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  1. #1

    The Newbie's Guide to Moe



    The Newbies Guide to Moē
    aka "No, it is not a popularity contest."
    by Ariolander, Hentai PhD.

    Introduction

    The online community of anime fans has its own language of sorts with terms like Moé, GAR, Yandere, Trap, and Fap being thrown around with many not knowing what they are or where they come from. Some are imported from our Japanese counterparts, some are onomatopoeias popularized by webcomics, and in an effort to fight off the ignorance, ???-looks, and misuse of these terms I present to you part two of this series.

    Moe pronounced "mo-eh" is probably one of the hardest terms to describe... partially the reason why I have been procrastinating this guide so much. It is also insanely complex because there is not one unified or agreed upon meaning but rather many and varying accounts to exactly "what is moe?" for the sake of simplicity I decided to boil moe down to its very basics and a common meaning shared between most factions of fandom.

    For those interested check out the following post Supplimental Information on Moē for more information on things not covered in the main article in detail.

    Warning: Wikipedia is wrong! Never Wikipedia this term.
    It is horribly inadequate and terribly inaccurate.

    Definition:

    Main Entry: moe
    Pronunciation: \ˈmo-ē\
    Function: adjective
    Source: Japan
    Era: Modern
    A specific character or its specific partial element that invokes a strong feeling of favor toward it. 'Moe' suggests the condition of being infatuated with one character or thing and implies an image of someone burning with desire.

    "I am really into meganeko. I guess you could call it a 'glasses moe'."
    The Orgins:

    There are 2 different schools of thought of the origins of the term. Both of them seem practical as they hail from Japan so we will examine each. The meaning might have changed over time and in translation into fandom but these are the two most plausible origins.

    The first is to take it literally where Moe is the Japanese word for "budding".
    While it sounds great on paper taking things literally and all in application "moe" has little to do with plants or the female reproductive system so I have taken the liberty of dismissing this and the entire Wikipedia entry on moe altogether. The Wikipedia "experts" have had a history of failing getting both Tsundere & GAR (covered in previous articles) wrong so I doubt they had a sudden burst of insight.
    Yes, this is a stupid reason for dismissing this theory but if you really want to know why this is wrong read the Supplementary Information post below.

    The second is that Moe derives from the Japanese word Moeru, which means “burning”.
    Moeru or moe is to "burn with passion". It describes the burning desire that fills your soul when you see a cute girl. Moe describes something so infatuating and so consuming that often it invokes feeling that you must have it or protect it. So while some may give it sexual connotations in its purest form it is nothing of the sort.

    The Term

    As with the word "love" moe is a very abstract term that involves feelings and can be very subjective. Just as one person might love something another might have different feelings. Likewise "moe" is a very personal matter and is extremely hard to quantify.

    You can say that moe is much like love but as love has many definitions (we will be using the ones from Meriam Webster) I will discount a few and point out the similarities on some and hopefully you will get an idea of what moe is like.


    1 a: On all 3 counts love does not apply. Though your child may have moe aspects the feelings of moe do no extend to your children. Likewise it does not apply to lovers as that kind of love is simply too intimate and violates the "urge to protect" aspect if you wanna violate her. Finally if it is based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests I wouldn't really coll that process "burning with passion". b: for the same reason as before it doesn't apply because it is too intimate.
    2: This might apply that instead of merely 'warm' it is 'burning'.
    3 a: Very much so. Except it can apply to not only things but people and characters as well. b: Though you may find it darling again this implies something too intimate.
    4 a: Very much so. Not only do you burn with passion but also a passion to protect the moe object. b: I never met God personally but you never know s/he could me moe.
    5: Not unless you burn with so much passion you become the personification of it.
    6: NO
    7: HELL NO!
    8: ???
    9: Profit!
    Types of Moe:

    Moe can refer to different characters or different aspects of characters. It can be used similarly with the word 'fetish' except without the dark sexual undertones commonly associated with the word.

    Common types of moe can include:
    • 'weak girl moe'
    • 'maid girl moe'
    • 'young lady moe'
    • 'glasses moe' aka meganeko one of my own weaknesses
    • 'cat ear moe' aka nekomimi my ultimate weakness


    For example the meaning of 'glasses moe' refers to a taste that is taken with a character who wears glasses; furthermore, this taste fetishizes the feature itself of glasses-wearing. In this case, glasses are the 'moe' element and thus the glasses wearing character can be considered moe.

    Misconceived Moe-ness:

    Continuing the started by early as to the orgins section of this article these listed below are DEFINATELY not moe and if you think they are then you are a fool and should go back to editing otaku culture pages on Wikipedia.

    Cooking Moe - Best take this one straight from Impz of THAT Animeblog
    No, I am not talking about anime girls who can cook. I am talking about those anime girls who are considered to be moe because they manage to waste a whole bunch of ingredients into carbon. If you ask any self-justified anime fan, you will find that many of them find this clumsy characteristic of the girl to be so moe-inducing that they just fall deeper in love with the character. Read that right: The inability to carry out something from a cookbook is supposed to be an act of cuteness.

    What is wrong with you guys? Someone who waste ingredients on a perfectly simple meal deserves to be scolded and reprimanded for her incompetence. I mean, do you ever find a girl who cannot cook to save her life in real life cute. Do you find her so adorable that you pray for her to be unable to cook for her entire life? I don’t get it because I find the inability to cook to be a distinct liability regardless of gender. That is why I cannot understand this fetish at all since an act of stupidity is meant to be cute.
    Read the full article for more.

    Retarded Moe - Again best take this one from Impz of THAT Animeblog
    With the appearance [sic] Clannad, the level of retarded moe was broken. Fuuko is exactly as the definition of retarded-moe, stupid, incapable of thought processing and often does stupid things that make little sense to anyone with logic. I can understand why people want to protect a defenseless girl but Fuuko is not only defenseless but stupid to the extent of ridiculous proportions. In fact, her level of stupidity is so high that she grates on my nerves. I cannot understand why people think a girl who is generally doing very stupid acts is actually cute. In fact, I had people accusing me being a jerkbag because I insulted the pure Fuuko. I do not think that being pure means being retarded. Thank you very much.
    Read the full article for more.

    Everything is Moe - No, not everything.
    Taking a leaf out of Ratatouille not everyone can be moe, but moe can come from anyone.

    In Summary:

    To be moe for something is to burn with passion. Often what might inspire that passion can be a combination of love and cuteness. To be moe is neither to be lovable nor cute (though both certainly help) but something that is passion inspiring and heartfelt.

    Often these feelings of moe inspire a secondary set of feelings growing an urge to protect the object of your moe and in many cases the moe object often suggests a subtle sense of purity or cuteness. While my moe may not be your moe as it is very subjective in general all moe share one thing.

    They are passion inspiring...



    Contrary to their title moeblob ≠ moe. Put simply moeblob = shit.
    Do you burn in passion for shit? Then maybe.
    Personally I got tired of it after KyoAni killed this horse.



    TL;DR?

    What is Moe:
    • Passion Inspiring
    • Urge to Protect
    • Cute or Pure

    What is NOT Moe:
    • Retarded
    • Shit
    • A Popularity Contest


    Note: Just because you like something does not mean its moe. Everything you like is not moe. It can be moe even if you don't like it... as long as it is not shit. Shit can never be moe. No matter how much you shine a turd it is still a turd.
    Last edited by Ariolander; 02-14-2009 at 04:01 PM.

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  2. #2
    Supplimental Information on Moē
    aka "Interesting but useless information."
    by Ariolander, Hentai PhD.

    Introduction

    Here are some extra stuff that didn't have a place in the main article.

    Some of it I thought were worth mentioning or debunking at least for shits and giggles. Others a bit too advanced or didn't fir the "newbie" theme of these series of posts.


    Alternate Orgins of Moe aka wrong

    Shortened Version of "Tomoe" Theory.
    The real name of Sailor Saturn in the classic anime Sailor Moon is Hotaru Tomoe. And while she certain is moe I doubt this is the true origin of the term. Either way it is one theory making headway on Wikipedia thanks in part to Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo and it's authors.


    The Literal Meaning = "Budding" Theory - Re-Examination
    One rationalization of this beyond the whole plant and child birthing and literal translation thing is that “a plant sprouting” thus implying a little sister type role and thus the origins. While I agree that the 'onii-chan' older brother role of protection and non-intimate love fits as well as most 'little sisters' to be incredibly cute I really don't think this is the origin so much as an attempt at IRL RetConning (aka Retroactive Continuity - the deliberate changing of previously established facts in a work of fiction)

    Alternate Meaning the Term aka wrong



    While I would agree that I think Manabi might have been created to be a Moe character I don't think that the art style is "why" she is moe. It is not the root "cause" but rather a "symptom". Moe in a character is not one "thing but rather think of moe similar to a medical "syndrome"...
    The association of several recognizable features, signs, symptoms, phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one feature alerts to the presence of the others.

    Alternate Examinations of Moe aka over examinations of moe

    I decided to go with the "moe is love" approach to the subject keeping it simple to a "burning passion" and keeping it subjective. Many people have different approaches to the subject and explaining it but I felt this was for the best.

    Some ther approaches people have used...
    My mainb eef with these is that while Wikipedia doesn't know shit these people know their stuff but they make it just too complex in explanation.

    Graphs & SCIENCE by Matt Opel. of Moetic Justice.

    Fig. 4. Hypothetical two dimensional section through the higher-dimensional Design Space of illustrations of human figures. Darker colors indicate higher probabilities that an illustration will be perceived as moe.

    Fig. 5. Models employed by Tinbergen and Hailman, with response intensity indicated by red bars. The simple stick with three lines is a supernormal stimulus. © 1986 W.T. Keaton & J.L. Gould. Biology, 4th Edition.

    Archtypes & Quantification
    by Shingo of Hesei Democracy
    Synopsis

    In this article I take a look at moe from the perspective of images as opposed to strict character types. I propose that there are four categories of moe images:

    • Junai-kei moe: images in which a loving, but not explicitly sexual relationship is depicted or implied between the moe heroine and the male viewer or his narrative proxy. Found most commonly in renai games such as those produced by Aquaplus / Leaf and Key.
    • Otome-kei moe: images in which male presence is deemphasized in favor of a scene which implicates the heroine(s) as the centerpiece of an idealized past or present. Found most commonly in (nonsexual) yuri such as Marimite and in anime / manga such as Kamichu, Kokoro Library, and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
    • Erokawaii-kei moe: images in which the moe heroine is sexualized, to an extent limited by a) her innocence and b) her consent, for the benifit of the male viewer or his narrative proxy. Found most commonly in erotic games, manga and anime, and as such is often conflated with lolicon.
    • Denpa-kei moe: images in which style, fetish symbols and costumes crowd out significant narrative meaning, trading on the value of pure exhuberant cuteness. Found most commonly in mascot characters, the work of artists such as POP, and nonsensical anime (Digi Charat killing two birds with one stone here).
    This can be seen, in essence, as a map of the moe referent system:


    While of the two I am inclined to agree with Shingo his full article is too long and a bit complex and completely unsuitable for adaptation into my "The Newbie's Guide..." series of posts.

    If you are an "advanced" anime fan do give it a read I found it quite enlightening.


    Alternate Conclusions

    In the end I think all I can end with is with a quote from minhtam2448 one of the comissioners of The International Saimoe League

    Yet, I don't see the problem with combining all of the definitions listed here, because I think the word "moe" has the potential to become a first-grade vocabulary word. If is rather difficult to try to define a word such as "trust", or "peace, or "good" or "love", then why do we take such extremes arguing on how to define the word "moe"? Why cannot we use our ability to derive what the word means through the usage of anime? Why shouldn't we use our ability to derive from context in the same way we learn what love is through experience rather than ear?

    This is why I stick with running the International Saimoe League today. There are numerous definitions that pertain to the word "moe", and my definite goal at this moment is to reform the word "moe" not into a word that literally means "budding", but a word that refers to this contest, and Saimoe Japan, and Korea Best Moe (the Female division only), among others. It is a word that deserves to be developed into something that is so great that it cannot possibly be defined, but rather referred into these unique voting contests that we run today. The many differing feelings among all of the anime fans out there contributes to the definition of "moe", and if we were to choose an image that would represent the word "moe", it would be the one candidate that is sitting at the end of the rainbow wearing that tiara.

    That's my goal. That's my wish.
    Last edited by Ariolander; 02-14-2009 at 03:28 AM.

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  3. #3
    どうしてこうなった! Sangaz's Avatar
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    There's a show from a year or two back over here called Japanorama, It's hosted by Jonathan Ross (He's a fan of Anime and Manga).
    Anyhoo, not sure which episode it was but he had a full episode on Otaku culture and Moe.
    Here's the torrent for the second season (Link).

    It's a good documentory if you have an interest in learning about Japanese pop culture.

  4. #4
    Bat-shit Insane RedneckNoob's Avatar
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    God damnit Ario. I don't know what's worse: that I got the meme you used or that you used it.

    Signature and Avatar courtesy of ImotoChan

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ski's Avatar
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    Well, I think I'm getting the main idea. Thanks for correcting my path^^.


    So what that you can see the dark inside of me?

    "All our light that shines strong only lasts for so long"

    My manga list

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