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"Moe" (萌え/もえ) is a Japanese term describing the subgenre of anime and manga visuals focused on cuteness and innocence. Leaning heavily into kawaii and feminine visuals, the term is used for characters that create emotions of affection and adoration. The Moe aesthetic places these characters as its main focus.

History[]

The term "Moe" is a bit broad in of itself, while the term's origin is uncertain, some believe Moe derives from "Moeru" (萌える), or "budding", (perhaps to imply someone's budding feelings for a character) Or it could have derived from a character named "Hotaru Tomoe" from Sailor Moon. This became a slang word that originally became popular among Otaku on internet forums in the early 1990s, and then spread across mass media in the 2000s. The term then evolved to being used to describe anything cute, although this article is focused on the original definition.

Moe as an art style stems from "𝗕𝗶𝘀𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗷𝗼" (美少女) meaning "beautiful girl", This style was common in most 80s/90s anime character design, since there was an intent on marketing more to the female demographic, overtime more rounded and "kawaii" art styles became dominant in Shoujo series, these character designs often exaggerated certain facial features like making the eyes bigger in order to make them more cute or appealing. While Bishoujo designs emphasize the beauty of a character, these exaggerations usually are used to emphasize the cuteness of the character. This new design eventually branched off to become a major part of feminine character designs in anime and manga. As the Moe style became more popular and influential in anime, the art style for Moe character designs evolved steadily over the decades. Modern Moe designs are much thinner and simpler with linework and exaggerate the chibi-like facial proportions more compared to past anime.

The term's origin and etymology are unknown. Anime columnist John Oppliger has outlined several popular theories describing how the term would have stemmed from the name of anime heroines, such as Hotaru Tomoe from Sailor Moon or Moe Sagisawa from the 1993 anime Kyōryū Wakusei. The term first became popular in 1993-94 among users of Japanese bulletin board systems.[1]

Meaning[]

Moe used in slang refers to feelings of affection, adoration, devotion, and excitement felt towards characters that appear in manga, anime, video games, and other media (usually Japanese). The term is often used to describe a strong emotional response to a character's cuteness, innocence, vulnerability, or other endearing qualities. Moe characters are typically depicted as being cute, charming, and sometimes somewhat naive, which can evoke protective or nurturing feelings in the viewer.[2]

Visuals[]

  • Soft and rounded design
  • Kawaii imagery
  • Chibi or miniature proportions (ex. "kitten-shaped" skulls)
  • Kemonomimi
  • Nendoroid/Moe anime figurines
  • Bishoujos and Bishounens
  • Aesthetic or edited anime pictures
  • Maid dresses

Subgenres[]

Moe Anthropomorphism[]

Wikipe-tan conducting

Wikipe-tan, a gijinka character of Wikipedia.

Moe Anthropomorphism (萌え擬人化), also referred to as Gijinka characters, is a form of anthropomorphism, and it refers to fictional characters that represent non-human animals, inanimate objects, consumer products or abstract concepts in a humanized form and include moe characteristics[3], such as cuteness, childlike innocence and endearing vulnerability. Sometimes, it can also apply to parodies of real-life persons and historical figures as anime characters. This phenomenon has been embraced by several anime franchises and has appeared in several forms of media, including manga, video games, and webcomics.

Criticism[]

While Moe Anthropomorphism on its own is not meant to be offensive or objectifying, it has gained popularity among image board websites like 2channel and 4chan, where they are sometimes given a problematic or political use. A notorious example of a controversial moe anthropomorphic character is "Ebola-chan", a personification of ebola created by 4chan users during the 2014 ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. This character was spread around by trolls in African social media websites, along with misinformation about the disease and racist statements. With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they created a similar character in 2020 called "Corona-chan", which personifies the Coronavirus disease. Other controversial ones include Vivian James, a personification of Gamergate (a cyberharassment campaign targeting women in the gaming industry) or "ISIS-chan", a personification of the terrorist organization of the same name.

Apart from internet controversies, some specific anime series and games like Fate/Grand Order, which personifies historical and mythological figures from several cultures, and Hetalia: Axis Powers, which personifies the countries of the world, have been criticized for cultural appropiation or insensitivity, since some of these moe characters were inaccurate or encouraged stereotypes.

Media[]

  • Arknights (Anthropomorphic concepts related to medicine)
  • Azur Lane (Anthropomorphic ships)
  • Fate/Grand Order (Anthropomorphic historical figures)
  • Food Fantasy (Anthropomorphic food)
  • Girls' Frontline (Anthropomorphic guns)
  • Granblue Fantasy (Anthropomorphic weapons)
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers (Anthropomorphic countries of the world)
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia (Anthropomorphic gaming consoles)
  • Internet Explorer-chan (Anthropomorphic web browsers)
  • Kantai Collection (Anthropomorphic ships)
  • Kemono Friends (Anthropomorphic animals)
  • OS-tan (Anthropomorphic operative systems)
  • Robot Girls Z (Anthropomorphic robots)
  • Sega Hard Girls (Anthropomorphic SEGA gaming consoles)
  • Touken Ranbu (Anthropomorphic historical Japanese swords)
  • VOCALOID (Anthropomorphic synthesizers)
  • Wikipe-tan (Anthropomorphic Wikipedia)

Media[]

Anime & Manga[]

  • Air
  • Azumanga Daioh
  • Bocchi the Rock
  • Moetan
  • Chobits
  • Da Capo
  • Himouto! Umaru-Chan
  • Ichigo Mashimaro
  • Jewelpet
  • Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
  • Milky Holmes
  • School Rumble
  • Pani Poni Dash!
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Toradora!
  • Gaku Ou: The Twinkle Star Story
  • Flyable Heart
  • Nanatsuiro Drops
  • Kinmozai!
  • Joshiraku
  • Yuri Yuru
  • Nyanko Days
  • Student Council's Discretion
  • Gift: Eternal Rainbow
  • _summer
  • Di Gi Charat
  • Kirarin Revolution
  • Elite Jack!!
  • Happy Happy Clover
  • Pita Ten
  • Mirumo de Pon!
  • Hamtaro
  • Potemayo
  • Nyanko Days
  • Bottle Fairy
  • Kokoro Toshokan
  • Etotama
  • Pripara
  • Nurse Witch Komugi
  • Naisho no Tsubomi
  • Natsuiro no Sunadokei
  • Hani Hani: Operation Sanctuary
  • Is the Order a Rabbit?
  • Binchou-tan
  • We, Without Wings
  • Final Approach
  • Mizuiro
  • Mahoraba: Heartful Days
  • Unlimited Fafnir
  • A Bridge to the Starry Skies
  • Yutori-chan
  • Haitai Nanafa
  • A Little Snow Fairy Sugar
  • Kamichama Karin
  • Yumeiro Pâtissière
  • Chibi Devi!
  • K-On!
  • Tayutama -Kiss on my Deity-
  • Kowarekake no Orgel
  • Lucky Star
  • Koihime Musou
  • Nichijou
  • Non Non Biyori
  • Pretty Cure
  • Lovely Idol
  • Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel
  • Yume no Crayon Kingdom
  • ToHeart
  • Sorega Seiyu!
  • Sailor Moon
  • Tokyo Mew Mew
  • Penguin Musume Heart
  • Hidamari Sketch
  • Rewrite
  • Kanon
  • Clannad
  • Cardcaptor Sakura

Games[]

  • 2000s eroge and anime visual novels
  • BanG Dream
  • Ensemble Stars
  • The IDOLM@STER
  • Love Live!
  • Narcissu
  • Nekopara
  • Show By Rock!! Fes a Live
  • Uma Musume: Pretty Derby

Gallery[]

90s[]

2000s[]

2010s[]

2020s[]

References[]

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