Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)
I have written several articles about hair color in anime – originally inspired by a real hair color story from Japan. The first dealt with Oregairu’s Iroha Isshiki, a Japanese character who we were told had naturally brown hair. My second article dealt with Kaori Orimoto from the same show, who was depicted with brown hair in the anime despite it being noted in the underlying novel series that she had black hair. Finally, I examined context clues about how to interpret hair color in Kimi ni Todoke, an anime series based on a manga series of the same name that aired from 2009 to 2011. Today, I review hair color in an ongoing (as of this writing) anime series called My Senpai is Annoying. In a certain episode, we learn that the green-haired protagonist, Futaba Igarashi, may have naturally green hair.
Is Futaba Igarashi’s hair green, as I (un)expected? Let us examine.
A Brief Introduction To My Senpai Is Annoying
While anime series set in the workplace are far from unheard of, they are comparatively rare in high school settings, video game worlds, or the fantasy realm. My Senpai Is Annoying (Senpai ga Uzai Kōhai no Hanashi), which began airing in October 2021, is the foremost representative of the genre for this year. As of the time of my writing this article, seven out of its twelve episodes have aired. The anime, produced by the well-known studio Doga Kobo, is based on a manga series of the same name.
The show features a young woman office-worker named Futaba Igarashi. She is notable for being very small and often being mistaken for (and treated like) a child. The “annoying senpai” from the title is her co-worker, Harumi Takeda. Takeda is Igarashi’s senior and supervisor. Unlike the diminutive Igarashi, he is quite large, loud, and practices judo.
Despite Igarashi’s complaints, she and Takeda get along well. It becomes clear to everyone but them that Igarashi has feelings for Takeda, although she struggles to come to terms with said feelings and disguises them poorly with her tsundere tendencies. Whether there will be a resolution in the anime remains to be seen.
But this article is not a review of the first seven episodes of My Senpai Is Annoying. This is a discussion of hair color in My Senpai Is Annoying. Let us move on to important matters.
Igarashi Hair Questions
Much like the perennially virid online magazine that you are reading this article in, Igarashi’s hair is perennially virid. In layman’s terms, her hair is green – very green. Moreover, her very large, muscular, and over-protective grandfather also has green hair. No other characters in the show have green hair, and most, including Takeda, have natural hair colors of brown or black.
The question before us is how we should interpret Igarashi’s hair color. I see four obvious choices.
First, Igarashi’s hair could be green simply in order to differentiate her from other characters. She is the main character, after all. However, this does not seem strictly necessary, for she is already differentiated by the fact that she is tiny – and I will note that the anime portrays her as being smaller (compared to the rest of the cast) than the manga seems to. (Note: My manga analysis is based solely on the cover-art, which portrays less of a size-difference between Takeda and Igarashi than does the anime.)
Second, Igarashi’s hair could be green for purely artistic purposes. Both options one and two would be suggestive of her actually having black hair, but being portrayed with green hair for other reasons.
Third, Igarashi could be dying her hair green. However, we can strike this out with near certainty based on the fact that she is an office worker and nothing about her personality suggests a desire to stand out for having strange hair.
Fourth and finally, Igrashi could have naturally green hair. I suppose anything is possible, but this would seem quite a bit rarer than Iroha Isshiki’s brown hair in Oregairu , which we established was rare in and of itself.
The Setting In My Senpai Is Annoying
In ascertaining how to interpret an unnatural hair color, we should consider the setting in the anime. For example, if the anime is set in a fantasy world of some sort or if it has supernatural elements, it is hard to discount the possibility that unnatural hair colors may, in fact, be natural. Conversely, if an anime is set in the world that we inhabit and has no strange happenings, one should consider alternative explanations for strange hair colors.
Like the first two anime series I covered for hair color purposes, My Senpai Is Annoying is set in normal, ordinary, every-day Japan. There are no fantasy elements, aliens, robots, or signs that anything is amiss. Much of the show takes place in an office in Tokyo, and the characters engage in exciting out-of-work activities such as taking walks, shopping, eating ramen, and, as we will see, viewing the cherry blossoms.
My Hair Color Views Before Episode 7
Nothing about the world of My Senpai Is Annoying suggests that people in it should be born with green hair. For that reason, I did not think much about Igarashi’s hair. I assumed that the decision to give her green hair was some combination of a way to set her apart as the main character and an artistic decision by the author of the manga that carried over into the anime adaptation. After giving Igarashi green hair, it made sense to give her grandfather green hair as well to make the family connection clear.
Igarashi’s Hair Is Actually Greener Than Expected
Episode 7 of My Senpai Is Annoying features an office cherry blossom viewing party toward its end. Members of the office undertook different tasks for the party. Igarashi and Takeda were responsible for arriving first and securing a spot under the cherry blossoms.
After succeeding in their task, the pair had a conversation while waiting for their co-workers to arrive. This conversation took place under the falling cherry blossoms. Its contents would cause the scales to fall from my eyes much like the cherry blossoms fell from the trees.
A Note on Translations
Before continuing, I should note, as I often do, that I do not speak or understand Japanese, beyond knowing a few common words. For that reason, like the vast majority of anime-viewers outside of Japan, I rely on translations done by people who know Japanese. I am watching the official My Senpai Is Annoying translation on Funimation.
If anyone who knows Japanese happens upon the article and thinks that the scene should have been translated in a different way that would be material to the question of Igarashi’s hair color, feel free to explain by using our Contact Form. I may include any notable responses in a follow-up post or update to this article.
Igarashi and Takeda begin the scene in question while admiring the cherry blossoms as they siton a picnic blanket. Igarashi becomes rueful, noting that the cherry blossoms would be all gone in about two weeks’ time.
Takeda did not see a problem with that. Igarashi followed up, asking him if he thought that green was a bit plainer than pink. Takeda does not come off as much of an aesthete, but he stated that green seemed to him to also be a pretty color.
Normally, this should not have prompted much of a reaction. Igarashi, however, became trapped in her own thoughts. She repeated what Takeda said to herself in the form of a question: “Green’s… pretty?” In that moment, Igarashi’s thoughts went elsewhere, and she forgot what she and Takeda had been talking about. That led to the following quote from Igarashi, which was embarrassing for her, but illuminating to us.
R-Really? W-Well, it’s my natural hair color, so I try to keep it looking sort of good, I guess…Futaba Igarashi
There we have it on record. Igarashi stated that green is her “natural hair color.” All of my views of hair color in My Senpai Is Annoying were wrong. Igarashi’s hair was as green as I (un)expected. My mind was blown.
Takeda did not bat an eye, only noting that he had been talking about the leaves. Igarashi was embarrassed when she realized her error, but Takeda, being a good guy and good sport, complimented the appearance of her hair and went further, noting that it smelled nice.
The latter point triggered the indignation of Igarashi, swinging the faux pas pendulum from her to her senpai.
Parting Midori Thoughts
Learning that Igarashi’s hair is naturally green, and that no one found this odd, was quite the surprise. Everything about the world in My Senpai Is Annoying would lead one to believe that people in the world could not be born with naturally green hair. Yet we learned from the mouth of the green-haired protagonist herself that in a world where everything is ordinary, hair color can still be extraordinary.
(PS: Any readers who understood the reference in the last sentence without clicking this link can feel good about themselves.)