Americentrism in the Anti-Moe Brigade


Time Enforcer Anubis here with more about moé!

Not too long ago, Kgods, a friend of the site, directed me to an episode of Destroy All Podcasts DX. In the tail end of the episode, after briefly insulting VZ (Another friend of the site), there was a discussion about moé and its affect on the anime industry. The discussion, however, was less of a discussion and more of a long-winded explanation by one of the presenters, dripping with Americentrism.

“Here’s the problem with that thinking: In Japan, yes it is true, but the only anime that makes money in America is one of two things. 1: It’s anime that makes it on TV like when Adult Swim shows stuff of Syfy channel or whatever (…) Like how back in the day Ghost in the Shell was on (…) Things like that or, also, theatrical movies that aren’t necessarily a big hit in their theatrical run, but, often times, they become pretty big sellers afterwards (…) Stuff like that is what makes money in America (…) I’m just talking about what sells in America, because there are way more Americans than there are Japanese people, way more, and if shows have more appeal to people overseas, they will make more fuckin’ money.”

A snippet of the podcast episode in question, which includes the above paragraph in context.

With the understanding that moé is what’s currently selling in Japan the Anti-Moé Brigadier on the podcast suggests that, in the case of moé, they shouldn’t even be selling to their own audience. Indeed, because America has a larger potential fanbase, being a larger country by population, Japan’s primary target should be America. A cultural product of Japan must become a slave to a foreign fanbase.

But wait. There’s a hole in this line of reasoning. If all this is true, and entertainment must abandon its roots to seek out larger potential audiences in other countries, then Japan’s target should instead be China, with more than one billion people more than the US, a detail conveniently overlooked by the Anti-Moé Brigade in their quest for an Americentric anime industry. Spoiled on the anime of the 80s and 90s that made it over to America in the earlier days of American anime fandom, the Anti-Moé Brigade seem to have forgotten that anime is a cultural product of Japan, and that, not only do we simply not get a lot of the anime that comes out in Japan, we’re probably lucky to get as much as we do.

Contrived excuses about why the “Moé Demon” must be stopped are nothing new from the Anti-Moé Brigade, however this is different. An outright refusal to acknowledge Japan’s right to keep its native cultural product a native cultural product borders dangerously on bigotry. A larger pool of potential fans is meaningless when there’s no way to be sure that those potential fans will hop on board and spend better, or even just as well, as Japan’s native fanbase, not to mention the fact that getting the stuff to the point where American audiences will be able to consume it (Translation, localization, etc.) no doubt costs money to do in the first place, on either side of the Pacific. It’s a risky venture, and why would you take a risk trying to sell to an overseas market when your native consumers are making you decent money as it is?

Remember that we are fans of a product meant to serve another country’s audience. Indeed, we ride the waves of their industry. Until recently, very few anime were created with direct involvement by American companies. Many of us had the seeds of our anime fandom sown with action titles, especially those of us who began our anime journey with Toonami. Even I can be counted among the ranks of anime fans that cut their teeth on shows such as Voltron, Robotech, and Gundam Wing. However, it’s very important to remember that, while we may enjoy anime very much and hold it as an important part of our lives, the anime shows we love are a result of Japanese animation companies being left to their own devices to create entertainment for their people. There’s no place for Americentrism in the anime fandom. Those who hate moé have no right to demand that Japan’s anime industry cater primarily to them, especially when it means abandoning their own native, core market.

‘Till next time!