My Thoughts On: Moe
If you’re a regular anime viewer such as myself, you’ve probably heard this phrase being used to describe a character or even be used in the actual anime series that you are watching. Either way, it is a fact that many non-Japanese viewers and fans of anime don’t completely understand the meaning of this word when used in the context of anime and its characters. There are actually two things that inspired me to write this My Thoughts On post; one is the recent review that I wrote on the Lucky Star series in which the word was used in (I also mentioned I would write a My Thoughts On post on the word). The other comes from a close friend of mine who only recently jumped into the world of anime – prior to me recommending a few series, my friends had never heard or watched anime in his life. Since then, he has become a massive fan but could never wrap his head around the context of “moe”. So here you are Jose (that’s his name, by the way), here’s a personal lesson about moe to you (and to whoever is reading this at the present time).
So let’s begin with the origin of the word. How did the word come to be?
…Well unfortunately, nobody knows! Although there are many theories as to how the word may have come about, the real origin of the word is completely unknown to anybody. Some theories state that it originated in some anime series, where the word was used to describe a particular character. Other theories suggest that it was first used in Internet blogs and forums as a “misspelling” of a common word (a good example is how the origin of the word “pwned” being a misspelling of the word “owned”).
However, other theories suggest that the word is a homonym of the word “moeru” (燃える) which means to “to burn”; in this case “burn with passion”… which you could say is a pretty accurate definition of the actual word. However, the term moe is not a concrete term and has many definitions depending on the context used. It can be used to describe a character or a particular feature of a character that is believed to be cute or loved. It can also be used to describe a physical trait that is common in a number of characters to create a new type of moe. The list goes on and on.
To summarize, the definition of moe is “a love or passion for a particular or type of character that holds some kind of physical or characteristic trait/s”.
So what makes moe such a difficult concept to grasp? Well, it may be because of the fact that moe can be used in so many different contexts and mean so many different things at the time. When describing a particular character as “moe”, the character usually comes with certain characteristics and physical traits such as big eyes, small face, large head, thin arms and legs and body proportions that don’t quite match the rest of the body. Of course, this is generic; there are many types of moe that exist. The most common types of moe include:
– Meganekko-moe: girls with eye-glasses
– Tsundere-moe: girls that have tsundere characteristics
– Maid-moe: Girls who wear maid uniforms or look cute in maid uniform
– Miko-moe; Girls who are miko’s or look cute wearing miko (Shinto term for shrine maidens) dresses
Etc, etc, etc… you get the point.
In Japanese, the term is closely linked with the concept of otaku (a Japanese term used to describe some kind of obsessive passion, usually with anime and manga… much like me!), and is considered an “otaku term”. Moe is almost never used outside of the context of anime and manga, and thus the word has gained a negative impression about anime and manga from people who aren’t otaku’s.
Although there are many, many characters and anime series that moe can be used to describe, here is a modified list of anime series that Wikipedia has listed to be series related to, or used to describe, moe:
– Lucky Star
– The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi
– Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
– Sailor Moon
If you’re still unsure of moe and its definition, watch these series and try to pinpoint the characteristics of characters that makes the series “moe”.
My Thoughts Overall?
Look, I know I just wrote quite a large post on moe and its traits but here’s the thing. I think that the word is not that important; you can easily watch and enjoy certain series in just the same way without the knowledge of the word. So if you’re worried that you’re getting left behind because you see the word pop up in forums and such, then don’t be. To be honest, I have hardly ever used the word because even I don’t get some of the concepts of moe. Although I may understand the basic gist of the word, I will never be able to keep up with the new types of “moe” that appear in the anime community and around the world. So if you still can’t understand what moe is after this, then I completely understand. Maybe I’m wrong about it all; perhaps what I just wrote above is all a misconception and I’ve only written what I think is moe. My point is this. The summarized definition that I wrote above? That’s all you need to understand moe. If you try to completely understand every detail of moe, then in the true spirit of that Internet meme, you’re going to have a bad time.
…And that is moe in a nutshell.