I am watching an ongoing shoujo romance anime called A Sign of Affection. After I watched the fourth episode, I published a long article on the evidence in the first two episodes that the protagonist of the series, Yuki Itose, began dying her hair when she started attending college. My evidence was that her reddish hair as a 19-year old college student when we meet her is very different than the dark brown hair she had in a flashback to her life before college.

(See my full collection of posts on hair color in Japanese anime, manga, novels, and games.)

I noted in my study that while Yuki is the only character we see before and after hair color shots of in the first two episodes, there is evidence that several other characters in the series dye their hair. For example, I noted that Yuki’s 22-year old love interest Itsuomi Nagi sported a mane with coloration that is not known to often occur naturally in Japanese people (or any young people for that matter):

Itsuomi has silver-white hair. It stands out even more than Yuki’s hair color.

World-renowned 2D Person Hair Color Anthropologist, N.A. Ferrell
Itsuomi peers closely into Yuki's eyes on a train in A Sign of Affection's first episode.
Itsuomi (right) looks into the eyes of Yuki (left) in their first meeting in the first episode of A Sign of Affection.

To be sure, some people go gray early and I covered the case of an albino girl in a Japanese visual novel with a real-world setting on its face. However, in light of the context of A Sign of Affection – a show with a real-world setting and clear proof that some of the mostly college-aged characters dye their hair – the most natural explanation for Itsuomi’s hair color is that it is unnatural. One would think that if he appeared to have naturally gray-silver hair, Yuki, who falls in love with him at (almost) first site, would have probably commented on it in one of her internal monologues. But despite the overwhelming circumstantial evidence that the free-spirited Itsuomi dyes his hair, the closest think we had to proof was that his slightly older cousin, Kyōya Nagi, has black hair.

I watched episode 5 of A Sign of Affection one day after publishing my article about Yuki’s hair color (I am watching the episodes as they come out every Saturday). Had I held off on my Yuki hair study for just one day, I could have included definitive proof that Itsuomi is not in fact a natural silver-head. I will refrain from unnecessarily discussing the plot since there is no reason to for the purpose of this limited hair color study. It suffices to say that Itsuomi shows Yuki a photo of himself with his father and kid sister from three years earlier. See the screen capture below:

Photograph of a 19-year old Itsuomi Nagi in a suit with black hair standing with his father and kid sister in the fifth episode of A Sign of Affection.
A 19-year old Itsuomi (back left) stands next to his father and behind his kid sister. We know that Itsuomi is 19 in this photo because he states that he is 22 now and the photo was from three years earlier.

There we have Itsuomi with black hair. We have three potential explanations for why Itsuomi had black hair a few years prior and silver-white hair now:

  1. Itsuomi suddenly went gray over the course of 3 years.
  2. Itsuomi had been dying his hair black but decided to stop and let his natural silver-white hair shine.
  3. Itsuomi’s has naturally black hair like his cousin and is dying it now.

Despite having recently covered a fantasy anime based on ancient Chinese society with a family of naturally silver-haired people, The New Leaf Journal’s resident 2D person hair color anthropologist thinks that we can say with near-certainty that Itsuomi’s natural hair color is black. I consider this mystery solved for now – but I will update the article of A Sign of Affection has a very unexpected genre-shift in store in the future.

Update: See my follow up article on hair color in A Sign of Affection episode 7 wherein I discuss more compelling evidence about Itsuomi’s hair dye.