Hot trend of nailing manga characters
POP icons of manga and anime have invaded the world of nail art, and the result is a hot trend known as "itanail".
Such nail-art designs have been spotted on entertainers and fashion models, and they are creating a buzz in Japan and abroad.
Fuelling the boom is designer Chieko Nakayama, whose role at the non-profit Japan Nailist Association is to nurture the talents of nail-art designers.
Ms Nakayama's list of clients include models and entertainers such as singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
According to Ms Nakayama, the term itanail is derived from itasha - cars decorated with images of manga and anime characters, either painted on or applied as stickers.
Itasha is a coined word that combines "ita" (pity) and "sha" (car). It can be translated as "pitymobile", because a person is trying to be cool - especially by putting anime and manga characters on something - but some may see their effort as frivolous.
On closer inspection, the nail designs are very intricate. Using a fine brush with a 3mm tip, the outline is drawn, and the character's eyes and hair are painted in painstaking detail.
"I use mainly soft pastel colours," Ms Nakayama said. "It's a chance for me to show off how awesome these designs can really be."
On Kyary's nails, she painted Kyary's own face.
Ms Nakayama gets permission from manga creators before painting their characters and maintains friendly relationships with them. She is in the process of negotiating for permission to use more characters in her designs.
Manga and anime are at the forefront of the government's "Cool Japan" initiative to promote Japanese pop culture overseas.
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK