Whew! Wrapping up the Tokyo Nail Expo after one more very long day, I had a chance to check out my favourite part of the show: the Nail Tip Award.
The theme for this year’s contest was Happy Kawaii. Kawaii is technically translated as “cute,” but it has a deeper meaning than that. Japanese women generally don’t want to be sexy- rather, they want to be cute. If you want to compliment someone, you tell them they look cute. Cute is everywhere. It was one of the strange things I noticed when I first moved to Japan. Even dour-looking businessmen would have cartoon mobile phone holder straps or a Snoopy handkerchief. The national obsession with all things cute means grown adults are wearing furry hoodies with cat ears on them and nobody looks twice.
I thought I was immune to the sugary sweet cuteness, being that I run more on the a dark side of the spectrum, but it got to me in ways I never imagined. For example, when I speak Japanese my voice automatically goes about half an octave to a cute girly squeak. There is no fighting the fluffy pink forces of Kawaiiness!
All that aside, here are some of the entries for the contest. Not surprisingly, the artists did much better with the kawaii theme than with the previous years themes of “Fresh Flesh” and “Adult Punk.” While those themes had the potential to produce a lot more interesting and creative work, most of the artists just chose not to get out of their comfort zones and painted the usual kawaii crap anyway. So this year, I guess the show organizers just decided to get back to their kawaii roots.
First off are some nails with the wedding theme. That’s pretty happy and kawaii, I suppose. Let’s take a look, shall we?
113 features some blue birds and the coach which reminds me a bit of a coconut, but overall very nice sculpture work. 41 is a super girly take on a wedding, complete with rainbows, a tiny champagne bottle and neon roses. Nice color and on target with the on the theme but the work is not quite as fine as some of the others. 8 features nice sculpture work, but is a bit lacking on the cute front. 87 has a nice color combo, plus a unicorn and a teddy bear, plus a pink cake. Kawaii goodness galore! 147 has some really nice floral detailing and leaves, but the bride’s body looks a bit off with the bootyful bottom but thin top. 92 is cute but I’d have liked to see some more detail. 163 is actually my pick for the best of the wedding themed nails. At first glance, I thought it was a bit too childish, but after I took a good look at the 3d sculpture, I realized it was really good quality. The round edges and bright colors may look simple, but this kind of work is really hard to do well. You need to have very good control with your acrylic to get a result like this. 105 brought back a long forgotten memory. When I was young, I used to look at those scary pictures of reconstructed Jane Does from crime scenes. You know, the ones with the body is really decomposed so they make a composite clay figurine? That’s what these nails remind me of. Actually, the process between making Jane Doe heads and these nails is probably not that different. It’s very hard to do. Even forensic sculptors can’t easily make a figure that looks like a human being, let alone a person working in acrylic on a miniature nail. A very good effort on a challenging technique. 108 is a very nice mix of good sculpting and good flat art, but I can’t help thinking that “yes” nail looks a bit like a tombstone. Maybe they’re making a statement about how a wedding proposal equals death? Or… I’ve just been watching too much Dateline.
I have a lot more nails to show you, but for now I’m still in the editing process and putting them together. Check by soon for some more updates. 🙂