I’ve said those words time and time again to dismiss a series prior to watching it because it seems to fall into the moe “genre”. I’ve written at great length about moe and its invasion into anime norms. And, definitively, moe has entrenched itself into anime.
But I’ve been wrong. For one, moe is not a genre – it’s more a method of depicting characters – and, as such, does not dictate plot, subject matter or character development. That means that even though a show might look like mindless drivel…
A little over a year ago I challenged my readers to start forming constructive opinions about anime. Today I can finally say that I’ve dissolved my own opinions about moe in anime and believe I have substantive evidence that it’s not that I have hated moe-bro shit this entire time – I’ve just hated shit, in general.
It began with Chuunibyou. I’ve recently been interested in broadening my perspective on anime – watching mostly cerebral series can be tiring – so I picked up Chuunibyou as what I thought would be a light, guilty pleasure. Suffice it to say, Chuunibyou was not that kind of show. Sure, it didn’t have the intricate plot I usually look for in anime, but it did have something I’ve been missing: a depth of character interaction that I rarely had experienced in anime, romance. The series was covered with moe, but didn’t allow it to color its development. I developed an attachment to the characters that I found nowhere else in anime.
And that’s what moe can do when used correctly. Though moe has no strict definition, most would agree that it has roots in describing the affinity one has for a specific character. Speaking from experience, it definitely can create that kind of character attachment. Used solely for a financial grab, the utilization of moe in anime typically churns out plotless atrocities like K-On. But what if it could be used for a more innocent purpose?
That thought in mind, I still mostly dismissed Chuunibyou as a rarity and resumed my normal watching habits. However, a show piqued my interest: Nisekoi. It was produced by my favorite studio, SHAFT, and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Immediately, elements of moe – but the show was presented in a way that kept me watching (and smiling constantly). Despite the anti-climax of an ending (of which I hear we are getting another season), the show was legitimately good with an interesting plot – though Raku needs to fix his memory. I liked the characters in the show so much that I really can’t and don’t want to decide who Raku should end up with – and I can only admit that this is probably because the show used moe aspects to make the characters seem more appealing.
All of this is to say that I made my final, probably irrevocable, step into moe and finished Toradora today – solidifying my new-found opinion that has been developing over the last several months.
Toradora tackled so many distinct and often complex emotions and situations that I must admit that moe is no longer a problem for me. On the one hand, the comedy in the series (otherwise known as anything Minori says) is top notch and fun to watch. However, Toradora also explores the isolation of being separated from two divorced parents who are both physically and emotionally absent, the responsibilities associated with taking care of both a childish train-wreck of a single mother and oneself, unrequited love, the use of facades to mask ones true emotions, and so many more complex scenarios. It made me laugh at times and then cry 10 seconds later when I realized that the comedy wasn’t always for fun, but it was sometimes to cover deep emotions that can’t always be expressed in front of others.
And all of this in spite (or probably as a result) of the moe. The thing I claimed to hate ultimately added to the endearment of the characters in a way that I’m convinced is not possible otherwise. All of the characters (besides Kitamura, he was relatively boring) were just so complex, so incredibly well-developed and so…moe…you just couldn’t help but love them.
Now that I’ve changed my mind about moe when used as an enhancement, not as a sole attraction, what shows have you seen that I may like?