Aren’t Anime Girls with Glasses the Best?
As a student of animation, I like analyzing the way viewers form emotional connections with fictional anime characters. Back in the 80s anime studios learned that if they printed beautiful illustrations of characters fans obsessed over on record jackets, plastic model boxes and other merchandise, sales would rise through the roof. I certainly bought my share of Macross models for the art on the box, and I never even opened the box to put the model together.
Then came 萌え moe, a word that that’s come to define a large chunk of anime and manga characters today. Written with kanji that mean ‘to sprout,’ it can perhaps best be translated as “the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when contemplating your favorite fictional anime character.” No one is quite sure where the slang word came from — the leading theory attributes the rise of moe to the popularity of Hotaru Tomoe, aka Sailor Saturn, who was one of the characters that defined the concept in the mid 1990s. Personally, I trace the rise of moe to 1986’s ZZ Gundam, specifically the characters Elpeo Ple and Ple-2, who were (to me at least) the first characters who were so cute, it was impossible to turn away
One important aspect of moe is that it must elicit feelings of love and protectiveness in fans, the yearning to reach out and envelop them in your arms and keep them safe, like a child or a puppy. To encourage these emotions, the best moe characters have character faults and other highly engineered imperfections, like being cutely clumsy, possessing terrible skill at cooking, “gap moe” (characters with a gap in their personalities, such as being full of confidence despite lacking any skill), being ridiculously full of energy, being afraid of going to the dentist, or (in a fighting anime) being so weak that others must protect her. My personal favorite moe character element is glasses, since poor vision is the perfect humanizing character trait. In a recent episode of Comic Girls, Kaos-chan and the other girls go shopping for glasses, and a lot of cuteness ensues.
So, what are your favorite moe character traits? Anime girls with glasses? Girls who are too shy to talk to anyone? Or who wear panties with pictures of bears printed on them?
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