This should really be posted to the “comments” section of the Demo-tan post, but then I wouldn’t have an excuse to paste a giant red MOE kanji over her face. Moerers only read on!

This is something of a filler post before moving on to event reports and such, but I wanted to address an issue that came up in comments on the Demo-tan introduction post before moving on:

Is Demo-tan moe?

At this point the consensus seems to be that she is not, and I’d agree. I think she has the potential to be, but she’s not quite there yet… why not, though? She doesn’t seem to be in direct violation of any moetic preconditions, as established – on the other hand, she doesn’t fit neatly into any of the four categories. I was aiming for Denpa-kei, and tried to convey this to the artists, but obviously failed somewhere along the way… thankfully a comment from Annonymous sheds light on where we may have gone astray, reprinted here in its entirety:

I must say that she is well illustrated(cute) and is appropriate, but I am not finding the moe element in it so strong. Thus, the question why is that the case? Well I think it is to do with the Japanese/”Western” tinge that slightly eliminates the otakuistic element of moe.

For a while now, I’ve been interested in that “tinge” you speak of, that can make western anime style art exude a “non-japanese-ness” at first glance. Although it is often elements in the drawing style, I have come to believe it has a lot to do with poses and facial expressions. Someone above mentioned the bared teeth. Also note the finger thrust upward and away from the body, the straight legs spread apart, the slightly closed eyes and larger proportion of white to iris in the eyes.

The image as a whole exudes a self-confidence that seems to say “look at me! ain’t I cool? i know i am”. Actually, it’s more as if when I see the image, I picure the artists sitting at his table drawing it, thinking to himself how cool it is. That feeling from the creator makes its way into the character. It makes a kind of self-consciousness or self-awareness in the character that pushes against the fourth wall.

Compare it to the thumbnails on the left side of the page, or images in the linked Megami 77 review. The general feeling I get from those is something like “hello. this is who i am”. Even when they’re looking directly at the camera, it’s more as if they’re looking at another character in their world than addressing the real person ogling them.

I hope Annonymous will come forward and lay claim to the brilliance of his or her observation, because as I read it this paves the way for a new fundamental moetic axiom:

    When the level of male presence in a moe image surpasses that of a voyeur, the viewer is engaged by the moe character as if he were part of her narrative.

In other words, a fictionalization of the viewer is demanded by the moe image.

I haven’t fully come to grips with the importance of this, but if I’m reading it right it’s a huge step forward in the conceptual understanding of moe. Regardless of whether or not it applies directly to Demo-tan, I want to devote some brain cells to hashing this concept out more fully in the coming weeks… in the meantime, the quest continues for a moe-er Demo. We shall overcome!