Specialized terms in anime and manga usually have shared definition in the community. Sometimes the term encompasses a simple attribute or feature and other times it attempts to condense a certain image or archetype. The term moe attempts to conjure a specific image. However, the term can have a double meaning.
Moe characters in anime are easy to spot. According to one definition, moe characters provoke a hightened sense of sympathy, protectiveness, and adoration. These types of characters are very often gentle, soft spoken, and even timid in their mannerisms. Among anime character archetypes, moe characters are a symbol of innocence and purity.
Another interpretation of moe associates the term with a more defined role. This definition has also come to include a comparison to a fetish. In this case, a moe character can appear in all aspects to be a maid, nurse, or the like. As far as moe is concerned, there is an expected look and behavior to live up to.
Case Study: Mikuru Asahina
‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’ does an excellent job in rolling both definitions of moe into one character. The anime almost goes as far as to parody all the popular character tropes through the desires of its unwittingly omnipotent title character. Accordingly, it’s no surprise that the moe character embrace both definitions.
Mikuru Asahina is introduced as a victim of circumstance and Haruhi’s ambition to put together an after school club to investigate paranormal activity. Mikuru is hardly audible and appears to be helpless to resist the many whims of Haruhi. In fact, Haruhi out right proclaims that Mikuru Asahina would be the moe member of the club. As such, the story’s narrator, Kyon, frequently makes mention of how she is adorable or how he wants to step in and protect Mikuru from Haruhi’s antics.
Aside from being the cute and innocent character, Mikuru gets thrown into a collection of costumes, compliments of Haruhi. Through out the series the poor girl is force to be a waitress, bunny girl, and a maid. Perhaps the most moe thing about Mikuru is that as much as the feeling of protectiveness may compel Kyon, he is powerless to do anything to prevent Mikuru from being played with like a doll. After all, upsetting Haruhi may lead to the end of the world.