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!





17 thoughts on “Americentrism in the Anti-Moe Brigade”

  1. I think the anti-moe guys have delusions of grandeur that anime can eventually hit mainstream, but that’ll never happen since the mainstream will never want to watch a cartoon ever. The type of anime they want would probably hit it big in the comic book store crowd, but that audience is probably about as limited as the moe audience in Japan.

    I think your thinking is too narrow minded as well. Anime studios don’t make anime for Japanese people: they make it for otaku. Most anime doesn’t sell beyond a couple thousand copies per volume save for break-out hits like K-ON! (which is popular amongst young girls) and Bakemonogatari (Nisioisin is fairly mainstream amongst young adult readers.) This is kind of old, but it’s a list of average DVD sales numbers for anime series broken up by studio. There are some big sellers there, but take a look which titles they are. Most of the moe stuff doesn’t sell super well. It’s a limited audience. If Japan wants the industry to improve they need to make more shows/movies for children/general audiences, like Pixar does over here.

    1. In hindsight, “people” was probably the wrong word to use, with “audience” being more accurate.

      As far as growing and expanding the anime industry goes, I’m all for it, and while I’m sure most of the “I don’t like moé and I wish more different anime came out” people have only the best of intentions when suggesting that the anime industry diversify its bonds, the “Moé must be destroyed” people operate with a selfish agenda at hand that often comes off as bigoted: “Why can’t we have more cool shows and the creepy people can have their creepy shit off on the side?”

      If it wasn’t “My cartoons are better than your cartoons. Why can’t we have more of my cartoons?” I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but when I hear stuff like what was said in the podcast here, it becomes difficult to see as just a desire for more diverse anime, and it sounds more and more like people talking out of their asses, making contrived excuses for why something they don’t like should be done away with and replaced with stuff they like.

      1. Well you should probably just ignore irrational people.

        Or at the very least, don’t respond irrationally, and I feel this post was somewhat irrational. Take the emotion out: Analyze what’s going on critically and back up your statements with a firm foundation. I think you tried to do that, but you let emotion take over.

        1. I’m on the belief that ignoring people like that only works on children and trolls, and here’s why:

          When a grown gentleman has a prolific platform like that (The statement in question was from the 192nd episode), people are bound to believe what he says, and when the people who do look for both sides of an argument look to the pro-moé crowd and we wave it off dismissively, saying “We’re not going to dignify that with a response,” that paints his argument as having no opposition.

          I think one issue that the pro-moé crowd at large has is the unwillingness to respond passionately to the kind of bullcrap the Anti-Moé Brigade spouts. While “taking the high road,” so-to-speak, and ignoring the haters is a noble act unto itself, it eventually turns it into a one-sided argument like I described above. I’ve read some responses to some of my posts on the Moe Coalition blog in a forum that I won’t name here, and it’s genuinely pretty funny how bewildered these guys get when someone actually steps up to defend moé just as fervently as they see fit to attack it.

          1. Well I think the reaction shouldn’t be to “defend” and rather just put out your honest opinion on this stuff without feeling the need to “defend” it.

  2. Fairly good article, Anubis.

    I think that there’s a bizarre notion (as wah said) that this can be a mainstream thing outside of big blockbuster titles. I dunno, for what it’s worth, it seems that otaku (for quite some time) have steered the market in the direction it has taken, much to the chagrin of those lamenting the days of violent OVA titles such as Genocyber, M.D. Geist, Angel Cop, Violence Jack etc. I’m not talking down on those type of features, in fact, I love them.

    Americentrism runs rampant in the Sci-Fi/Mecha circles more than any other sector of fandom or at least, it appears that way. I’m not claiming to be an authority on demographics, but yeah, it’s mostly older fans that hate this new stuff. I suppose that I’m one of the ‘weird’ ones in that I enjoy numerous shows that are panned as otaku-fodder.

    “but that’ll never happen since the mainstream will never want to watch a cartoon ever.”

    That’s not true. Disney films, The Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama and American Dad are quite popular. Perhaps you meant something non-satirical that takes itself seriously? In that case, I would fully agree with you.

    Besides, wah just wants more children-themed anime to ogle the female characters. Kidding, kidding…

    1. That’s what I meant. Most Americans will only watch a cartoon if it is a comedy/family thing. They will never watch a serious cartoon.

    2. “much to the chagrin of those lamenting the days of violent OVA titles such as Genocyber, M.D. Geist, Angel Cop, Violence Jack etc.”

      Actually, the anti-moe crowd don’t want stuff like that either, because of the high gore plus rape. What they want is stuff that they feel they can justify a hobby for (ala, why most people say Cowboy Bebop is their favorite anime).

      Yeah, Anubis brings up an interesting argument, in that moe fans in the west are reluctant in defending their hobby. A person like me can’t stand back as places like Colony Drop spew venom at moe, not knowing what they’re talking about.

  3. Moe sucks. Not even an American. Also, there’s one big flaw. China still has a much smaller consumer base than the US. A film that makes 200 million is among China’s biggest, while the biggest domestic film in the US in Avatar, with or without inflation. China’s market has yet to be tapped.

    1. You’re missing the point entirely. Whether you like moé or not, the gentleman’s assertion that the anime industry should cater to the US market because the US has more people than Japan does (“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.”) is completely absurd and reeks of Americentrism.

      I understand that China’s consumerbase is smaller. That’s not the point. His argument was that Japan should cater to the US for the sole reason that there are more people in the US. No more or less than that. We can talk about consumerbases and other factors, but all that will do is prove me more right in saying that the business model the gentleman is suggesting would be absolutely insane and suicidal for the anime industry to adopt.

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