There is more to moe than light music or sounds in the sky
For some reason I can't quite put my finger on, 2009 cake appreciation club anime K-On has become an effigy for moe haters to burn. They love to lash out endlessly about how the show was nothing but cuteness without subtance, which is really half funny. The funny part is that this is exactly was the show was trying to be—a harmless pleasure to watch every week, although nothing to write home about. Complaining about the lack of plot, character growth or realism in the portrayal of guitar learning is superlatively moronic. The unfunny part is the following fallacy: “K-On is kind of shallow and a moe anime, therefore all moe anime is shallow.” Guys, Socrates is supposed to have cleared that up for you two and a half millenia ago.
That last bit was too ridiculous to take seriously until the last few days when things got pretty much out of hand. Sora no woto, a new original Aniplex anime project, came under fire from hordes of angry fans before the first episode even aired, for no other reason than character designs distinctly reminiscent of K-On. The problem lay not so much with the moe haters, whose reaction was expected and promptly ignored, but with more reasonable people whose usual sound thinking got somehow polluted by the tea-baggers of the anime blogosphere.
The more severe instances of the problem came from old schoolers who have a fetishistic devotion for anime that aren't adaptations (nevermind the fact that most anime masterpieces I can think of, starting with Hotaru no haka, are not original material). They put a lot of hope in the Anime no chikara project, as some sort of salvation opportunity for modern anime, something that could bring about the Fourth Impact they have been waiting for. And it doesn't make them happy that this project was actually about producing moe mediamix (Sora no woto has a tie-in manga in Daioh, people). “But hey,” they say, “this is a show with an actual plot, about war and serious stuff. Surely, it can't be moe, right?” Wrong. Not all moe is light music.
The milder form of the problem has come up in a lot of “first impressions” posts after episode 1. They praise the show but complain about “moe-ified” character designs, and bemoan the fact that the concept art by Kishida Mel wasn't used instead. Don't get me wrong, I find the Atelier Rorona designs as gorgeous as the next guy does, and the original artwork was definitely prettier than the actual character designs. But there is no way in hell to animate that sort of CG art on a TV anime budget. And more importantly, the original artwork is just as moe, if not more, than what ended up being used. Heck, if the actual designs are reminiscent of K-On (moe~), the original art looks like Love Plus (not moe?!). Not all moe is light music.
Anyway, besides that particular gripe, I'm pretty noncommital towards Sora no woto. Episode 1 was fine, I guess, but doesn't tell us much about where the show is headed. We'll see. But I'm more interested in that other Yoshino Hiroyuki show, the one with naked vampire lolis. Also, expect more serious posts over the week-end.