A Kink of One’s Own?

When it comes to things like guro yaoi, violent macabre erotica and the like in light of that some women do have a fetish for sexual sadism if such stories are used to explore their sexuality one might wonder if they may use it to understand what really turns them on? There are cases where women do get arrested for sexually abusing somebody when they are sexually sadistic, though it may not be that as rare as others make it out to be.

It could be complicated by socialisation in which some men may act out their sexual desires, though I think the case for something like guro yaoi may make one wonder if there are more female sexual sadists than one realises. Even if not every person who reads gory or violent erotica are necessarily sexually sadistic, there’s a good possibility that some of them are. But this is a tricky can of worms where if it were applied to women writing erotic fanfiction involving younger characters, could there be more women sexualising minors than one realises?

Okay, not all of them writing those stories are legal age themselves and there are kids who actually watch South Park. But when it comes to older people sexualising such characters, whether by ageing them up or keeping them as they are it can be a slippery slope. According to writer Stitch, there were older people in the Voltron fandom who did this and the teenaged fans who identified with the characters were disgusted with this.

Honestly, I don’t know much about Voltron but the possibility of women sexualising minors should not be underestimated and overlooked. While not all South Park characters are this young, many of the better-known and more popular ones are. Supposing if Tim Drake’s aged 17, he might be legal age in other countries like Ireland and past legal age in Britain and Canada. But Kyle and gang are only preteens, which makes it worse.

While not all fans who age these characters up in their works necessarily sexualise them, it can be a slippery slope especially to those who may even identify with them at all. Then we get to other kinds of paraphilia, where it doesn’t just end with sexual sadism but also something like diaper fetishes (there’s a case study of a woman who has a thing for men in diapers) and I’ve read one essay by a woman with a self-proclaimed fat man fetish.

If I were to peruse something like Archive of Our Own, you have tags for things like anal sex and fingering. If fanfiction, erotica and the like are used to explore one’s sexuality, one would wonder if they may use it to explore their real sexual desires in a way they wouldn’t in real life. But this is a can of worms when it comes to the possibility of things like sexual sadism among women.

It’s really just a comic book/cartoon

It seems like in geek circles, especially outside of Japan and possibly a few other countries, anime is used to almost always refer to Japanese animation. You might say anime uses different conventions from Western animation and it does to an extent, I say extent because other times it’s practically the same thing. If you make a character move on separate sheets of paper or on a computer, you are doing animation.

It doesn’t matter what nationality’s the animation from, but if it involves making a character move from one piece of paper to another then you’re animating them. Not to mention 3D CGI anime exists such as Lupin III and Doraemon, so if it’s animated using different kinds of software or on paper it’s still animation. That’s something a normal person would’ve known and figured out immediately.

Likewise, perhaps unfortunately, comic books in the Anglophone world almost always refers to superhero comics whereas cartoon books (from personal experience) is used to mean comic strip compilations, even though the latter’s just as much of a trade paperback as their non-comic strip counterparts are when bound. Not to mention those who do non-superhero comics are referred to as cartoonists.

That may be true for most of the part, but cartoon strips using a more naturalistic style like Mary Perkins, On Stage exist. Not to mention the late Al Plastino didn’t just work in comic books, he even worked in comic strips like the newspaper versions of Batman and Superman as well as Ferd’nand. So I’m justified in calling comic book artists cartoonists, which’s what they technically and practically do.

I suspect why comic book artists aren’t referred to as cartoonists not just because they draw in a different style but also or perhaps most importantly whether if they like it or not comic book artist sounds more dignified than cartoonist. It seems like a game of semantics where they deem a Granny Smith different from a Fuji apple, even though they’re both apples.

(A real apples vs oranges analogy would be the difference between comics and pure texts, with picture books and any illustrated text being pears and cherries.)

Steve Bolhafner made a good argument calling cartoon books comic books in that they’re books with a lot of comics in them, though they’re not commonly regarded as such due to the perception whether among non-geeks or sadly among geeks. It seems when it comes to semantics, a comic book would pretty much be a flimsy magazine with cartoons in them and a comic strip is a cartoon with sequences.

A cartoon book would be any cartoon containing cartoons in them, whether if it’s a single panel or with multiple panels, so a cartoonist would be different from a comic book artist even though they do illustrations with sequences and word balloons in them. Let’s not forget that regular newspapers have cartoons in both, both the sequential variety and non-type and that regular book publishers also publish cartoon books.

Regular book publishers also publish comic books and there are comics publishers that publish cartoon books, so the line between comic book and comic strip can be pretty blurry. So is the line between manga and comic book if mangaka also work on American comics, some like Jodi Picoult rightfully call manga Japanese comics because they’re comics from Japan.

They may have different conventions, but if it involves a sequence of cartoons and word balloons the shoe will fit well. Actually even editorial cartoons and single panel cartoons also have word balloons so calling comic strips and comic books cartoons as well as comic strip and comic book illustrators cartoonists fit. The shoe fits too well if you call a comic book artist a cartoonist.

While animation and cartoons are related in some way when it comes to drawing figures, they’re also rather different as the latter involves static images. Same with photography and film, so to speak anything that combines text and image is comparable to comics and anything that involves capturing actual motion is comparable to animation.

Animation is the drawn counterpart of live action, cartoons and storybooks are the counterpart to any text with photographs in them. Well, that’s one epiphany I have regarding comics and animation.

A revelation about the Flash (and others)

When it comes to super speed, if one were to be both complacent with science and giving the Flash actual limitations (say running at the same speed as a moving vehicle), there really isn’t much to do with him and that he might actually be the best at escapology and tracking. Though this could be my opinion, but it seems like it’s easier to do pseudoscience as time goes by than actually working within both narrative and scientific limitations.

I actually think working within limitations can make for interesting stories, especially if this forces the character and writer to think more creatively instead of going off the rails when it comes to science. According to one science teacher, the most plausible scenario Dio Brando can do when stopping time is to create a black hole (or manipulate gravity) in a specified place and still attack his victim this way. Stopping time all the way or significantly slowing it down more consistently brings more problems.

He may not stop time all the way since he’s limited to one locale, but at least he can still move comfortably in this scenario enough to pounce on his opponent. Likewise in order for the Flash to run, whilst not posing further scientific problems involving friction and gravity, would be to limit his speed to what is achievable in real life. Usain Bolt’s already a good example of what would happen if there’s ever a human who could run this fast, well as fast as he can within scientific limits.

The same can be said of cheetahs as well as terrestrial vehicles in this regard, let’s say the Flash runs at the same speed as a speeding SUV. Still enough for him to run fast, but deadly enough to kill organisms and fatally injure somebody else if he’s not careful (or if he’s ruthless enough to inflict it) and cause friction. As for size-manipulating characters, it’s not enough to be able to manipulate their size as they have to contend with biology. In the sense that larger creatures are built differently from smaller ones.

Not so much between specimens of the same species, but rather between those of entirely different species. A whale is built differently from a mouse, not just in size but that in order to accommodate that much weight you’d have to be built differently as well. The best one can do’s to limit the size shifting to just altering height, it’s not as exciting as being able to size oneself to the height of a building or as small as a gnat but that’s well within intraspecies limit.

When it comes to shapeshifting, one would have to contend with the conversion of mass where if we were to go the way with this the closest we have is with anorexics, a people with a habit of vomiting away excess mass in order to lose weight. It would be pretty gross seeing shapeshifters vomit a lot every time they go from human to say dog or cat, but that’s also something that occurs in the real world when it comes to anorexia.

Using one’s powers within these limits can actually lead to interesting stories, where characters have to think creatively when using the full extent of their powers at all. Not only does it comply with science, it can also lead to characters using their powers to the best of their abilities.

Their complaints about anime art

For those who know how to draw and encounter art teachers, many of their complaints revolve around the latter disapproving of their tendency to draw in the anime style. I think it’s not just a matter of the anatomy being bad, but also because some of the aesthetics and motifs leave much to be desired. Especially when it comes to human-animal hybrids like kemonomimi characters where usually the only animal traits they have are just the ears and tail.

Admittedly, this isn’t unique to anime where I think even non-anime artists have done something similar where their animal characters vaguely resemble the animals they’re based on judging by their anatomies. Take Sheba for instance, the only animal traits she has are her fur, tail and ears and even then her hands and feet are perfectly human. They don’t have a pawlike shape the way actual cats do, which’s why it’s a bad character design.

I even think many kemonomimi artists missed an opportunity when it comes to giving their characters markings and hair/fur colours based off of actual coat colours that animals have. Maybe there are kemonomimi artists who do, but it’s not uncommon to see kemonomimi characters with unnatural hair colours like pink, bright red and blue hair. (Blue, in animal parlance, refers to a solid grey colour like how red hair is really a dull orange.)

Kemono Friends almost made it when it comes to depicting animal markings and even then it’s something that’s just restricted to the scalp hair, there’s no attempt at giving the characters actual animal markings on their faces and limbs. Only their clothes have those markings, which’s again a missed opportunity at making them look more animalistic even if they didn’t want go to the furry route.

Then there’s the missed opportunity of giving kemonomimi characters varying body proportions if they’re based off of certain animals. If you have a ferret girl, as ferrets have long torsos and short limbs this should be applied to drawing her at all. If you have a giraffe girl, she should have a long neck just like this woman.

Then comes the fashion sense, which involves things like pairing knee high stockings with garments that don’t go well with it. Admittedly, I might be projecting my idea of what makes an outfit look good in here but it seems like for every character designer and mangaka who can make good-looking outfits (which helps if they’re into fashion) there are those who give their characters questionable fashion sense.

Not just because it’s unstylish but when it comes to kemonomimi characters it doesn’t take into account for whether if these garments even have gaps and holes to allow the tail without resulting in embarrassing panty shots. Anatomically, most of the Killing Bites characters (who are often human-animal hybrids) are very sound and representative of their associated animals but sartorially speaking it leaves much to be desired when it comes to tails.

Their underwear and outerwear don’t have room for tails to move freely, otherwise we’d get more panty shots if the deinonychus girl’s any indication. Trust me, I have made skirts to allow holes for tails and I do know how to make (some) garments so I know how badly designed these outfits are when it comes to kemonomimi characters. They really don’t know how to make outfits that take the characters’ anatomies into consideration, especially if they have a tail and tails vary in width and length.

If you have a crocodile girl, since crocodiles have thicker tails the skirt, trouser or dress hole or gap should be bigger to accommodate it. This is again why a good number of anime character designs are bad, they don’t take both anatomy and clothing construction into consideration when it comes to creating kemonomimi at all. How on earth would a regular panty ever accommodate a dinosaur tail if it does have a wide enough gap to allow it?

As for bird characters, if they have feathered wing arms they shouldn’t wear sleeves at all. Okay, that’s my opinion but that’s taking the character’s physiology into account and maybe some anime artists do to some extent. However at times, it can be as lazy as stacking a human torso onto a snake bottom instead of taking cues from an ancestral snake and extrapolating from it when it comes to making a plausible human snake hybrid as well as never bothering to make the clothes fit that person.

There are good anime character designs after all, but when it comes to things like kemonomimi it tends to be a hit or miss. As appealing as the aesthetic or motif is, most of the characters with that motif have mostly perfectly human bodies. There are no modifications made for their hands and feet, their clothes do not accommodate their tails. It’s oftentimes badly thought out since I think a lot of it’s based on being moe at the expense of whether if their clothes are able to fit them at all.

Sometimes at the expense of making them more convincing human-animal hybrids, even without going the furry route. Even before moe, attempts at drawing human-animal hybrids were sometimes a hit or miss as well if Cat-Eared Boy and Gegege No Kitaro are any indication since the characters are perfectly human in appearance. The point here’s that you don’t just have to more convincingly blend human and animal traits together, you also have to design clothes that accommodate their features when they wear clothes at all.

Otherwise it’s not going to be a well-thought out design and that’s probably why some art teachers have issues with anime style characters.

Some things to consider

For some Flash fans, there’s a tendency to consider Iris West as stupid, simply because she doesn’t do science. Then again by this logic, both She-Hulk and Carol Danvers are stupid because they also don’t do science. Janet van Dyne would also be considered stupid because she does fashion and not science, which plays into rather misogynistic, not like other girls stereotypes about women. I like both sports, science and fashion but unfortunately this gets lost on some people.

Onto science and medicine, I’m not saying these are free of problems. In the case with medicine, it’s even rife with a lot of bullying based on the studies and anecdotes I’ve read. Alternately speaking, some ‘smart’ characters might even be dumber than their professions suggest. Or at least more likely to make selfish, impulsive decisions and plans than one would admit. In the case with Caitlin Snow, she wants to bring back Killer Frost despite knowing the problems.

I could be wrong about this, but this is like the equivalent of wanting to play Russian roulette even though it has a bad outcome. Supposing if Caitlin Snow is actually stupider or more foolish than fans would admit, one would arguably attribute it to bad writing (which Iris West is often subjected to this). If we were to come up with a well-written smart character, you’d have to look elsewhere for that. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, as a story, certainly has faults but it does have characters who’re actually clever.

A good number of the fights and situations there involve a lot of problem solving and outwitting the opponent as well as making use of rather limited or even daft abilities, such as turning something sharp into a balloon before hurting the person (Tubular Bells from Steel Ball Run). Dio Brando makes good use of a rather limited ability, which would be even more limited if science is applied to it. He can stop time, which he uses to stop people in their tracks and then attacking them.

He may not have a STEM degree, in fact he studied law at some point but he is cunning in a way Caitlin Snow never is and was. Maybe not to the same extent, which says a lot about the way the Jojo characters are written. Another example of a cunning villain would be Risotto Nero, when he attacked Doppio (a character with a split personality, not unlike Caitlin Snow) he did this by ambushing him. That’s turning himself invisible and using iron to form blades to injure him.

That’s how you write a smart character, they may not always have a STEM degree (Jotaro Kujo’s the only one to possess this as far as I recall) but they use their abilities in clever and inventive ways. Additionally, there are two ways of categorising intelligence. Crystallised intelligence involves knowledge stemming from prior experience and learning, whilst fluid intelligence involves being able to solve problems without prior learning experience. A seamstress could have crystallised intelligence due to years of sewing.

She could also have fluid intelligence if she makes a pattern by using an existing garment as the base and also if she uses multiple needles on the same garment she’s working on (I did these before). She may even have both, which makes her very intelligent. So you really needn’t a STEM degree to be considered smart, if we go by fields that don’t require a STEM degree at all. All you need to be smart is to have either crystallised intelligence or fluid intelligence, though it’s possible to have both.

If Caitlin Snow’s not as intelligent as one would expect, well it’s one thing to know something it’s another to use one’s abilities in very inventive that it seems she falls short of it at times. While Jojo does have faults in its writing, its strong spot lies in not only the creation of more creative abilities but also inventive ways of using them. Not to mention, both fans and writers fail to realise how badly written Caitlin Snow is. So much so that the only way to make her more well-written is to reinvent her into somebody less recognisable.

Consider this, the character with a split personality (Doppio) has two powers: one to predict the actions of somebody else and the other to skip time, both of which are used to good effect. Likewise, the character with the ability to freeze things (Ghiaccio) has a temper and has frozen a lake to stop somebody from attacking him, well he tried to. Both of them are in some regards cleverer than her, which says a lot about the way they’re written and conceived.

Again Jojo’s not perfect, but the way the characters’ powers work are well-thought out. Caitlin, by contrast, is a mess of a character that the only way to actually make her work is to reinvent her significantly. When I mean by that, either by giving her different powers or replacing her with another character (Captain Cold’s the ice character in the Flash comics more frequently and the longest).

The evolution of moe

Moe, as a word, came into being in the 1990s when it comes to fans being rather infatuated with characters from certain anime like Dinosaur Planet for instance. However, as a fannish practice and sentiment, this goes all the way back a decade earlier or more when it comes to lolicon, kemonomimi and other forms of moe anthropomorphism (Gundam Girls anyone?). While anthropomorphised animals and half-animals aren’t anything new in manga, be it Cat-Eyed Boy by Kazuo Umezu, Osamu Tezuka’s Hecate or Gegege no Kitaro, the animal eared aesthetic as we know it can be traced back to Wata no Kunihoshi (綿の国星).

As with a good number of shojo manga in the 1970s and 1980s, it was really popular with otaku so popular that Hideo Azuma created his own kemonomimi character not too long after (Shan Cat). Likewise, characters like Clarisse from Lupin III and magical girl characters like Minky Momo and Creamy Mami were also popular with otaku so popular they even spawned copycat characters appearing in pornography and the like. As for what constitutes otaku manga, in an interview with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure author Hirohiko Araki he knows what otaku manga are like but admits he doesn’t get the appeal.

Strangely enough, the late Hideo Azuma’s born a decade earlier than Araki but the difference is that the former, for all his love of horror movies, wasn’t that as engrossed in otaku culture as the latter was. Either what Japan considers a geek could be different from what Westerners call a geek or perhaps Araki wasn’t and still isn’t that greatly involved in otaku culture himself. So that’s why he sees certain manga as otaku pandering, which makes me think a good number of moe anime is otaku pandering in that they pander real hard to otaku.

It’s parsimonious to say that most anime and manga in Araki’s time didn’t pander hard to otaku, well not to the same extent that happened in the 1990s around the time that interview took place. While there were cartoonists like Azuma who pandered real hard to fellow otaku and were otaku themselves, they were in the minority and since Araki didn’t do fancomics so he never had much of a big otaku background himself and probably so do other mangaka who didn’t indulge in lolicon and other paraphilia that much either.

While the lolicon boom died down in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to a scandal surrounding Tsutomu Miyazaki, the infatuation over and sexualisation of moe characters continued unabated in later decades not just in fan comics and proper hentai productions but also later late night productions like Queen’s Blade for instance. Stuff like Touhou Project and Higurashi, given their background in doujinshi culture, are knee deep in otaku aesthetics. These include knee-high socks and kemonomimi.

If Superflat artists are any indication, it’s possible to divorce kemonomimi and other otaku motifs from otaku fandom but the otaku sensibility wouldn’t be there so what makes an anime otaku-pandering can be pretty specific to those who’re knee deep in otaku culture themselves. This is what separates the mostly pre-moe generation of mangaka from their moe-drenched successors, while it’s true some contemporary mangaka aren’t that deep in otaku culture themselves.

But the fact that later generations of mangaka are deep in otaku culture, especially when it comes to stuff like Killing Bites having the hallmarks of otaku pandering (idol culture, twin tails, tsundere, kemonomimi and maid outfits) are things Hirohiko Araki and most of his contemporaries wouldn’t do much and never do to begin with anyways. Why I call Killing Bites a moe or otaku manga while Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure isn’t (well to the same extent) is that Killing Bites has more things Japanese otaku are into.

Not just schoolgirls, kemonomimi, twin tails, maid outfits and tsundere but also idol culture since in Japan there’s such thing as idol otaku. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure does have a schoolgirl character or more, but one of the manga’s biggest influences (as evidenced in many of the characters’ and stands’ names) is Western popular music. So it’s not a moe manga in the same way Killing Bites is, I might even go out on a limb saying that Black Lagoon is also a moe or otaku work.

Pretty much because it has things that would immediately attract otaku to it like twin tails, maid outfits and so on though I don’t know much of it and it wouldn’t register as moe to some people. Moe, however, can be a rather vague term to define when it comes to what makes otaku infatuated with a character. Nonetheless, otaku anime and manga are pretty much anime and manga calculated to create moe feelings in fans that they’re full of stock motifs and characters to know how moe they are and can get.

So that’s why I consider Killing Bites very much a byproduct of otaku culture in a way Jojo isn’t, certainly not to the same extent and it becomes evident when it comes to other things otaku like very much. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya contains a fair amount of characters intended to be moe, you have dandere characters like Yuki Nagato, tsundere like Haruhi herself and the fact that it contains schoolgirls in school uniforms has in common with Sailor Moon when you think about it.

Sailor Moon, to those who’re Japanese, is one of those anime that attracted a male audience not unlike what Totally Spies, Kim Possible and My Little Pony got in the West. In fact, it’s sometimes considered to be a moe anime because it has things otaku like. So did Creamy Mami and Minky Momo, which were both casualties in the lolicon crossfire. Neon Genesis Evangelion would logically get caught up in the moe crossfire, which seems surprising to some at first, but it did plant the seeds for dandere and tsundere moe characters in later anime.

So to conclude, stuff like Fist of the North Star and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure were both conceived in an era when moe otaku weren’t that hugely influential to the same degree they are these days and both their respective authors weren’t that hugely involved in otaku culture themselves show up in the works’ sensibilities. However, while Wata no Kunihoshi were never intended to appeal to otaku it did hugely influence otaku when it comes to moe and conceiving such characters they think are moe.

Thus we get the beginnings of kemonomimi moe with Wata no Kunihoshi which later begat works like Shan by Hideo Azuma, likewise the roots of lolicon lay not only in works that sexualise young girls but also with clean works that have young girls in it that get sexualised by the fanbase such as Minky Momo and Creamy Mami. Moe anime has its roots in works that are popular with otaku, even if it’s not always the case with other works popular with otaku it’s not hard to see how moe anime came to be if it weren’t for otaku.

It’s otaku pandering

I can get complaints by fans whenever an anime panders to a certain audience as I feel the same way around certain characters in superhero media, in the sense that these kinds of stories and characters not only pander a lot to a certain audience but also have a rather warped idea of what an everyperson is like. That’s due to a lot of serious fan pandering, that makes it harder to actually understand who or what the average person is actually like and would most likely not be a massive geek.

The otaku pandering anime, to my understanding, is full of things a hardcore anime fandom wants and likes in an anime. Maybe that’s not always the case for all anime fans, but it’s going to be full of things that cater to otaku nonstop be it moe stereotypes, Easter egg references to other anime or whatever that floats their boat. Moe, in particular, is something that appeals a lot to otaku especially when it comes to creating characters that appeal a lot to their sensibilities, tastes and perhaps paraphilia if they’re aware of it at all.

The moe character has to be appealing without being realistic, that’s confined with stereotypes that readily appeal to a certain audience. You could replace stereotype with trope, you could be getting half-way through what I’m saying. While otaku works aren’t always moe, they often go hand in hand that they’re practically symbiotic ever since the 1980s. Especially when it comes to Lupin’s Clarisse being one of the big moe characters of the 1980s, foreshadowing her 1990s counterparts in a big way.

Likewise, geek pandering characters pander to a specific audience. They could be adorkable characters, they could also be fan proxies. Some authors like Hirohiko Araki are aware of what otaku-pandering manga are like, as evidenced in this interview, so it can be said (and argued) that Araki comes from a generation of mangaka where they didn’t pander to otaku that much and actually never intend to appeal to them anyways.

It’s like the thing with Wata no Kunihoshi (綿の国星), it wasn’t intended to be moe but it did popularise something that came to be considered moe. These are cat eared characters and to an extent, animal-eared characters so it’s rather influential in this regard. While cat-based characters did exist before, most notably the cat girl from Gegege no Kitaro and Kazuo Umezu’s Cat-Eyed Boy this is the manga that popularised the cat-eared character as we know it today.

Likewise with Clarisse from Lupin III as well as Minky Momo and Creamy Mami, they were never intended to be lolicon but were popular with those who liked those kinds of characters that much even though Clarisse’s older than the latter two protagonists (a mid to late teenager at that). So otaku pandering and otaku manga emerged in the 1980s, not just with immediately recognisable moe motifs and conventions like anthropomorphism but also referencing other anime a lot.

These trends continued (and mutated) in the 1990s and onto the 21st century where without Evangelion (more like an accidental benefactor of the moe boom), Wata no Kunihoshi and Sailor Moon (more on that later) we wouldn’t get things that pander a lot to otaku. When I mean by that, these are the moe elements they recognise and latch onto like tsunderes, kuuderes, nekomimi (and kemonomimi) and so on. It may come as a surprise to some people that Sailor Moon’s considered to be a moe anime.

Or rather an anime that’s popular with moe otaku, like other manga before it, it’s one that never intended to stoke the moe flames. (Pun not intended, though interesting since another word like moeru can mean burn or something.) Sailor Moon as well as Minky Momo and Creamy Mami, in non-Japanese countries, while they do have male fans it’s not to the same notorious extent they have in Japan and these three seem to have more of a female-majority following there.

Well, what makes Sailor Moon (unintentionally) moe-pandering isn’t just because of the female characters but also because of one character named Sailor Saturn who inspired moe feelings in some fans and her civilian namesake’s sometimes thought to have inspired the slang moe. Not that there aren’t any male Sailor Moon fans, they do exist but in non-Japanese countries they’re more popular with females so it’s probably easy to forget that Sailor Moon (and Minky Momo) appeal to moe otaku a lot.

One international example that inspired a lot of moe from male animation fans (and controversy) would be My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, it wasn’t intended to be moe (in the sense of arousing and stoking the curiosity and admiration of male geeks) but it hit a big chord with them that it garnered news reports. While Kim Possible, Totally Spies and Winx Club also attract a male following it’s never to the same infamous degree that MLP got, either they already have boy elements in them.

Or like with Sailor Moon, they were so popular with girls that they’re unable to get a male following as big as what MLP got. Only in Japan (and possibly Taiwan and China), did Sailor Moon and Minky Momo garner notoriety for having male fans despite being aimed at young girls. In fact, Sailor Moon is one of those okina tomodachi anime. That’s any child-oriented anime and manga that’s popular with adult otakus, some of whom are moe for characters.

Sailor Moon and Minky Momo weren’t intended to appeal to adult otaku, but there’s a difference between these anime and those anime that pander a lot to otaku. It’s not just lolicon anime and manga that’s otaku pandering but also anything that’s produced for an otaku audience in mind, something like Nekopara’s very knee deep in otaku culture. Things like cat ears and maid outfits, when combined together, are very otaku pandering motifs.

To give you a Western example, characters like Patty Spivot and Cisco Ramon pander a lot to a geeky audience. They do and are things geeks immediately like and gravitate to, as opposed to characters like Mickey Mouse and Charlie Brown. These two do have geeky fans, but were never aimed at geeks to begin with and have a wide, non-geeky fanbase to boot. That’s the difference between Sailor Moon and stuff like Fate/Stay Night.

One never intended to appeal to otaku, the other’s made for them in mind when it comes to immediately recognisable moe motifs like thigh high tights, moe anthropomorphism (sometimes getting the bishoujo treatment) and outright otaku proxies. Western media has done, well, some of the same things whether if it’s the tendency to put in obscure references for those in the know to catch off guard, adorkable Manic Pixie Dream Girls and fan surrogate characters.

While what makes a character moe varies between people, it seems a lot of times with other anime there’s a concerted and calculated effort in making characters moe that’s by making them immediately recognisable stereotypes (like dandere, tsundere and kuudere) and saddling them with immediately recognisable cliches and motifs that fans will respond to them in kind. I can say the same things about adorkable characters and fan surrogates.

These are characters who deliberately endear to geeks but get under my skin every time I think of the word ‘adorkable’, to the point where I can get why even some Japanese people don’t like moe characters much. It’s a very artificial, calculated and cynical attempt at being endearing or likable especially if these are characters created to be endearing to geeks in a way Mickey Mouse and Garfield never were, well to the same extent that is.

When it comes to otaku pandering, ever since the 1990s there’s been a deliberate attempt to appeal to them not just with obscure references and otaku surrogate characters but also moe characters. They’re so artificial, contrived and unrealistic that their only purpose is to amuse geeks and nothing else. That’s how I define and see otaku pandering as. Admittedly, while there are some moe motifs that I don’t mind and even like (kemonomimi for instance) there are others that do bug me.

Especially when it comes to fashion choices and behaviour that it feels like a deliberate attempt to court otaku tastes instead of coming up with more interesting character designs and more realistic, relatable behaviour. That’s otaku pandering to the max and that concludes this piece.

When good character design isn’t immediately aesthetically pleasing

When it comes to what constitutes a good character design, it can be hard to quantify and harder still if you’re not a professional artist. One good indicator of what makes a bad character design, especially if the character’s supposed to be half animal, is the anatomy. As what somebody pointed out, if the half-animal character just possesses very few animal traits then it wouldn’t be convincing. Tweak the design to be more bestial, then it’s more convincing.

(This prompted me to give some of my half-animal characters body hair and pawlike hands and feet to make them look more animal, even if I didn’t want to go furry with them.)

Oddly enough, by this logic, something like Killing Bites has better character designs well at least for some characters as it doesn’t just stop with ears and tails but also fur and limbs. Seems like the cartoonist does have a good understanding of animal anatomy enough to make convincing and interesting human animal hybrids for all its faults. But it does make one wonder if good character design isn’t just about looking good but also being convincing.

Sometimes what is anatomically convincing doesn’t always make up for what’s aesthetically pleasing, in the sense that while giving a human character body hair, animal paws, eyes and tail would make for a more convincing animal-human look it’s also more uncanny and unsettling so that’s probably why most mangaka either stick to just animal ears and tail or outright furry designs as something that’s halfway between the two’s horrifying if drawn realistically.

Maybe that’s also the reason why Pawsy Tigra didn’t last long, giving pawlike hands in addition to a tail made her look too creepy for some people even if making her look creepy’s the only way she can get away with that outfit and her being half-tiger makes sense. A realistic style would only amplify the creepiness of the design, despite how much more convincing it looks (and its practical benefits in live action).

As for sexy outfits, some of them just look good as they’re pretty much there to arouse people. They’re also outfits that even no pop star would wear while dancing because they’re so impractical, judging from the fit there’s no way they can comfortably house big breasts without slipping away. They also appear to be uncomfortable to wear, maybe that’s why they’re good examples of bad character design no matter how arousing they look to some people.

So what’s aesthetically pleasing doesn’t always mean it’s a good character design, to me what makes a good character design has to be convincing either sartorially or anatomically so or both when it comes to constructing outfits a half human would wear.

Transforming controversy

Stephen McAlpine has a good blogpost about the newer controversy surrounding the Harry Potter books and it’s not what you think it is: a generation ago, it was the hardcore Christians who wanted the Harry Potter books banned because they promote witchcraft. Now it’s the transgender activists and their sympathisers who take issue with JK Rowling (the books’ author) because she has opinions about the transgender community. I do have my sympathies for the series, despite not reading the books nor watching the films.

I would believe many Evangelicals’s criticisms of Harry Potter more if they held X-Men and Narnia to the same standard, but that would involve a greater deal of consistency and introspection than what they’re used to. Whatever Christian criticisms Narnia gets is a minority compared to what Harry Potter got, which’s something I will not accept and the same goes for X-Men. The hypocrisy Evangelicals have and do gets on my nerves a lot, like if you hold one thing to one standard and another to something else that’s pretty much having a speck in your eye.

You can’t chastise one without chastising the other, double standards and favouritism. It’s not that I like Harry Potter but I neither dislike it, but that the double standards regarding it and other franchises has gotten on my nerves. As for Harry Potter and trans controversy, I think something like Ranma 1/2 wouldn’t age well in this environment mostly because of how transphobic it would come off as to newer audiences. It’s one thing to turn into a woman willingly, it’s another to turn into a woman against one’s will.

The fact that the protagonist had to be turned back into a man makes me think this goes against the experiences of transgender people who willingly live as the opposite sex, but so far to my knowledge the author (Rumiko Takahashi) isn’t as widely disowned as JK Rowling currently is. Again double standards.

Jojo’s New Adventures

Assuming if Hirohiko Araki died in the future and there’s a plan to revive the Jojo brand/franchise just in time for its anniversary, here are the characters and stands I suggest coming up with that might pique readers’ interest.

I Can’t Get Next to You

Stand user: Tom Mohapi (South Africa)

It’s a stand that makes him switch places with another person and trade items with, he uses this to make a good escape as well as to trick people around with. He’s one of those stand users in what I’d call Jojo’s New Adventure who are good escape artists.

Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing

Stand user: Sylvia Munene (Kenya)

The stand’s power is to make others tell the truth, which’s befitting for her as she’s a judge.

A World Without Love

Stand user: Alexandra Dipanda (Cameroon)

It has the ability to make items disappear, the better to play tricks on her enemies with. Alexandra is also a police officer, the sort who would deliberately confiscate her enemies’ weapons.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Stand user: Patricia Dipanda (Cameroon)

As the name says, it generates smoke. Patricia is the cousin of Alexandra and she uses this stand to annoy her enemies, again she’s one of those stand users who are escape artists.

My Girl

Stand user: Lucinda Majoro (South Africa)

Lucinda Majoro works as an investigative journalist, her stand has the ability to trap people (oftentimes criminals).