I previously published three articles on hair color in the 2024 A Sign of Affection anime adaptation. The first article introduced the real-world setting of the series and employed evidence from a flashback that the main protagonist, Yuki Itose, began dying her hair when she started college. The second article looked at evidence in episode 5 that Yuki’s love interest, Itsuomi Nagi, dyes his naturally black hair silver. Finally, my article on episode 7 covered a friend referencing Yuki’s dyed hair as well as Itsuomi’s visible roots after his trip abroad. My episode 7 article also noted the changing hair color of a comparatively minor character, Shin Iryū. I watched episode 8 on February 24, 2024, the day it aired, and sure enough it included some interesting hair color notes about Itsuomi, Shin, and a third character we have not yet discussed in these articles, Ema Nakasono. In this article, I will discuss hair color in episode 8 of A Sign of Affection.

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

I have two notes before we proceed. Firstly, this article includes no spoilers about the story of A Sign of Affection, but it does include screenshots from some flashback scenes in episode 8. Secondly, while reading my earlyer A Sign of Affection hair color commentary (much less watching the series) is not a necessary prerequisite for enjoying my new analysis, this article does not seek to reinvent the wheel and references back to my first three articles in this mini series.

Shin and Ema are Itsuomi’s friends. Like Itsuomi, they are both in their early 20s (I think they are all about 22 while Yuki is 19). The three of them met while they were in high school. We first see Shin and Ema in episode three when they crashed the bar at which Itsuomi works for his older cousin. Two things are clear from their first appearance. First is that Shin and Ema had already had a bit to drink before their dramatic anime debut. Second is that Ema clearly has strong feelings for Itsuomi. But here we are focusing on the hair color of 2D people. 2D person hair color does not care about 2D feelings. See Shin and Ema in their first appearance:

A drunken Ema and Shin showing up at Itsuomi's restaurant and bar in A Sign of Affection 3. Ema, on the left, is smiling while giving a peace sign. Shin, on the right, is smiling while adjusting his glasses. Their faces are flushed because they have already had too much to drink.
Ema (left) and Shin (right) in episode 3. You can see that they have already had too much to drink when they show up at Itsuomi’s bar to drink more.

By this point, we know already know, clearly and beyond doubt, that Yuki Itose, the principal main character of A Sign of Affection, dyes her hair. Moreover, the series takes place in Japan and there is no reason to believe that Shin or Ema are not fully Japanese (the series has made a point of noting foreign characters). With this context, we can say with near certainty that Shin – who we learned close to his initial appearance is a hair stylist by trade – is dying his hair blonde (blonde hair is not known to commonly occur naturally in Japanese people). Ema is a bit less clear. Her hair is dark brown instead of black, but we learned in the previous episode that Yuki’s natural hair color is dark brown and her mother has the same brown hair color as the younger Yuki. While several non-hair dye characters have black hair, we do have evidence that there are some characters in A Sign of Affection with naturally brown-to-dark brown hair, so Ema’s hair may be natural.

Shin and Ema made appearances after their episode 3 debut, but their hair color remained the same in all of their appearances through episode 6 as when they initially stumbled into the picture (literally stumbled into the bar in this case). However, that changed in episode 7, when we saw the once-blonde Shin with a different, similarly unnatural, hair color.

A close-up of Shin Iryū with silver hair on his crown and purple-ish hair lower.
Compare Shin here in episode 7 to the episode 3 screenshot above. That he is not drunk in episode 7 is not the only difference.

I described it as silver with purple highlights, and I think that is a good description. The top is similar to Itsuomi’s familiar silver color but the tips are a gradated purple. One can see that Shin knows what he is doing with his hair dye.

My reviews of hair color in episodes 2 and 5 were aided by flashbacks of one kind or another. In episode 2, we went into Yuki’s memories of her life before college and saw that she had dark brown hair instead of the strawberry-reddish hair she has when we meet her in the anime. In episode 5, we saw a photograph of Itsuomi from three years prior with his father and kid sister and could see that all three had black hair instead of Itsuomi’s current shade of silver. A Sign of Affection likes to subtly confirm hair dye suspicions through treating viewers to scenes from the past, and episode 8 continues in the tradition with a lengthy flashback to Shin’s tenure in high school. In these flashbacks, we learn that he met Itsuomi and Ema in high school (one would have suspected as much before episode 8). But again, we are not concerned with what happened in high school – we are concerned with their hair color in high school. I will not harp on Itsuomi since we already confirmed in episode 5 that he had black hair as recently as three years before the anime picks up and we can see his black roots in episodes 7 and 8. But, to be sure, he had black hair in high school.

Here, I am most interested in Shin and Ema because we have not seen either of them outside of the series’ present. Finally, we can see what they looked like in high school:

Shin and Ema sitting on a school roof in a high school flashback in A Sign of Affection. Shin is sitting on the ground with his back to the fence while Ema is kneeling and smiling while holding one of Shin's earbuds.
Shin (left) and Ema (right).

Shin had black hair. I would have ventured that he had black or dark brown hair based on the series’ logic thus far. Ema, interestingly enough, has what appears to be the same shade of dark brown hair in high school that she does in the present. While this is not proof that she does not dye her hair – especially in light of the fact that the show references Shin doing her hair on occasion – I think it is evidence to that effect.

Ema sitting on the school roof in a high school flashback in her uniform looking behind her, smiling, as Shin prepares to braid her hair.
High school Shin is preparing to braid Ema’s hair.

My reasoning is that thus far in the series, every character who dyes their hair in college did not dye their hair in high school or when they were kids. In my episode 7 review, I noted two characters – Ōshi and Mio Ashioki – who have the same hair color as young adults that they did as children, from which I inferred that neither dyes their hair. Despite Ema’s being portrayed as stylish and having a hair dye enthusiast styling her hair, there is no reason to believe based on our current evidence that she dyes her hair brown. (Note there is no reference to hair dye or color when Shin styles Ema’s hair in episode 8.)

Ema sitting in a chair at the hair stylist shop facing a mirror while Shin holds her hair.
Ema and Shin in the present. This makes for a clean comparison with the previous picture of them in a similar hair styling situation in high school.

As I wrote this article, it occurred to me that if we assume that Ema’s hair color is natural, the only characters we have seen with naturally brown hair are women: Yuki Itose, her mother, and Ema. Conversely, all of the men that we know of have naturally black hair: Itsuomi and Kyōya Nagi as well as Itsuomi’s father, Ōshi Ashioki, and now Shin. We do have one example of a girl (Itsomi’s kid sister) and woman (Mio Ashioki) who are all but confirmed to have naturally black hair, but in those cases they each have a brother with naturally black hair. While this is still a small sample size, it is interesting that the men universally have naturally black hair while some of the women have dark brown hair. It is too soon to say based on episode 8 whether there is anything to this phenomenon and there is at least one recurring female character, Rin Fujishiro, whose natural hair color (I doubt that it is the chestnut brown we see her with) is yet to be revealed. (Note: You will see Rin in the last screenshot of the article.)

I conclude with a final hair color note confirming the obvious about Itsuomi’s black roots. Before Itsuomi and Yuki take leave of Shin’s apartment, Shin comments on Itsuomi’s roots and tells him that he needs to come in to Shin’s salon to have his hair dyed again.

Shin tugging Itsuomi's hair -- which is dyed silver but has black roots showing, and telling Itsuomi to come get his roots dyed soon. Itsuomi has no expression while Yuki looks on.
Before the subtitle in this screenshot, Shin explicitly referenced Itsuomi’s black roots. Yuki, left, is watching Shin closely to read his lips since she is deaf.

Sure enough, when we see Itsuomi later in the episode, his hair has returned to the full silver he had before he went on a long trip to Southeast Asia and India.

Itsuomi leaning over a bench talking to Rin and Yuki, who are sitting on the bench, in episode 8 of A Sign of Affection. Itsuomi's hair is fully silver-white again after his roots were showing early in the episode.
This screen capture is from later in episode 8. We can see that Itsuomi had his hair fully dyed again. The young woman on the left is Rin, who I referenced a few paragraphs ago.

A Sign of Affection continues to be an all timer in the area of attention to hair color detail.

Update: I published an article on Itsuomi’s hair color experiments, which unsurprisingly implicate Shin.