The time has come for the TRazor to layeth the smackdown on one of the most beaten-to-death topics in all of aniblogging: moe. Before you jump for the elitist tag, read please.
Moe is a slang which basically means "to adore something" or "to love something with a passion". So a moe character is someone who makes you want to cuddle her (or him...) out of pure cuteness overload. This per se isn't a bad thing. I mean, it's a cute little 2D character doing cute little 2D things to extract that D'awww from your mouth (and that money from your wallet!). If you think about, it's not all that different from Teletubbies. They're basically characters who do some kawaii shit to make you all fuzzy on the inside. I'm 18 and I still think these blobs are cute. And all this talk of jobless gits loafing about and eating confectionery leads me right to the anime that is at the very center of the moeboom: K-ON.
Really, it was inevitable that this show was going to be thrown into the line of fire. Anyone who has read this blog before knows I simply loathe K-ON and I think it's about time I explained why. Technically, there's nothing wrong with the show itself. It's a slice of nothing show and clearly, it's got something in it that gets people hooked. But not me, because you see, I'm just the kind of prick who hates seeing potential wasted. I mean, K-ON really did have a lot going for it, in the sense that how often do we see an anime about music? Not often and the times we did (Nodame Cantable, BECK, NANA), the result was great. So now you have a show that revolves around a light music club....but actually doesn't. Sure, they play three songs (one song twice, if my memory serves me correctly) but apart from that, there's virtually nothing in it. An anime that could've been so much more than just cute, ended up being just that, while at the same time doubling as a commercial for the cake and tea industry. Strip off the cakes, strip off the tea and for god's sake, (gently) strip off the turtle and what are you left with? A bunch of insufferable little twits dawdling about while the guitars and other fancily animated instruments sit in the background as props. No plot, no movement, no drama, no tension, no original gags...it's all one giant propaganda to think all-girls schools are some sort of paradise simply stuffed with cute little brats and other fluffy little things. Which is lightyears away from the truth. Ask a student of an all-girls school and you'll know.
Which just made moe the easiest cash cow to milk, because these shows sell faster than you can say moe moe kyun~. This just means that the studios have an easier way out. Instead of creating interesting or relateable side characters, they can just use the moe auto-create machine to stick in a cute little thing that has no real role in that anime. Studio running low on money? No problemo, pump out an anime with a bunch of perfect little girls, either in a moe show, a harem show or a slice of life show. I can't blame the studio for doing this either, because at the end of the day, they too are a business and they have employees they need to pay and a living to make. So if there's a sure shot of money to be made, of course they're going to take it. Why the unnecessary risk? That's what I mean by things being cheapened. The end result are characters which seem far too try-hard to be moe, almost screaming at me with their big eyes, screechy voice and hyperactivity, "LIKE ME!!!"
Here's the thing about moe though - it's highly subjective. What I find moe, you may not. I don't find jarringly cute hyperactive airheads moe, and I guess that's just my opinion. But a large portion of this audience likes this archetype of moe, drawn in the cookie-cutter style we all are familiar with, which has grown to define what is referred to as moeblobs. At the end of it all, moe isn't really something I hate, when used sparsingly. It's moeblobs that I actually hate. Characters designed simply to act cute irk me to no end, whereas characters acting cute in certain situations or doing something that seems rather naturally kawaii is not a problem. Crafting a character specifically to invoke a kawaii feeling is lame and it's blatant pandering. If they have no role or can't have good interactions with other characters, they're pointless. Believe it or not, I actually like Nagisa, even though she's brimming with over-9000 levels of moe because her pairing with Tomoya made me fuzzy on the inside. That's another type of moe I like - ones that form good relationships. Also, why not create a character that actually acts more human, but does certain cute things? I think strong women are cute in their own way, which is why the Miyazaki type moe of spunky girls is more of a hit with me. Intriguing cute girls are a hit with me too, like Misaki of NHK.
So, moe isn't really killing anime. Moeblobs are...well, actually, I don't think anime is dying in the first place. Au contraire, it's creating huge sales numbers, so if anything, it's effect on anime is largely positive. It's upto the studios to take the plunge and go against the grain now. Moe's just making shows into something different, because like any industry, it goes through phases. There's always going to be good anime and there will come along the moe character whose love for I cannot justify. But for now, I'll just trudge along, with K-ON as my humor crutch.
P.S: Italics is so moe~