Operation Shion Fujino Phase 3: Rin Kokonoe

Images included in this article may be explicit in nature.

In the discussion on moé and sex, certain characters tend to stand out as good case-studies on where moé and sexuality intersect and how they interact with each other. These characters range from those with slightly perverse tendencies to those with seductive streaks, all the way to full-on nymphomaniacs, and each one of these characters offers a chance to examine how moé and sex play together, as well as a chance to discuss appeal itself and the differences between various types of appeal.

Kokonoe1Rin Kokonoe from Kodomo no Jikan is a third grade (Later fourth grade) student, notable for her precociousness, provocative manner of dress, and constant sexual harassment of and attempts to seduce her teacher, Daisuke Aoki. Through the events of her backstory, she is exposed to the harshness of the world at a very young age, which affected her in a major way for a long time. She eventually grows into a rebellious, assertive child with intelligence greater than her age suggests. She uses this intelligence to outsmart adults who underestimate her because she’s a child. In addition, she goes after Daisuke in a very serious manner.

Kokonoe4Throughout Kodomo no Jikan, it’s very clear that Rin knows exactly what she’s saying and doing, especially toward Daisuke. She constantly sexually harasses him and, though they both soften toward each other over the course of the series, it can actually go either way whether Rin’s constant dirty teasing of Daisuke was meant to be played for laughs or whether it was meant to make the viewer uncomfortable.

Innocence is often presented as one of the basic elements of moé and in large part that holds true. Part of the “protective” aspect of moe is that the moé character gives the viewer a desire to protect him/her from the harsher, darker aspects of the world. Rin Kokonoe, however, challenges this notion. By the time we are acquainted with Rin, she has already seen the harsh realities of the world. Her character is notable for her lack of innocence. This raises the question: Is Rin Kokonoe still moé?

Kokonoe2One thing that’s very important to mention for this particular discussion is that “moé” is not a value judgment. A character with moé appeal is no better or worse than a character with a different kind of appeal, and this is important to emphasize because, for fans and non-fans of moé, it can be easy to see moé appeal as being, by itself, better or worse than other kinds of appeal, and acting on those preconceived values can harm the discussion.

Kokonoe3An argument could be made that, because Rin’s appeal is introduced as primarily sexual, and because her character is introduced as a girl who has lost much of her innocence due to great tragedy having befallen her and her family at a very young age, Rin is too far-gone to be a moé character. From the “innocence moé” standpoint, this works. Rin is not a character many would consider “innocent,” and her behaviour and experiences reinforce that. She may still have a small amount of innocence left, as she is still a child, but the focus is put on her lack of innocence.

What if we bend “innocence moé” a bit, though? Rather than focusing on the innocence she lacks, there are still shreds of innocence left about her that come to the surface every once in a while, and it could be said that those little bits of innocence are enough to trigger the protective aspects of moé for Rin. To a certain extent, it is possible that the audience may feel the desire to protect and nurture what’s left of her innocence, even though most of it has already been lost, and even though she might not need or outwardly want that kind of protection, given her life experiences.

Some additional concepts to think about are how big a role innocence and the protective impulse play in moé, as well as how sexuality plays into all this with respect, of course, to Rin’s age.

Kokonoe5So, what do you think? How moé is Rin Kokonoe? Is her appeal primarily moé? Is her appeal primarily sexual? How much of her innocence is gone? How much is still there? Does she fit the bill for moé by virtue of her innocence, however much is left? Does her lack of innocence trigger a protective instinct?








(Special thanks to TsukuyomiMagi99 for the discussion that gave me the idea for this article.)

7 thoughts on “Operation Shion Fujino Phase 3: Rin Kokonoe”

  1. I never saw this show, but I remember people talking about it a lot at the time it came out. As for moe verses sex, I always understood moe characters to be the characters not sexualized, kind of the whole concept there. Instead it’s this focus on cuteness. If a character is very sexualized I usually wouldn’t refer to them as moe. I always drew a clear distinction between moe shows and ecchi shows. There has always been this confusion among some that moe shows are all just sexual in a way. I’d say they’re very wrong, as it’s more about the cute, and there’s no real sexualizing going on there. But since moe is also just a type of a character I guess there could be clear overlap as you point out. I’m far from an expert on this though. I think it even gets more confusing because everyone and their mother tends to have a different definition for the word moe.

    Also that first image *shudders* I don’t know why that bothers me so much.

    1. The relationship between moé and sex is a subject of some debate within the moé fan community. A lot of moé fans draw a hard line between moé and sexuality, but there’s an emerging contingent of moé fans that embrace the interplay between moé sexuality. Both of them have their good points, the fans that separate sex from moé citing that innocence is a major factor in moé, and the fans that embrace sex with moé having popular VNs like Air and Kanon (Both erotic VNs) on their side with their mixture of moé and sex.

      As each person’s “moé” is different, one person might go for the more “platonic” moé media and another might go for stuff that mixes in some sexuality, but the point of contention is whether moé, as a type of appeal, includes sex appeal, or if sex appeal just happens to coincide with moé appeal to some people, and then from that, whether that sex appeal has a negative affect on the moé appeal.

    1. I strongly suggest that you read the manga before you watch the anime if you want a deeper and more authentic story. The anime messed around with the character’s characterization A LOT such as their back stories and motivations.

  2. It’s an interesting topic that Anubis has brought up. Can moe exist even if the girl has lost her innocence? Considering I like to draw pregnant lolis, I say yes.

  3. I’d say when the sexual elemnt get introduced it quits being Moe, that being said Rin’s Moe points where her deep feelings for Aoki that where showen in the quieter moments. Or her “going to the mat” for Mami, trying to save her cousin from self destructing. So the sexual elment is there but Rin is Moe inspite of it becuese of the layers in her charcter.

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