Something about this quintessential fingering in anime has somewhat “pestered me”. It’s an extremely common device to indicate femininity, perhaps mindlessly abused? – but, more specifically, to help signify distinct types of femininity that anime is nearly contingent upon. Its nuanced function depends on the character at hand (no pun intended), so its effect ranges from a typical elicitation of righteous GAR mamoru-ism to a mysterious, exotic, long-legged, clad in revealing Chinese dress, one hand under the wine glass, mole and reddened lips close at hand, exquisiteness.
1. Nagisa (Clannad): Nagisa, perhaps being the epitomic manifestation of the Helpless Key Girl (as coined by Baka-Raptor), or the Perfect Key Heroine, it let alone suffices that she’s the only girl out of five in the OP to display so blatantly this digit posture. She’s doing it in both hands, to boot, and as you can see in the animation her arms are whimsically fluttering around, she being the very Helpless Key Girl that she is. This specific motion and position in the OP also is important, since the OP – perhaps a determining factor in its marketability – must metonymically represent each of its characters, or so I’m inclined to say. Nagisa waves her arms around; Kyou dribbles a basketball with one hand on her hip while a superimposed image displays her hands pointed together – a rather modest image juxtaposed with a more flamboyant one merely indicates the resident tsundere; and so forth and so on.
2. Sora (Natsu no Sora): Again with the mirroring of each hand, maybe it’s just an aesthetic thing to complement the two cups? I think Sora is girly enough to Assume The Position whilst conducting her magic; the ritual of magic performance is probably a representation or sorts of the mage’s self. Thus little cultural artifacts and traditions that accompany greater rituals do a good job of further “customizing” the seemingly monolithic task of magic since in the anime it is an objective job wherein emotions, seemingly, should have little place; Sora gets “scolded” for bringing her personal ethics into everything she does, and if not “scolded” then reprimanded for “taking it too seriously” or “overlooking the priority” – however you wish to articulate.
3. Taiga & Ryuuji (Toradora!): This one is good because it shows The Position as assumed by Taiga yet contrasted by Ryuuji’s rather masculine “Wtf Edward Scissor Hands?” finger arrangement – not dissimilar to flower arrangement, probably. ccI’ve yet to see a boy’s fingers so bluntly set forth in this fashion – it’s reserved for the more formalized conduit of femininity.
4. Sanae (Clannad): This one’s important because she loosens her fingers into a more “normal” (heteogenized gender?) position. While it’s hard to talk about this with the video, spread fingers seems to indicate urgency or desperation as all fingers attempt to grasp and clutch something as an anchor – or, it’s groped at because it isn’t desired to disappear. That’s obvious from the case of Fuko but “the silent plea” via outstretched hand is all too genderless a notion (perhaps); basic human struggle can be evident throughout any sapient character – usually, I guess – and so the spreading of the fingers from the feminine position to the “relaxed” position would indicate such.
5. Reinhard (LoGH): I’d say that this one may barely count – I also wanted some pre-millennial anime in there for heterogeneity (gender and era). I would append a few more words here as an anime such as this merits it, but I haven’t started watching this yet, as weird as it sounds.
6. Ogasawara (MSgM): A rather monolithic representation of femininity, hell it’s a yuri Catholic school. I apologize for the crude photoshopping; it was a panning shot. Sachiko also has some crazy witch finger thing going for her here; the two center fingers are bent towards each other in a seemingly unnatural position. It seems painful, but it’s elegant (lest Key further caters to the foot fetish/eccentric genius niche)! Perhaps beautiful, but definitely not ergonomic: I hadn’t known two fingers were needed for one key.
7. Yoshika (Strike Witches): Just moe.
On other hand (no pun intended), observable are the different positions of the two hands. One spread, one “feminized” (or what verb have you). During this particular scene, I think that Yoshika was experiencing her first (or 2nd) real battle, so shock and lack of water legs are inevitable obstacles. But using both hands against a wall is just a brace, probably (is it really that effective?)
8. Alicia (Aria): Alicia can be viewed in interesting ways…she’s kind of perfect. You know, just extremely “pure” and heightened, glorified yet modest. While her left hand seems to be in a painful contortion (does your thumb really bend that way?), the right one exudes slenderness. I guess the manicured nails help. Of course, she has to be performing some perfunctory feminine task like hair arranging to present an appropriate time to assume The Position since I haven’t seen their hands like this when rowing gondolas.
9. Nayuki (Kanon 2006): Ok, last Key picture, I swear – but this one is much too hyperbolic to be neglected here (who does this in real life?).
10. Sanada (Kimikiss): Women in control, patriarch down for the count, he assumes The Position.
11. Lancelot (Code Geass): Oddly enough, this picture does resemble the previous one. You’ve got the dominant female (Guren) grabbing hold of the less-than-alpha male. I mean, look how huge Guren’s hand is!
12: Yamie (Kure-nai): I take back what I said about crazy witch fingers.
13: Yamada’s Aunt(?) (Honey & Clover): I don’t really know who this is; it’s the lady that helped Hagu and Yamada try on yukatas. Anyway, this lady seems like a sarcastic-HaHaHa lady, so the ring and the position just accentuate that personality, so it’s tremendously surprising when you see Yamada strike a pose without those split fingers.
Most of these pictures exhibit little sense of subtlety, except for perhaps LoGH, and that’s an iffy one at that. I was thinking that in many of these pictures, could they be displayed any other way with as much ease? Probably not, since semiotically rearranging signs would then change the meaning, but maybe anime has come to “abuse” (perhaps mindlessly? [refer to beginning]) this simple “W” in order to get some message across that would be harder to convey through dialogue or some non-visual medium. Not to say that “abusing” this sign is a bad thing – it can be a convenient thing, a funny thing, an over-excessively moe thing (refer to Nayuki), but deciding whether or not falling back on steadfast signs is “bad” or “good” doesn’t say much.