Okay, so that’s not what the question that was asked about. The question is about “moe” in the anime/manga world. First, definition time!
A Japanese slang term (ironically, first employed by otaku) used to refer to the fetish for or sexual attraction to idealized people, usually a fictional perfect young girl.
Since then, moé has come to be used as a general term for a hobby, mania or fetish (non-sexual or otherwise). This is contrasted with otaku, which would be taking the specific hobby, mania or fetish to harmful levels.
Like a lot of loan words over the years, their meanings are different from the origin to how it’s used in English speaking countries. Otaku in particular is a word that has traveled a bit and means different things to different people depending on the age and time they got into anime. Some wear it proudly, others abhor it.
Moe falls into a similar area in a way. The growth of the moe phenomenon in anime was a bit gradual, coming up with a generation of creators that were looking to make their own stamp on things, especially in the manga world where you could really draw out the imagery in a big way, even with four panel manga series. When they started to gain popularity on the anime side, like anything else, there was a lot of it.
You couldn’t turn around each season without seeing a stack of moe shows. And just like everything else, some of it as great, some of it was awful and a lot of it was just middle of the road.
Like harem shows the decade before.
Or 80′s science fiction series.
Or 70′s giant robot series.
You get the drift. With each “generation” of story style that seems to dominate, invariably some fans will tire of it all and move on since it’s not “their” anime. Others are brought in because they just love it. A lot of fans will find pleasure in some, dislike others and just move along in general while still being a fan and becoming pickier during it. Having watched as much anime as I do, I’ve seen a lot of moe shows. But outside of the rare couple, most of it doesn’t really bother me since enough of them use it right
Ok, so some of them remind me that I’m an older gentleman now than I was when I first started watching anime and finding that to be a great visual makes me wonder just how creepy I’ve become. But hey, doesn’t most anime do that if you’re over 16 and watching shows about schoolgirls in short skirts?
The usage of moe characters can extend to action sequences as well, since even though you want to protect them, they’re also able to stand on their own – with a little support – and do some kick ass stuff.
There’s also the thing where certain aspects for some folks are just too damn sexy in real life, so they have to be presented in a cuter/safer fashion in anime form. Hence moe-noculars.
Has moe ruined anime? For some fans, definitely. For others, it’s made them fans of anime and hopefully they’ve gotten to explore other genres and styles that predates it since there’s a lot of good stuff there. While we do get moe characters still and series that are focused on it, it feels like we’ve been moving out of that phase for a bit and are now in a period where there’s simply a lot more variety and a bit more experimentation going on.
Everything is cyclical. And even if it’s popular, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It doesn’t mean it’s great either, but there are gems throughout. I don’t think anime was ruined by moe. But it drove off a lot of Western fans because of the change in tone, style and stories being told. Hopefully some of them are starting to come back as we move on from it, though with a strain of it in a lot of things.