Being an avid anime fan, I am well aware of the phenomenon of “moe” (pronounced “moe-eh“) (1). Definitions of moe differ slightly from source to source, but simply put it’s an attraction to anime characters. Anime producers have capitalized on this by creating shows with characters that blatantly display popular moe characteristics.
While moe has strong connections to cuteness -the big eyes and small noses and mouths that are common to anime designs- cuteness does not always make something “moe”. But moe can elicit feelings of protectiveness from the viewer, similar to the way one would feel towards a helpless kitten or an infant. This also does not have to apply to human anime characters. Chi from [Chi’s Sweet Home] gives me feelings of moe (it’s also just that I love cats).
Moe, however, can also be defined a collection of characteristics rather than an overall character. Feelings of moe can be triggered by certain factors. For example, anime viewers can develop moe feelings for characters who wear glasses, or clumsy characters, or “big sister/big brother” characters. Oftentimes, characters are loaded down with these “triggers”, creating bloated character designs that can rival [Tetsuya Nomura]. [Here’s] an excellent article on this matter, using two characters from the series Di Gi Charat as examples.
One of the things that I love about anime and manga is that it is self-referential and self-critical. Numerous series have been created critiquing the moe phenomenon. One of my favorite series that does this is [Lucky Star], which does it in an extremely subtle way. It takes occasional jabs at the audience, “poking fun at them for finding this sort of thing titillating” (2). The main characters -four high school girls- display stereotypical moe characteristics -glasses, pigtails, clumsiness, [“tsundere”] personalities- but the plot of the show (or lack thereof) renders these characteristics incidental to the characters, not a critical part of the story. Instead of the typical plotlines of a lot of moe anime (e.g., falling critically ill, falling in love with boys), the viewer is forced to watch these four girls go about their daily lives in an almost “Waiting for Godot” fashion- attending classes, riding the bus, [talking about food]. It completely defies any expectations one would have from the design of the show, and I personally think it’s brilliant for doing so. It's like cock-blocking fanboys.
Now that I’ve completed outed myself as a sad dork, I will get back to writing about iPods and food.