I Want Anime Hair

I have been thinking about this for a while, and have been trying to summon an effort of subconscious will to make this happen.  I don’t mean anime hair as in Naruto or Bleach.  What I’m talking about is more like Witch Hunter Robin, or Vexille or Hellsing.  Gilgamesh treads the edges.  There is a fundamental coolness to the way hair works in these examples.  Working on and off in Japan, we can also see the way it filters into the culture, not only of the younger generations but up as well.  This is an interesting process of cultural osmosis. 

If I look back the other way, I’ve been considering how this might work in reverse.  Where is the osmosis of cultural tics into our writing?  If we look at Japan particularly, there is a deep awareness and understanding of “politeness” and how that functions.  Politeness in this sense is behavioural, it is embedded in speech patterns and in the simple way you do things.  When using Japan as a basis for Neuromancer and the following novels, Gibson got part of it right, in the trappings of a Japanese future world, but there was the deeper layer of cultural behaviour missing.  Korea is another place where this sense of politeness functions and deserves mining.

 In this sense, as a writer, it’s important to observe, note and understand these nuances, pick up on them, and actively give them life in what you write when worldbuilding.  Speculative fiction is all about worldbuilding whether it be future or fantasy.  Sure, character is important, and character interaction, as well as the mirror we hold up to ourselves, but the surrounding worldbuilding influences this and shapes the reality of your characters. 

Having lived and worked now in multiple countries, I become more aware of the subtleties of these differences (although, certain of these differences…Australia, America as a couple of examples, are not so subtle).  I am currently working on a novel where a future China forms much of the backdrop.  I need to go back and check the culture.  Having had this dialogue with myself I know this.  More work that I really need to do.

All that being said, I still want anime hair.

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I Want Anime Hair — 6 Comments

  1. The big problem with anime hair is that it does not look good on anyone over 25. My idea for hair is that they think of a hair dye that is colorfast only on gray hair. Then we could go through and turn all the gray hairs, say, blue.

    I’ve noticed that different cultures have different ideas of body space. Americans are ‘closer’ than Europeans — we are OK standing closer to each other and we move in nearer when we talk, shake hands, etc. Asians are closer yet, which explains why the British had so much difficulty in China.

  2. Anime hair is also interesting in the way that given ‘styles’ give a viewer a fairly instant, if loose, grasp on what kind of person the character is within the society. Are they the wild? Spiky and all-over the place, usually short, but if long they probably have wild bangs. Rebellious or simply a very strong individualist? Something out of the ordinary and cool (like Robin pictured above). Long and smooth indicates culture and sophistication, or at least being personally conscious. Bushy white hair is a straight riff from demons in Japanese theater. Long, smooth, unbound white hair on a woman? Never ever a good sign.

    Some artists play deliberately fast and loose, or veer off those expectations to the advantages of character depth, or to show an audience that Our Hero/ine may be being taken in by a disguised villain.

    Cultural identity being tied to personal style is hardly a new observation, and to some extent all forms of fiction take that into account, but in anime hair it’s a particularly clear storytelling tool. As writers, those same kinds of cultural expectation and identity can be equally powerful tools.

    And me? My hair’s curly. It doesn’t do any of the anime styles even if I was young enough for them. I’ll just have to admire them from afar.

  3. There was an interesting reaction in an episode of Robin where she woke up, hair not done and there was an immediate “What’s with the hair style!” In that sense, the hair almost becomes a character in the same way a city, or a place can become so.