304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Hair color is frequently used in Japanese animation as a mechanism to differentiate between characters, but did you know that specific hues have an associated symbolism?
While not always 100% consistent, there is a connection between hair color and personality type in anime.
According to Carl Jung, there is a shared collection of mental associations that are within the collective unconscious of humanity. Along with repetition, and eventual simplification, these ideas come together to become the stereotypes described:
Mysterious, refined, traditional, cerebral, capable, powerful, independent, sad, cruel, macabre
As opposed to their bright-colored friends, black hair can define a character as being more traditional. Black is a neutral color that is associated with positive personal traits. These characters tend to be deep thinkers that can see the “big picture”, and seldom need advice.
Calm, balanced, demure, sophisticated, sublime, logical, composed, disguised, obscene, irreverent
Grey-haired characters have a mix of moral black & white—much like their hair. They are “do-it-your-selfers” with problem solving methods beyond the status quo. Characters may also have grey hair to emphasize a modest, self-less nature. Also, while not always evil, may have a hidden power.
Approachable, comfortable, temperate, charming, practical, consistent, sincere, enduring, predictable, boring
The staple color of any stock character or “normal” person, brown is also a common color for the main protagonist. When characters have darker or lighter brown hair, they often absorb the traits of yellow or black. This color can be deceiving, as a character with this hair color may be far from normal.
Passionate, seductive, feisty, enthusiastic, adventurous, dynamic, primal, hot-headed, aggressive, opinionated
For red-headed characters, the western “hot-head” stereotype is true. Tsundere alert: their emotions are explosive! Strangely, male protagonists with red hair are often calm, humble, and disciplined fighters.
Courageous, loyal, spirited, optimistic, unpredictable, brazen, testy, selfish, annoying, attention-seeking
Orange-haired characters have a personality combination between red and yellow. They can be very interesting in that they have the courage and fire of a ginger, but with less rage and more optimism. The down-side is that they can be attention whores, which can be annoying.
Confident, happy, romantic, artful, whimsical, Naïve, ditzy, impish, manipulative, callous, stubborn
Although not absolute, blondes loosely fall into three camps:
1.) Dumb blonde: They may also lack maturity, and have selfish attitudes.
2.) Troublemaker: Unwittingly attracts chaos. They have street-smarts, charm, and plenty of tricks.
3.) Prince: This protagonist is rare, and demonstrates the western “prince charming” archetype. This hero/heroine is chivalrous, humble, and pure.
Blonde may be an assigned to indicate a character has foreign ancestry. Usually European/American.
Easy-going, trustworthy, docile, enlightened, tolerant, rejuvenating, of raw energy, roguish, imprudent, poisonous, jealous
A cross between warm and cool colors, green imparts a unique energy to a character. Like mother nature, green is capable of an evolving, healing atmosphere as well as bringing destruction and decay. These characters tend to side with the protagonists, even with bad first-impressions.
Wise, impartial, talented, mature, intuitive, introverted, concerned with science, justice, reason
Cool like water. While not always noticed, their influence is clearly felt (also like the element of wind). Blue-haired characters have many hidden talents, and a keen awareness of the emotions of themselves and others. Unlike black-haired characters, they are not averse to seeking advice. With their smarts and even-handedness, they often play the role of teachers, tacticians, and confidants. The darker the hair, the more responsible–but they may be an elitist jerk. Supernatural abilities are common to blue hair.
Powerful, privileged, noble, elegant, intriguing, restless, fickle, conflicted, pompous, egotistical
Purple-haired characters rarely have to assert power through force; they are entitled to it. Full of hubris or out of touch with other characters, their goals may revolve around prestige and the acquiring of material possessions. Protagonists with purple hair must face the challenge of balancing the red and blue oni within themselves.
Benevolent, feminine, youthful, innocent, cheerful, cute, orderly, accomplished, gullible, frustrated
Characters with pink hair may at first seem saccharine, but their natural charisma combined with their desire for order can bring about a positive change in others. Pink haired characters can have a great destiny. Whatever their sexual orientation, male characters with pink hair can be perverse. Perhaps this is to accentuate/overcompensate for the feminine connotations of pink. Characters with bright pink hair may share some personality traits with red-heads.
Pure, ethereal, magical, serene, lucid, mature, humble, indifferent, narcissistic, immoral
A strange, inhuman essence surrounds white-haired characters. Their purity can be unnatural and over-sanitized. These characters are usually strong-willed, skillful, and dignified. If a woman, it is common that she is either magical or of the spiritual realm. If the character is a guy, he usually has a broken moral compass, and is an anti-hero–on a good day. If he is a bishonen, odds are he is bisexual/homosexual. Egotism is common, and if inflicted with an injury (however minor–especially to the face) these characters will go berserk.
The combination of white hair and tan skin can indicate middle-eastern/foreign ancestry. In this case, the above description does not apply.
you missed the different hair colors, there also 6 or more
Like most people involved in the entertainment industry around the world, people working in anime are also always very particularly interested in making women and girls with black, dark-brown, and purple hair look insecure, emotional and unsuccessful in life while at the same time they spend much attention in making females with blonde, white, pink, and silver hair look confident, successful, and independent.
This is so important to writers, animators, directors and the like that many works of fiction are primarily concerned with comparing the main brunette characters unfavorably to the main blonde characters in terms of their emotional maturity, physical strength, intelligence, and ability to overcome problems on their own.
A common mental issue in the entertainment industry, people working in anime are particularly prone to this affliction.