A common misconception about girls who wear nail polish is that we are vain and a tad on the snobby side, which may be true in some cases, but is often false in reality. Some people wonder, “Why wear nail polish?” Is it just to grab attention? Is it some way of showing how fashion forward you are? Or is it a pretty acrylic mask made to cover up the embarrassing inconsistencies beneath? In a way, all of these guesses are correct.
Almost any color of nail polish is bound to grab your eyes, as that pop of color jumps at you from an unexpected location. Like any other accessory, nail polish serves a multitude of purposes. The ones I focus in on today, however, exemplify a common vein of anime characters who appear one way, but act another.
Kohsaka Kirino of Ore no Imouto is perhaps one of the most popular heroines lately, as she fulfills both the little sister fantasy, as well as one of a shy, hidden, otaku hobby. I can’t stand her character at all, but can understand to a certain the degree the fascination many others have with her. She is a wonderful illustration of warring emotions and that ever-popular tsundere archetype. On the outside, she’s a dedicated student athlete, a successful young model, and an adoring daughter. She scores A+ on bitch-sister of the year with her terrible treatment of her older brother, treatment that is largely unwarranted. She dresses stylishly with the most fashionable clothes of the season, including a variety of jewelry and nail polish colors. Underneath her public display, she hides a passionate hobby for dating sims, specifically the little sister type. The hobby expands to include similar anime and correlating merchandise. It quickly becomes apparent throughout the anime that despite her seeming seething dislike for her bother, she has actually come to depend on him, even come to look for his approval on various matters. Throughout each episode, she struggles to maintain her hobbies under the radar of her friends and parents, using her brother and otaku friends as she deems necessary. These inconsistencies of emotions reflect her inconsistent participation in either world, both of which she struggles to belong, yet also refuses to give herself over to 100%.
Anjou Naruko, known to her childhood friends as “Anaru,” is from the current, Summer 2011 airing anime, Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. She is similar to Kirino in many respects, including attention to fashion and less-than-cool hobbies. The biggest concern for Naruko is self-confidence, of which she has almost none. Apparent from flash backs of childhood, she has always been one to follow the whims of those around her, an unhealthy practice that she continues to do as a high school student. She copies the fashion sense of her peers, even going so far as to copy their treatment of those who don’t fit in their circle of friends. It isn’t until further time spent with her old friends does her true self shine through, one of a sweet girl who loves playing video games. Unlike Kirino, I feel that Naruko’s use of nail polish is less that of just liking the pretty colors, and more of just wanting to fit in with her “cool” friends. It also disguises her low morale, yet adversely cries out for attention and approval.
Sheryl Nome, from Macross Frontier, was not my favorite heroine of the anime, but definitely one whose style sense I liked. This “galactic fairy” is accustomed to the spotlight, using her voice and looks to push forward her vibrant career as a singer. She oozes with self-assurance–so much so, that she comes across as full of herself. But, her composure certainly doesn’t lack backing, as she never shies away from applying herself to any duty at hand. Sheryl’s major weakness can be found in her past, one of poverty and orphan-hood. This early impression can explain her desire for the stage and adoration, as well as her attraction to the male protagonist, Alto Saotome. What she yearns for, above all else, is intimacy–a luxury she seems to never have experienced until meeting Alto. Ignoring her beauty, seeming self-confidence, and fandom, she suffers from issues similar to those of Kirino and Naruko.
So before you dismiss a girl with nail polish, try to look past the acrylics and see what’s really there. More often than not, you’ll discover that very human wish for acceptance…and hey, what’s to say she can’t give you a tip or two on what colors and cuts fit your look?