Author Topic: Hair colours  (Read 1019 times)

Cherry Lover

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Hair colours
« on: July 13, 2015, 12:56:32 AM »
So, I've just been linked to an article discussing anime hair colours, which includes a discussion of Rin and Sakura. What it says is very interesting.

http://www.gamespot.com/forums/games-discussion-1000000/why-don-t-japanese-videogame-characters-have-black-31049300/

So, it seems that Sakura (and Rin) both actually have black hair. The purple hair is simply for artistic effect. I obviously can't read the text on the image, but KAIZA said that it did actually have the kanji for black, and Koto posted something similar on her tumblr page.

http://nandesa.tumblr.com/post/123892671486/on-arc-v-colorblindness-and-why-people-cant-tell

Note the writing on the left:

# idk about yugioh but this reminds me of how people are like 'why didn't rin notice that sakura had purple hair'
# when sakura's hair is repeatedly described as black
# meanwhile rider's hair is described as purple because she's a mythical being and not a japanese highschooler

I'm amazed that this hasn't been widely picked up on before. I think it may be because the English translation cuts out the hair colour (I checked the LP, and the scene shown here does not mention the word "black" at all, or say anything about her hair colour in any way), and few of us can actually speak Japanese.

lantzblades

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2015, 07:24:23 PM »
It's an interesting thought but I think the major reason for a lack of discussion is that anime in general doesn't even bring up hair colour as a thing 99% of the time period. Not unless there's a specific artistic reason for it (see raven haired vampires and shit) or a story reason like in bleach (if I recall correctly Ichigo's hair is specifically blonde naturally for some reason) Ultimately hair colour means less than zero, look at evangelion.

Cherry Lover

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2015, 07:49:36 PM »
It's an interesting thought but I think the major reason for a lack of discussion is that anime in general doesn't even bring up hair colour as a thing 99% of the time period. Not unless there's a specific artistic reason for it (see raven haired vampires and shit) or a story reason like in bleach (if I recall correctly Ichigo's hair is specifically blonde naturally for some reason) Ultimately hair colour means less than zero, look at evangelion.

Actually, I think that was the whole point of the links I posted. From what I can tell, in general, anime characters are meant to be presumed to have black hair, even if they are drawn otherwise. Obviously, there are exceptions (Saber is almost certainly a genuine blonde, for example), but characters with purple, blue, pink etc. hair are probably just black-haired characters being drawn with artistic licence.

It is, I think, an artefact of the different attitude Japan in general has to theatre. In the West, we tend to try to make plays etc. look realistic, whereas in Japan that was never true. When I went to Japan 3 years ago, we went to watch a Kabuki play, and it came with an English commentary tape. Amongst other things (such as a long description of why an actual woman couldn't possibly play a female Kabuki character, because they wouldn't "look right"...), it had a discussion of the difference between Western and Japanese theatre, saying that Japanese theatre is more "representational". I.e., they don't try to make things look realistic, they just try to make it clear to the viewer what is supposed to be happening. As such, they use various visual tricks to get the meaning across, such as giving a character hair colours that represent aspects of their personality.

Another example is that, in Japanese theatre, people dressed in all-black were stage hands, who were there to move props around and, thus, "did not exist" in the eyes of the audience. This is, in fact, where we get the classic all-black "Ninja" costume from (since, in reality, Ninjas, as assassins and spies, had no formal costume and would simply dress in whatever allowed them to blend-in the best, which would sometimes include a navy blue outfit for night operations, but not really pure black). At some point, some clever writer realised that, since the stage hands were presumed not to exist by the audience, it would be genuinely shocking (and very representative of how Ninjas were perceived) if one of the stage hands were to pop up out of nowhere and stab someone. From this, we got the representation of Ninjas as wearing all-black outfits.

lantzblades

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2015, 04:30:46 PM »
I think that was, at one point true, however it's certainly no longer the case for current anime.

Cherry Lover

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2015, 05:03:14 PM »
I think that was, at one point true, however it's certainly no longer the case for current anime.

Eh, it's hard to say, really. I didn't know it was true for FSN until I saw that article.

KAIZA

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2015, 05:33:15 AM »
Ultimately hair colour means less than zero, look at evangelion.
Actually, I think in Evangelion it did have a purpose. Rei's blue hair is supposed to stand out, from our point of view, since she was supposed to feel unnatural to the audience. Pale skin, red eyes, blue hair...everyone else in the cast has a natural hair color (Ritsuko if I remember correctly was supposed to be dyed, and you can make a case that Misato's hair is supposed to represent black). Did it have any purpose in the grand scheme of the plot? Maybe not, but at least it made sense from a design point of view (plus, it's still aesthetically pleasing...even though that still goes against the intended purpose)

Elf

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2015, 04:43:38 AM »
And wasn't Auska of mixed race too?  Which would explain her red hair.

lantzblades

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 11:18:02 PM »
Well actually I was thinking of Ritsuko's mother and the contrasting fact that Kaworu and Rei are both supposed to be albino but Rei has colour in her hair while Kaworu doesn't. Asuka is a non starter cause she's German / Japanese.

Regardless my greater point stands, even if it was artistic expression representing naturally occurring colours then, it sure isn't now. Purple hair is definitely supposed to be purple in modern anime.

Cherry Lover

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2015, 01:31:58 AM »
Regardless my greater point stands, even if it was artistic expression representing naturally occurring colours then, it sure isn't now. Purple hair is definitely supposed to be purple in modern anime.

I think it probably varies depending on the anime, honestly. Something set in a less "normal" world may well have more exotic "real" hair colours. Something set in normal Japan you'd have to wonder about.

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Re: Hair colours
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2015, 11:33:16 PM »
Parasite actually has fairly realistic hair colors for all of its characters.  Everyone either has black, brown, or subtle auburn hair in that show.