Some characters have hair colors that are possible, but very uncommon for the setting. The show is otherwise realistic, but the writers don't want all the characters to have the same hair colors.
This trope shows up mostly in Asian works, since hair colors other than black or dark brown are still quite rare there, but is by no means limited to that part of the world. A black character with blonde hair
would be a good example.
Usually, this is at least a little justified
. The character might have foreign parents, or dye their hair, or something more interesting. Other times, the reasons are left to the viewer's imaginations.
When hair colors become humanly impossible, we have You Gotta Have Blue Hair
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Anime & Manga
- Vision of Escaflowne has Hitomi Kanzaki, who has light brown hair and green eyes.
- Rurouni Kenshin, the redheaded ronin from 19th century Japan. Though redheads are known to exist naturally in Japan, they're still incredibly rare.
- This is lampshaded in the first episode where one of the characters identifies Kenshin as the Battosai because of his red hair and the scar on his cheek.
- Naru from Love Hina has red hair.
- Azumanga Daioh has Chiyo, who is a redhead. Most of the other characters have black hair, though, which makes this at least at a little more plausible than the other examples. Natural Japanese red-heads do exist, but they are extremely rare, and no one brings attention to Chiyo's hair color even though it's something the cast should notice as outlandish, even if it is plausible. Then again, she's also a child prodigy, which is also extremely rare.
- Ah! My Goddess would fit into plausible hair, except that one of Those Two Guys is blond. Aside from him, all characters in either have black hair or are goddesses or, in a few cases, both. Considering that one guy is the one human who has blond hair, it's pretty close to actual Japanese demographics. (He's also a leather-and-shades-wearing punk biker with spark plugs for earrings; it's likely that he bleaches it — see the notes for Midori no Hibi below.)
- Digimon generally has hair colors that naturally occur on humans (except for a few, like purple-haired Miyako), but for a nearly all-Japanese cast, we're talking an inordinately high amount of blond, red, and brown hairstyles.
- The blonds of Digimon Adventure, Yamato and Takeru, are part-French, and Touma is part-Austrian, so that, at least, is reasonable. The same explanation doesn't seem to be the case for the other blonds present in the series, Yamaki, Izumi, Kiriha, and Yuu (the latter of whom has a brunette sister).
- Do Jou, Ken, and Jianliang have black hair stylized to appear as blue, or is it outright dark blue/indigo? We may never know.
- Let's not forget the Digimon Emperor and his spiked hair, which is not one but TWO shades of blue! It's somewhat justified as it's the result of his costume in the Digital World which disintegrates upon his Villainous Breakdown, but his real hair is still an obvious indigo, so...
- The additional shade of blue in the Kaiser's hair was that of his dead brother Osamu, to whose reputation Ken tried to live up at that time. The Digital World is in this season said to render clothes from the Chosen Children's subconsciousness and also created Ken's Kaiser hairstyle as a whole and the wacky sunglasses after Osamu's image, so it's kinda justified in this case.
- Allen Walker of D.Gray-Man has naturally white hair. However, this is justified as it's the result of intense psychological trauma, his original hair color being brown.
- The same goes for No6's Sion/Shion, whose originally brown hair was changed to a stark white due the trauma of almost dying from a parasitic bee's attack.
- Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer has a few blondes here and there amongst the black and brown. (The outrageous hair colours are reserved for the Angels, who are all robots.)
- Tamaki, Renge, and Honey from Ouran High School Host Club all have blond hair, and the Hitachiin twins are both redheads.
- Tamaki and Renge are half-French. They, at least, have a reasonable explanation.
- Mai and Ayako from Ghost Hunt are redheads, while Takigawa has brown hair. (John Brown is Australian and blond.) It is implied, at least in Mai's case, that she dyed her hair.
- Midori no Hibi has plausible brown or black for all characters except the leads, blond Seiji and greenheaded Midori. However, Seiji having brown hair in flashbacks implies that he dyes it, leaving Midori the only character with an impossible hair colour. Her real body has hair a darker shade of green. (By the way, the Japanese word for green is "midori".)
- Seiji may be a yankii. Anyway, in many anime, having blond hair for a male japanese character would be a short cut to saying "This guy here is a delinquent!"
- Lampshaded, and even somewhat deconstructed, in Fruits Basket. Although some of the Members of the Zodiac have dark brown or black hair, most of them have hair ranging from red/orange to blonde, and a few of them have grey or white hair (always corresponding to their animal forms). This is not normal for Japan. It's constantly noted by other characters, with most adults suspecting that they dye their hair. It's even worse with other students - all of the Juunishi with such unusual hair colors (except Momiji) got teased, or even bullied for it, as kids. Most of them were able to get through it relatively unscathed, but poor Kisa was traumatized by it.
- The most hysterical lampshade would probably be when the student council president demanded that Hatsuharu show him physical proof that that was his natural hair color...and Hatsuharu complied. By dragging him into the nearby bathroom.
- Practically all the main characters of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro have blond or silver hair, although in many (but not all cases), this is to show either that character has criminal connections (dyed blond hair is common in Japanese street gangs) or is not human.
- Ultra Maniac has a few people with blonde hair. Nina is justified because she's a witch, but on normal people, it's a bit jarring.
- The characters in X1999 all have fairly typical black or brown hair, but Kotori and her mother both have inexplicable wavy blonde hair.
- There are a surprising number of auburn-haired Japanese in Martian Successor Nadesico, but it's otherwise realistic if you consider blue or purple hair to be stylized black, and you remember that Ryoko and Inez are both dye-jobs (and Inez's nationality is pretty vague anyway). Ruri gets a pass for being a Rei expy (see below).
- Akagi Shigeru of Akagi and his body-double Hirayama Yukio both have silvery gray hair, despite being fairly young. No one in the series thinks it's strange at all.
- Baccano!! has all but one character that keeps it away from probable hair colors (very few have black hair, but most of the cast is either American or European) — Sylvie Lumiere. She's mentioned to be silver-haired in the books too, so we can't even claim that she's a stylized blond.
- The manga, TV series, and video game adaptations of Area 88 give Shin blonde hair for no readily apparent reason, even though he's ethnically Japanese. Ryoko also has pink hair in the OVA and TV series, while Taeko has red hair in the OVA.
- The Medicine Seller in Mononoke has very pale blond hair in feudal Japan, which, like his Icy Blue Eyes, Facial Markings and Pointy Ears, goes inexplicably unnoticed by those around him.
- There's also the blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman from the Zashiki Warashi arc, though she gets a shocked reaction out of the innkeeper.
- Misa in Death Note, though it's possible she dyes it. For that matter, Light has light brown.
- And Near's is snow-white. There's no particular reason to believe he's Japanese, but it's not substantially more plausible for a Westerner. Fan theory states that he's albino, which could theoretically make him Japanese, but this raises the question of why his eyes aren't red (although Real Life albinos eyes aren't always "red").
- In Sailor Moon, Usagi and Minako both have blonde hair, while Makoto has auburn hair.
- Chibi-Usa has pink hair. Her mother is blonde, her father has black hair. Not only does she have an odd hair colour, but neither of her parents share her hair colour. What has Sailor Moon been up to?
- Usagi herself counts for this, since her earth parents have black hair and blue hair, yet she and her brother are blonds.
- There is an actual reason for Chibi-Usa's pink hair. In one of the earliest manga designs, Usagi was going to have pink hair herself. Though that decision was scrapped, Chibi-Usa's pink hair remained.
- Not to mention Usagi's mother is pink-haired in the manga, so it could be a recessive trait
- This is averted in the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, where the characters have regular Japanese hair colors in their civilian lives and only gain their unusual hair colors when they transform.
- Orange hair: Ichigo, Orihime (Ichigo's hair is 'honey' and Orihime's is 'caramel'; in the anime, they both have a very similar shade of orange).
- Red hair (natural shades): Chizuru, although the anime makes her hair a more unnatural shade of red.
- Blond hair: Harribel, Yuzu, Urahara, Kira and Yukio. Rangiku and Kiyone are blonde-haired in the manga, but red-blonde in the anime.
- Brown hair: Aizen, Keigo, Starrk, Sado (he's part Mexican).
- White Hair (that's not a result of age): Gin, Hitsugaya, Isane, Kensei, Ukitake (whose hair turned white as a young child due to his illness), Ryuuken Ishida (in the manga, his hair was white even as a child, although the anime changes this to brown)
- Soul Eater has a variety of hair colours ranging from the implausible to the impossible. An example of the former would be Maka's hair, in that her mother is suggested to be Japanese and her father has bright red hair (worth noting that the other Japanese women do have black hair). Maka's own hair is more a light brown or blonde.
- Lampshaded in Sket Dance in the online dating plot arc, where Himeko and Bossun become e-mail sweethearts without knowing it. Since Himeko told Bossun through e-mail that her hair is dark (and it's otherwise blonde), when they are about to meet each other for the first time, she dyes her hair black to keep the masquerade. When Bossun (not knowing why she is at the meeting place) asks her why she dyed her hair, she answers that it's none of his business and that it's anyway unnatural for a Japanese to have blond hair.
- In Weiss Kreuz, Aya's hair is bright red, and Youji and Omi are both blond. Youji's might be bleached, but flashbacks indicate that Aya and Omi's hair colors are most likely natural (and their other family members are all dark-haired).
- Youji is half-French, although this isn't brought up in the anime itself. Omi remains without an excuse, though.
- Revy from Black Lagoon has has purplish-black hair. Hair dye may be involved.
- Almost every character in Saiyuki. The ostensibly Chinese characters have a rainbow of hair colors (although at least with the youkai characters they aren't bound by the same physical rules as humans). The Westerner who could plausibly be blond has silver hair despite being 19.
- Sage/Seiji Date in Ronin Warriors is blond yet explained to be from the prominent Japanese Samurai family of Date Masamune.
- Early artwork of Yuki's boyfriend in Wandering Son had him with blond hair, while everyone else in the manga has realistic colors. The next volumes clear it up, giving him brown hair.
- Mariko from Elfen Lied has blonde hair in the manga, despite both her parents being Japanese with realistic hair colors.
- Umineko no Naku Koro ni is full of examples, especially for a cast that's (supposedly) pure-bred Japanese.
- There seems to be a trend with red hair: both Battler and Ange share the same dark red hair color, but their parents have different hair colors (might be disputed, since Battler's mother isn't ever described in detail and isn't even his real mother). Eva is a Fiery Redhead, and Maria shares the brown-red hair color.
- Kyrie has white hair, which no one questions. Note that her skin tone is the same as the other women. At the very end of the story, Battler's hair also goes white, which symbolizes his acceptance of that fact that she was his real mother.
- Natsuhi has Multicolored Hair that starts out as light brown, goes to brown, and ends with (you guessed it!) red.
- Krauss and Rosa both have really light brown hair.
- Natsuhi's daughter, Jessica, is the only (human) character in the cast to have blonde hair.
- Eyeshield 21: For all its wackiness, is actually pretty good about hair colors. Most of the cast either has brown or black hair, and those who don't clearly dye their hair (they all have black eye brows). However, there are still a few exceptions in the cast; most notably, Taka's been a white-haired pretty boy since childhood, Agon was light-haired as a child, and Sakuraba's hair ranges from light brown to blonde.
- Given Sakuraba's status as an idol, it's probable that he was forced to dye it.
- Although the artist of Liar Game hasn't actually picked a hair color for Akiyama, he is always drawn with his hair ranging from a light reddish-brown to ginger to gold. Despite being Japanese.
- While the other team members in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman all have brown hair, Jun is the odd one out with long deep green hair. This could be chalked up to Hair Color Dissonance in the original series (as colorists sometimes made it more on the black or brown side), but the sequels and most modern artwork and merchandise make her hair a blatant emerald green shade.
- Haruhi Suzumiya: Mikuru is a redhead, possibly as a clue that she's from a time in the future when Japanese people with red hair apparently exist. You Gotta Have Blue Hair characters are, for the most part, aliens (Yuki, Asakura and Kimidori). Tsuruya's green Rapunzel Hair is still a mystery.
- Ooku: Gosaku can't hide his mixed Dutch-Japanese heritage because he inherited his father's wavy blond hair.
- The main villain of Demolition Man (played by Wesley Snipes) is a black man with blond hair. No explanation for this is ever given.
- In Game of Thrones, the three children of King Robert Baratheon all have blond hair, even though Robert is dark-haired and every other child ever born to a Baratheon and Lannister (all of the Lannisters are blond, including Robert's wife Cersei) has had dark hair. The children are later revealed to actually be the offspring of the queen's brother Jaime. Cersei hated her husband and hardly ever slept with him, but had carried on a sexual relationship with her twin from childhood.
- Every girl in the original arcade of The iDOLM@STER has dark brown or black hair. Except Yayoi, whose hair is red with no explanation. Later, when the game was ported to the 360, some of the girls' hair became dark blue (like Chihaya) or dark purple (Azusa), but that can be considered stylized black, while the brown haired girl's hair lightened. Then, they introduced Miki, who has...blonde hair. Turns out, she dyes it. When Idolm@ster 2 came out, they added Takane, whose silver hair remains unexplained.
- Miles Edgeworth◊ from the Ace Attorney games has grey hair literally every time he is seen in full colour. His chronologically earliest appearance is at the age of twenty. Stress, maybe?
- Surprisingly, most characters in Sengoku Basara have realistic brown or black hair, except for Kasuga and Sorin, who are blond, and Magoichi and Fuuma, who are redheads. No one draws attention to this and it's apparently natural. There're also no fewer than six (young) characters with white/silver hair, implying it's an even more common occurence than a blond or a redhead in the Basaraverse.
- Pretty much all the main characters of Megatokyo. This is tricky to spot because nearly all the strips are black-and-white, but you can see it in the rare coloured strips and book covers. Kimiko has a light-brown-blonde colour. Erika's hair is orange-red. Largo's hair is the same colour as Erika's (a bit darker in some illustrations). Ping's hair changes colour but is usually very pale. Miho's hair is purple, but given who she is, it may not be natural.
- Ping is a robot video game accessory from Sony, so hers is relatively excusable.
- Largo and Piro are similarly excusable, seeing as they're American and just currently living in Japan.
- On Avatar: The Last Airbender, Suki has auburn hair despite practically the entire Avaverse being an Asian Fantasy Counterpart Culture.
- Chris Griffin of Family Guy has blond hair, despite the fact that his father's hair is brown and his mother's a redhead. None of his grandparents have blond hair either. His hair probably stems from the original design for his mother Lois, who was a blonde until they changed it.
- Violet from The Incredibles has long raven black hair while both her father and younger brother have yellow hair and her mother has brown hair. Because dark genes are dominant she should have had brown hair at the darkest. However, considering her gloomy personality, it is possible that she wanted to dye it black.
- In Coraline, the title character's parents both have dark brown hair while her own hair is blue, although it's actually dyed blue. You can see in the picture with her and her parents at the zoo that her real hair color is brown like her parents.
- The page image is of a Melanesian boy; some other Oceanian populations, like the Australian Aborigines, also have a high frequency of blondes among children, though their hair usually changes to dark brown as they become adults.
- With current Japanese culture being quite Western-inspired, it's not uncommon for Asian girls to dye their hair. Also, East Asians (especially Koreans) can have light brown/dark blonde hair, although it's very rare.
- It's also not overly unusual for some South and Central Asian peoples, like the Kalash, Nuristanis, Tajiks, and Uyghurs, to have light blond hair. Hell, even blond Mongols exist◊ (Genghis Khan himself was said to have red hair and green eyes).
- Lighter hair colors can also appear in populations from the Middle East and North Africa, like the Kurds and Berbers.
- It's worth noting that similar to Oceania, non-European Eurasian blondness is more common among the young.
- Kwashiorkor can cause one's hair to turn red. The effect is especially jarring in ethnic populations that usually have brown or black hair, such as sub-Saharan Africans.