Moe Invasion – Is it true or is it a fantasy?

I remember making a comment a while back at one of Behind the Nihon Review posts about doing a numerical analysis on whether moe anime series has become more prevalent in recent years or whether it seems that way because of popular series such as K-ON!. Having collected the data from 2000 to 2009, I am using that data to do the analysis below. As soon as I get around to collecting the comprehensive data before 2000 and in 2010, I will update the analysis accordingly.

The standard chart will show that particular genre of anime series as a percentage of total anime series in that particular period. For example, if a comedy show in 2000 has value of 20%, it means 20% of the show shown in 2000 is comedy


Quick background check for those not familiar, moe is a Japanese slang used to describe ‘something precious, usually (but not always) the ideal of youthful and innocent femininity’ (see Anime News Network explanation or Wikipedia). Anime series that contains to a significant degree these elements are by definition. I am using the list of anime with moe theme as provided by ANN as my basis for analysis. I admit this is not perfect but it si the best list I have at my disposal without having to go read every single blog and post and come up with my own distilled list!


  • Based on the yearly chart for Moe, we can see quite clearly that moe series has definitely gone up in term of its share over the decade.
  • The first 4 years (2000-3), the share of moe show averages at only 0.3% (one show out of the 300 during that period).
  • The next three years (2004-6), the average goes up to 2.3%
  • The average reaches 6.0% in the last three years (2007-9).
  • 2007 is so far the peak year of the moe shows. Such shows that you can find in that year are Bamboo Blade, Clannad, Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight!, Hidamari Sketch, Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Lucky Star, Moetan and Potemayo
  • The lone moe show in the first four years of the decade is Azumanga Daioh in 2002. Got to give it to Chiyo-chan for blazing through the trail for the rest of the decade to follow!


We can also look at this on a seasonal basis:

  • The correlation obviously does not look quite as smooth but the trend is still there to be seen
  • Summer 2007 has the highest share at 13% (3 out of 24) with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, Moetan and Potemayo
  • Summer 2006 is the last season with no moe show. Since then, 13 seasons in a row up until Summer 2009, there is at least one moe show during each of the season

Note that when I divide the results on a season basis, I assume the following month-to-season conversion. This should be true for the majority of the series and save me from having to do it more manually.

Winter: December, January, February
Spring: March, April, May
Summer: June, July, August
Fall: September, October, November


Season Total Moe % share
Winter 175 4 2.3%
Spring 333 8 2.4%
Summer 165 8 4.8%
Fall 305 9 3.0%

Just for fun, I now sum up anime by season and find out if any season tends to have higher share of moe shows

  • Summer has nearly twice as high the number as any other seasons
  • Due to the small number of titles, I don’t think this is that significant


  • During the last decade, there are 28 moe anime series released between 2000-9 according to my data
  • Comedy is the most common genre with these 28 moe shows. 53% or 15 shows are designated as both genres. It makes sense that these twi seem to go hand in hand as most moe shows seem to play up the innocence and comedy aspects
  • Slice-of life (9) and Drama (9) are the next two on the list
  • Only one moe show is also action: ‘11eyes: Tsumi to Batsu to Aganai no Shoujo’
  • Only one moe series is longer than 26 episodes: Hetalia: Axis of Powers
  • Most series are 13-episode variety ( 18 out of 28 or 67%)
  • A majority (14 or 50%) originates from manga. No surprise here as this is only slightly higher than the total average (all anime series) or 45%


Yes, moe shows seem to be on the rise, especially during the last three years. No, they are not going to completely replace everything with size of only around 6% of all the show being released (1-2 a season, 7 shows a year). I will be interested to see how 2010 adds to this analysis, whether the current pace and trend of the last decade is going to accelerate or flatline at this current rate.

12 Comments on “Moe Invasion – Is it true or is it a fantasy?”

  1. Sorrow-kun says:

    It’s interesting how there was such a massive leap after 2006. I think I can explain that in one word: Haruhi. I’m not exactly sure how you counted moe shows, and given that moe as a concept still seems to be disputed, I’ll treat this more a qualitative guide than a quantitative one. I dispute you observation that there’s only been one moe action show. I’d also put Shana, Index and Railgun in that category, just for starters.

    • I use definition as provided by anime news network when searching for moe. That is the most comprehensive list I could find on this subject (will update the post to reflect this source). It does not have either Shana or Railgun listed hence why I did not mentiont them. But the action moe show comment is probably a little too vague so I stand corrected on that one:) Do let me know though if you happen to come across a better list of moe shows and I will be glad to adjust the analysis to reflect that. I mean, the ANN listcan seem a little suspect. Evangelion 1.0 is actually listed as having a moe theme…

      Of course, Haruhi is a very, very logical explanation! Didn’t think about that somehow when I was writing it.

    • Hmm, interestingly enough the moe list from ANN does not actually have Haruhi listed. I think that is the one series we can all agree start the whole craze late on. I will go ahead correcting that and updating my post.

  2. Myssa Rei says:

    I’m finding it incredibly ironic that Haruhi, the show that many say opened the floodgates, so to speak, *isn’t* classified as a moe show. Really? Going by Ken Akamatsu’s ‘classic’ definition of moe, that might be so, but aren’t we forgetting that Haruhi herself pretty much ran around building her in-story club with moe factors firmly in mind?

    • I no doubt would classify Haruhi as a moe show. As Taka’s comment mentioned, this is definitely the case of ANN not having the definitive definition of what it deems a moe show. Haruhi is just the most blatant ‘miss’ in the whole list I am sure there are more that we have not yet come across!

  3. Taka says:

    While I do think Haruhi had something to do with the big moe boom after 2006 I think that the strongest indication is that the really the term Moé didn’t become ubiquitous in the english fandom until 2006.

    According to google trends the term “moe anime” was unheard of in searches until early 2008. While I’m not sure how accurate that figure is going back and searching for instances of the word Moe in anime blogs it doesn’t start showing up often until 2007. In 2006 there are a couple of posts highlighting the new slang:

    But before that it is practically unheard of. I can’t give any definitive numbers I’m just using the info I receive from a cursory google blog search and google trend search. It’s not until 2007 and after Haruhi that the perceived moe incursion became big news, largely, I believe not because it wasn’t happening, but because there was no term for it beforehand.

    Much like the term slice-of-life I feel that the anime that are tagged on ANN as moe are not representative of the complete number of shows that have moe qualities.

    While the word had long since been popular in Japan possibly as early as 1993 (the first Saimoe was in 2002) it didn’t hit the english population until recently.

    I personally believe moe has always been there it’s just that now that people have a name for it they are identifying more things as moe. Also that the tagging system has not caught up yet to the breadth of the slang. For instance: I would hardly call Azumanga the only moe show of 2002; Chobits aired during the same year. If Chobits isn’t moe I don’t know what is.

    So I guess bottom line, any study of the trends of moe is premature because the tagging system has not caught up. Unless a different standard is used I don’t think an accurate representation of the amount of moe series in the past decade can be attained.

    • Thank you for your great input here. My analysis obviously rely on the underlying data (ANN’s tagging system) being comprehensive. Having seen it misses out on tagging shows such as Haruhi or Chobit as moe, I can sufficiently question its tagging system and that would mostly invalidate my conclusion. Granted, it is still interesting to see in number the point post-2007 when ANN becomes more aware of the definition and tag animes much more comprehensively than before.

      I will wait for the day a more comprehensive list throughout the whole time period becomes available before tackling this issue again!

      • Taka says:

        yeah I think analysis of the past 3 years would yield promising results as it did in your graph above. It at least gives an indication of the time-line of the beginning of “moe incursion” as I like to call it. Whether that is do to the culture becoming more aware of the term/genre or an actual rise in the number of moe shows is something a little harder to explain.

        I thought it was somewhat interesting with comparison to the Animation studio genre analysis. With KyoAni’s rise to moe prominence in the past 4 years they are also viewed as having some of the best produced shows. Haruhi of course being their big hitter. With KyoAni making big buck off these types of shows it is no surprise that other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. The death of Gonzo while it dampened the moe genre somewhat it also took a fair chunk out of the fantasy/adventure/what have you genres. Gonzo’s production was spotty here or there but they attempted several genres of show. However it is AIC in particular that I view as making the biggest buck off the apparent moe boom. The previous king of Harem anime, AIC had been in somewhat of a slump since Ah My Goddess! finished in 2005 but comes back in 2008 and especially 2009 with a dearth of fanservice/harem titles, perhaps with somewhat reworked say more moe characters. (it’s a theory anyway) I do feel that AIC has risen to some prominence lately. Also with the economy in a tough situation, the moe shows that arguably sell, if not the best the most consistently, are the ones that can afford to put out a lot of shows in the tough times. Psgels said that this is one of the worst years for anime that we’ve had in awhile but he just thinks that it is just due to the economic downturn. It makes sense in the wake of an economic crisis the stuff that sells rises to the top, and moe sells.

        Also if I didn’t say it yet; cool blog. I put you on my RSS reader. Thank Sorrow-Kun for tweeting bout you. 🙂

      • Sorry for the late reply. Had a pretty busy week. Thanks for perspective to shed more light on my data. The knowledge you have really given more flesh and deeper understanding and interpretation to my quant numbers. When Psgels reger to the worst year of anime, does he refer to 2009? Speaking of tough times, I will try to do some analysis based on number of series produced by the prominent studios, which I will hope to see a drop of in 2008-9 or if moe/harem shows are more resilient than other genres. Will just be cool to see the hypothesis proven statistically:) I’m collecting data from ANN also on ratings from each year. It is taking ages so it will be a while until I get to the point where I can come up with a decent analysis but I will look forward to proving also where 2009 is that bad a year comparing to other years or now!

        I am thinking also of a post on moe looking at what studio producing the most series. Obviously KyoAni will come out way on top but there might be other interesting studio like AIC that you mention that take more share of it too.

        To get a better analysis on whether moe is on the rise or moe is becoming more prominent, I definitely need some Japanese source that has more comprehensive tagging of moe. I would love to find that and do let me know if you come across something like that!

        Thank you also for the compliment:) I remember Ghostlightning also telling me he found me on twitter way back and say I should join. Just have not gotten around to using it as regularly as I should though! I need to go say thank you to Sorrow-kun as well:)

  4. Taka says:

    Does it seem like not 3 years later the term moe is being used somewhat less than it was when this was posted. Does it seem like less people are calling moe the “cancer killing anime”? Google trends seems to think so.

    Kawaii interesting enough has just been continually on the rise.

    Just for fun:

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