I have published a growing collection of articles on hair color in Japanese anime, manga, and games (usually visual novels). My interest in the subject was piqued by three things. Firstly, I came across several articles on the challenges that some racially Japanese students with naturally brown hair have had with school dress codes that expect all Japanese students to have black hair. Secondly, I came across a Japanese poll asking anime viewers and manga readers how they understand exotic hair colors in media. Finally, around the same time I came across these stories, I read an interesting note regarding the apparently naturally brown hair of Iroha Isshiki in one of the My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, As I Expected light novels.
After starting this series, I began looking carefully for interesting notes about character hair color in Japanese media. Specifically, I am interested in cases wherein a series makes clear how a character’s hair color is understood by other characters and, by extension, how readers, viewers, or players should understand the hair color. Below, you will find a running list of all of my articles in the series.
List of Articles
|Hair Color Dress Code Rules in Japan|
NAF. February 7, 2021.
|Real World||Real World||Examining the case of a Japanese student with naturally brown hair who was forced to dye her hair black by her middle school.|
|Iroha Isshiki’s Hair is Brown, as Expected?|
NAF. February 12, 2021.
|Oregairu||Light Novel||The foundational article for the series. I examine a note that Iroha Isshiki has naturally brown hair in a world where hair dying is recognized.|
|Kaori Orimoto’s Hair is Blacker than I Expected|
NAF. March 5, 2021.
|Oregairu||LN/Anime||Kaori Orimoto is portrayed with brown hair in the anime. However, the source material depicts her with black hair and describes her hair as being black.|
|Understanding Hair Color in the Kimi ni Todoke Anime Series|
NAF. August 19, 2021.
|Kimi ni Todoke||Anime||The characters of Kimi ni Todoke acknowledge that hair dye is common among the student body.|
|Futaba Igarashi’s Hair Is Naturally Green?|
NAF. November 23, 2021.
|My Senpai is Annoying||Anime||Despite the show’s real-world setting, the protagonist reveals that her hair is naturally green.|
|Hair Color in the MYTH Visual Novel|
NAF. March 9, 2022.
|MYTH||Visual Novel||MYTH makes clear in one of its first scenes that a young woman with pink hair has naturally pink hair.|
|Tokyo High Schools Change Hair Color Dress Code Policies|
NAF. March 13, 2022.
|Real World||Real World||Tokyo high schools update dress code to recognize the fact that some racially Japanese students have naturally non-black hair.|
|Hair Color and Albinism in Red Shift Visual Novel|
NAF. November 16, 2022.
|Red Shift||Visual Novel||Following how the protagonist of Red Shift comes to the (correct) conclusion that the girl he is talking to is albino.|
|Examining brown hair of popular anime characters|
NAF. January 12, 2023.
|Numerous||Anime||A list of popular anime characters with brown hair inspired me to assess the brown-hair of the characters I was familiar with.|
|Brown hair and dress codes in Ippon Again!|
NAF. April 24, 2023.
|Ippon! Again||Anime||A Japanese student with naturally brown hair is falsely accused of dying her hair brown. Then, a student who actually dyes her hair brown reveals how she hides it at school with a wig.|
|The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses hair dye|
NAF. September 15, 2023.
|The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses||Anime||The brown haired middle school protagonist boy reveals that he dyes his hair brown at the behest of his mother.|
|Hair Color in A Dream of Summer|
NAF. October 1, 2023.
|A Dream of Summer||Visual Novel||Examining two high school students who dye their hair and have bad reputations with teachers for it.|
|Hair Color in The Apothecary Diaries Anime|
NAF. November 15, 2023.
|The Apothecary Diaries||Anime||A number of characters in a fictional world inspired by Ming Dynasty China have flashy hair colors. This article looks into why the series made that aesthetic choice.|
|Hair Color in Raven of the Inner Palace|
NAF. November 15, 2023.
|Raven of the Inner Palace||Anime||The naturally silver hair of a character in a setting based on ancient China proves to be a significant point in the show’s world.|
Describing any of these articles as “important” may be a stretch. However, for those of you who are interested in the project, I will single out a few as being good places to start your reading.
I recommend beginning with the first two articles on the list. First, my first article on real-world brown-hair dress code controversies (see article) offers context for why the issue is interested in the context of Japanese fiction with school settings. Second, my article on Oregairu’s Iroha Isshiki introduces why I find hair color in Japanese media interesting and establishes a framework for how I examine hair color in subsequent articles.
While I recommend reading through the whole series, I will single out two for describing particularly interesting hair color cases: My pieces on albinism in Red Shift and the examining brown hair and dress codes in Ippon! Again.
I may modify this important articles section in the future.