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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

  • today.

  • 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

  • 2000s.

  • 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.

In past videos i've discussed Moe anime, their characteristics and their reputation