It is a polarising topic within the anime community to say the least, it seems every viewer has their own opinion. You either love the current surge in moe series released per season, or you think it is the very bane of the anime industry’s existence. But first, what actually is moe?
Moe is a term coined by anime fans themselves, describing an affection and connection viewers have for a particular series or character. You know when you look at your favourite character and you physically can’t help but let out a loud “awwwww!” of complete adoration when they appear on screen? Moe is basically that. Lucky Star, K-On! and Tamako Market are the sorts of anime that are commonly described as Moe. The types of anime that are often adorned with aesthetically pleasing visuals and lack of a clear plot- pure “cute girls doing cute things”.
Moe is hated by critics for the lack of plot, cliché driven characters and the recycling of ideas. A vast majority of these series are set in High Schools and follow a group of friends, most often cute girls as they go about their daily lives. Hence the term slice-of-life. Moe is seen as an easy cash-grab made by the creators, these series help bring in a profit for the companies through the extensive merchandise released alongside the most popular slice-of-life series. Just take a look at the highest selling anime Blu-ray box-set ever released as of 04/06/2017 The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya has grossed 1,367.246,000 yen with 37,000 units sold (source: http://www.someanithing.com/334).
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya was released in 2006 and took the anime community by storm, helping cement the popularity of slice-of-life in the industry. Following the booming success of Kyoto Animation’s The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzimiya, K-On! kept the moe fire burning, following the cute-girls-doing-cute things formula we have been so much of in the last decade. Both these series are some of the most financially successful series in the history of anime, many animation studios have produced blatant rip-offs in an attempt to emulate their success with no such luck. It’s clear when it comes to slice-of-life, Kyoto Animation is king.
Despite the boom in popularity particularly in the last 10 years, the concept of moe is not a new trend by any means. Kimagure Orange Road first aired in 1987 and follows a similar formula to which modern slice-of-life series do today. For example, the characters are high school students, the visuals are vivid and aesthetically pleasing, there are multiple female leads with strong themes of comedy and romance throughout. Even further back, the shoujo genre of the 1970’s was a visual delight with no other genres like it at the time. The traditionally feminine story lines began to appeal to both male and female audiences. Later on, Sailor Moon took this to a whole new level in the 1990’s, particularly with the never-before-seen audience engagement, with the series creating an all-new demand for merchandise that continued later on in the decade with series like Neon Genesis Evangelion. This desire within the audience to connect with the series is moe in it’s truest form.
Amongst the anime community you will often hear the argument that so-called “moe-blob” anime are ruining modern anime. It’s even been described as the so-called “cancer” of anime as we know it.Yes, there are a large number of slice-of-life series being released with each new season, however in the past few years, between 30-50 series on average are aired each season, within that number there is something for everyone. Not all new anime fall into the moe description, if it doesn’t interest you there are an abundance of other series from a variety of genres sure to take your fancy. Personal distaste for a genre doesn’t mean it’s ruining the medium altogether.
Moe has it’s downfalls yes, but it has it’s positives. Yes, it’s been dominating the newly released anime of the past several years. It’s relatively easy to produce and free of risks in comparison to more complex series. But if you want to grab some light-hearted comedy with lovable characters, slice-of-life is for you. Sometimes concentrating on a complex plot-line full of twists and drama is unappetising. Watching cute characters go about heir daily lives is a harmless, who cares if it’s not stimulating? I know I’ll keep watching my favourite moe anime series and I know a heck of a lot of viewers will keep doing so too!