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.
N/ARWExamining 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.
OregairuLNThe 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/AKaori 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 TodokeAThe 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 AnnoyingADespite 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.
MYTHVNMYTH 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.
N/ARWTokyo 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 ShiftVNFollowing 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.
NumerousAA 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! AgainAA 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 GlassesAThe 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 SummerVNExamining 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 DiariesAA 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 PalaceAThe naturally silver hair of a character in a setting based on ancient China proves to be a significant point in the show’s world.
Yuki’s Hair Color in “A Sign of Affection”
NAF. February 2, 2024.
A Sign of AffectionAThe first two episodes of the anime strongly suggest that the protagonist, Yuki Itose, began dying her hair in college.
Itsuomi’s Hair Color in A Sign of Affection
NAF. February 5, 2024.
A Sign of AffectionAEpisode 5 of A Sign of Affection offers definitive evidence that Itsuomi Nagi dyed his natural black hair silver-white in college.
A Sign of Affection Ep 7 Hair Color Notes
NAF. February 20, 2024.
A Sign of AffectionAAdditional notes on the hair color of Yuki and Itsuomi (see above two articles on this chart) from episode 7 of A Sign of Affection.
Shin Iryū’s Hair Color in A Sign of Affection
NAF. March 1, 2024.
A Sign of AffectionAI study the changing hair color of A Sign of Affection’s Shin Iryū and the unchanging hair color of his close friend Ema Nakasono.
Itsuomi Nagi’s Hair Color Experiments
NAF. March 12, 2024.
A Sign of AffectionAItsuomi Nagi reveals the reason behind his silver hair. It is not a major surprise, but nevertheless helpful to our hair color studies.
La’s Silver Hair in True Remembrance
NAF. April 11, 2024
True RemembranceVNI discuss the silver hair of a 17-year old girl named La in a world where all of the other characters have normal hair colors.
Hair Color in Jellyfish Can’t Swim in the Night
NAF. June 7, 2024.
Jellyfish Can’t Swim in the NightAThree 17-18 year old girls are shown to have undergone a surprising number of thematically significant hair color changes.
Legend for Type: A = Anime; LN = Light Novel; RW = Real World; VN = Visual Novel
Note that type refers to what my article covers, not every instance of a franchise.

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 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. Readers who are looking for deep dives can see my five(!?) articles on hair color in A Sign of Affection (I recommend going in order and also seeing my series review and follow-up) and my piece on the thematically significant hair color changes in Jellyfish Can’t Swim in the Night.

I may modify this important articles section in the future.