Almost Otaku: The Crazy Hair Question

Topic started by No_name_here on May 28, 2010. Last post by Papasan 4 years, 1 month ago.
Post by No_name_here (854 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff

 Imagine this on the wall of your barbershop.
 Imagine this on the wall of your barbershop.

Man, this sounds sillier and sillier the more I think about, but I figure I have to address it because… well… it seems to come up almost every time you mention anime or manga to somebody who isn’t a fan.  I’ll confess that I even wondered about before I started getting more into reading and watching this stuff. 
 
I’m talking, of course, about hair. 
 
You’ve heard all the same comments before, I'm sure. What’s up with all the crazy colors? Does everyone have a dye-job?  Why do so many characters have such crazy bedhead? SUch questions are usually followed by ones about the big eyes, too. Like it or not, that’s what “outsiders” tend to fixate on, first.

To be sure, there’s plenty of “wild styles” to be seen. Somehow, I doubt Rei’s going in to the salon every few weeks to re-apply the precise hue of light blue. Likewise, Goku has got to be using a solid bucket of Brylcreem to shape his do.  Actually, you factor in all the Super Saiyans and DBZ is a show that’s basically about hair (thus making Krillin all the more pathetic.) The explanation I used to get was that, while it might be more realistic to give all these Japanese characters black or brown hair, it adds variety to give them blues, oranges, purples and greens, and so on.

Now that I actually think about that, I realize that's a really unnecessarily explanation. And it’s silly that it even needs to get explained in the first place. It’s not like crazy hair is exactly unique to manga and anime. What about Wolverine’s “feral” wing tips? Or Superman’s blue hair? Have you ever met a real human being with hair as orange as Archie's? And what’s up with the checkers on his temple? 
 
That’s right, they’re cartoons. Of course they aren’t going to be realistic. They’re supposed to be stylized, they’re supposed to be colorful, they're supposed to be unreal. 
 
Duh…

I know you Anime Vice lunatics have had to deal with silly comments like these. How about you share 'em, here?

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Studios and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia. Pre-order the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover now on Amazon.com.

Post by agila61 (87 posts) See mini bio Level 4
Obviously, the different hair colors are so the fansubbers can use a matching color for the lines of that character. 
 
As far as big eyes, I prefer sarcasm: "Yes, big, Bambi-like eyes. How foreign!"
Post by No_name_here (854 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff
@agila61:  Hair-coded sub-titles? That's hysterical.
Post by FoxxFireArt (2,638 posts) See mini bio Level 25
Moderator
It's more then likely a cultural issue. People enjoy the sight of what is rare. The way men or women often seem to have the desire for the "foreign exchange student" idea from many movies, or a person with an accent. It's something you don't hear all the time. The classic "grass is always greener on the other side".
 
The most predominant hair color in Japan and most of Asia is a dark color. Brown or Black.  I have a friend who does modeling. She is a natural blond and she did a job in China. She says she was paid extremely well for that and got a lot of attention while there.

My favorite manga/anime series is very real world based. A detective series, and everyone in it has realistic dark hair colors. Though you occasionally get the rare appearance of someone with lighter colors, but it's often spoken of as rare. It's normally light browns or blonds, if the person is foreign.
 
As an artist who has studied the manga and anime style quite a bit. You want your character to stand apart from others. So if you are seeing from a distance you can easily identify who is who, since you can't hear voices in a drawing. It's more then likely has to do with having a character being easily identified from another.
 
Speaking of strange US comic hair. You forgot to mentions the Osborn family hair in Spider-man.
Post by Bellum (127 posts) See mini bio Level 8
Uhm. I don't think "crazy hair" is prominent in traditional American animation. :/
 
And blue was used to highlight black as a rule in early comics, IIRC. Same thing happened with Batman's cape. It's meant to be black, but the highlights eventually overpowered the black.  
 
Anyway, I was under the impression that "crazy hair" is a feature of Shonen, and not anime as a whole?
Post by No_name_here (854 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff
@FoxxFireArt:  I had similar experiences when I visited Beijing as a kid. My hair was more blond back then.
 
Ha! Of course, there is always the Osborn's super-perm, right?
Post by hitsusatsu11 (10,726 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Rei's blue hair red eye combo is unique and is the opposite of Asuka's red hair blue eyes. 
 
Going SSJ always looks cooler when there is more hair, like when adult gohan or GT vegeta go's ssj, its not the same. 
Post by Oishi_47 (221 posts) See mini bio Level 8
Barber: ...and what style would you like today sir? You can pick from any of those pictures on the wall or we have magazines. 
Me: Actually, I have this picture of a hedgehog.
Post by Gozertc (106 posts) See mini bio Level 7

*Chuckles*  
 
My response is always depends on how much "depth" I think the commenter wants.  Or how much I want to annoy them.  :)  
 
I mean we can point out the whole "Big eyes come from Disney" thing, and the "Colors helped differentiate characters in the old days" and other such very true but at the same time very "defensive" comments.  When in the end it's as simple as: "That's the style they like."  Period.  End of Sentance.  
Post by Ryokan (291 posts) See mini bio Level 12
@Tom_Pinchuk said:
" @agila61:  Hair-coded sub-titles? That's hysterical. "

@Tom_Pinchuk:

Yup, but quiet true : just check Television tropes and media idioms on the web. 
 
It help define some characters :  
 
a red head ? Oh, watch out for a strong genki characters ! 
 
Blue hair. You can bet this characters is silent, dreamy and quite. 
 
Dark or brown air ? Most likely be the hero, or the quite-intelligent meditative shiryu style.
  
Green or pink ? It's probably a cute one, MOE style, or protective. 
  
Blond : probably power or flamboyant one. often powerful but subject to light hearted attitude. 
 
You know, those kind of cliché... 

For the crazy hairdressing, I think it's a way to signify the power, the singularity of a character over the other. Just watch the FF character for that ! Or DBZ : the more they are important and badass, the more their hair are crazy.
 
(AND KRILLIN IS NOT PATHETIC ! HE GOT C18 ! A FEMALE BLOND HOT CYBORG KILLING MACHINE !!! LOL !!) 
Post by PrettyCoolGuy (46 posts) See mini bio Level 9
@Ryokan said:
" (AND KRILLIN IS NOT PATHETIC ! HE GOT C18 ! A FEMALE BLOND HOT CYBORG KILLING MACHINE !!! LOL !!)  "

True, but its never specified exactly HOW he did it. Methinks there could be some "reprogramming" involved. ;)
Post by No_name_here (854 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff
@Ryokan:  Huh... I'll be paying attention to that from now. I suppose somebody's hair really does say a lot about them.
 
As for Krillin... I can't think of a single DBZ where he DIDN'T get punked.
Post by No_name_here (854 posts) See mini bio Level 11
Staff
@oishi_47:  Heh...
Post by agila61 (87 posts) See mini bio Level 4
@Tom_Pinchuk said:
" @agila61:  Hair-coded sub-titles? That's hysterical. "
I forget which series I saw this on (and can't really check - my anime source policies have changed since then) ... but as I recall, it was a shoujo ai series. 
 
Shocking! startling! that it would be a shoujo ai fansub group that would do that, ey?
 
But it actually does make it easier to keep straight who's talking. 
Post by Kelleth (7,777 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator
@Tom_Pinchuk said:
" @Ryokan:  Huh... I'll be paying attention to that from now. I suppose somebody's hair really does say a lot about them.  As for Krillin... I can't think of a single DBZ where he DIDN'T get punked. "
DBZ was more for the Saiyans and such so human characters where downplayed even ridiculed only to have one small moment of victory :P
He was really awesome in Dragon Ball though lol
Post by Trogd0r2 (5 posts) See mini bio Level 13
I'm pretty sure that they started doing crazy hairs early on to be able to distinguish characters from one another and they just kept with it as the norm.
Post by BrandonElliott (10 posts) See mini bio Level 3
I think the hair color can give an idea of the personality of the character and also helps tell the characters apart more easily. 
Post by rein (5,465 posts) See mini bio Level 15
Superman doesn't have blue hair....
Post by Kelleth (7,777 posts) See mini bio Level 20
Moderator
@rein:  He probable meant the 80's superman who occasionally had a streak of blue hair due to a different choice of ink
Post by rein (5,465 posts) See mini bio Level 15
@Kelleth:
(that really is something i didn't know about SM.
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