Anime Fashion: Hair Styles
Hair color and styles:
When you step into the world of anime, you step into a world of wacky colored hair and crazy hairstyles! After you've watched a couple of series, though, you might notice that certain types of characters have certain styles or colors of hair. Is this a coincidence? Are they copying each other? No! Read on as I guide you through colors, styles, and real life examples!
Nekoni - an anime style artist has been kind enough to give us a few thoughts on the reasons behind the colouring and styling on Anime hair styles.
In This Article...
From Real Life To Anime
Most accurately represented hairstyles and hair colors in anime tend to have the same meaning as those in the west. Pigtails are childish, messy hair is for messy people- there are, however, a few exceptions that are specific to Japan- and so, are specific to anime.
The notable exceptions that you will see in anime are:
Odango: 'Buns' to English speakers. When an anime character has this hairstyle, it usually implies that she's Chinese. It may be drawn with or without bangs. The buns themselves are sometimes decorated or encased by hair accessories. In China this hairstyle is traditional for young, unmarried girls. In anime, if a japanese girl dresses up in a chinese dress, she will almost always put her hair in this style.
Examples: TenTen (Naruto) Xiao Yu (tekken) Kagura (Gintama)
Hime: Meaning 'princess'; 'hime' is a traditional Japanese hairstyle that is the epitome of traditional beauty (comparable to golden curls in the west). This style is usually comprised of dark blue, shiny hair, very neatly cut. It is very long hair (usually to the waist or beyond) and may or may not have a tuft of shoulder length hair framing each side of the face. To add a little variety, many manga and anime creators will use a different color or different length but keep their character's hair reminiscent of the hime cut.
Examples: Hinata (Naruto) Saeko Busujima (Highschool Of The Dead) Chichi (Dragon Ball)
Punch Perm: A hairstyle that looks like a giant stereotypical Elvis quiff, the punch perm has a few variations, but all are associated with bosozoku biker gangs and yakuza, mostly in the 80's and 90's. The punch perm has fallen out of popularity, but it is still used in anime to represent a certain kind of character.
Examples: Tatsuya Himekawa (Beelzebub)
Aippa: A short afro with a widows peek. The aippa hairstyle is very strongly associated with bosozoku biker gangs and yakuza.
Examples: Endless low level villains, I haven't seen a lead character with this.
Short ponytail: This is the male counterpart to Odango. It often implies that the character wearing this style is Chinese. The hair has no bangs, and is almost always drawn with a widow's peak. It's always a very dark blacK.
Examples: Wufei (Gundam Wing) China (Hetalia) Shao (Psyren)
Shaved heads: Shaved or bald heads in western series usually implies an evil or militaristic character. In anime, this short of hair cut instead implies a similarity to a Buddhist monk (who shave their heads for religious reasons), and may mean a character is studious, religious or devoted.
Examples: Krillin, Tien (Dragonball) Ikkaku Madarame (Bleach)
In Japan, where almost everybody has black hair- any different color, even a lighter brown, usually means something. Often, these meanings are carried through to anime.The viewers will often still think the same thing about the character as they would a real-life person with the same color. There are even stereotypes that exist for the unnatural colors, which have evolved entirely in anime, and there are stereotypes for every color! Anime creators all use these stereotypes (whether they realise it or not)
Black is the most common hair color of the japanese people. Although there are shades of dark brown and lighter brown, and very rare blondes- the general populous has black hair. So this equates to certain things:
Black hair may mean:
1: Normalness. Averageness. The character is not 'weird'. So most background characters have black hair.
2: The character is easy to relate to, because lots of people in Japan have black hair, too.
3: The character is innocent, or conservative. In Japan only adults will dye their hair- and traditional people won't want to.
Examples: Sasuke, (Naruto) Ishida (Bleach) Goku (Dragonball)
Brown is the second most common hair color in Japan, but it is still quite rare. It is the color that most japanese will dye their hair to. It used to be considered very rebelious, and people with brown hair would dye their hair black to appear more normal, but it has become more fashionable. You can still notice the 'rebelious' characterisation in many anime- even if the anime is new.
Brown hair may mean:
1: In anime where there are many bright colors, brown may be similar to black, and normal and conservative.
3: Lighter shades of brown may suggest dyed hair or glarmourousness.
Examples: Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya).
Grey or Silver
Grey or silver is a rare color in anime. Of course, it is often used on the elderly- but it is still sometimes the haircolor of young people. This color of hair suggests something unnatural about the character- perhaps they are not human, or do not behave in an entirely normal way.
Grey or silver hair may mean:
1: Lack of humanity.
2: Lack of emotions.
Examples: Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7) Kabuto (Naruto).Yukio (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)
This is quite similar to grey and silver. White's a lot like blond, so is often suggested to be a 'normal' haircolor. All over the world, it is associated with cleanless. In Japan, specifically, the color white is also strongly associated with death.
White hair may mean:
1. Innocence, like blonde hair does. But even more innocent.
3: Lack of humanity in a magical way.
4: Lack of humanity in an evil, monstrous way.
Examples: Angel (Angel Beats) Ukitake (Bleach)
Red is a rarely seen color in Japan. It is a dye color, but it is not as popular as brown or blonde, especially with rebelious types. The meaning of red hair is very similar to that of the west, probably because that's the type of red haired character that most japanese see or have seen before making anime.
Red hair may mean:
1: In Japan, red hair is most often seen on glamorous models.
2: Fiery tempers are normal for a redhead.
3: Redheads are often beautiful.
4: Redheads are often evil, (the association with blood stands everywhere!)
Examples: Gaara, Kushina (Naruto), Grell, Madam Red (Black Butler)
Orange hair is a very rare color in real life, and completely foreign to the japanese. They treat it in a very similar way to blonde hair.
Orange hair may mean:
1. In Japan, ginger is a color you get from dye. So thugs and glamour ladies are likely to use it.
2: Orange haired people in anime rarely have pale skin or freckles.
3: Orange haired people in anime are never bullied for being ginger.
Examples: Ichigo, Orihime, Matsumoto (Bleach) Juugo, Nagato (Naruto)
In Japan this color is called 'yellow' or 'gold', because 'blonde' isn't a normal word to the japanese. It's copied a lot of its meaning from western television- but that's probably because that's where japanese people see blonde people.
Yellow hair may mean:
1: Blonde is commonly a dyed color, especially in Japan. It's a very unnatural in Japan, so punks and glamour girls are likely to have it.
2: Blonde is used to represent innocence (like in the west)
3: Blonde is used for very energetic characters!!!!!!!
Examples: Naruto (Naruto) Serena (Sailor Moon)
Green isn't a natural hair color... anywhere. But in anime, it's quite common. Moreover, it's often treated like a shade of brown or black. Green might be used for background characters.
Green hair may mean:
1: If dark green, the character is not important (main characters rarely ever have green)
2: If light green, the character is probably very strange.
Examples: Zoro (One Piece) Sailor Pluto (Sailor Moon)
Although blue hair does not exist in real life, (it is a popular dye color) in anime it's almost always treated as black, because it's so similar. Bue is easier to animate and color than black, too, so often characters desribed as having 'black' hair will have something that looks blue.
Blue hair may mean:
1: The character is normal.
2: The character is easy to relate to, because of their relatively normal hair color.
3: The character is innocent, or conservative. In Japan only adults will dye their hair- and traditional people won't want to. As blue represents black, it has this same meaning.
Examples: Hinata (Naruto- anime only) Konata (Lucky Star) Kai (Beyblade) Grimmjow (Bleach)
Violet (and purple)
Purple or violet colored hair is most often colored in very dark, and very similar to black. It can make typical black japanese hair more interesting. It does however, tend to suggest a few things:
Purple or violet hair may mean:
1: The character might be magical in someway
2: The character might be royalty or an heir (even in Japan, purple is royal)
Examples: Yoruichi (Bleach) Trunks (DragonballZ)
Pink hair, obviously doesn't exist in real life, except for hair dyes (usually accidents!) the different shades of pink are treated quite differently.
Pink hair may mean:
1: The character is almost realistic, brownish-pinks might be used to represent brown hair.
2: Bright pink is treated like red hair.
3: Light pink is treated like blonde. It can represent purity and youth.
4: Light pink is often used ironically. It's popular for evil characters.
Examples: Sakura (Naruto) Mew Ichigo (Tokyo Mew Mew) Szayel Aporro Grantz, Yachiru (Bleach) Natsu (Fairy Tail)
Apart from this...
This list isn't set in stone, it's just a guide as to why certain characters have similar hair colors and personalities in anime.
Sometimes a style of hair is more important than the color, or the color isn't important in defining the character. Sometimes a hair is 2 or more colors- in which case it depends on exactly how much of what color is used.
And there's always the 'design based on' type of character. Like a blond man will have a 'design based on' a lion. He won't be innocent or energetic- instead he'll be- like a lion. Or a blue or white haired guy has water or ice related superpowers--- he's not evil, he's just meant to look icy.These are common, but there are just too many objects and animals and atmospheric phenomina to list. If ia character's hair reminds you of- say, a cat's ears- it's probably meant to.
All The Color, None Of The Fuss!
These are great for parties, and anime conventions- or just some halloween fun. Those that're marked 'kanekalon' even look like real hair!
What's Your Anime Hair Color?
If you were an anime character, what color hair do you think you would you have?
From Anime To Real Life
Although most anime styles are based on real life, the fact that hair needs to be simplified, and unique in shape, means that there are a lot of characters with strange, spiky or extravegant styles. Some are actually quite easy to achieve in real life! (though, I don't recommend wearing them to school, or worse, work. Unless you have a really cool job.)
Called 'tsuntsun' (spikey!) hair in Japan. You can do the first steps in this to get real life tsuntsun hair, or you can do all the steps to get anime tsuntsun hair (with the separated spikes). It's the basic technique for all spiky anime hairstyles. It works on all types of hair, so long as the haircut is short enough, and the hair is either naturally straight or pre-straightened.
Sujimori kind of means 'excited' hair. It's a hairstyle with clearly separated spikes of hair which flop gently over the head. It's quite a new fashion, and though it's got very little to do with anime, it makes a great real life anime style. To be honest cosplayers have been using this for years, because it works really great on plastic wigs, so it's interesting to see it be used for normal fashion hair!
Youtube and Japan Dance Idol Beckii Cruel has done a couple of fashion videos. This one in particular is pretty awesome and a creates some very impressive pigtails with caucasian hair.
With youtube guru x3Hara (all her style videos are awesome). These're pigtail techniques that add volume and cuteness. Great, quick techniques for long hair.
Cute, Colorful Curls!
If the tutorials look exhausting, and you want a hairstyle you can keep and reuse over and over, a prestyled wig is a lot of fun. These cute ones go great with sailor uniforms or lolita dresses.
Clip In Style
Clip in hair extensions are a great way to really add up the volume of your hair without doing it any damage, and they can be put on or taken off very easily. The best looking extensions are human hair, though a mix that is partially plastic hair will still look natural too.
Cute It Up
Once you've got your style right, a few cute hair clips like this will really complete your look. Bigs bows, flowers and cute ribbons are a common feature of girls' anime hairstyles. I find these are a lot easier to buy online than in fashion shops, because fashion shops tend to stick with more normal clips and scrunchies.