Someone invited me to provide my own perspective as an anime veteran (and one who actually watched Evangelion in real time - gasp :o )
...there's GENERATIONS of otaku?
There are generations of otaku -- as anime evolved and style of story, art, animation and character design changed to fit the dominant taste of different generations of otakus. But I always consider dividing otakus into generations can be crude and contrived -- the overlapping between the so-called otaku "generations" could be a lot more blurred than, say, the divisions of rock music fans from 1960s to 2010s into generations. For one I do not really agree with the naming and division of those otaku "ages" by Azuma...
I think it's more likely that Moe is the result of Eva tramautizing a generation of viewers who completely failed to understand the implications of the series' message and thus retreated even deeper into otakudom. The plot so completely broke their minds with a truth they weren't willing to accept that all they could say in response is "what the world really needs are endless derivative variations of Asuka and Rei doing cute things without all that emotional trauma making viewers uncomfortable."
While there may be some truth in it, Anno himself is also a flawed messenger -- otakus knew he gave that message in a stage where his life was very much in turmoil and they also knew that Anno was himself very deeply buried in otaku-dom and deep in his heart he wanted people to love his anime and spent time (and money) on it, and nobody thought that Anno himself would be able to abandon his otaku self unless he really got mad or something. I would say that a lot of otaku were indeed traumatized (myself included) but many also saw through Anno. At the end they just went on enjoying anime as they have always done -- there is no lack of new attractions coming year in year out.
As for derivative variations of Rei and Asuka, it is debatable how much of tsundere and cool-dere archetypes were sourced from Asuka and Rei alone. A lot of "traits" of tsundere in the current tsundere database are not there in Asuka for example. Besides, moe is not just about tsundere/cool-dere doing cute things. Nice girls doing cute things slice-of-life style is also moe -- the alternative reality in EoTV is one of the earlier examples but it is not like that kind of story (bread in mouth running for school etc) first came up in EoTV. It is just that the stellar fame of Eva made that episode a memorable one in anime/manga history.
Certainly something resembling this happened. When Toshio Okada talks about the death of otaku, he means that the moe otaku generation are not really otaku. Eva stands at the point where the old otaku generation turns into the moe one. The book in question tries to develop the meaning of this transition.
One thing I could not agree with some of these "old-timer otaku" is how they think of themselves as "true otaku" and look down on the younger generation of anime fans as "not really otaku". I have read some of their discussions and apparently they are nostalgic of the "good old days" when otaku were content to drill deep into the intricate details of say mecha design by himself and apparently did not ogle so much over cute girls. They prefer the old days before internet could link up the otaku and allowed unbridled communication among otaku and let them organize and go out to flaunt their otaku-ness in the open (apparently they believe otaku should just stay at their room and "study" anime on their own, only occasionally come together in some serious gatherings of "otaku workshop"). I think that kind of attitude is more about generation gap than real deterioration of otaku quality -- something akin to 60s rock fans lamenting the quality of rock fans nowadays that they do not take their music "seriously" enough.
When I took my leave from anime/manga scene after EoE in 1998 I had never heard of the word Moe and the first major work that was credited with starting the trend of moe manga/anime, Azumanga Daioh, started the manga serialization in 1999 and the anime came out in 2002. By then the word Moe was gaining popularity. The archetypal event of the Moe era, the Saimoe tournament, started from 2002. From timing point of view, Eva did put a relevant milestone just before all these happened, so I agree that "Eva stands at the point where the old otaku generation turns into the moe one".
Takashi Murakami: I have to confess, I don't fully understand the moe sensibility.
Toshio Okada: The moe generation is mostly made up of otaku thirty-five or younger. I myself belong to the previous otaku generation, so frankly I don't understand moe.
Perhaps I should count myself lucky because even though I am not from the demography of the "moe generation" described above, I really enjoy the new trend of moe anime very much -- in fact I now watch more anime than before. :p
Okada comments on Morikawa's moe-oriented definition of otaku as those who love what is dame
for the sake of its being dame:
Kaichiro Morikawa: As I said before, the 1980s-era fascination with the apocalyptic was shattered by Aum. I think moe emerged as an alternative, to fill the void.
Might as well add the fact that the bubble burst so completely and traumatically that it totally altered the pop trend of the 1980s, from music and popular literature to tv drama, manga and anime. But I am not sure whether the popularity of the apocalyptic is ever gone -- the apocalyptic still features very much from Eva to later "sekai mono" in moe age like Saikano to the recent big hit Madoka.
The moe-oriented definition of otaku as those who love what is dame
for the sake of its being dame
is interesting -- there is some truth in it although I would say not all moe traits are "dame" traits (is "class representative" moe or "twin tail" moe really loving what is "dame"?)
In this sense, I think the moe generation understood the implications of Evangelion correctly. I don't think moe anime could give rise to something like Aum. At the level of the deeper message, it is a perfectly valid response.
I think I can agree to this.