This is a paper on moe, a neologism used to describe a euphoric response to fantasy characters or representations of them. […] Given its origins, moe is often associated with a young, media-savvy generation of otaku, or hardcore fans of anime, manga and videogames. Moe is also used by fujoshi, zealous female fans of yaoi, a genre of manga featuring male homosexual romance. […] Both otaku and fujoshi access moe in what they refer to as ‘pure fantasy’ (junsui na fantajii), or characters and relationships removed from context, emptied of depth and positioned outside reality. The moe character is a ‘body without organs’ (Deleuze and Guattari 1987), and the response to its virtual potentials is affect.
[M]oe is affect in response to fantasy characters separated from narratives and even reality, or affect in response to virtual possibilities. […] Men who resist their gender roles imagine romance free from the confines of manhood (defined through work and responsibility), and their moe character takes the form of an innocent girl-child who does not demand masculine excellence; likewise, women who resist hetero-normative gender roles imagine romance free from the confines of womanhood (defined through childbirth and responsibility), and their moe characters take the form of homosexual boys who do not settle into domestic roles. Just as moe provides men a chance to indulge the feminine, it provides women a chance to indulge the masculine.
Patrick W. Galbraith, “Moe: Exploring Virtual Potential in Post-Millennial Japan” Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies (2009)
This is amazing. It references Deleuze and Guattari (always a good way to get on my good side) and also taps into another theoretical interest of mine, cross-gender identification (see Gaylyn Studlar’s work).
And hey, it’s never not a good time to reference this related essay.