Not so moe anymore: She’s not cute anymore

This might not be unique to American comics and media as there are likely some anime that do similarly desexualise female characters or at least try to. The thing with Bleach’s that when they adapted a certain scene, the studio had to censor it to be make it aired on prime time telly but other family anime likely do the same or similar thing. There are likely some anime that do extensively desexualise female characters.

But I think for every Lupin where a female director turned Fujiko Mine into a more non-sexist character (from what I’ve read), there are more anime that keep on sexualising female characters a lot as to be off-putting to outsiders. Actually even fanart’s guilty of the same, though some do outgrow this. As for American superhero media, there are still bumps along the way but there’s active effort in desexualising female characters a lot.

As well as treating them right but to the point of intimidating some sexist readers. These same sexist readers have come to patronise misogynistic anime that I think it could leave an unhealthy impression of what they want women to act like. I think that’s probably why you don’t see that many anime depicting seemingly tsundere characters as byproducts of sustained abuse.

If that tsundere acts that way because she’s abused and stressed out by bullies and people who simply don’t support her, that’s too realistic. Same with making yanderes actually mentally ill as so depressed as to try to take control of their situation. I honestly think if DC had the guts to depict Stephanie Brown as angry from witnessing her dog being killed by Tim Drake, the effect’s the same.

Same thing if Tim repeatedly bullied her a lot that she loses her temper way too often. It’s too much like real life to be escapist and partly why a lot of anime circumvent the possibility of some characters acting this way from abuse or simple lack of empathy and support. Coupled with total or near lack of desexualisation it’s too much like real life.

It’s like if Steph started cutting her hair to support cancer patients and even bothers dressing in punk clothes a lot in her spare time, that’s readily toying with fan expectations that she’s already unattractive in tandem with her losing her cool whenever Tim treats her badly. Same thing would happen if that blond delinquent girl’s like this from being bullied at home for looking different that she acts out a lot.

It’s too much like real life where abusers are made accountable for their actions and where the abused act out due to constant abuse and neglect. Not to mention of their loved ones letting go of themselves or doing things nobody expected them to’s enough to desexualise them. In the sense of having a sufficiently independent sense of self that they’re no longer under others’ control.

Though that would mean some fans are secretly the controlling types who can’t trust people to be on their own devices even when some situations demand self-sufficiency. And partly why a lot of moe anime’s sexist.

Moe anthropomorphism: Turn it around

I suspect somebody on Metafilter said that moe is akin to porn in the sense of not only satiating a fantasy but also manipulating, cateogirising and creating it. I suspect the only other way to desexualise moe is to turn it on its head, which some anime certainly did attempt to and successfully so. To put it this way, an anime shows a tsundere girl turning out to be repeatedly bullied and molested at home that she acts out elsewhere or whatever.

As if she’s mad from being abused a lot that she can’t always control herself. Especially if the pain lingers. Like if you were severely injured, even if healed the memory of the pain still lingers. That’s how it is with abusing people. There are likely anime that do show such things but not so commonplace because it would be too close to reality for it to be sufficiently escapist. Likewise if a yandere’s actually so depressed that she abuses people to take control of her situation, it’s unpleasant.

Especially if caught dead confiscating anime merchandise that it’s way too close to what some otaku go through (even in Japan, otaku aren’t always welcomed if it weren’t for Tsutomu Miyazaki, though that is changing). Or in the case with kemonomimi characters, if they act like actual feral children in addition to akin to some humans (for predatory ones, it’s hunter-gatherers) that it doesn’t feel fun anymore.

Especially if they’re either so terribly socially inept or if they’re capable of forming independent societies that it’s almost alien. Not a human with merely animal limbs but uncanny valley humans. If it were to happen, as it likely did in some manga, it’s too provocative for otaku tastes to be this popular though exceptions do and still exist. It seems the whole purpose of moe’s to seek unreality.

If made too close to reality in some regards, it’s not fun anymore I suppose.

Not so moe anymore: Moe anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphising anything nonhuman isn’t anything new as much as it’s reached a logical zenith in geek circles, especially in anime and generally furry media. I suspect if you depict a kemonomimi/dog-eared woman but one who acts an awful lot like Oksana Malaya (a woman raised by dogs for a long time) it would be horrifying. In the sense that Oksana’s behaviour’s made so inhuman that she has a hard time socialising with fellow humans, especially if she’s raised by dogs for so long that it’s hard for her to act human.

Similar things might happen if you make predatory kemonomimis act not only like their animal counterparts but also actual human hunter-gatherers that it successfully blurs the line between human and animal. Albeit in an unsettling but logical manner. There could’ve been mangaka who’ve tried similar things, just not enough editorial and fan support to get their ideas through. Actually even if some of them are self-published online, it’s probably too provocative for otaku tastes.

I think another big obstacle may be either a lack of any amount of cynicism (something Hayao Miyazaki pointed out) or lack of any wide interests (hence probably why a lot of anime’s so repetitive) or both. Like if somebody’s into moe anthropomorphism, feral children and feral animals that they create stories where kemonomimi people do act like feral children and animals as to be downright horrifying if they exist.

With Oksana Malaya it turns the idea of dog cognition on its head where if some dogs only act that way if they’re raised by humans, with her being raised by dogs since childhood that you get a better idea of what dogs act like absent extensive human socialisation. (That’s probably not surprising if those dogs spent a lot of time outside to their own devices and her hanging out with them a lot that she’s influenced by them.)

I suspect if there were many more kemonomimi characters acting like actual feral children and/or indulging in practises actual humans do (predatory ones for hunter-gatherers) it’s not going to be totally anti-moe. But sufficiently not moe enough to be actually well-thought out characters that it seems the usual kemonomimi/moe anthromorphic character’s not that well-explored.

Very, very moe of them

There’s the book called Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals where the author suggests that Evangelion more or less popularised moe. It’s not that moe was nonexistent before, let alone in the context of having profound sentiments towards arousing or interesting traits that can be taken out of the series’s context. Like online memes.

Such memes may’ve existed before with fans making superdeformed versions of Gundam robots and characters as well as anthropomorphising the former. So on and so forth in addition to fan smut. (Keep in mind Star Trek slash fanfiction existed before and more or less popularised such a word to indicate fanmade homoerotic pairings.)

As well as alternative universes where the same author assumes that one Evangelion episode seemed to be inspired by a fanfiction. The odd fact that Evangelion might be one of the first anime to feature or popularise out of character merchandising makes me think he has a good point about it popularising moe.

I’d say out of character merchandising did exist before but not very often as to be thematically consistent and even today it’s still being done. It doesn’t matter whether if Supergirl wears a slightly different version of one of her former outfits (I can go on arguing that her one-time leotard and her New 52 outfits are reiterations of her 1970s hot pants ensemble), it’s still consistent with what’s expected of her.

The same can be true of any franchise, including both Evangelion and Gundam. Given I have a feeling that out of character merchandising more or less increased during the 1990s, which’s more or less the same time Gundam started doing alternate universe productions (though sometimes returning to the original Universal Century continuity), which Evangelion eventually followed suit.

I could go on saying that some Gundam productions, as far as I recall, are thematically consistent in having an anti-war theme, a red-clad or masked Char Aznable character and young characters thrust into such situations. Evangelion turns this around where familiar characters get thrust into entirely different situations and stories.

That and spawning a lot of characters that are reminiscent of either Rei Ayanami (shy, odd hair colour) or Asuka (fiery, blond or orange twintails though Ideon’s Kasha Imhof got there first). That’s not to say Gundam’s not moe as it spawns memes and the like (so do other anime franchises). What makes Evangelion more moe than Gundam’s that familiar characters get placed in very different situations.

They may even be dressed out of character or seemingly so, which I think would’ve further popularised the already existing trend of putting characters in OOC situations in merchandising. The fact that it’s not uncommon for Evangelion spinoffs to put familiar characters in very different situations and stories sort of proves the database consumption theory right.

In the sense of going after characters regardless if they’re put in entirely different stories instead of underlying themes and the like. Again not always the case but I’m getting the impression that Evangelion’s moe for putting familiar characters in very thematically different stories.

Post-anime moe

I still think moe can survive outside of anime should anime die. But I have a feeling post-anime moe might be more of a thing in genres and stories that don’t rely on worldbuilding a lot to begin with. Something like crime fiction and romance novels. These are the very genres that needn’t worldbuilding to begin with and thus it would be that easy to dump anime characters into it.

Database consumption in its truest form especially when it comes to interchangeable characters and if/when characters are valued for having certain traits. Memetics is kind of moe in a way. Considering if anime dies, memes based on it will survive and thrive elsewhere.

Should anybody ever associate Mickey Mouse with Killer Queen and Donald Duck with Magician’s Red in an actual published DC Comic, it’ll be popularised enough to prove my point right. (Moreso if JJBA’s own author starts doing other things altogether whilst admitting anime’s own demise’s due to sexualising kids.)

Moe can survive outside of anime but when anime dies, it’s going to thrive in memes, certain superhero and Disney media and crime fiction and romance novels in general.

The new moe?

I sometimes think crime fiction has a much better chance of being the next anime, especially now that anime focuses a lot on moe and crime fiction’s never that big on worldbuilding so it’s easier to transport anime characters into crime fiction. There’s even crime anime like Detective Conan. Not that it wouldn’t be any less misogynistic.

But I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of anime style characters in crime fiction. Especially when it comes to the way women and sex are portrayed, I have a feeling that we’re going to see a lot of those characters in crime fiction as a viable alternative. Actually it goes either way as having anime characters around in crime novels brings new life.

And crime fiction’s one of the more decent alternatives to anime now that anime’s dead.

Crime fiction, the new anime?

I even said that post-anime might be characterised as looking up to anything Western as a viable alternative given anime’s demise. If something like Dune or Starship Troopers were to get an animated adaptiation in this situation, they’d be considered post-anime. Oddly enough, crime fiction’s a possibly alternative.

But also the best breeding ground for post-anime moe as Western science fiction and fantasy (though not always the case) are still stuck up on worldbuilding/grand narratives. Moe involves a strong infatuation with certain traits, almost as if these may also include fetishes. Likewise crime fiction’s historically no stranger to sexualised imagery.

Especially when it comes to pulp crime fiction as well as the use of rather misogynistic tropes like dead women. I have a feeling that moe girls might become an alternative to dead women in crime fiction even if it’s just as sexist. (Rao help if crime fiction has a lot of sexualised women characters.)

It seems given the lack of worldbuilding in crime fiction, we’d get more recognisably anime female characters there. Especially when it comes to character databasing where traits can be fetishised and reassembled in any manner and characters are treated as interchangeable fetishes.