Your Friend in Japan

The “Moe” vs “pre-Moe” Era

Written by HotAnime

Do you live in the Los Angeles area? If so we hope to see you at the upcoming Anime Impulse convention Jan 14-15. J-List will be there, and I will, too!

In the history of Japanese animation there’s a big red line running right down the middle, demarking the pre- and post-moe eras. In the late 80s and early 90s, a new type of character began getting popular, with larger, more expressive eyes and personality traits designed to elicit feelings of love and protectiveness in fans, which came to be called 萌 moe (mo-eh). (The name may have come from Hotaru Tomoe, aka Sailor Saturn, though for me the first moe characters might have appeared in ZZ Gundam.) Wherever there’s discussion on the subject of moe I know there’ll be fans proclaiming their distaste for it, saying how it has “killed anime” and yearning for the days when anime had some grit and told bold stories.

Of course, anime still does. There were a mind-blowing 230 anime series, OAVs and films released in 2016, only a subset of which depended on cutesy moe imagery to drive the story, and there are still plenty of series with hard-boiled and edgy characters out there. The reason anime today feels so different from, say, the early 2000s was the bursting of the international licensing bubble in 2006. Fans today are generally not willing to drop $150 for an anime series on DVD (or $600 for the Laserdiscs, as we did back in the 80s), and even if they were the retail locations that sold anime have gone the way of painted cels. With the loss of this licensing income — $90,000 per episode of Sailor Moon per two year period at its height, I heard once — the industry had to make changes, with the result being more inward-looking series, a focus on “weaponizable” genres like imouto fetish and idols, and the current cour (12-episode) season system. How do you feel about the “moe” era?

One theme I write about a lot is how Japan is a pretty safe country, where nasty things like crime and murder are extremely rare. While no place is perfect (my in-laws’ rural liquor store has been robbed three times over the past 24 years), in general crime is not something you’ll encounter a lot of here. Yesterday police announced that they had arrested former Attack on Titan manga editor Chonhyon Park (a third-generation Korean born in Japan) for the murder of his wife last August. One point in this case was that it took the police five months to file charges against Park. This was done to provide time to carefully check the evidence and rule out any other potential suspects, since charging someone with a crime in error is a huge taboo in Japanese society.

We’ve got great news: J-List is having a big sale on all 2017 anime, art, traditional photo, and JAV calendars, with reduced prices on all our stock. We’ve still got great offerings for you, from Re:Zero to Cardcaptor Sakura, but they’re selling out fast.

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