Wednesday Notes.... Akamatsu-sensei Talks "Moe"

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I'm actually up during the day for once ;) Anyways...

Kazami pointed out an interesting entry by Negima manga-ka Ken Akamatsu about "Moe" on his online diary (see the July 18th entry). I have attempted to translate it below ;) Items enclosed in [] are my own.

Public opinion seems to be searching for a definite definition of the word 萌え "moe", which has already come into use among the public, and when I searched, net experts and glossary sites had various definitions.

  • The state of having a deep feeling towards a certain person or thing
  • An extremely primitive sensation that happens even faster than one can judge with feeling, much like a spinal cord reflex, which happens when one sees generally bishoujo or little girls, or other pretty or innocent things. It is being fascinated then deeply moved.
  • "Moe" is word which indicates a budding feeling of love, as well as a fetishistic taste, generally towards fictional characters from anime, manga, and games, especially an attachment or obsession with those who have certain special characteristics (nekomimi, tsundere attitude [a character type in which the character, generally female, is alternatingly tsun-tsun, "pointed; mean", and dere-dere, "lovey dovey", hence tsundere. See Sara from Futakoi]); originally used as slang among otaku.
  • Indicates an "admiration" of a cute girl's human emotions from afar.

However, we still don't know the reason why people feel "moe".

Accordingly, I would like to present the following hypotheses of my own.

First of all, "moe" must meet the following conditions:

  1. It does NOT include sexual action: "Moe" is being calmed/soothed by watching from afar. It is not an object of sexual action. There are other classifications such as "2D-con" for those who include sexual conduct. Looking at a bishoujo and thinking "I want to do her" is a normal sexual desire for a man; looking at a biyoujo [美幼女, a girl younger than a bishoujo, synonymous with "loli". Maachi in Gokujou Seitokai, or Miku in Zettai Shounen, for example] and thinking "I want to be calmed/soothed" is "moe".
  2. The person feeling it must be stronger: The object of "moe" is weak and dependant (like a child) on the person, or is in a situation where she cannot oppose (like a maid). Also, the person is raising her (like a pet). Accordingly, being fond of the girl as if loving a pet cat, the person is willing to put themselves in harm's way if danger approaches. (*Tsundere only: There will be times where the stronger and weaker role is reversed)
  3. Affirms the present situation: Moe is the action of enjoying "the present situation" and does not wish for changes afterward; one wishes to enjoy it forever.

In the above-mentioned (1), I think you realize that, rather than a male's emotions, it is a feeling similar to that of a mother looking at her daughter, or of other females looking at someone else's child and feeling soothed/calmed, or of looking at a pet and feeling affection for it.

In the above-mentioned (2), at first glance, there is a feeling of otaku-like convenience, but, in fact, you can catch a glimpse of the positive affection of "I want to love" more than "I want to be loved" in it, and the strength of not being weary of spending both time and money for that purpose is the foundation of it. To compare it, it resembles a parent's strength.

On the feeling of the moratorium of (3): if you take it negatively it gives the impression of a "hikikomori" [one who withdraws from society], but, in fact, it is not the denial of the process of "The object of moe growing, loving, and moving on from the present condition", it is similar to a positive sense of denial, such as "I don't want my daughter to get married."

...Well, you've probably realized I've used the word "parent (mother)" many times over.

I would submit the following hypothesis:

"Moe" is a "maternal affection" which a part of males have been left with that has undergone a change and shown itself and, originally, is an irregular feeling a male should not have, however, it is a pure love which does not include any sexual action and is an exceedingly peaceful desire.

  • If we suppose that "moe" occurs from a maternal affection that should be lost, could we then assert that moe otaku are basically peaceful, and do not wish for physical conflict? (They do have verbal fights, though)
  • If we think of "Love towards a pet" as an compensatory action for "Love towards a child", then it is, after all, a variation of motherly love. In other words, could the "moe" of putting nekomimi on (it's a syllogism, but...) be motherly love?
  • Is the brisk economic activity of the "moe" industry very close to that of stupid parents pouring money into child-rearing (education) expenses?

I think that the "moe" that has recently been occurring among females is an imitation of male "moe", and is false. Or, rather, should we call it the true thing since they of all people possess the original maternal love?

...What do you think?

The aggressive males who go so far as to rape to satisfy their sexual desires have been reported on, but on the other hand, there are a large number of males who possess this peaceful essence. Moe~.

I think it is not a cultural phenomenon that has surfaced recently, but most likely something which has existed from the beginning of time.


Jeni said:

An example of moe that's not directed at a female would be in Gamerz Heaven where the main character has feelings of
"moe" (as it's written literally over his face) for a young boy that he has become the protector of. This is not a sexual feeling in this instance at all, and simply a feeling of protectiveness and thinking that he is adorable. =) I posted the pic here: (sorry about the crappy pic, I don't have a scanner...)

Satoshi said:

Thanks for the translation, Matthew (even if it has been translated elsewhere,
as was pointed out..:p). I'd looked through it myself but didn't have the
wherewithal to translate the whole thing.

I'd like to comment a bit on it..hopefully won't get too long.

First off, I largely agree with Akamatsu-sensei. He's got a lot of good points,
and so I'll try to expand on some of them..

He implies that moe is an extension of a parental sort of love (he further
refines it to `motherly' love. I agree with the fact that this is consistent
with current use of the term, but the fact that it's termed `motherly' is
something I'll touch on in a bit). This certainly makes sense - after all the
main `subject' of moe is someone who needs `parenting' of some sort, whether it
be physical protection, providing for, or emotional links.

The characteristics of these subjects are typically some variation of `cute'.
Why is that? Because that drives people to *want* to feel affection for them.
Why are babies (both people and other animals) cute? It enhances their survival
characteristics. In turn, people are programmed to feel for anything that
registers `cute' - it is, in the end, good for the species.

In traditional modern society, however, actual outwards expressions of this
are largely confined to females. Abstractly, there's no reason a male should not
feel in this way - after all, they can provide for subjects as well, can they

However, males who do this are generally perceived as being `weak' or `soft'.
Doesn't matter if in fact they are or not - that's the societal perception.
Because *this* is detrimental - for both the male and who they are providing
for (as it makes them targets, less likely to survive, or survive at a lower
quality of life, etc.), it is not practiced overtly.

This is digressing a bit (and taking things a bit out of context) but for
adherents to the MBTI system of personality typing, approximately 75% of females
are typed as `F' (Feeling, vs. 'T' for 'Thinking'), while a little over 40% of
males are typed as `F'. There is debate as to whether more females are `F's
than males, or whether there's actually a more even split and the results of
personality tests are just due to these societal norms.

Even further off topic (heh) I happen to be one of those `F' males, but was
for the longest time convinced I was a `T' - after all, that's what guys are
supposed to be like! It would not be a lie to say that discovery of moe through
anime helped me realize otherwise.

Okay, so my argument thus far (keep in mind that it's my personal opinion) has
been that male `fans' of moe (if I could call them that) are simply those who
wish to express `motherly love', but are constrained against doing so because
it would impair their own survival characteristics, and of those around them.
This is of course not as big an issue today, but if one expands survival to
include social status, it's still relevant.

(I'd also continue to argue here that `motherly love' is really a misnomer and
it is spread among males and females alike, but only mothers are allowed to
express it, so...)

Carrying on, my point here is that these `fans' of moe acts as they do because
they seek an outlet for these feelings that they are not actually allowed
to express. To do so directly is social suicide, so they do so indirectly,
though the medium of anime/manga/whatever.

Rather ironic is that doing so is *still* social suicide to some degree - after
all otaku are not exactly revered as bastions of social influence. Those who've
seen Densha Otoko can attest to this :p (of course it's been apparent
beforehand, I'm just using this as an example)

In some cases the cure is worse than the disease - you get extreme situations
where otaku are so entranced by this indirect expression of affection that they
cannot manage it directly. This, of course, is problematic. :p

I'll try to wrap up my thoughts here. I think the main reason those outside of
the `moe culture' have such a hard time understanding it is precisely because
it just does not figure in `ordinary' society. English doesn't even have a good
word for it - and even if it did, the connotation would quite possibly be

For those who *are* on the `outside', though, note that moe is not (generally)
people expressing feelings to fictional characters because they cannot handle
real emotions, but rather because society won't let them.

My $0.02 Canadian.

Scott said:

God, now that's the reason why I idolize the guy so much! It's as if we're on the same wavelength most of the time.

My take on Moe is that it's a longing for fatherhood, and it seems like my idol here is kinda going the same way. He’s talking about “motherly love” in his post, and how Moe is males acting on these roles. I’m not quite an expert on different cultural gender roles, but what I can see it appears that the Japanese father spends less time with family life then American dads do. They spend all day at work making the money while the wife is at home with the family, that’s just the way the culture is. My theory is that we watch Moe because we’re not yet fathers but wish to be so. He’s saying that we’d much rather be mothers then fathers. I think the difference in theories is just from the differences in cultures.

The big thing that I definitely believe is that it isn't sexual in any way. If I remember correctly, you kinda disagreed with that when we brought it up before, Matt. But the only pleasure you can get from Moe is the same kind that comes with the security and love of family, friends, and pets.

But I also like his theories on the level of dominance you achieve in Moe. The idea that someone is dependant on you in order to survive is a very pleasing feeling. That’s probably something that we have acquired biologically in order to make sure that our offspring are properly cared for. After all, if we didn’t enjoy taking care of them, why would we bother? So this same feeling can also find more unconventional outlets to be able to flourish in. Akamatsu cited that the maid / master relationship is like this.

But I’ve ranted long enough. Thank you so much for translating this, Matt! It really made my day.

Matthew Author Profile Page said:

The definition of moe as outlined by Akamatsu-sensei is the purest one, and also how I would define my feelings about it as well. I'm not disagreeing that that's what moe is.

However, as I said before, in actual usage moe includes sexual overtones a good bit of the time. Or at least that how it seems, given how I've seen it used on Japanese blogs and the like.

Tyrenol said:

You guys write too long! Get to the point already!! :P

Okay. So, in other words, "moe" is like saying "[insert here] is so cute to me that I want 1) to protect it from the evils of humankind 2) said cuteness to last forever."

Correct me if I'm wrong, please. :)

DeadCow said:

Thanks for the translation. I'm a big fan of the analysis of anime archetypes and other such scholarly study; I'd recommend you hit up Heisei Democracy's excellent in-depth analysis of Moetic archetypes if you're so inclined--it's well written and makes alot of great points...

LoilConStory said:

I've read this before so when I saw the Akamatsu name on it and "moe" I almost instantlly reconized it. It's a strange depiction of which Akamatsu described on the topic of "Moe", which in the general anime term means "ones of fetish, espically of a anime sort. The word choice was excellent too, describing in major detail how one may be considered on and what it means. Very good editorials. ^_^

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