A few days ago I blogged a no doubt deeply theologically flawed analysis of Japanese society based on the apparent view of the Archbishop of Canterbury that a society needs faith, hope and love in order to function in a non-broken way. While these three emotions are not of importance here in Japan it is open to debate whether the society is particularly broken.
Japan, however, has some other (unique?) emotions. One of these I believe I experienced for the first time just the other day. This emotion is called "moe" (two syllables, the final e pronounced like the first e of elephant) and can perhaps be described as the warm feeling of "unbearable cuteness". Usually this feeling is associated with things ranging from the sickeningly pink (Hello Kitty) through the amusingly freaky (Maid in a Maid cafe) all the way to downright scary (Imagine a ~5 year old and her mum both dressed up in Loli fashion - I've seen it!). I can understand that a geek (otaku) might like a Maid (modern day geisha?) serving him his CocaCola, but the rest makes me feel a bit queasy. Cuteness is endemic even perhaps including the typical skinny metrosexual(?) 5.5 foot Tokyo male with fluffy toys dangling off his mobile phone, wearing what are, to my mind, womens' blouses (flowers, princess seams), and reading fashion magazines over his super-girly girl friend's shoulder. This Lancashire lass (that means me) is not moved to "moe" by any of this, although sometimes she thinks she ought to warn these girls that a happy marriage may not result - but who am I too say...these boys may be more considerate than the misogynist salaryman alternative.
So how did I discover "moe"? Over the last couple of weeks I found some Japanese learning that does not send me to sleep! This comes in the form of the Japanese version of the DS-Lite game, Final Fantasy 3. With, of course, some help from the walk-throughs available on the web I have got quite into it. I have played computer games before. Usually the heros are beautiful, handsome or ugly, and athletic. Final Fantasy, however, is a Japanese game and it is full of a type of "moe" that I can actually appreciate (or even, feel..). My four brave little warriors, prepared to die for the cause are attired with brightly coloured too-big clothes over their pudgy little figures, and they have the cutest expressions and mannerisms when good or bad things happen to them. Most are cheery, but one of them adopts a sulky crossed armed pose. It is all very endearing. I suppose I can appreciate it because it is "moe" without any if the frightening pink or lace. When I told one of my Japanese friend about my new "love" (she said I was "in moe"!) she said I was becoming oh so Japanese! Here is a screen shot from someone else's game. Of course my lot are dressed differently - and are much cuter!