We have previously discussed Patrick Galbraith and his Moe Manifesto, defining moe as attraction toward characters from games, anime or manga. An interesting interview for Otaku USA Magazine reveals more on the topic, starting from the book title: Why a Moe Manifesto?
Galbraith narrates his search for a title that would capture the energy of the people he met in the course of his research. In the eyes of many of them moe was truly a manifesto: their feelings for the characters are something they can discuss, share, akin to a political ideology. The play around, yet they are as serious as one can be. People like Toru Honda, Hikaru Hagashimura and Mitsuru Soda openly state how their love for fictional characters saved their lives, showing them a new way of approaching the world. Topping them all, Jun Maeda: in his own words, moe is his reason to live.
Therefore – says Galbraith – his book is more than a manifesto; it's a collection of manifestos. Readers can agree or disagree, as long as they're willing to listen. This is way he conceptualised the Moe Manifesto as a space where different opinions could meet. Patrick Galbraith selected his interviewees after a long and painstaking research of otaku culture; a key figure, however, was novelist and social critic Eiji Otsuka.
“He told me moe does not exist. He told me it's like Mount Fuji, the geisha, samurai and sushi – it's merely a Western fantasy of what Japan is or should be.”
These words pushed Galbraith to dig deeper than he already did in The Otaku Encyclopedia, still his favorite definition of moe comes from Kaichirō Morikawa, author of a book describing otaku, moe and Akihabara. In Morikawa's words, moe is 'our reaction to a fictional character'. This reaction could be physical, intellectual, sexual or emotional; still, at its heart, it's love at first sight.
The interview also discusses the relationship between moe and politics. The government, the author says, does not want certain products to reach a younger subset of the population, in order for them not to be negatively affected. Go Ito, who was interviewed by Galbraith, speaks of 'moephobia': the fear, sometimes followed by a violent reaction, of things that are not fully known or understood.
Patrick Galbraith hopes his book gains a readership. Moe Manifesto includes many interviews with critics and publishing experts: whether one is for or against moe, the book's content are sure to challenge our views. Moe, after all, is nothing but a provocation.