Anime Character Hairstyles

Written by wanda thibodeaux
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Anime Character Hairstyles
An example of a Japanese anime hairstyle. (manga styled samurai girl image by Anastasia Serdyukova from

Although each animator draws based on his personal preferences, a few anime hairstyles are so common that they might be considered fundamental. Any of these styles may be worn in real life by hard-core anime lovers, but it's best to know how these basic styles are applied in the animation before you attempt an anime style yourself. This will ensure your hairstyle gives the right impression.

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Sleek and Long

The sleek, long hairstyle appears on both female and male anime characters. Animators sometimes reserve this hairstyle for characters who are meant to be powerful and sinister although animators also select it to give a soft, flowing and enveloping look to gentler characters. The length of the style typically ends around mid-chest, but some animators have this style extend all the way down to the calves or ankles. Sometimes the hairstyle includes a centre part with fringe that have a lot of volume. Alternately, the hairstyle includes long wisps and fringe that frame the forehead and jawline.

Pigtails and Ponytails

Animators often use single or double pigtails on female characters if they want the character to appear innocent or youthful. This is especially true if the character has any magic or supernatural ability. Sailor Moon is a classic example of an anime female with this hairstyle. Her highly stylised look comes from the addition of odango (meatballs) where the pigtails begin at the hairline. The length may extend all the way down to the ankles, but the pigtails are kept shorter when the character is in her everyday mode and elongated when her super powers come out. Animators also use ponytails for longhair male characters. Most commonly these characters are warriors. The ponytail sits on the crown, and the character has two fringe parted straight in the middle. The fringe are either blocky and high or fall loosely in two sections over the ears as far down as the chest.

Short and Wispy

Animators draw both female and male anime characters with short, wispy cuts. The hair is no longer than chin length for this style. The emphasis is on the fringe, which are so long that they may completely cover the eyes. The hair is either parted on one side with the fringe swept over, or the hair is left with no part and the fringe fall forward and loose haphazardly.

Bold and Spiky

Male characters with short hair almost always have spikes of varying degrees. The most common style is wide spikes that appear more horizontal than vertical. If the spikes do approach vertical, then they tend to be thinner and shifted to one side, giving a windswept, tousled, nearly electrocuted appearance. Wider spikes rarely are the same size--usually there are one or two that seem significantly bigger than all the others. The spikes in the fringe are the most prominent if the spikes are wide.

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