why you should read the moe manifesto? i loved and wrote about patrick’s first book. i even interviewed him once! and his publisher (a very cool promoter of the east. check out their selection!) was very kind to send me a copy of his new book as soon as it was available.
the wonderfully designed book is a collection of interviews of relevant people (academicians, otaku scholars, industry people, mangakas, illustrators, voice actors, singers, etc) on the topic of the new and elusive concept of moe. i enjoyed the very useful colourful insertions and cross referencing.
moe means having feelings of affection for fictional characters. yeah, now pick your jaw from the floor and think about it for a second. in truth, aren’t all our relationships part fiction?
the book is an attempt to clarify the what and the how of moe. apparently, some people go as far as marrying their favourite game/manga/anime character. but most just enjoy a virtual relationship. i learned about the sectors of the otaku world (bishojo, mecha, shojo, shonen, etc), about the 2-dimensional complex, about fanzines, dating simulators and the otaku promised land, akihabara.
it’s the complicated social dynamics of post war japan. the japanese society has quite strict gender roles and expectations. the male success model is the salary man: a successful worker and an efficient provider. there is little men can do but follow this planned faith. they will graduate, get a job, a wife, a house and kids. later, they will send the kids to university and spend their retired years being taken care by their wives. and they are the ones supporting financially the entire model.
the otaku kept outside of this strict template. they decided to not submit themselves to the severe scrutiny and expectations. so they found solace in the 2d world. which is a simpler, less expensive and stressful solution. some even call this a love revolution.
a relevant parallel
it was drawn between 2d characters and idorus or maids. but i’d say that japan has long been preparing the road for moe. think geishas. and then think the very sophisticated vocaloids, robots or realistic sex toys. the limit between real person and character is quite blurry, right?
the anatomy of moe
there are elements of design used to achieve a moe response. they can be used separately or together. the characters are almost always female. they have a tiny mouth, huge eyes, cat ears, pigtails, glasses, butterfly or angel wings, etc. they are always young and cute. also, they wear colourful fashions.
marketing buzz word
in recent years, moe has been used and abused. it was associated to everything including new characters as well as to established stars such as hello kitty and astro boy. and it even influenced a series of rather unexpected characters: trains, anthropomorphized countries and deities. yes, imagine that! an illustrator was commissioned to give a moe makeover to the gods of a buddhist temple in a tokyoite suburb.
read the book to find out all about it!
photo credits: copyright owners