Why do you watch anime? The intense imagination, the wondrous fantasy worlds, the deep plots woven with romance, drama, and suspense? Maybe for the big robots, the big swords, the big hair, and the big charcoal eyes? Or maybe comedy is your bag of chips, no matter how painfully weird it gets. Whatever your taste in anime however, there seems to always be one constant to almost all genres - the smokin’ hot girls.
Yes, the formula for conjuring the perfect anime girl has been slowly concocted down to the very last sliver of cleavage, the tiniest accentuation of the ankle, and the daintiest of dimples on the lower back. And make no mistake about it - every one of these features is deliberately designed and line by line, carefully drawn to perfection. As fashion designers and photographers struggle with augmenting and covering up and the imperfection of the 3D human body, anime character designers are given a blank slate to come up with the cutest 2D girls possible. True, these ideal 2D ladies may look a little strange in the 3D world, but something about them in their natural habitat just makes them look… really damn cute.
The purpose of this “Moe Modes” column is to introduce and analyze some of the finer points of anime character design - if for no other reason but to post pictures of hot anime girls (woohoo). It’s my hope to entertain you, to make you nod your head in “ohh I never noticed that before, but he’s totally onto something!” agreement, and to give you a different perspective on how to watch and think about anime. And if all that fails, you’ll at least get to see what a massive otaku I am and have someone to defer any ridicule to when your friends call you a geek and say you watch too much anime. Give it to me, I can take it!
Anyways, this first Moe Mode is something I’ve started to notice in the past year or two, but didn’t start taking screenshots of until recently (damn shame too, cuz they’re pretty tough to find when going back). It’s what I like to call the 2-5 Split, a hand gesture made by putting the middle and ring finger together, with the other 3 fingers separate, usually while waving:
You might also note that Mitsuki-senpai’s middle finger is slightly overlapping her ring finger for an extra sense of grace and elegance. Hey, details make all the difference! It’s very deliberate - try waving yourself - do you put your middle and ring finger together? If anything, it’s anatomically more difficult - I think I’m better at doing the Spock “Live long and prosper” sign.
Why? Of all the possible finger combinations, why this one? I don’t know - to explain it, we’d probably have to do some psychoanalysis and do some sociological studies on what people find attractive - all I can say is, try the other combinations! Put your index and middle finger together. (too alien-ish). Put your ring finger and pinkie together (too crab-ish). And now look up and notice all the people looking at you funny (unless you’re in a physics class doing E&M!). Quite simply, this configuration looks the best , the best combination of grace and cuteness, not too pretentious, natural enough to a casual glance but unnatural enough to be anime-exclusive. It’s moe!
What kind of characters are more apt to bust out a 2-5? It’s actually quite across the board, signifying a universal moe that’s acceptable to use for any anime girl. Oh, but that doesn’t mean that just using it everywhere makes an anime girl automatically cuter. Like any other moe mode, it takes correct timing, placement, and overall context to execute a proper 2-5 Split. Take this shot of Yutaka, the squirrely imouto-character from Lucky Star:
There’s a few other examples of this in Lucky Star by other characters, which suggests that it’s not really Yutaka’s fault, but more the fault of the chibi character design. Look at that dinner roll hand… it’s just not right. Most likely, it takes a girl with longer, more slender arms to properly execute a 2-5, someone like Ami-tan from Toradora:
One of my favorite characters this season is Nagi from Kannagi - she’s just the kind of super genki, funny talking, hair swishing character I like - and naturally, one of the more frequent users of the 2-5. She doesn’t just lay her fingers out for all to see, either - her 2-5 moments pass by in split seconds, allowing only the most hardcore of 2-5 connoisseurs to notice, like this one from the opening sequence:
Are you as much of a 2-5 fan as I am? Or are you still socially capable and aren’t afraid of human contact? Whatever your preference, we must learn to further appreciate the hard work and absolute genius that goes into designing an anime character - it’s an art form, it’s an obsession, it’s freakin’ science.
Up next in Anime Moe Modes: Oh Those Curvy Collarbones, or Oh Me Oh Mine, That’s One Amazing Neck Line.
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