The debate

There’s a curious debate at least in the West whether brown or blond hair’s more attractive. Keep in mind that certain studies may contradict due to the number of sample sizes and where it’s taken. There was a study in Brittany, France where more men tend to be distracted by blond hair.

That’s true to an extent but keep in mind that Brittany’s in Northern France which as one would expect have the highest rates of blond hair there. Similar things can be said of a Minnesota study if stereotypes are to be believed when it comes to most white Midwesterners being of German and Scandinavian descent.

Dating surveys tend to be more global and have polled more people. According to Badoo as well as a Canadian dating survey, the most popular hair colour in a romantic partner is brown hair. Those surveys are significantly more global. Another one is koinophilia or being attracted to someone similar.

If Brittany’s in Northern France and has one of the highest rates of blondism there (and similar things can be said of Minnesota), then it couldn’t just be due to youthful connotations and flashiness but also koinophilia. Another issue is relativity. A French blonde bombshell would easily be the average mousy-haired Swede.

Blond hair does darken to a degree but it depends on the individual. Sometimes a platinum infant grows up to have dull blond hair for life whilst another darkens to dark brown. Many more true blonds often wound up with dull blond hair and dull blond hair alone can muddy both brown and blond hair categories.

Hair Colour in Anime Pt 5

Like I said, since red hair’s much rarer in Africa and Asia it’s inevitably that the way red hair’s used is vague enough to invite multiple interpretations which includes getting swapped for blond or brown hair and vice versa as with Kakyoin and Asuka. In fact a good number of anime redheads, especially from earlier works aren’t intended to have red hair.

These two could easily be blond which’s also the case with some canonical works. Much weirder hair colours or rather characters intended to have those wouldn’t appear until much later perhaps sometime in the 1980s. Save for works adapted from Western literature like Little Princess, red-haired characters let alone ones intended as such rarely appeared.

Blond characters were odd enough to be portrayed, whether as foreigners, suspicious, (Cutey Honey’s a robot), supernatural beings or both. Patalliro had two notable blonds and both were foreigners. Much weirder hair colours had yet to occur, let alone canonically so.

Most Japanese comics (as with newspaper strips) were made in b/w and if given the opportunity, they wound up experimenting with colours, sometimes those differing from the readers’ interpretations. But hair colour generally didn’t matter much as other details did as these seldom appeared in colour to begin with.

As Japanese comics are predictably made for a Japanese audience, they still will have different ideas about hair colours.


Hair Colour in Anime 4

When it comes to older works like Evangelion and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures it’s likelier that, unless if said anime’s adapted from a Western work like Anne of Green Gables or Little Princess where you have redheads there, their redheads might not be intended to be as such and probably still isn’t. Natural red hair’s much rarer in Asia and Africa so inevitably they have no idea what it is.

Let alone ideas around it. With blond hair and pale skin, they have ideas about it since they both have had contact with Westerners and albinos at some point or another though their perception diverges from Westerners. Blond hair doesn’t connote youthful beauty to them as much as it arouses both curiosity and suspicion judging by how they perceive Westerners and albinos.

Even light brown hair counts as blond to them. Red hair, well, to them is significantly vaguer and whatever stereotypes they have of redheads is imported from Westerners which gets more evident with more recent works. Shana goes red-haired when she starts fires, though this is a more recent cliche in anime and one more significantly common in US superhero stories.

Jean Grey’s reinvention as the Phoenix predates that of Shana. Some of the earlier anime redheads had nothing to do with short tempers and flames. Most notably Kakyoin and Kurama, both around since the early 1990s. (Though a few had something to do with either cherries, roses or foxes which would’ve been their closest point of reference at the time.)

It’s parsimonious to suggest that Japanese and Chinese ACG cartoonists wouldn’t even have a clear consensus over red hair cliches until much later.

Hair colour in anime 3

Like I said elsewhere, blond/lighter hair in anime seems to arouse both curiosity and suspicion, if not outright disdain. This extends to gaming products like Street Fighter and Devil May Cry where the blond characters (including Dante Sparda, if white hair counts as such) are either supernatural, foreign or wealthy. Rainbow Mika might be a lone exception in here.

Japanese people can blond hair beautiful but more as an exotic novelty observable on foreigners and not on their kind. From personal experience, though hair dyes are popular among women not too many of them dye it blond or red. Having natural blond hair and pale skin and be 100 % Filipino is another, in fact it gets you bullied.

There’s even an ABS-CBN report on an albino family being mocked as ‘engkantos’ due to their odd appearances. Extrapolating from that, it seems blond characters in anime tend to be unlucky of sorts. If not unlucky, then most likely supernatural which was part of those accusations aimed at albinos.

In a way, natural blond hair to Asians and Africans (when in tandem with pale skin) has the same appeal as natural red hair is to Westerners. Even their beliefs about albinos and redheads respectively are similar. Such characters are either supernatural, exotic/foreign, untrustworthy or unlucky.

But since red hair’s even rarer in Asia and Africa, it’s rare enough for them to not have a clear idea of what it means to them the way it does for Europeans. In all likelihood, some anime redheads may not be intended to be red-haired! When Jojo’s Kakyoin made his first animated appearance, he had brown hair. He may’ve been another blond in some JJBA material and red in others.

Conversely speaking, Evangelion’s Asuka is often considered to be a redhead in Western circles but blond or brunette to East Asian audiences and even to her own creators who’ve shown her with blond hair before. In a way, their portrayals are in line with the popular anime blond cliches. Asuka’s of foreign descent and Kakyoin’s a pawn of Dio Brando.

So when is red hair not red hair? A good number of anime redheads like Kakyoin and Asuka may not be intended to have red hair to begin with and that sometimes anime redheads go pink in both canon and fanart. I’ve known of a Nigerian article describing Samurai X’s Kenshin as pink-haired. I’ve seen a number of pink-haired Kakyoin and Kurama fanart.

Judas is a redhead from ‘Fist of the North Star’ who’s gone pink in the subsequent parody. A little girl from the same series may’ve been intended to be brunette but is shown to alternate between red and brown hair with the odd pink locks in one movie.

Since the likes of these anime are older works, it’s inevitable that they wouldn’t have a consensus over what red hair’s supposed to be and whether the character’s red-haired or not compared with the new generation.

Hair colour in anime 2

Like I said, if anime’s believed to be a Japanese product it’ll inevitably have Japanese cultural values and standards right down to beauty standards. The girl with long black hair (and fair skin) is intended to be the beautiful girl next door. Much more so if her hair’s straight and she’d be classically attractive. These are also values shared with its immediate neighbours and African countries too when you think about it.

Being Asian, I immediately understood those long black haired girls to be classically attractive whilst the same can’t be said of their lighter-haired counterparts. Based on what I can recall, it seemed blond (if white also counts as such) and sometimes brown haired characters tend to be suspicious, exotic, troublesome, uncanny, outcast or supernatural. Lighter hair is attractive but in a more exotic manner.

That’s predictable given lighter hair’s rare, rarer still if it’s natural (more recurring in certain populations) and that many Asian schools prohibit students from dyeing and bleaching their hair. Unsurprisingly, sometimes thuggish or violent characters have blond or brown hair. Sometimes naturally blond characters tend to be of foreign descent and/or be very wealthy and royal.

This is much more strongly linked in Sailor Moon where the titular heroine and a few others (Sailors Venus and Uranus respectively) are blondes for being foreign (reincarnated from aliens), supernatural (same reason) and aristocratic. In fact, Sailor Moon herself’s the Queen and comes from a well-off neighbourhood.

Anime’s no stranger to outsider or supernatural blonds, the most famous being Inuyasha and Naruto. Add to that albinos are often discriminated, moreso in places where black hair and darker skin’s the majority where they stand out real badly. This increases the risk of bullying and being subjected to nasty rumours and superstitions.

Unsurprisingly Naruto’s an outcast in the context of his story though this may not exactly apply to other characters but another one, Tsunade could be supernatural in that she’s an older woman trying to appear young through magic. Just like a certain popstar. Jojo for another matter has blonds who are either troublesome (Kira, GioGio, Dio), foreign (Dio, Polnareff, Caesar, Johnny) or supernatural (Dio again).

Death Note has two lighter haired characters linked to the supernatural of sorts, one of them is troublesome though there’s another one (Near) who’s a detective but also as foreign as his buddy Mello is. Again this isn’t always the case but it seems blonds, as extrapolated from both their portrayal in anime as well as Japanese/Asian impressions of both European foreigners and albinos seem to have a more ambiguous portrayal.

Albeit one predicated on superstition, school rules against dyed hair and exoticism.

Hair colour in anime 1

Since there’s not many truly ‘Asian’ perspectives on how hair colour’s employed in anime, let alone in English it would be more parsimonious to observe common East and South Asian beauty standards first. Perhaps similarly in common with African countries to a possible degree straight black hair’s very much prized moreso among women though with Africans it could also be attributed to Western colonisation to a degree.

Maybe with lighter skin but not to a degree that stands out a lot in a bad way though I’d reserve it for later. It’s parsimonious to suggest while this isn’t always the case, the typically attractive anime girl as in real life is that she’s fairly tall with pale skin and black or dark blue hair. Admittedly that’s been a long time since I’ve watched anime but even if she’s not expected to be tall, she’s the prized beauty.

Since the Philippines is in Asia, it’s expected that there’ll be a greater overlap in cultural values and standards, including beauty standards. When watching One Piece, one would infer that Nico Robin’s intended to be classically attractive. At least by Asian (and African) standards so.

She had

She had no interest in being

Pretty despite her good looks

Refusing to wash herself and

Brush her teeth, disfiguring

Herself whilst angered by

Compliments and insulted

For reacting against them.

Divorced from witchcraft

It’s parsimonious to suggest that the film werewolf’s generally far removed from its folklore counterpart but more curious if one suggests that it took years for lycanthropy to be divorced from witchcraft especially in Europe. There’s one recent account taking place in 1970s Germany where a woman and her dogs were accused of witchcraft and thus attacked for it.

That would’ve been significantly stronger and more commonplace in Early Modern Europe so much so that a piece of Hispanophone literature played with the idea. There were even English plays based on a witch and its dog! Germany’s own Faust dabbles in witchcraft and confronts the Devil disguised as a dog.

If the connection between the Devil and black dogs are to be believed, this would partly account for black dogs not getting adopted a fact reported elsewhere. Like werewolves, it seemed the dogs’ connection to the Devil and witchcraft lessened over time especially with the development of dog breeds (more domesticated dogs) and secularism.

Various German and Dutch reports spoke of churches driving away dogs as well as an account of a demonic dog attacking nuns. This lessened with the rise in sentimental dog ownership and stronger dog domestication via mass dog breeding. The belief in canine witchcraft’s still apparent in developing countries like in Papua New Guinea and Cameroon.

These two would’ve given a better idea of both dogs and wolves’ historical tie to European witchcraft when one thinks about it.