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 WorldReal WorldExamining 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.
OregairuLight NovelThe 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.
OregairuLN/AnimeKaori 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 TodokeAnimeThe 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 AnnoyingAnimeDespite 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.
MYTHVisual NovelMYTH 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 WorldReal WorldTokyo 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 ShiftVisual NovelFollowing 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.
NumerousAnimeA 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! AgainAnimeA 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 GlassesAnimeThe 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 SummerVisual NovelExamining 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 DiariesAnimeA 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 PalaceAnimeThe naturally silver hair of a character in a setting based on ancient China proves to be a significant point in the show’s world.

Important Articles

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.