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In past videos i've discussed Moe anime, their characteristics and their reputation
in the community. These have all been sprinkled throughout other videos, some of which i don't
think do the topic enough justice, i've wanted to do a big overview of the subject
for a while now and recently, i've been doing a lot of research into anime's stylistic
development. So i thought now would be the perfect time to make this video. There's
so much information about Moe anime that just gets glossed over, subsequently making most
of the current discussion around the subject quite repetitive and toxic. I want to give
a clear overview of Moe anime in this video by giving a historical runthrough of the phrase
and addressing some of the major misconceptions.
I would usually start a video like this by saying, “So, let's define firstly, what
exactly is moe?”. But, as i've covered before, Moe isn't an easy thing to just defined,
it's far too broad a term and even giving it a definition doesn't really achieve anything.
Infact, historically Moe has been a lot of things. It's not a blanket statement like
'Action' or 'thriller', it's instead a term coined almost accidentally by anime
fans themselves. Needing something to describe an affection for the medium that is so unique
that it needs its own word. It's comparable to modern day terms we use like 'Deconstruction'
or 'Sakuga' that have adopted context far beyond their original definition and exists
in a bubble within our community. Those words will mean something completely different to
someone without insider knowledge. And I think that aspect of the medium is a really interesting
one. Moe expresses a connection with a piece of art, a connection that means more than
to just enjoy something, it was created by fans because they felt something more than
just enjoyment with their medium, a connection that expands beyond the 20 minute run-time
of an episode, and there wasn't a word that expressed that enough. Hence the term Moe
was formed.
The shows that we usually consider to be associated with Moe also have a far stretching lineage,
much further than most people think. It's a style that stretches back right to the start
of the medium, taking decades and decades to develop into what we're familiar with
So what we can understand about Moe is two main variables, the style that has developed
over the years and the way in which viewers engage with it. These are the two key elements
that are going to help us understand Moe.
One of the biggest misconceptions I see is that Moe anime is a new thing, a trend that
started in the 2000s, came out of nowhere and became on overnight phenomenon. It's
kind of like when a band get called an overnight success after their first successful album,
even though they've been slogging away doing support gigs in front of empty pubs for years.
This misconception stems quite simply from the fact that Moe is not very well documented.
Whenever you look for moe anime recommendations or look for online lists it only really considers
anything post Kyoto Animation. It is true that they are a huge contributor to moe and
are very much a new thing but the style they use didn't just appear overnight. They based
everything in their shows from the character designs to the story delivery on shows from
20, 30 years before their time. Let's track Moe as far back as we can and start there.
The first major instance of an anime creating the kind of response we would associate with
Moe was Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy in 1963. This was the first anime franchise to generate
external content with things like toys and product tie-ins. This is very important. The
love for the franchise expanded beyond just watching the series, people wanted more. Astro
Boy became an adored anime character and would start appearing outside his TV series. It's
not strictly Moe and certainly not identical to later works but it wouldn't be farfetched
to cite this as the first instance in anime of that attachment people created the term
'moe' for.
And of course Astro Boy is also a noteworthy stylistic influence for Moe anime as well.
Tezuka's style at this time was very distinct and you can see that most anime, even today
still use that style as a template. Large, expressive eyes, exaggerated movement, focus
on features like the hair and face, these are all staples of Tezuka's style that became
the basis for anime, especially Moe anime.
Though I think there's an aspect of Moe that doesn't show up until the 70s. It's
during this decade that Moe becomes something that's more recognisable to the modern fan.
It begins to develop the kind of ethos that modern Moe hits like K-On and Euphonium hold,
that feminine, innocent appeal that becomes a huge characteristic of these shows, and
becomes the basis for why fans develop such a strong connection with this sub-genre. This
all begins here.
What started to happen was a spillover of demographics. At the time, Shojo anime were
very popular with the female demographic, appealing directly to female readers. But
during the 70s, male readers started developing an interest in Shoujo manga and anime because
of the appealing character designs and storylines. Many fans were attracted to the cute-girl
designs of Shoujo anime that at the time were very rare in other demographics, especially
in Shounen works. Thus, the Bishoujo genre was born. A style that quite simple features
cute female characters but appeals to both male and female fans. It might seem quite
normal now but at the time this was a very unique development.
We start to really see this develop in japanese culture during the 70s, one of the first big
instances of this development being in the original Gundam series in 1979. The sci-fi
genre that was previously not really associated with the idea of Moe was now featuring multiple
female characters, with the intent of attracting the male audience. They weren't there to
be a plot device or to just to be a romantic interest, they created had a new, emotional
aspect that fans of mech anime had never really been exposed to before. This started to happen
in a lot of the decade's works. A few years later this is happened again to an ever greater
extent with Macross in 1982, having a female lead that becomes just as much a part of the
story as our male lead. To have an idol storyline merge with a sci-fi show was something unheard
of, Macross and Gundam are very examples of how Anime was differing from the rest of the
world's media and how Moe was becoming a real influence.
The idea of Moe was really booming in the early 80s. Whole shows were now being created
for the Bishoujo audience. Confusing many cultural critics around the world, this continued
to grow and grow. Looking at the genre year by year is really interesting. The early 80s,
1983 and 1984 were started the trickling of these kind of shows in between the Mech shows.
Then, as the years go on you start to see these shows appear with a more permanent presence,
merging with other genres like adventure and fantasy. They start to equal in number to
Mech shows. When we get to like, 1986 these shows almost outnumber mech shows and come
in a range of styles. Kimagure Orange Road is an important show to note, you'll probably
recognise a lot of it's characteristics, high school setting, romantic story focus,
female leads, this is the kind of show that would explode over the next few decades.
Going into the early 90s, Moe took another spike with Sailor Moon in 1992. Believe it
or not but this show had a very large Male audience and what had been growing in the
80s as small groups of Bishoujo fans was now a real commercial force. Sailor Moon also
garnered international success, which just blows my mind. I mean, this was a time were
anime as a medium was still unknown to the masses, so for a show with Moe characteristics
to jump that cultural barrier and air on TV around the world is incredible. The high school
romance story would continue to grow during the 90s too, in my opinion, this is one of
the most important developments because of how relevant it becomes later on.
I mentioned earlier that a key aspect of Moe was the way in which people engage with it.
This is really prevalent in the 90s, and not just for Bishoujo anime but for the industry
as a whole. Anime started to really expand beyond it's TV and movie core and was seeping
into every market imaginable. From video games to magazines to figures, everything was being
infected by anime's influence, giving the industry new streams of life. A quick look
into the merchandising of TV anime like Evangelion shows that this was a monumental change for
anime. This became a huge market for the show and really added an extra layer to the show's
existence. It was that desire for more, that extended connection with a show that is an
integral part of Moe. Perfectly timed for the explosion of Moe shows going into the
From here on out we have what most people refer to as the collective set of Moe anime.
Moe begins to dominate every season and every genre. From slice of life to Sci-fi, Moe is
everywhere. And that economic influence from the 90s proves to be very important, looking
at the highest selling blu ray releases, Moe shows like K-On, Love Live and Haruhi Suzumiya
are up there with some of the best selling of all time. It's an aesthetic that gains
incredible economic power, and therefore begins to take a big slice of the pie. After the
monumental success of these shows it seems almost everyone wants to replicate them. It
would take me all day to talk about them because there are just so many in every season, a
lot of them being really poor rip-offs that aren't even worth watching. Infact a lot
of productions fall into this trap and that's probably one of the reasons the genre gets
so much stick.
So Moe is not something that has popped up out of nowhere and replaced other genres.
It's very much been apart of anime and anime culture from the start. And that's something
I almost never hear people talking about.
So, the developments from the Bishoujo shows of the 70s and 80s don't just stop at modern
moe, there are a lot of shows that aren't traditionally Moe but have the same roots.
Shows like Aria have elements of the cute-girl anime shows but incorporate other genres more
strongly. I feel like these shows are just another development of the Moe genre, evolving
in a different direction to classic Moe. These shows don't have the mass popularity of
mainstream moe but they do have a similar level of engagement from their fanbases, in
this aspect they fit into Moe perfectly. But, I think this is where a lot of misconceptions
arise, these shows do fit into definitions of Moe but they're never categorized as
such, when really, if someone is making lists of Moe anime, shows like Aria should be included
too. But it's cool to see where this style goes after the Kyoto Animation style of the
early 2000s, which is usually regarded as the final point of Moe's stylistic development.
I think it's also interesting that Moe spreads into other genres today, just like it did
initially with Macross and Gundam. The marketability of characters is really the reason for this,
Code Geass for example, airing in 2006, had a number of different Moe characters to appeal
to a male audience. The show is a sci-fi drama series that plays mainly off it's action
and science fiction aspects; the main demographic would be males. Moe is used to utilize that
Bishoujo audience, selling merchandise like figures and posters. It's a prime example
of how Moe has been used in different genres. The general Moe aesthetic has also evolved
on it's own too. Magical Girl shows, linking back to sailor moon, have always used Moe
characteristics, looking back over the last few years they've been some of the most
visually experimental content i've seen. I think Flip Flappers is a great example from
last year, I mean you could make a whole video about how the show approaches Moe as a genre
and as a artistic tool. Using Moe as both a a tool to create preconceptions about a
character and subsequently break those preconceptions down, the show creates a really interested
narrative about character archetypes, especially that of the Moe/Magical Girl genres.
Despite Moe rich history in many genres and time periods, it still gets such a hard time
from anime fans and critics. You really don't need to look far to see a toxic conversation
about moe, whether that be people generalizing about the genre being bad or people generalising
about people not understanding it. I think this all just stems from a lack of knowledge
about the subject. If people knew it's rich history and influence, they would probably
be less eager to criticize it irrationally. There's a lot of misconceptions in the community
and I hope this video helped a little bit in clearing them up. So please do share this
around if you feel it could help, check out some other similar videos i've made too,
also be sure to subscribe and click the like button, thanks for watching.
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The Evolution of Moe Anime

176 Folder Collection
二百五 published on September 11, 2019
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