Japan has in the anime to one of its cultural pillars of the most recent decades. It has even become a key element for the promotion of tourism.
But the vision on this is not always positive.
These characters “moe”, whose name comes from the intransitive verb “moeru”, or “to sprout”, are causing controversy in the country.
The critique focuses in how they represent women, in the context of “moeokoshi”, or “moe-based regional tourism promotion”.
Yasuhito Abe, Professor of the Department of Media, Journalism and Communications of the University of Doshisha, Japan, carried out a study on the use of this type of characters for the tourist impulse.
He put the magnifying glass on the Chita Peninsula, where the promotion has as characters the so-called “Daughters of Chita”, or “Chita musume”.
These are young female figures, each representing a city or town on the peninsula. The suggestive manner of interaction with the viewers worries Professor Abe.
Professor Abe’s criticism of the use of sexualized female anime characters
“I sought to gain a deeper understanding of the social and cultural conditions under which public sectors promote the practices of the use of ‘moe’, in collaboration with the private sectors within the scope of regional promotion”, indicated the academic.
According to his study, the “moe” characters target a predominantly male audience, perpetuating a harmful way of representing women as sexualized objects.
“The practice of ‘moeokoshi’ can contribute to the colonization of each area through the embedded male gaze,” says Abe, “thus turning local places into meeting places, restricting the scope of regional promotion to a matter of visibility for particular audiences”.
abe suggests critical evaluation by local governments of the use of anime characters, in order to shape other regional promotion strategies.
Professor Abe’s study was published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies of Japan.