A note to begin; ecchi and moe in anime and manga are not necessarily a bad thing. However, the abuse of ecchi and moe ideas (in particular) is beginning to become alarming, not because of their existence, but because of how centered they have become with the mediums.
If this problem isn't stopped soon, every series will be K-On!, and that is not anything I'd want
The idea of cute girls and fanservice has existed in manga and anime since the conception of their respective media, and yet recent trends in media show a massive increase in the number of these various techniques being used, a trend which I find alarming. While many dedicated fans enjoy tastes of ecchi in their anime, and the use of moe characters, studios and artists seem to be basing works upon these things as opposed to creating something original and story based. It's incredibly worrisome in my opinion, and if not corrected soon could cause permanent damage to the medium.
What do Soul Eater, Haruhi Suzumiya, Berserk, Gantz, and Slam Dunk
all have in common? They're all regarded as masterworks in their respective media, and all feature ecchi scenes, or even full blown nudity. Ecchi, when used in moderation, is a perfectly fine thing to add to a manga or anime. However when a series is based around that, you end up with something that's almost softcore porn, series like To Love-Ru, Rosario Vampire, Kaichou Wa Maid Sama!,
etc. The issue with manga like the ones I just mentioned is that they're all massively popular, and thus more people are creating series such as these, and it is the duty of the people who release these things to stand up to imitators and allow more original media to come about. It's a more financially responsible strategy, and its the right thing to do for everyone's psyche.
The most financially successful manga have always been the series that innovate, because innovative and well told stories sell for much longer than books and DVDs bought for cute girls. This is because there will never be another Akira
, but there will always be cuter girls, and thus ecchi and moe manga will typically lack the longevity of a successful manga built around other strategies. Sadly, I don't see any major changes in the mass media market for a long time, because until the publishers decide to take more risks with what is released, I imagine we'll come to see a 10:1 ratio of To Love-Ru's
for every quality story based work. That's not something I, as a huge fan of manga and anime, would be a part of, and I certainly wouldn't want my children (your primary audience) to be a part of it either. Not only that, but by using ecchi and moe techniques you cut out the middle ground of your audience. The middle group of consumers consists of people reading manga for the stories, and doesn't consist of people who will buy no matter what (otaku and children), and it will alienate some otaku, as not all people like moe and ecchi in their manga and anime.
This is To Love-Ru
The same could be said for moe, as I see an increasing amount of big eyed girls at school in my anime, and that wouldn't be an issue if not for the fact that the majority of them are god-awful. I call into example Hikaru no Go;
a semi successful manga drawn by Death Note
author Takeshi Obata about a boy named Hikaru who meets a ghost that makes him good at go (a Japanese chess type thing). The series was fairly well written and the plot was pretty interesting at times, and yet Hikaru no Go
is somewhat forgotten now. An eerily similar premise is found in the ridiculously popular Saki
, in which a cute girl plays mahjong, and that's about it. The difference between the two series is moe, the way the characters look rocketed Saki
to fame far past Hikaru ever dreamed of.
This is Saki's opening theme, notice all the moe, the actual series is a mess.
But appearance isn't the issue with the idea of moe and moe characters, the issue is the lack of originality this passion for moe has spawned. An average manga about high school students doing funny things wouldn't get serialized normally, but tack a few moe characters on there and you have K-On!.
That's the issue, that publishers are more willing to publish the K-Ons
of the world, and thus mangaka and anime studios are more likely to create unoriginal moe series.
Haruhi and Madoka are examples of plot over moe, and yet the moe is still there
Finally, publishers are responsible for the media they create, and the social effects that this moe and ecchi movement could have are massive. Children growing up seeing all of this could be hooked on moe and ecchi, but that's unlikely compared to the utter social exploitation of otaku that these two ideas create. The stereotypical otaku isn't exactly rolling in the ladies and exploiting this through media that they obsess over has risen to an almost criminal level, as many otaku cannot be fully to blame for their actions. While I am a strong believer that personal responsibility is the primary factor in media exposure, the manga and anime industries have reached a point where not encountering ecchi and moe just isn't possible, and I think a lot of them can't resist. As the second largest consumer base for manga and anime, these people have been and could possibly continue the moe wave as long as publishers keep riding it, and thus, the children could be suckered into the two due to the exposure in the mass market, which just isn't fair.
Beelzebub contains quite a bit of oversexualized characters, and moe characters, and it's serialized in a magazine for boys (meaning 18 and under.....)(I still like Beelzebub)
In closing, abuse of ecchi and moe techniques is damaging socially, critically, and economically to the manga and anime industries, and while not currently apparent, if these issues are not addressed then these two industries could be in danger. I like Azumanga Daioh, its brilliantly written and really well done, and original in its own right
To anyone who plans on commenting; I would love to encourage intelligent discussion on this matter, however if all you plan on doing is hating or flaming, and not giving intelligent criticism or praise (preferably praise) please don't bother commenting, also I wouldn't mind seeing other blogs with a different point of view, get writing guys! Also, I am not gay (we all know how the internet can be, and I just don't like gratuitous use of ecchi), and I am not trying to portray otaku in a negative light, however the primary consumers of ecchi and moe are the otaku of the world, otaku do very positive things for media, in supporting quality anime, manga, and video games, and I call myself an otaku of sorts as well. Finally, ecchi, moe, and the school life genre are not necessarily bad things themselves, I want to emphasize this.