Anime characters don’t wear striking hair colors as a mere fashion statement. Their blue, green, pink hair actually reveals their unique personality traits
BY NABANITA DUTT
It’s easy to mistake Rei Ayanami’s blue hair, Rias Gremory’s crimson red locks, and Kagami Hiiragi’s purple shag as yet another colorful expression of rebellion in Japan’s pop culture. But the unnatural hair colors of anime characters aren’t an extension of the dye-or-die fashion impulse that infects the majority of Japan’s young, urban population.
It’s an instantly recognizable way to set the main characters in a story apart. When anime illustrators first started putting manga characters in action, they didn’t have the big budgets necessary to invest in production costs. How to make the central figures stand out then? Giving them unusual, high-pigment hair colors was the obvious answer.
Over time, a pattern began to set in, and choice of hair color actually started to mean something. When a female anime character had yellow hair, for example, chances were that she is the heroine of the story. She was “someone special”. When an anime character was given silver/white hair, he/she was almost other-worldly in nature, someone who is mentally as elusive and hard to pin down as water or air. When an anime character had bold, red hair, the color reflected a high-energy, over-confident, brash, abrasive personality.
The list goes on…
On the flip side, smaller characters in the plot, who had insignificant roles to play with no hopes of ever taking the centerstage, were given basic, dark hair. In other words, they were the `masses’, the `ordinary’ people and therefore had the most common natural hair color in Japan: black or brown.
This emphasis on hair color in anime characters had a real-world impact as well. It became the most important fashion accessory when creating cosplay – or costume play — looks, and anime fans could now dress up as their favorite characters with wigs that were easily-identifiable.
Among people who are inspired by anime and propelled by social media, cosplay has become a popular fad, and anime wigs are top-selling accessories in the business.
Scroll on, to see a colorful graphic on typical character traits associated with certain hair colors in anime. Remember though, that there are exceptions to these rules, of course. The descriptions below, give you a personality reading based on hair color that is most common.