Two weeks back, we touched on why otakus considered Meido (メイド) to be moe. And for this week’s Otaku Lingo, we shall move onto another genre of popular moe characters – Miko (巫女), whom are shrine maiden in the Japanese Shinto religion.
Just to recap: “Moe” (萌え, pronounced phonetically as mo-a) is used to describe a feeling or characteristic. It’s not a genre. The word is used most to refer to something or more commonly someone “adorable”, “cute”, mainly to Manga/Anime and originally video game characters but with a burning desire! <3
Shinto is the indigenous spirituality of Japan, hence its no surprise that Miko are common in anime and visual novel games. While some might have been endowed with mystical powers (holy powers gives you butterflies in your belly) to fight demons, they also help out with other shrine functions such as cleaning (you tend to always see Miko carrying a broomstick), perform ceremonial dances, and offering good luck charms.
Again as with Meido or Sukumizu(swimsuit) Moe, this Moe sub genre is linked to the costume, as it depicts purity virginity and innocence. So the costume plays a big part. This is less of a fetish moe as they tend to be covered up but hold the idea of wholesome.
Even though there’s this innocence, all the shrine maidens I have come across as disciplined and always have a tough exterior or strong in general because of their spiritual powers. However cold the temperament, de-thatched or angry the appeal is still there. Their weapon choice tend to be the tamagushi (“offertory sakaki-tree branches”) and the gehōbako (the “supernatural box that contains dolls, animal and human skulls & Shinto prayer beads” to ward off evil spirits and mostly have long hair.
Well-known 2D shine maidens are Hino Rei (火野 レイ) as Sailor Mars in Sailor Moon, Kikyo (桔梗) from InuYasha, Hakurei Reimu (博麗 霊夢) from Touhou Project. I also came across an aesthetically different looking character called Aurica from the JRPG game Cross Edge as well as short haired alternative Asuka from the Tekken series.
So what about you? Do you have a favorite Miko character that you find really moe?