The Fragile Heart of Moé
A feature documentary about ‘dojinishi’, self-published comics cultures in Tokyo, Japan.
The film was an international co-production between India and Japan and part of the NHK documentary series ‘Tokyo Modern’. The theme of this series was to get foreign filmmakers to come to Tokyo and explore aspects of Japanese culture from a foreigner’s eye. It was broadcast in Japan on NHK’s HD channel in 2010.
The film deals with a particular sub-cultural phenomenon within the vast world of Japanese comics (‘manga’). During the early 1970s, manga fans began to create their own amateur manga, many of them using characters from their favorite stories that appeared in mainstream manga magazines. These they published themselves and sold in little conventions of like-minded people. ‘Comiket’, now the world’s largest comics convention, began as one such amateur manga event, where self-published authors would put up little stalls and buy and sell each other’s comics. Now Comiket is held twice yearly and attracts 500,000 people, more than half of them girls. The film focuses on a few such women authors, trying to understand the roots of this unique cultural phenomenon, and its strong yet subtle influence on contemporary Japanese society. The film also explores the social and economic structure that supports this kind of artistic activity, and the positive role that it plays in the lives of Japanese people.