I’ll admit, part of this blog’s aesthetic is tongue-in-cheek. Even I think that the notion of a “moé war” is ridiculous, which is part of why I gravitate toward a military motif. By taking the debate to a level of absurdity, I hope to make people understand just how silly it all is.
At the end of the day, though, I just like the aesthetic.
For as long as I could remember, I’ve been into military stuff. I always owned some kind of toy gun, I played computer games like Rainbow Six and Delta Force, as well as plenty of flight simulators, and outside, pretend war, in some form or another, was the most common game between me and my friends. Nowadays, Airsoft guns and tactical gear fill boxes and bins in my room, my videogame library is still dotted with military-themed titles, and I play Airsoft whenever I get the chance.
I honestly don’t know exactly when moé aesthetics got involved, but I’ve certainly enjoyed the concept of “moé military” for as long as I’ve been aware of it. It’s more than just two things I like coming together, either. If you look at “moé military” artwork, the creativity and attention to detail is almost scary at times. Specific pieces of equipment are represented faithfully, and specific weapon variants can be identified by those with knowledge, right down to the minutiae. Artistically, I admire the hell out of the artists that draw this stuff. They’ve quite obviously done their homework, and it shows through the attention to detail in their art.
The injection of cute girls into this detail-heavy militaristic aesthetic helps from both sides. It serves to both “soften” the bite of all this heavily-militaristic stuff, and “hardens” the fluffiness of moé aesthetics. While retaining the adherence to detail, the addition of moé gives things a more lighthearted feel, and though the girls are cute and moé, the military themes give them a sense of toughness and can-do, amid the often ultra-saccharine nature of the moé aesthetic. Shows like Upotte!!, Girls und Panzer, and C3-bu take this duality into animation, retaining the military aesthetic’s attention to detail and focus on action while also retaining the endearing qualities of moé.
Naturally, some might be put-off by this juxtaposition of cute girls and military equipment, and that’s perfectly okay. I’ve spoken to moé fans who are put-off by the aesthetic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The aesthetic obviously isn’t for everyone.
There are those, however, who aren’t simply put-off by the aesthetic, but denounce it as “fetishism” and promotion of “gun culture.” Then there are the people who proclaim the ignorance of military otaku when they say that they don’t like war, don’t condone killing, and are really just into the aesthetics and history of military affairs. Then there are the people who apparently wear their political opinions on their sleeves, and will take one look at Taskforce M.O.E. and judge me as a “conservative,” presumably based on the blog’s moé militaristic aesthetic.
I can understand not liking the aesthetic on socio-political grounds. People’s socio-political views are many and varied, especially concerning topics like guns or the military. What bothers me, however, is the misrepresentation (at best) and vilification (at worst) of people based on their apparent stance on these issues. I say apparent stance because liking moé military anime or a moé military aesthetic really says nothing about a person’s social or political views. The points about “gun culture” and “fetishism” are legitimate opinions, though I’d assert that the use of loaded near-buzzwords like “fetishism” comes close to vilification of the moé military anime fanbase. The “conservative” line of reasoning is particularly heinous, however. In an effort to vilify moé military fans (Often, moé fans, in general, as well), the Anti-Moé Brigade conflates moé fandom with political conservatism, no doubt portraying the moé fanbase as small-government-loving “straight, white male” monsters to all of their compatriots, and leaving the moé fanbase with their hands out in a mix of disbelief and confusion, uttering a collective “Wait, what?”
The moé military aesthetic is just like any other aesthetic. Not every aesthetic will appeal to everyone. Some people liked the aesthetic Aku no Hana had. I didn’t. Similarly, while I’m a huge fan of the moé military aesthetic, some other people might not like it, and that’s understandable. It doesn’t, however, give people the right to misrepresent and value-judge people who are into the aesthetic.