Moé, a passion in our time and an oft maligned character archetype has a long history in anime that has culminated in much of what we know of it today. The moé problem began many years ago, hidden within seemingly innocent series, waiting for the moment in which it could begin to creep out and steal the hearts of unfortunate viewers who just wanted to watch cartoon men kill each other in an increasing violent manner. While many believe its origins to be a mystery, I will reveal many secrets about this longstanding fad in the following paragraphs and posts to come. My first revelation may come as somewhat of a shock: The first known instance of moé occurred in a rather obscure and unknown series by the name of Hokuto no Ken.
Also known as Fist of the North Star, the series was one of the earliest sports anime about a man named Kenshiro who must coach a girl’s basketball team against their rivals at the Ken-Oh School for Women. His coaching strategies are considered a lost art at the time, referred to as the Moekko Shinken style. The series was both touching and poignant in its portrayal of Kenshiro’s dedication to his students and their desire to become true moekko. The most powerful scene comes in the last moments of that most important match when Rin, Kenshiro’s most promising student, is sitting on the bench with her head in her hands, weeping to herself as the scores lean ever stronger in Ken-Oh’s favor. She tells Kenshiro that she doubts their success, and regrets at this moment that she was never able to master his techniques and become the player she had always striven to be. Kenshiro puts his hand on her head, and as she raises her eyes to meet his, he utters that famous line that touched the hearts of so many: “You are already moé”. With newfound confidence, Rin raises herself up, returns to the game, and takes the game deciding shot, only to trip and fall flat on her face, as all the men in the crowd (and all the viewers at home) felt a sudden and inexplicable urge to descend on the court and help her to her feet while simultaneously trying to hide their raging boners. This was the birth of moé.
And it didn’t stop there. It went on to become a pivotal part of the backstory of a series I once loved before I discovered its hidden moé agenda. I’m referring of course to Space Adventure Cobra. You see, Cobra spent his time searching for cute helpless women with tattoos of butterflies on their backs. The butterfly, as you may not know, was once the symbol of moé. This originated with the Mirabal sisters, citizens of the Dominican Republic who opposed the dictatorship in that country during the mid 1900′s and went by the code name, “Las Mariposas”, which is Spanish for “The Butterflies”. While they were seen as a symbol of strength, they were executed nonetheless, proving both their helplessness and the fact that moé is pretty serious business to Hispanics. Their death elicited a strong response of both sadness and rage, emotions that can be seen to this day on any internet forum discussing the works of Key. As for Cobra, the only reason he did not suffer the dreaded “death by moé” in his series was because the writers apparently don’t know the meaning of the word suspense and made their main character invincible.
Allow me to speak more on death by moe and its first occurrences in Japanese animation. It is widely considered one of the worst possible ways to die, and those who would attempt to use moe for murder are by far some of the most sinister villains the world has ever seen. In previous eras, these attempts were more subtle. Nowadays, anime girls have been known to chant moé spells and cast evil death beams shaped like hearts as their faces flush with a bright red that can only be interpreted as a bloodrush to the head brought on by their overwhelming intent to kill. According to my research, this method has yet to hospitalize anyone, unlike the methods of the past. The most famous incident occurred in a series I know you’ve heard of: Pokémon. This incident, known as “Pokémon Shock” hospitalized over 600 Japanese viewers before the episode to blame, “Dennō Senshi Porygon”, was banned from television forever. But that’s not the whole story. You see, Porygon was the first manmade pokemon, created by the mad Professor Akihabara, and if that name doesn’t send off some serious warning signals, I don’t know what to say. You see, Porygon was designed with large inviting eyes, a pastel color scheme and a pretty useless move set in order to appear deceptively cute and vulnerable, when in reality it was an object of pure evil. It’s moé flash attack was only seen once, but that was all it took to nearly kill hundreds of people. The scariest part of this incident is the government cover up by moé sympathizers who were able to shift the blame onto Pikachu and remove the episode from television indefinitely to hide the truth from an unsuspecting public. Poor bastards never knew what hit them.
Where will it stop? The moé threat only seems to grow larger with each passing of the seasons, and I don’t know who to turn to in my desperate attempt to expose the awful truths about this abhorrent subculture, so I can only inform and hope to rally others to my cause.
Next time: Gundam – “One Does Not Care to Acknowledge the Moé of One’s Youth.”