Moé and Lolicon

The conflation of moé and lolicon happens a great deal more often than I’d like. Unsurprisingly, it’s almost always coming from someone who’s failed to actually grasp the concept of moé, but knows that they hate it, and lumps it in with lolicon because they hate that, too.

Let me make it clear: Moé is not loli and loli is not moé. The two might intersect on occasion, but they are two separate phenomena.

The “Lolita Complex” (Which “lolicon” is short for) describes an attraction to characters who are or appear very young. While not necessarily sexual, it can be and, as a result, there’s quite a crusade against it and fans of it often find themselves marginalized by the general fandom when they’re out in the open about it. Many people are still on the “pedophile” thing, in addition to other lovely terms like “kiddy fiddler,” which has become a common one.

This extends to moé for some people, to the extent that some will (very incorrectly) define moé as an attraction to prepubescent characters specifically. Still others will simply conflate the two casually, implying that all moé fans are lolicons by default.

In today’s Western anime fandom especially, it’s incredibly easy to vilify a group of fans simply by associating them with lolicon. Worse than ecchi and hentai, lolicon is swept under the rug in the Western fandom. People don’t talk about it, except when they need an easy target, and lolicon is the easiest target of all. Not many people are willing to legitimately stand up and defend lolicon, considering what it is. Not only that, it’s easy to dismiss those that do as “pedophile apologists,” or worse, pedophiles themselves.

Some Anti-Moé Brigade thinkers will adamantly cling to the notion that moé and lolicon are the same thing, chiefly because it fits their narrative of moé being always bad and never good. They’re not interested in finding a definition for moé, as moé has already been defined for them: The sexualization of prepubescent girls.

No matter how many times it’s pointed out that Clannad’s Nagisa Furukawa is around 19, and no matter how many characters like Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko’s Meme Touwa, who’s still a moé character despite being around 30, come around, these people will still do the mental pole-vaulting necessary to justify their flawed views to themselves and those who think similarly to them.

In addition, they will stop at nothing to maintain the anime fandom status quo of loli being an absolute evil, and fans of loli being sinister perverts. It’s a game of dismissal. Point out that the attraction to lolicon is often not sexual, or that the attraction is to an aesthetic and body-type rather than the actual age of the characters, and the Anti-Loli Brigade shifts into dismissal mode. “Oh, that’s just what the pedophile defense force throws up anytime they’re called into question!”

The reason the Anti-Loli Brigade does this is because they’ve become so complacent with their moral high ground within the fandom that they don’t feel the need to argue and, to a certain extent, the knee-jerk reaction most Western fans get when lolicon is mentioned validates this. Who needs to argue when people will agree with you even though you’ve yet to make a real point besides “but I think that stuff’s gross!”?

Though, by definition, lolicon being not always sexual means that it sometimes is. This is where the Anti-Loli Brigade strikes, sometimes openly calling for persecution or ostracism of lolicon fans as “pedophiles,” coming dangerously close to trying to be the Thought Police. When that doesn’t quite work, it’s back to dismissal, disavowal, and derision.

Lolicons don’t get a voice. Fans of Kodomo no Jikan and Astartotte’s Toy don’t get to stand up for themselves and the things they like. Their place is in the corner, where the light doesn’t reach and nobody can hear them. If you like loli, but still want to interact with the Western fandom, you either have to jump on the wagon and pretend you hate loli, or yell loud enough, hard enough, and long enough that you become hard to ignore.

And then you have to deal with them disparaging you to your face, rather than behind your back.

The conflation of loli with moé is an effort to push moé fans into the same corner, and the logic behind it is flawed from start to finish. The vilification of loli fans is based on reasoning that’s incredibly selective in nature and comes from a place of moral outrage rather than any kind of actual facts. The association of moé with lolicon is based on similarly selective, similarly flawed reasoning, with a complete ignorance and disregard for the actual nature of both moé and lolicon.


Stay frosty.


8 thoughts on “Moé and Lolicon”

  1. The thing that angers me a lot is when people define moe as the “sexual depiction of prepubescent girls”. It’s the reason why I facepalmed so hard when I read the article about Nii-san and his infatuation with the character Nemu Asakura from Da Capo. The article just went ahead and assumed the character was twelve years old even though she’s a high school student because, you know, ALL otaku have attractions to twelve year olds. As you mentioned in your post, there are women of legal age in anime who could be considered moe too. In fact, I’d actually like to see an anime that centers around a moe housewife in her 30s or 40s.

    Moe and lolicon are often conflated, but that’s probably just because it’s easy to make loli characters cute and can make the consumer have a desire to protect them. Although I don’t really know of much lolicon material that doesn’t make their characters moe in some way, shape, or form. Then again, I haven’t seen every lolicon material there is, so maybe I’m just ignorant on the issue. For me personally, loli characters will always be moe to some extent, but that doesn’t mean they are the same thing. Because, as said before, it’s possible for an adult woman to be moe.

  2. FYI Meme of Denpa Onna was 39 at the start of the series, but it wouldn’t matter to the anti-moe brigade cause they;d then complain she acts immature for her age and is a bad parent (thus missing the point of the character) because many of them like to over analyze an aspect of a show while overlooking another.

  3. If anyone who watches Astarotte’s Toy is a pedophile, then anyone who watched Attack on Titan is a cannibal. (I didn’t watch Attack on Titan; from the teaser I saw, people get eaten by the titans, right? If so, then by the same logic, if you watched AoT, you’re a cannibal. You watch animated people getting eaten = you want to eat real people.) AoT fans can clearly be assumed to have several homeless people chained in their basements, ready for the next neighborhood chili cook-off.

    Clearly, I’m being sarcastic. But that is the level of logic and discourse that the AMB are using, as you state.

    And I don’t think they’re going to change. I don’t personally understand why they’re so desperate for anime to be “mainstream” in the West, but I don’t think it ever will be. The AMB can stamp and cry and wail all they want, and it won’t matter. They can shout to non-anime fans that they aren’t like the horrible loli and moe fans, and it won’t matter to the western non-anime fans (or western anime non-fans, I suppose).

    There’s another place where what the AMB wants doesn’t matter: the Japanese anime industry. I’ve started to laugh every time I hear or read a western anime fan state that if only the anime industry would make more shows for the western fans, they’d make more money. They don’t realize that, for the most part, anime companies just don’t care about the non-Japan market. At all. Sure, if something they made for Japan can be licensed outside, they’ll take the money. But after the experiments in the past, where they did try to cater to western tastes, didn’t pay off all that well, they pretty much just don’t care.

    So since the fans in Japan like moe, and loli, and buy it, that’s what the industry will make. Period. That’s not all they’ll make, as there are a sufficient number of Japanese fans who like things that the AMB likes, as well.

    But that leads me to what I’m really curious about when it comes to the AMB — why the hell do they watch anime anyway? Just big tits and robots? You can get big tits and robots in western media, too. I watch anime because it’s Japanese — the product of a society with a completely different point of view on damn near everything from the common western viewpoint. To me, it’s interesting that even in shows that aren’t primarily moe shows, there’s usually a moe character. Japanese culture apparently likes to make everything possible cute. I happen to like cute, so I like a lot (not all) of their anime shows.

    It’s also interesting to me that at least some part of Japanese culture exists such that loli shows can get made in the first place. They obviously have a completely different point of view from the western cultures on sexuality, and on children, and how the two intersect (if they do, or even should). To me that’s what’s interesting about it, not whether tab A will get to insert into slot B in this show, too.

    The inability or unwillingness on the part of the AMB to recognize that anime really, truly IS from a completely different culture with different ideas, approaches, and cultural norms, is why I find the AMB to be so incredibly immature. Judging from their posts and podcasts in the western fandom websites, they’re so provincal it’s… it’s laughable. And sad.

    That’s why when I read your sentence: “If you like loli, but still want to interact with the Western fandom, you either have to jump on the wagon and pretend you hate loli, or yell loud enough, hard enough, and long enough that you become hard to ignore.” It made me chuckle, because I realized that I long ago made the choice to simply not interact with the Western fandom. After all, why on earth would I want to? They’ve made it clear they don’t want anyone who dares to watch a loli or moe show around, so I don’t stick around. Not even to discuss the non-loli and non-moe shows that we like in common; those “fans” are not worth my time. There’s so much more anime to watch, after all.

    I do wander in here once in a while, to see how your battle is going, even if I don’t understand why you’re bothering to fight. I wish you success, though. (Though I should apologize for my rambling, and for my mockery of the AMB — the don’t just like big tits and robots. They like explosions and sword fights, too! And the taste of human flesh, damn dirty cannibals, all of ’em.)

    1. They have girlfriends? Poor bastards. 😛

      They called that scene evil? Don’t they have sisters or nieces that age? Young girls really do play dress up, and they try on age-inappropriate things to feel “grown up”, and they’re doing it in utter innocence.

      Anyone seeing evil in that scene is projecting the rottenness of their own mind. Or they just thought she looked tasty — damn cannibals, all of ’em!

  4. @ drawingirl 94

    If I might make a request is it possible for you to write a post defending lolicon and encourage other loli fans (especially female ones) to come out of the dark. I think we could make some real traction if you’re the one doing it. Cause no matter how many times VZ and Anubis defend it, its simply written off as pedophile apologia. As for the article itself its pretty much common sense that moe alone doesn’t equal a sexual attraction to pre pubescent characters, sometimes it is what it is. Granted there are plenty of shows with sexual elements hidden, but tell that to me when you watch Bottle Faries, Mao-Chan, Bincho-Tan, Hidamari Sketch, Kamichu, Girls und Panzer, and K-On!

    But then again, this is just the same ole bullshit that men are just horny beasts and can’t just like something at face value. When ironically there are male moe fans out there who absolutely hate lolicon.

    1. Sure, I could do that. It would take a while for me to do it, though, as I’d have to do a lot of brainstorming so that I could articulate my ideas. My opinions on the whole situation could get me in a lot of trouble, as I’ve shared them on other websites before, with irrational flaming being thrown at me as a result. I’d have to find a way to make sure that my opinion is made clear to other people.

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