Moe

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Synonyms: cute, adorable
See also: anime, manga
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Moe or Moé (萌え, meaning budding, crush, infatuation) is a Japanese slang term for a "crush" or interest in certain types of "cute" characters in anime, manga, and video games. Moé is also the type of "cute" character being crushed on. The term has carried over into English-language anime/manga fandom.

The origins of the term are unknown, but it developed through fandom (not through the industry). "Moé" literally means "budding," as in a budding crush, or as in a flowering girl or growing boy. It's also pronounced the same as the word for "burning" (燃え), such as a passionate love for such characters.

There is some disagreement on the exact definition or nuances of meaning. Interest or fetishization of moé characters is sometimes linked to lolicon or shotacon, which can lead to wank regarding the definition; some argue that moé is strictly a non-sexual interest in these characters. But "moé" is nonetheless widely used around hentai fandom, such as for the hentai website Doujin-Moe.us (warning for hentai).

I don't think anyone really knows what moe means, which makes it harder to discuss. It's like emo - it may have started out with a fairly precise meaning, which most people seem put forward as being something like "they're so cute you want to protect them", but that doesn't really reflect the current usage, or the fact that there's a huge overlap with other genres/fetishes.
- anon [1]

Moé can refer to both male and female characters, to be enjoyed by male and female fans. But it is predominantly applied to female characters and more often considered to be for heterosexual male fans.

Fanworks

  • In Ano Hi no Fuukei, doujinka Mutsumix designs the characters as catboys and plays with the idea of moé in the story: at one point, Itachi tells his brother Sasuke that he needs more "moé endings" and then instructs Sasuke to end his sentences with "meow" to be more moé.

Criticisms

[I'm highly], highly uncomfortable with [moé]. I have a hard time not reading the glorification of innocence and childlike-ness in women as being symptomatic of cultural devaluation of women's agency. Correlating womanhood with innocence carries the implication that like a child, she doesn't know what is good for her. And that's not even getting into the fact that the concept is becoming increasingly eroticized.
- anon [2]
Like, I'm totally fine with guys enjoying moe stuff non-sexually just because they like girly things in general and moe is actually a somewhat socially acceptable for guys to like, and I'm fine with guys openly enjoying moe stuff because it's what hits their id when they fully admit to moe as a fetish. Where it gets ick is when there's obviously some fetishization going on because all they like is moe and they'll never meet a girl as perfect as this or that character, but it's all totally innocent, really.
- anon [3]

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