:38 pm

zanaikin wrote: isn't it airing right now?
Oh, the TV show is airing? Duh... I should have use that confounded inter-web!

Well I suppose I'll have to try and watch it. I can endure the loli-service if the production value is good and it provides the most important element: hard-core grognardish WWII mecha-service!

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#47 Post by Samu-kun » Sat Jul 12, 2008 2:20 am

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...
-Excellent cook
-Horrifically bad cook
-Easily flustered
-Meido uniform
-Neko ears
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.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#48 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:34 am

Samu-kun wrote: Moe is a feeling of intimacy you share with a character.
Hmm. I have said this before, but I shall say it again for posterity: I think, fundamentally, the whole discussion of "what moe is" is pointless.

Not because it's not kind of interesting, but because you will never get more than two or three people to agree on a single definition at the same time. The first time I saw 'moe' defined it was "the non-sexual desire to protect someone vulnerable and delicate" or something along those lines. These days it seems to be more commonly "the idealised longing for a 'perfect' feminine figure" or "some extreme of cuteness" or something - the point being that there seem to be almost as many definitions of 'moe' as there are people who use the word. Some have claimed that their definition must be more correct because it is in agreement with most other people, but it's still typically different from more than half of the other definitions I've heard.

I mean - with your quotes along the lines of:
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
you seem to want this romantic (and I use that in the "fuzzy idealistic" sense rather than the "to do with love" sense) noble condition which isn't sullied by the practicalities of real human relationships. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, life would be a lot easier if all relationships were like that, it just isn't practicable - it's just an observation. FIA, for example, seems to want a word which he can actually use, which has some practical concrete defined value - the engineering approach. There's a lot of value in having romantic words in the language, and there's a lot of value in having engineering words in the language, but it's rare that one word completely fits into both camps... and yet you are fighting over the same three letters. I wonder whether this is just the inherent danger with taking loan-words from significantly different languages...

Clearly the only solution is for one representative for each definition to don battle-armour and fight to the death in the gladiatorial arena. Last man standing wins his definition; if nobody survives then we erase the word from the lexicon entirely.
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Re: On Moe-Moe

#49 Post by dreamer » Sat Jul 12, 2008 8:47 am

In an effort to add even more confusion, have another definition of moe :twisted:

Moe - A relatively unconditional feeling/longing/human emotion, which is however, subject to certain unique conditions to be determined by the individual/s experiencing the aformentioned feeling/s. Provided that said individual/s may alter, modify, set-aside or substantially change the conditions no more than twice a month or risk being labeled insane or feeble-minded by the community or your little sister, whichever comes first.

In case of doubt as to the state of mind of the person experiencing the feelings of moe, the above-mentioned provisions shall be liberally interpreted in favor of sanity. :twisted: :twisted: (Although the same can't be said for this poster)

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#50 Post by mikey » Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:17 am

Well, I wanted to avoid getting into nihilistic conclusions, so I specifically took Samu-kun's view and commented on that. To other definitions I would have different comments, of course.

But anyway, there may be another way of looking at it, where it makes maybe much more sense - maybe moe isn't as much something enigmatic, as it is simply a marketing buzzword and its ambiguous nature is perfect for stirring up discussions and interest within the target audiences.

Because as a tool for creating hype and buzz it probably makes a better and clearer job than it makes as a philosophical term.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#51 Post by rocket » Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:27 pm

Samu-kun wrote: 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: <snip>
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.

I think I write too much and end up confusing my point, so in very few words I'll try to be clear.

People talk a lot about what moé is, which often times ends up being what they think moé should be. While this is enjoyable, I'm most interested in understanding moé as it is used, which really means as it is most commonly used, not by people trying to define it, but by casual usage. To Mikey's point this means both casual usage by consumers of Moé, and calculated commercial use by creators and marketers (a fact which Kaichiro Morikawa famously laments).

I don't think moé is a set of attributes. I don't think moé is a specific ideal/emotion.

I think moé is a complex term, like "puppy love", which can be used linguistically as many parts of speech and whoose meaning emerged in a particular culture and evolves over time. I didn't propose a six part definition of moé just to be wordy (though I do love to hear myself speak) - I proposed it because I think moé really is used in all these ways and to understand it means honestly cataloging even silly usages (such as "Moééééééééé!" the exclamation similar to "Squeeee!")

I do think the most interesting (and useful to VN authors) understanding of moé comes from the phenomenon that is both a universal feeling/ideal, expressed inside the specific context of Anime culture and style.

In other words, I think moé needs Anime culture to be moé.

You can have something that is functionally identical to moé in a different time and place (such as the common Victorian era images of girl children rendered as idealized femininity), but it is not moé). A

Anime culture provides moé with melodrama, commonly idealized characters, and most importantly a visual style which lends itself nicely to simplification and idealization of human features, while obsessively rendering in fetishistic fashion specific details (and I mean that in the idolizing way that simillar to Ikons). When a mecha-maniac expresses his intentions in anime style, it's a great fit. His robot fighter jocks are tortured and nuanced, but idealized. Moreover every nut and bolt on the long range tactical nuke launching rail gun (for example) is highlighted and glorified in the same way that a woman's body is photographed in Playboy (it turns me on just thinking about it!) When an ardent moér expresses his desire for accessible feminine relationship, again Anime style is a great fit with it's doe-y child like eyes, Japanese conventions about the role of women, and painstakingly detailed frills and lace.

Again, I think Anime culture (styles and conventions) are essential to differentiating moé from any other idealization of love purity and innocence that has happened in history. That's why I think the attributes are interesting. The attributes are what make moé anime, and the very building blocks of moé.

However I agree that moé is more than just a collection of attributes.

First of all the attributes in of themselves are meaningless. Not no too people respond to the same attributes (actually rule 34 proves that at least too people will respond to the same attribute, but the variety is immense!). The attributes are meaningless because contradictory attributes can both be successful. They key is not megane/not-megane, d-cup/loli, tamare/not-tamare, genki/sad-in-the-snow. They key is does the attribute serve to make the character idealized and accessible to someone. By way of side tracking example, here I try to show how the contradictory personalities of the Lucky Star girls are all moé because they all do this successfully.

Idealized accessible relationship is the point. Any attribute is just a means to an end.

I think there's a very interesting disscussion here about the nature of the idealization, the relationship, and gender roles. I have to thank Samu-kun for broadening my rather pejorative understanding of that idealization, and DaFool for insight into the somewhat inverted role of gender in this situation. I also think the way these specifically Japanese attributes collide with Western cultural expectations, especially gender role expectations, is really interesting and illustrates contradictions an nuances in both as Papillion points out (with refreshing honesty on such a loaded topic I might add).

Where I agree with Jake and Mikey again is that ignoring the attributes and focusing only on the point renders the term too vauge and rather useless. With out attributes, and specifically the attributes born forth of Anime culture you don't capture the specific richness of the term.

It would be like saying "Anime is just animation produced by Japanese artists." While that's true, it denies the many specific attributes we all know (and by our presence here presumably love). Big eyes, simplified features, detailed clothing, and mecha, a focus on cinematography and 2D composition over motion, etc. are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of specific attributes. And while there are many anime that don't share many (any) of those attributes (Freedom, Paprika, Kaiba, etc), speaking only of Anime in the broadest terms loses the specific richness of the very thing we adore.

My point: Moé is about idealized objects of affection, idealized in a very specific Anime way.

Some continue to question why we should bother to understand the term, or argue that it cannot be. I think that's silly.

As creators and consumers of VNs many of us are driven to create moé. Understanding (whether it is rational and conscious, or subconscious) is something we need if we are to excel. It would be like telling a poet not to think about "love". Don't try to experience or try to understand "love", just go write about it! Consuming, internalizing, understanding - it's all one process to those who wish to create.

Others have an anthropological bent, and to thoose saying "pointless" or "impossible", I answer that it is no more pointless or impossible than understanding any other attribute of the human mind, the human heart, and our societies. I do believe the unexamined life is a bit of a waste, and certainly that the unexamined moé is not worth moéing.





*ahem* that said I did get around to watching the first 15 minutes of Strike Witches and... (*^ ^*)

I've never seen so... er... many!

At first I was taken by surprise, and tried to relish each glimpse.

I was tempted to pause, but the pace was so fast and furious...

Finally, to my shame, I confess, I just let it wash over me in waves of unexpected bliss!

(*^ ^*)

My God!




Heavy Machine Guns!

I mean forget the bastardized plane inspired legs on those girls - they're using full on historically accurate weapons!

Four - count em - four MG42s!

Ah... I may have to watch this whole thing despite the service and undoubted dreck for plot!


You thought I meant something else?
Last edited by rocket on Sun Jul 13, 2008 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: On Moe-Moe

#52 Post by Jake » Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:05 pm

rocket wrote: to thoose saying "pointless" or "impossible", I answer that it is no more pointless or impossible than understanding any other attribute of the human mind, the human heart, and our societies.
I think you misunderstand what I meant. I don't mean to suggest that it's not worth examining why people feel the way you describe, or the way Samu describes; it's kind of interesting. I mean that it's pointless trying to come up with a single definition which covers everybody's understanding of 'moe', because some of those definitions are contradictory.
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Re: On Moe-Moe

#53 Post by lordcloudx » Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:43 pm

Moe is an abstract fictional concept similar to "true love" but more skewed towards cute little girls. It is not an emotion that is acknowledged by modern psychology. It is a fictional feeling, which is purely within the realm of fantasy like unicorns, high schoolers with naturally purple hair, and walking, talking yellow brick walls.
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Re: On Moe-Moe

#54 Post by zanaikin » Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:22 am

I think this is necessary for anyone who hasn't read it yet:
What Amakatsu-sensei says about moe

Another interesting perspective into it.

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