Over the years, I’ve played all sorts of Gacha games on my phone. However, if there is one similarity, it would be that most of them involve Moe anthropomorphism. In this blog, I want to talk about what Moe anthropomorphism is and where it can be found.
To start, what exactly is Moe anthropomorphism? From what I understand, it’s an umbrella term for giving non-human traits to humans. These non-human characteristics can range from mythical creatures to transportation. The most popular example would likely be the cat-girl/boy, where the artist gives their character cat ears and a tail. Unlike more western interpretation of anthropomorphism like Disney’s Zootopia, Moe anthropomorphism tends to keep more human characteristics. A good way to differentiate the two is that Moe anthropomorphism has humans embody a subject, while anthropomorphism give animal human traits.
Now that we’ve established what Moe anthropomorphism is, I can give a few examples of it. I have already mentioned the very popular cat-girl/boys, however they’re only one subculture of Moe anthropomorphism. To give a range of what Moe anthropomorphism can encompass, I want to share a few more examples.
When looking at inanimate objects given life through Moe anthropomorphism, the most well known subculture is likely ship-girls. However, this is only because of the popular browser game called Kancolle. It has since expanded its influence to manga and anime in addition to influencing future ship-girl franchises. Today, some of the more popular franchise that uses ship-girls are Kancolle, Azur Lane, High School Fleet, Blue Oath, and Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Unlike aforementioned cat-girl/boys, they don’t have any noticeable traits of ships. Ship-girls for all intents and purposes like exactly like humans, and this extend to other subcultures that Moe anthropomorphize inanimate objects like tanks, planes, and guns. Instead, the ship the girl is based on is a big influence on their design, equipment and personality. For example Shigure for Kancolle has a rather depressing personality and high luck stat, as her real life counterpart was the sole survivor of the Battle of Vella Gulf and Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Besides transportation and animals, there are also instances of countries being Moe anthropomorphized. However, this is a much small subculture and I can only think of one notable example in media. Like the inanimate objects, countries also look exactly human and are influenced by their country’s stereotypes. For example, from the popular manga Hetalia, America is portrayed in an American army air force uniform and a love for hamburgers, two American stereotypes. Just a quick look at a Hetalia character and you’d likely find a hint of their origin on their clothes. It’s also interesting how these interpretation of country’s interact with each other based on past event in history.
However, excluding mainstream media, there are all kinds of Moe anthropomorphism on the internet. Whenever there is a major world event, someone is almost guaranteed to Moe anthropomorphism it. An example of this is during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, and even more recently the Coronavirus of 2019. There have even been cases where the hacktivist group know as Anonymous has used Moe anthropomorphism to disrupt ISIS’s propaganda. But when the world is relatively calm, you can continue to find all sorts of Moe anthropomorphism art on internet forms and places to share art.
Personally, I find it intriguing why certain characters are designed the way they are. It’s always interesting to see how an artist will interpret an event, object, or creature and Moe anthropomorphize it. However, I also can’t deny I play many Gacha games because the anthropomorphized girls are rather cute.