What is moe? (No, not the bartender in The Simpsons, the Japanese cultural term.) People have asked me that question before and I’d say it’s loving a character because they are so adorable. While moe is still niche, it’s a trend that touches more and more video games and I thought I someone well versed with the subject could explain moe better than me. So, we got Senran Kagura producer Keinchiro Takaki here to explain what moe is.
Takaki-san, we talked about your games like Half-Minute Hero Second and Senran Kagura before. Today, I want to talk about something close to your heart – moe because I hear you’re a fan.
Kenichiro Takaki, Producer: Yeah, I like moe. [Laughs]
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Maybe you can explain what moe is to our readers is in the West since the concept may have flown over some people’s heads.
That’s very difficult to explain! [Laughs] Hmm… It’s not like when you point at a bunny and say "that’s cute." It’s something that you see and it comes from your gut where you say "oooohh that’s so cute!" So, of course it’s girls.
Senran Kagura has that kind of feel, but I think in the West it clicks with some people and there are some people who it doesn’t. What do you think about that since Marvelous AQL is planning on bringing more games to the West?
You know it’s kind of like Bollywood movies where everyone is singing and dancing. People in India love it, but everyone else in the world wonders what’s going on. There is a certain group of people that really, really like it [moe], but there’s another group that doesn’t. That’s just the way it is. It’s not something you can force on people. Moe games in the West are like the Bollywood movies of the gaming industry.
That’s an interesting analogy, but let’s try to break the cultural rift. What game in America would you consider to be moe?
[Laughs.] Moe is not just attributed to young anime style girls. There is also gun moe where someone thinks "I love this gun," "this gun is awesome and it’s mine." [Laughs.]
It’s hard to say that there is something from America that is moe, but the closest thing, and I don’t think anyone is going to understand is Mortal Kombat.
Yeah I don’t understand! [Laughs.] That’s… pretty surprising! Could you explain why?
I don’t know if I can explain it, that’s just how deep moe is. [Laughs.]
Maybe… pick out a character that’s moe?
Hmm… the sexy girls are one moe point. Babalities, yeah that’s moe.
How do you think moe can takeoff worldwide?
It’s part of Japanese culture going very far back. In America, war is close to people’s experience a lot of people know people in the military. Maybe, that’s why in America there are war games that aim for realism.
Japan is kind of a weird country. Going way, way back before moe there was Ukiyo-e in the Edo period where people were drawing strange stuff. Going even further back to the Tale of Genji, this is a story about an old guy who raises a girl to be his perfect woman. That’s the kind of country this is! [Laughs.]
Check back tomorrow because we’ll have more with Takaki where he talks about designing moe video games.