The Curse of Un-Moe

When I read a typical figure review at RIUVA, for example, I get bothered by the shameless, fiery passion some people get with whatever the latest polymer idol being reviewed. I think that’s just a fact of life. It’s like talking to some colleagues to kill time, and they go on about something you either dislike talking about or disagree–for example, “Jessica Alba is hawt.” But who am I to say no? I have my own eccentricities as well, and they’re probably less commonly shared than popular idols and actresses.

But what bothers me is how anime fans, by and large, falls into very predictable herds when it comes to “liking” a character design. The oldest memory I have of this was from Escaflowne, and this complaint repeats itself with Nobuteru Yuki’s other works. “Who cares about their noses,” I thought. My opinion of his stuff is pretty high–at least, until he started to recycle his Hitomi designs. Many of them looks full of life, and his faces are expressive because the various elements work together. That’s on top of the fact that his designs are more detail-oriented.

In the age of moe, inoffensive, cookie-cutter designs are the way to go. No one complaints about droopy eyes. Or lacking lips. Or having no nose (this one is kind of across-the-board). Or zettai ryouiki overload. Or having little detail on the rest of the character outside their hair and eyes. Gotta pander and make your show accessible, after all?

So when I tell people “Red Garden is gorgeous!” I actually get weird looks. Pretty? Yeah, it’s by far the prettiest anime this season (Kanon not withstanding). The colors are strong and that highlights its goth-emo tendencies (the Rozen Maiden team is on it, after all). The heavy lines, the angle used (most evident in those scenes when the characters walk down the hallway), the shameless pandering to mood with sweeping landscape shots of the upper east side?

Well, ignoring two very serious problems with Red Garden–its overly superficial take on American school life and excess emo–it has one very interesting packaging. As of 3 episodes I can’t say much about the rest of the show and the depth of it, but even now having seen episode 3 and by rewatching the first two, I am already picking up points of internal consistencies that I missed the first time around. It is meticulous.

But of course, God forbid the use of thick lines in character art in anime. Even more so having to animate something without the use of moe dynamics. I think it’s more than just preferences and eccentricities when something that’s honestly quality gets slammed for being different.

Rocking for Red Garden to Rock the Status Quo? Rock the LM.C!

5 Responses to “The Curse of Un-Moe”

  • tj han

    Well, surprisingly for one so into figures, I don’t buy into the moe culture. But I’m a sucker for mecha/scifi. I like Red Garden but can’t help feelin that it’s in a sense, so far at least, way too similar to Gantz and isn’t even as intense.

    There is nothing wrong with the character designs too. Perfectly good even the noses.

  • Tallon

    I said this on my own blog but oh well. I dont dislike the art because its different at all, hell different is refreshing. But the problem is that i find it to look horrible, so it all (atleast in my case) boils down to a simple opinion of ugly or not. Moe? Not so moe? I dont give a shit. I just think its ugly, and something that is ugly is something im not gonna look at for 24 minutes straight once a week. Then again, i find many things in say art museums to be horrible crap as well. So meh. But really, all these posts and comments and stuff i see all over relating to how ‘noone likes it cuz the art is different’ or in your case ‘un-moe’, is just bullshit.

    As in “But of course, God forbid the use of thick lines in character art in anime. Even more so having to animate something without the use of moe dynamics. I think it’s more than just preferences and eccentricities when something that’s honestly quality gets slammed for being different.”

    Not only is it NOT being slammed by most people, seeing as how ive seen a shitload of posts EXACTLY like this since the first episode came out (just like how everyones like OMG EVERYONE LOVES AYU IN KANON WTF SHE SUCKS LOSERS when really EVERY ENTRY BY ANYONE ALMOST is OMG I HATE AYU) so i dont know this horribly large majority of people you are referring to when you say these things. Cuz im one of the only people ive found who has talked shit on the show for its art. But also, it has nothing to do with it being different, atleast not for some people. It really is ugly, theres no way around it. Oh wait, i just did the same thing you did. Saying its ‘honestly quality’ is like me saying its ‘honestly shit’. So really, maybe your idea of it being quality is just incorrect. Its the same likelihood that YOUR wrong about it being anything good as me being wrong about it being shit.

    So really, saying things like that are pointless. Especially when trying to force a reason upon everyone who doesnt like it for WHY they dont like it just out of your own mind.

  • omo

    First off, I think there’s nothing wrong in repeating what others have said.

    Second, the point of my post is exactly that: to you it may just be “ugly” but is that because you’re making a value judgment as an aesthetic judgment? It’s ok to say something sucks if you have a good reason for it, and my point is you (and others like you) really can’t a.rticulate a good, objective reason behind why you find it ugly. Why is it ugly? Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but when the beholder is poisoned by “moe” (especially given many people’s attempt to not only articulate what is moe, but integrate it in their works), it stands to probing by reason.

    Third, I think you make a good point about the Ayu slamming (and lesser extent with the Red Garden slamming), but in my own experience there are plenty of Ayu fans that are to be slammed (or people who think Red Garden charas are ugly), and while maybe a set of bloggers and people who post on forums you read may not share that tendency, I do so out of response of people who says “LOL Red Garden charas are ugly.” I don’t know if it’s a majority or not, and I don’t think I claim it either way. Still, plenty of people think that way (as you partly demonstrated by your own example)

  • impz

    ok, i will not say whether the design is good or bad. However, I am more of the idea that beauty must fit the occasion. In african tribal culture in the olden days , slim women would be considered ugly as they are unable to bear childs (in superstitutions).

    For that case, I feel that for people who are used to nice texture like Kanon or the like, this art is probably ugly. However, the fact is we have to see the context of the show together with the artwork. When we bring ourselves back one step and see, Red Garden in fact is utilizing the best artwork for its genre, in which the gothic and dark feeling permeates the whole atmosphere.

    It will be very queer, i assure you, if the design is like kanon. I will be disturbed. Anyway, it’s good that people are blogging about Red Garden. I almost feel like I am the only idiot in the anime community that likes this show and continously blogging on it, wishing that people would discuss and bring their thoughts to this show.

    This is good stuff ;o;

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