Anime Hair Colors: What Do They Mean? (An All-in-One Personality Guide)

Above: Tokyo Mew Mew.

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:

Black:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Hei Darker Than Black, Kagome Higurashi Inuyasha, Rokuro “Rock” Okajima Black Lagoon, Ranma Saotome Ranma 1/2, Mio Akiyama K-On!, Yoite King of Nabari, Black★Rock Shooter (self-titled), Brandon Heat Gungrave.

Grey/Silver:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Yu Narukami Persona 4 The Animation, Moka Akashiya Rosario + Vampire, Kakashi Hatake Naruto, Fuko Ibuki Clannad, Violetta Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Shi Ryuuki The Story of Saiunkoku, Shizuka Queen’s Blade, Kilik Air Gear.

Brown/Auburn:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Italy Hetalia, Chihiro Spirited Away, Kyon The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Tohru Honda Fruits Basket, Haruhi Fujioka Ouran High School Host Club, Hideki Motosuwa Chobits, Sakura Kinomoto Cardcaptor Sakura, Keima Katsuragi The World God Only Knows.

Red:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Ayano Kannagi Kaze no Stigma, Grell Sutcliff Black Butler, Natsumi Hinata Sergeant Frog, Renji Abarai Bleach, Spirit Soul Eater, Lisara Restall So, I Can’t Play H!, Lavi D.Gray-man, Yoko Littner Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.

Orange:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Asuka Langley Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ichigo Kurosaki Bleach, Nana “Hachi” Komatsu Nana, Tasuki Fushigi Yûgi: The Mysterious Play, Kazuma Kuwabara YuYu Hakusho, Eris Cat Planet Cuties, Hiroto “Cherry” Sakurai Gantz, Nami One Piece.

Yellow/Blonde:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Naruto Uzumaki Naruto, Pacifica Casull Scrapped Princess, Vash the Stampede Trigun, Astraea Heaven’s Lost Property: Forte, Saber Fate/Stay Night, Shizuo Heiwajima Durarara!!, Misa Amane Death Note, Soubi Agatsuma Loveless.

Green:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Roronoa Zoro One Piece, Eureka Eureka Seven, Cilan Pokémon: Best Wishes!, C.C. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Rin RIN: Daughters of Mnemosyne, Quiche Tokyo Mew Mew, Lum Urusei Yatsura, Nicol Amarfi Gundam Seed.

Blue:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Blue Rose Tiger & Bunny, The Count Gankutsuou: the Count of Monte Cristo, Mercury Sailor Moon, Johji Koizumi Paradise Kiss, “Big Bro” Kamina Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Kuroha Diana Shiraroti Eden of the East, Lord Darcia III Wolf’s Rain, Rei Ayanami Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Purple:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Sinbad Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Kagami Hiiragi Lucky Star, Dark Mousy D.N. Angel, Unchou Kan-u Ikkitousen, Faye Valentine Cowboy Bebop, Chrono Chrono Crusade, Misato Katsuragi Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tieria Erde Gundam 00.

Pink:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Natsu Dragneel Fairy Tail, Utena Tenjou Revolutionary Girl Utena, Shuichi Shigeno Gravitation, Lacus Clyne Gundam Seed, Milfeulle Sakuraba Galaxy Angel, Szayel Aporro Bleach, Kurumi Steel Angel Kurumi, Renzou Shima Blue Exorcist.

White:

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.

Pictured Above (From top left to bottom): Ginko Mushishi, Teletha Testerossa Full Metal Panic!, Griffith Berserk, Shiro Deadman Wonderland, Suigantou Rozen Maiden, Creed Diskenth Black Cat, Shizuma Hanazono Strawberry Panic, Accelerator A Certain Magical Index.
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About Anne's Anime Blog

I am an astronomical anime fan. I enjoy watching it, collecting figures & merchandise, assembling models, and attending conventions. California burrito glutton. Let's be friends:)

Posted on November 15, 2012, in Anime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 34 Comments.

  1. This was pretty fascinating. I’ll probably bookmark this page now just so I can check a character’s personality type. Lets not get talking about how blood-types are a factor.

  2. Apparently a lot of people in Japan think Naruto himself is Caucasian as he has blonde hair, I think your post is good at showing what hair colours mean.

  3. Well, Natsu isn’t exactly feminine :D But anyway, it is an interesting thing to think about. Btw, I wonder if Konata from Lucky Star would fit into the description for the blue haired characters =)

  4. Konata from Lucky Star is such an eccentric. Definitely an exception:)

  5. An awesome read! I suddenly flashbacked to all my favorite anime characters and compared their hair colors to your description. I always thought having different colors aren’t just for show- and this post of yours backed it up even more. White haired characters are the best! My favorites being Koko Hekmatyar (Jormungand), Accelerator (To Aru), Sakata Gintoki (Gintama), Sephiroth (FF7), Shiro (Deadman Wonderland) and a whole lot more ;D

  6. Angel Jayne Allen

    Well, I have been trying to find out what the different colors ment but never found a website that gave me an answer like this. I no longer have to worry about needing to find anymore information. Im always going to come here first. Who knows maybe other information on here with help me with my books and my pictures I draw. Thank You So Much!

    -Angel Jayne Allen ;D

  7. Just a bit of correction. The guy at the far-right for “White-Haired Characters” isn’t Arclight. It’s Accelerator from “To Aru Majutsu no Index”.

  8. What about Turquiose???

    Aqua-green. (Blue + green)

  9. My anime and actual hair color is brown XD but i am not normal and boring >.>

  10. A few things: one, helpful Article. Two, I never thought of Fuko Ibuki’s hair as Grey while watching Clannad, more of a sort of Olive and/or Brownish Green. Please tell me that I’m not colourblind (then again, it took me a while to realize that Tomoya’s hair was Black and not a dark Blue LOL).Three, would rules like this apply to different Eye colours, and would they be the same rules?

  11. I think you missed a color. Teal/Cyan/Aqua. These are ones I’ve been really curious about, like, Hecate from Shakugan no Shana, Sasami from Tenchi Muyo, Reki from Aria: The Scarlet Ammo, Miki Sayaka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Bulma from Dragon Ball Z, Sono Chieri from AKB0048. Only a few that just popped in my head

    • I believe myself that they often share the traits of both the ones found under green and blue, as Anne herself stated further up in the comments. Eureka from Eureka Seven is a good example of sharing the traits in my books, and she’s listed under green here, but it’s a very bluish green; and she seems to have a lot of the blue in her personality as well, from what I’ve seen (I’m only a little over halfway through the series). Also, I am intrigued myself as to the whole eye colour thing brought up in the comment above yours; someone should enlighten us as to whether or not any “rules” such as those (more what I’d call “guidelines” than actual rules) would apply for eye colour.

  12. That’s cool. That’s really cool.

  13. This is very, very interesting. I was wondering how you got all this info. Did you analyse all the characters yourself and discovered the connections between the hair colour and the characters’ personalities, or did you have other sources? I’m writing some kind of essay that also covers visual cues for personality in fictional characters, so I’d love to hear more about your (potential) sources and the way you work :)

    • I compiled these general personalities from observations in the anime I’ve watched over the years, and as an enthusiast of symbolism and mythic patterns in storytelling in general. This has been a topic that has interested me for a long time. My sources would have to be other people who have examined themes in literature such as Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen (who has made some interesting observations on feminine archetypes in particular). If you check out their work, you should be able to come up with some ideas for your paper. Good luck!

  14. Omg, you added almost all of my favorite anime’s in your list of hair colors >w<
    Most of these are true and its just simply awesome!

  15. I also use this blog, I LOVE IT

  16. Reblogged this on Thoth and commented:
    Pretty cool read.

  17. UMFGZ soooo awesome

  18. Reblogged this on Medieval Otaku and commented:
    A cool analysis of anime hair colors.

  19. Hello Anne: very interesting article. As a side issue, am I correct in assuming that the actual range of haircolor biologically among the Japanese is very limited? (I found your article, in fact, by asking Google that question). If that is the case, when did the variety of hair colors become a standard characteristic of Anime and manga? Who added it and why do the Japanese accept such a very western quality in a genre which was so specifically theirs? I have loved Anime all my life, although I did not know what it was called when I first watched Astro boy back in 1963. No haircolor back then in black-and-white cartoons. :)

  20. Obviously, no theory can be 100% accurate for EVERY anime, but I applaud the fact you’ve managed to identify alot of the hair types with personalities I tend to agree with. I really do never get the fact that the Japanese, one of the most ordered and introverted societies I can think of, constantly portray themselves with such crazy hair and such exuberant personalities. Nice article.

  21. This is kinda stereotypical…

  22. This made me want to do a personality quiz on this topic so I did…I got brown hair…the ironic part is my hair in real life is brown

  23. this is good for me cause im planning to make an anime

  24. Panty fits the blonde…
    As Stocking fits Purple and Pink.
    However, Breif, Scanty, and Kneesocks don’t fit…

  25. White-haired Makishima Shougo from Psycho-Pass definitely fits his category here. Calm, intellectual, and utterly ruthless when it comes to human lives. He’s considered the villain of the series, but he could be seen as more of an anti-villain; his goal is to bring down a very flawed dystopian system, but his reasons and definitely his methods are questionable at best.

  26. Oh my god! Thanks for posting!
    It’ll be a great help for my animation! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

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