Just For ‘Fun': A Condensed Theory of Moe

Moe In A Box
As my Japanese is nonexistent, I’m just hoping it’s nothing scurrilous written on the box.

1. Where does moe (or moé for the pronunciation pedants among us) happen? The site of moe must be in the viewer. When, therefore, we say of a character that she or he ‘is moe’ we are identifying the presence in her or him of traits which provoke or stimulate moe in us (and perhaps in an imagined community of ‘people like us’).

2. Moe is, to put it another way, a subjective event in the viewer’s mind, stimulated by the presence in a ‘moe’ character of certain qualities (youth, naïvité, innocence, weakness, glasses, cat-ears, a maid’s uniform, cyborgification et cetera, et cetera).

3. It would therefore be possible to produce a society of fans whose moe was stimulated by a completely different set of qualities, if that society saw those new qualities as things to be protected, cherished, succoured.

4. Moe is not the same as sexual arousal. It does, however, operate in a similar way: the qualities a character possesses can stimulate arousal in the viewer – if, of course, the viewer feels those qualities to be sekushay. The wide range of traits and qualities which people find arousing is therefore a useful model for the variety of traits which stimulate moe. The word ‘fetish’ is therefore not literally applicable to a moe trait, but may serve as a useful metaphor.

5. It is worth noting that certain viewers find that some traits stimulate both a moe reaction and a sexual reaction. A maid’s uniform implies a power relationship, which may provoke moe or arousal – or both. A doubled reaction – both sexual and moe – to youth may be where the lolicon comes from, but ‘Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen‘ – that’s Deutsch for ‘I don’t like little girls, so I couldn’t say’, by the way.

[There are alternative formulations. For example, in my understanding moe is restricted to parts of the upper-left-hand quadrant of this moe compass. If you're interest is piqued by the lolicon/moe issue, you may wish to peruse 'If Moe is to Survive, Compromises Must be Made'.]

You Are The Best War Film Ever!

6. Since a desire to protect, cherish, succour is a necessary (though perhaps not a sufficient) part of moe, feeling moe means the viewer is making two speculative assumptions, that

  1. he or she is stronger or more knowledgeable about the world than the character who is provoking the moe; and that
  2. he or she is in some way able to enter the character’s world (to do the protecting, cherishing, succouring)

7. This is moe’s most dangerous element. Imagining (1) to be true leads very easily to pride, and certainly encourages the viewer to be blind to his or her own weaknesses. It is self-centred. Imagining (2) to be true is an exercise in hopelessness. Moe, uncritically accepted, can therefore become hopeless, foolish pride: hubris.

[Alert readers may notice that Kodomo no Jikan questions (1) by portraying characters who are likely to stimulate moe but who are also knowledgeable about the world - too cynical, in fact. The franchise does not completely deny (1), however, since these characters are also portrayed as having moments of genuine weakness.]

8. There is, therefore, a need to question the moe that one experiences. It is not an emotion, or structure of emotions, which must be rejected – but neither is it a consequence-free emotion which can be unthinkingly enjoyed. The same might be said of most (but definitely not all) of the emotions which are provoked in us by anime characters. Do not cease, gentle readers, from your mental fight, and do not let your critical sword sleep in your hand (stop laughing, you at the back).

[The 'fun'? That was the fun I had writing it, not the fun you had reading it - a situation perhaps analogous to a recent experiment in mass manipulation executed by a group of cunning minions. And be thankful you didn't get an entry explaining how the resemblance of School Days: Magical Heart Kokoro-chan's nipple control-wire assemblages (image shamelessly 'borrowed' from jpmeyer) to dairy equipment is a comment on the milking of a successful franchise. Because I very nearly wrote one.]

Blogiography

  • OGT identifies a new trend in more characterful moe.
  • Apparently moe has come to define a genre for some people. Koneko-chan considers this through the lens of ANNtv’s Kanon V1 review.
  • [NSFW; also vitriol.] Many moons ago, Akamatsu attempted to describe moe. Detecting obfuscation at work, Reverend Ragu saw fit to launch an all-out assault on the idea that moe can ever be disconnected from sex. Not for the faint-of-heart.

45 responses to “Just For ‘Fun': A Condensed Theory of Moe

  1. Ah. The moe compass. I have not seen that in a while. I actually find it to be the best representation of the moe spectrum out there. =D

  2. Um, well done…I guess.

    I’ve thought about writing a post on moe in the past but encountered an insurmountable problem: the term is too ill-defined to begin with; any serious assessment of the subject ends up being to vague to say anything meaningful. The alternative route is what you did: take it semi-seriously instead. That works much better I think.

    My own stance is echoed by your first image: moe is something cutesy that’s being forced into a box, and it does indeed make me sad when that happens. Well chosen there!

  3. Though I agree with your strict definition of the moé ‘feeling’, I think it’s old hat now, at least with regards to the ever-evolving English lexicon. Within Western anime fandom, moé has become a genre itself; dominated by ‘cute’ young girls and (generally speaking) watched by young/older adult men. So, when someone tells me they are into ‘moé anime’, I know exactly what they mean. Kyoto Animation. Lucky Star. Azumanga Daioh. “A bunch of dead-behind-the-eyes chick crying“. Therefore, I must admit I don’t see moé as subjective in the slightest, it’s an industry. GAR is a better term for describing an admiration that isn’t irrevocably tinged with the above.

  4. Moé is mostly personally subjective mainly due to points 2. and 3. above. Even though it has become highly commercialized in Japan, there are still plenty of various ways to “invoke” moé depending on the person. We have a hard time understanding this in Western society because along with not having the language, there’s no cultural equivalent to the term moé. Thus, we end up reducing the term into the closest substitute (“cutesy fetish?”). In North America, it seems like we end up packaging the term moé (god, that first image works so well for this analogy) into a genre that invokes disturbing (i.e. the 40+yr-old guy living in his parents’ basement disturbing).

    Thanks for reminding me about my article . I actually had to review my post to remember what was said (that’s so sad). Anyway, where did you get the moé compass image? I remember seeing it before I think. I ask because you might have given me an idea for a post (uh oh).

  5. And suddenly the translation of moe to turn-ons in some subs makes a bit more sense. :P

    I agree with concretebadger that moe is very hard to define because of it’s subjectivity. A post of mine kinda glossed on that issue, trying to wonder if you could actually boil down moe to something “simple”. Your post might have been the closest that has come to that for me. :P

    At the same time, I can see stuff as how it can b e “moe” to some, but I haven’t really been able to say it for myself. That is, at the start I don’t even know how moe is supposed to have an effect on me. I don’t “get” moe at the moment. Or something like that. :P

  6. @ RmX: It’s pretty comprehensive, though as I said I wouldn’t consider some of the things on the compass to be moe.

    @ concretebadger: Funnily enough this is essentially a retooled version of a more serious (and more polemical) entry too. The image is rather apt, and I suppose my own approach to moe is itself rather restrictive, although I didn’t choose the picture quite that cleverly.

    @ bateszi: Moe is definitely used as a generic term by some (not unlike the way that ‘mecha’ is a definition-by-content), but I want to avoid doing that myself. Moe has become something of an industry, but good anime has a way of transcending its generic limitations; hopefully we won’t feel like we’re being flooded with ‘too much’ moe forever . . .

    @ koneko-chan: . . . and hopefully the packaged, industrial, ’40+yr-old guy living in his parents’ basement disturbing’ moe won’t be what survives. As for the image, it was found on a search on sagubooru (looking, if I recall correctly, for images tagged ‘moe’ that were rated safe)

    @ TheBigN: You’ll note I never actually come out and say what, precisely, moe is – my excuse being that ‘language operates as a system of
    differences and so there is no way to perfectly define any English word, let alone a loanword’. As you point out in your own entry, there’s no helpful set of guidelines for voting in something like Saimoe, and moe is – as far as I can tell – a very complex structure of several emotions rather than something simple.

    So I’m not sure if it’s even really possible to ‘get’ moe. In fact, I suspect it’s a more consciously realised and manipulated version of something we’ve had before, as it were, we learned the word.

  7. Point #6 reminds me of a follow-up to the Moe-vs. Gar post that never came to be.

    The basic point I’d hoped to make (but never really fleshed out) it that moe is vulnerability.

    *warning, generalisations ahead, proceed with caution and salt on hand*

    Male otaku are typically shy introverts: beta-males terrified of approaching the opposite sex. How do you approach the perfect woman? Ideally, you don’t. She comes to you. If that doesn’t pan out, you have to find a way to reduce the fear involved in baring your heart to a woman.

    The various strains of moe are vulnerabilities/abnormalities (physical, emotional, and/or psychological) built into the characters to make them more approachable/susceptible to the advances of otaku viewers (after they’ve mentally inserted themselves into the situation, of course).

    Not all otaku are the same inside. Some are basically harmless or out for genuine love, while others are dangerously, almost criminally, twisted inside. That’s why some rather disturbing regions get included in the Moe Compass. A flavor for every sense of taste.

    That’s also part of why I’ve always been a little put off by the concept behind Saimoe. It’s basically a run-off to find which fictional character has had their character flaws best triangulated to appeal to the greatest number of introverts and/or pervs.

  8. So this really is one of those “eye of the beholder” things is it? I wouldn’t think so completely. Everyone has his or her own tastes, preferences, biases, fetishes, or what have you when it comes to the fatal attraction of moé, I’ll agree. But I do believe that based on the consensus of the population, a verdict can be reached on the categorization of certain moé response types, which is why I am very much an advocate of the compass.

    Let’s take quadrant 4, the Denpa-kei area. This is what I’d call the “burning desire to protect” corner. It is stimulated by kawaii and generally adorable acts on the part of the moé person in question, regardless of how legitimate the “purity” of this person is. With males only watching from afar, the general feeling is to protect this “innocence” so that it may last forever, which is where you get protection squads and fan clubs devoted to the worship and preservation of the moé character’s personality.

    An example for this is Ichinose Kotomi, for whom I would give everything to keep her as adorable as she is.

    Now I’ll move to quadrant 1, the Erokawaii-kei or “I’d Hit It” corner. This is purely the sexual response aspect of moé, where tsundere and one-sided love for the many DAMN FINE women reign supreme, along with the many other sexual archetypes and character builds that exist in the business. It is here in this corner that you find virtually all of your eroge and H-doujin, for the purely sexual attraction that occurs between guys and extremely attractive girls. For the most part this area is for the wild fantasies of the otaku, which as always will almost never be fulfilled.

    My examples for this are Fujibayshi Kyou and Sakagami Tomoyo, with whom I’d be more than willing to have a fun night, but never pursue a very serious relationship.

    Next is Otome-kei, which I’d classify as another area of purely sexual response. No guys here at all, except perhaps the spectators enjoying the view of girlfriends bonding with each other. In order for this corner to function as its own moé category, at least one of the girls in question must begin “innocent” and “pure”. This can remain the status quo if all the girls in question behave as such, or may be challenged by the more mature and yet more sexually aggressive seme characters trying to break that aura of purity. The motivations are usually either to bring out a maturation of the uke character, or to exploit the innocent girl for their own enjoyment.

    For this, just refer to an index of yuri shows, although my example goes to Strawberry Panic.

    Finally there’s quadrant 2, Junai-kei. I call this one another pure form of moé like Denpa-kei, except that it’s along the lines of “true love/mutual attraction” than the burning desire to protect. Here, the moé heroine and the male protagonist truly have feelings for each other than transcend the moé characteristics and find a deeper understanding of their relationship than just on a sexual level.

    My example for this category goes unquestionably to Furukawa Nagisa, the only girl in Clannad I feel needs to really be loved.

    Excuse my over usage of Clannad by the way. It’s the only moé show that’s still fresh in my head right now.

  9. @Will: How in the hell did we manage to post at the same time? O.o

  10. Proably about 10 seconds difference if I had to guess.

  11. Well I think everyone knows where I stand on this whole issue. It’s far from the typical Moe reaction that’s all I’ll say.

  12. [Great comments all round; excuse the saga-length reply!]

    @ Will: That’s a good theory (provided we keep our salt on hand). That a lot of (or all?) characters who are designed to provoke moe have had any possibility of threat carefully cut away from them. (I rather like Steven’s entry on the ideal (active) ‘otaku dream girl’, so thanks for linking that.) Though I personally think that the reason the compass has so much variation is because it has things on it which aren’t moe: the ‘Onii-chan no Ecchi~ Corner’ can coexist with moe but it isn’t a part of it.

    [I speak of 'characters who are designed to provoke moe', but I shall re-emphasise that moe happens in the viewer and potentially can be aimed at characters who were never designed with moe in mind.]

    Never having personally taken part in Saimoe, I’m not an expert on how it works (though I’ve heard dark tales of tactical voting!), but – as with SaiGAR – I imagine the nomination process would be the interesting bit, with some definition-by-example. And I’m sure some (if not a lot) of the voting is powered by things other than moe. (‘Onii-chan no Ecchi~’!)

    @ RmX: First of all, thanks for explaining the compass in detail, with examples – not a job I’m qualified or able to do! We obviously have rather different takes on moe (mine being rather more dictatorial and restrictive).

    Certainly we can carefully poll the world of anime and manga fans to determine which traits most commonly provoke moe. In fact, that’s probably a useful exercise. But what we then have is a kind of consensus of subjectivities, which doesn’t result in objectivity.

    [If 100% of respondents polled said that they felt tearfulness provoked lots of moe, the moe would still reside in the viewer rather than in tearfulness because one could (in theory) brainwash all of those people into having a (Pavlovian) fearful response to tearfulness - at which point tears would provoke no moe at all. (Point (3) of the original entry.)]

    So the compass is useful, but over time I’d expect the terms on it to change. Another limitation is that it only considers the relationship between a male viewer and a female character, when there are male characters who provoke moe. L is one example, while Kodomo no Jikan‘s (since I used said series in the orig. entry) Daisuke Aoki arguably provokes moe through his rabbit-in-the-headlights status, for example.

    And I’d still want to exclude sex from the compass. Or rather rename the compass as something other than just ‘Moe’, because the idea of putting a male-presence axis against a heroine’s-virtue axis is a very clever one, even if it will always be an imperfect diagram.

    @ RmX & Will: So which one’s the evil twin?

    @ Kaioshin Sama: Heh, yes. I suppose partly this is a matter of taste – moe doesn’t suit some people, and others are sick of it because there’s been a lot splashing around lately. Personally I’m fairly indifferent to it, but then I avoid watching too many Key adaptions or fraternising too closely with their fans.

    But besides taste there’s also the matter of whether moe is good or bad for the viewer and on balance I suspect that uncritically accepted moe has a tendency to be bad for the viewer. So if (Heaven forbid!) there was ever some Civil War over moe that forced me to choose a side, I’d probably join the counter-moe revolution. If Pizza Hut was on-side, of course.

  13. It looks like I mistyped and/or mis-thought again. Further proving why I should stop blogging/commenting at 6am in the morning before work. To say it simply, I just really like the starting image of Milkan-chan in a box. Take that as you will.

    RmX: Now that I’ve thought about the moé graph some more, I think we’re forgetting that females can have a moé reaction as well. In that case, Renge from Ouran High School Host Club is a perfect example of Denpa-kei. Her reaction to moé is one of just pure excitement. Her definition of moé is not anything to be respected (she’s not going to say “onee-sama”). At the same time it is not anything sexual. Her reaction is that of pure fandom excitement (love for cuteness?) which seems to nicely describe that quadrant.

    If you view it that way, then the graph becomes really simplified. You end up falling into two categories based on gender (top half = male, bottom half = female) and end up having only two responses. If you are a male, then moé is simply induces love or lust. I’m not saying that any quadrant is gender exclusive. But the y-axis of male presence reveals a possible gender divide in the graph (if the moé figure in question is female).

    I’m interested in hearing a from a few female anime fans on the concept of moé. It seems like we cannot be complete here without a possible female perspective. I’m also interested because I never see an article like that.

  14. Haha… I just happened to finish my thought only 2mins later… what’s with us commenting at the same time?

  15. I guess it’s the warping power of all the ‘fun’ this post is charged with!

  16. @The A: Dictatorial and restrictive? Damn, lol.

    I feel that moé is a term that’s up for loose interpretation, and cannot be defined by any given set of parameters. And given the progression of moé through the years, I’d expect the interpretation to change in the future as well when you apply changing tastes and preferences.

    As for the sexual aspect of moé, I feel that it is removed when you isolate it to only the NE quadrant, where otaku fantasy reigns. (This would also be the appropriate place for Kaioshin’s lolidom thing, now that I think about it.) Outside of that quadrant, sexual attraction becomes a non issue, even with the nosebleeds generated from the yuri corner.

    And I personally don’t think L is moé. He’s awesome, but definitely not moé. We should use a fangirl compass for that.

    @koneko-chan: You’re saying can’t feel the burning desire to protect Kotomi and Kyonko from afar? You heartless bastard! =P

    I would just redo the compass to fit the female perspective altogether. I’m sure they nosebleed over a yaoi SW corner, and would love to hit (or be hit by) shotas and bishies in the NE corner. The NW true love corner and SW Denpa-kei corner would remain the same I believe though.

  17. Hmm… maybe a colloquial way of describing moe is “That which gets you worked up.” “Worked up” being a broad way of describing everything in the spectrum from protective paternal instinct to wild monkey-lust.

    I’ve got a couple gaps that keep me from growing a proper mirror-world goatee, so I’m gonna have to assume RmX is the evil twin.

    If you’re interested in a lot (and I do mean a lot) of reading, Avatar (an on-again off-again professional anime subber) did a play-by-play of the entire Saimoe 2007 tournament. His kickoff post is the July 7 entry on this page. From there, you work up through the archives all the way to the November 3rd entry on this page. (Of course, the links for navigating from one page to the next are actually at the bottom of the page, and yeah, they stretch the whole tournament out that long. The real point has always been to drive traffic)

    He does a good job of explaining a lot of the tactical voting going on.

  18. I don’t know if you’re serious, but the box says “mikan”, referring to the oranges (“mikan” is actually the smallish variety, similar to what is known in other locales as a “mandarine”), but in the same time “Mikan” is Mika’s handle. I think the anime itself never makes the too-obvious pun, surprisingly enough.

    I think that Das Boot and 08th MS Team deliver very much the same message of pointless courage and sacrifice.

  19. Will: [that guy's blog]

    After a couple of hours at that: ROFLMAO. That looks like a lot of fun. Damn, maybe I’ll have a go at it next time…and maybe I shouldn’t have skipped saiGAR either.

  20. *checks to see if anyone else is posting before crossing the street*

    RmX: I agree that the graph should be changed if the central figure provoking moé is male. The one thing to keep note here is that the stimulated and stimulator are both gendered (this sounds so wrong). We often equate moé to be the interaction of a male person reacting to a female moé figure. I think the graph still works for female-to-female moé interaction if you associate Denpa-kei as someone like Renge from Ouran. Again, another view I’d like to find out about from a female anime fan.

    And now to defend myself: As much as I like Kotomi and Kyonko, they don’t rank highly on my personal moé list. Kotomi ends up being the unofficial mascot of my blog because of that library image and she may be replaced by meganekko Tomoyo or Hiromi soon. From Clannad, Kyou just ranks leagues above everyone else in my book. I like Kyonko but until she’s put into an anime, I can’t rate her higher than the other ladies in my bishoujo list.

  21. Now this is uncanny. As I were thinking of finishing my long-in-the-works essay on moe (of course, not blog-wise as I have none to speak of), you pop up with a post which preempts some of the things I’ve thought of it. What’s more, this very day I borrowed the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus, and judging by the above trend of parallell posting, I’d say this is one fine day for synchronicity (I happened to browse through one book on that subject too in the library, incidentally).

    Anyway, a nice post, as always!

  22. @koneko-chan: If we’re gonna evaluate people and characters by their moé response, then I’m putting you in quadrant 1. Higher up on the Y-axis, but not too far out on the X-axis. =P

  23. @ koneko-chan (1): I’m prone to rolling out of bed, booting my laptop and typing out bleary-eyed remarks myself. Getting a female perspective on moe would certainly be interesting, though I wouldn’t want my blog to get girl cooties, or anything.

    @ RmX: Certainly there’s no way we’ll ever nail down a perfect definition – and as you say, over time what is moe will change. I don’t know how to treat the (figurative) nosebleeds generated by yuri – they’re a very passive form of stimulation.

    I think L’s monotone statements set off some kind of outwardly-emotionless-moe trigger in my mind, but then it’s a personal thing as always.

    Redoing the compass entirely from a female P.O.V. would be an interesting exercise indeed. Though if the SE denpa-kei and the NW junai-kei corner would remain substantially the same, might not those be the gender-neutral essence of moe? Hmm.

    And I feel a burning desire to have Kyonko be the Every(wo)man figure whose sarcastic narration filters my experience of an anime show, if you know what I mean.

    @ Will: ‘[W]ild monkey-lust’, heh heh. Thanks for linking Avatar – I was vaguely aware of his existence, but I didn’t know he did a Saimoe commentary. Will read – in bite-size chunks.

    @ Author: I’m certainly serious about my nonexistent Japanese, if that’s what you’re not sure I’m serious about; I’ve never had the time to learn any non-European languages and while I have rudimentary Japanese listening skills I can’t read a single character of the written stuff. This is a situation I intend to rectify when I’m older, wiser, richer and have more time.

    Now you point it out, The 08th and Das Boot are rather similar. Though I shouldn’t be too surprised as the One Year War part of the Universal Century definitely has a strong WWII feel (‘nam stylings in The 08th notwithstanding).

    @ koneko-chan (2): Ah, a bishoujo list, what every man needs. I do wonder if Kyou’s current popularity will last.

    @ kaiserpingvin: I apologise if I’ve accidentally pre-empted you on anything! Your catalogue of coincidences does indeed sound rather uncanny; perhaps you should start predicting the content on this blog based on what you encounter in the library. I’d certainly like to read your own thoughts on moe, so you should definitely drop them on your MAL blog if nowhere else.

  24. The 08th is not Vietnam, and not even close. Don’t listen to Hidoshi, he’s just spouting the same wastewater they used to brainwash him. The series is set in the same _locale_, but if anything the guerilla there looks more like something out of Latin America.

    Vietnamese “guerillia” was a part of the war effort of one side, in exactly the same way Russian “partizanen” were in WWII, or so-called “insurgents” in Iraq are today. The main feature of such setup is the supply line which provides for the guerillia, e.g. the Ho Shi Mihn Trail for Vietnam, and the massive airlift from the Big Land for Russians. Seeing the independent, 3rd party guerillia of the 08th team as Vietnamesque is simply buying into the myth.

    To be sure, lines were somewhat blurred historically. During the Russian Civil War, the Greens in Ukraine – “guerillia” – used to fight both Whites and Reds, then aligned themselves with Reds when Whites started to weaken. Same happens in Latin America all the time. In Liberia, “guerillia” used to fight Taylor’s government with little success until they decided that little help from Nigeria would not hurt; now they are the government. However it may be in the real world, the setting in 08th is rather unambiguous about the origins of their guerillia, and the local alignment with Feds is based on local personalities. It simply is not Vietnam, maybe even the opposite of Vietnam.

  25. I’ve been going back through the Saimoe tourney posts. There are some interesting and pertinent comments in the September 12th post. That’s where I first started to really get my head wrapped around the concept of moe. It turns you into Misaki Masaki.

  26. @ Author: Hey, I said ‘stylings’, not ‘factions’! I’m afraid for me helicopters, jungle and soldiers going slightly crazy when they’re off duty connote the Vietnam War, even though none of those things were exactly unique to the conflict. It’s unfortunate, especially for those who were involved in the actual events, but such is the way of popular culture.

    I certainly agree with you on the guerilla-as-3rd-party issue; my grasp of factual Vietnam history is fairly limited but it stretches far enough that I know the insurgents were firmly on one side in the conflict.

    In fact, the Apsalus Project reminds me rather of some of the wackier flying things developed by the Axis side in Europe during ’44 and ’45.

  27. Will: that link doesn’t work for some reason. I get some “hotlinking images has been disabled” thing.

    You know, speaking of bishoujo…before I caught on that it was the same as bijin (I learnt all my Japanese, which is very little, from fansubs), I always thought it was some kind of loan-prefix from Latin so that it was similar to bisexual – rather, men that look girly. So the term “bishoujo” always turned me off some reason…

  28. Shiri: I was afraid of that. Links from outside the mee.nu domain to files contained in the domain are nerfed.

    Try the link in the fourth comment of this post. Hopefully that one will let you see the image.

  29. I’ve saved the image, uploaded it here and redirected the link in your comment – hope that’s ok.

  30. “New studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine…”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/03/science/03cute.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

  31. Interesting, well-written (rare in todays media!) and contains the brilliant line “[the] manatee, which looks like an overfertilized potato with a sock puppet’s face”.

    Golden.

    Anyways – while cuteness definitely is a large aspect of moe, I’m kind of sceptic it’d be everything it is. I’m suspecting a large part of moe is social, and that without the moe-culture there would be no “moe” – this might seem tautological, so allow me to specify my terms. Moe would be a conjunction of certain emotions and archetypal ideas – cute-defense-reaction, social pressure and idealized desire-for-the-other. It’s also definitely somehow idolatry, as the moeness is focused on a specific fictional person, as opposed to a generic group of cute objects.

  32. Perhaps ‘sex’, ‘a good meal’ and ‘psychoactive drugs’ is a complicated enough description to pass off as moe. Kaiserpingvin puts it well, though: there’s something constructed by a group of (rather wierd) people here as well as the inherent cuteness reaction.

  33. Cheers to intense analysis of psychocultural archetypes :) ! And I thought I was the only one who thought this deeply about such things…

  34. I can’t comment much, but wow on the sharp observations regarding this phenomenon. :)

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  42. it just says MIKAN on the box, or tangerines :)

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