I am under the impression that red hair is trending in the anime world right now. (If so, I think I am too late to the party.) There are many pop songs that associate with the color, red such as Taylor Swift’s and 2PM’s song. When we think of the color, red, we think of passion, desire, and love. Yet there is more to the color, red, than just love.
In this post, I will be discussing three manga that have red hair female protagonists. These manga aren’t a surprise to people, but I’ve been wanting to write about them for a while, so here it is.
Akatsuki no Yona (暁のヨナ, Yona of the Dawn)
(Manga 2009-Ongoing, Anime 2014-2015)
By: Mizuho Kusanagi
Yona lives a carefree, sheltered life as a princess in Hiryuu castle. On her sixteenth birthday, Yona is about to protest against her father’s, King II, wishes. The king doesn’t want Yona to marry Soo-won, her child hood friend and love interest. However, when she arrives at King II’s chambers to discuss this matter, she witnesses her father’s assassination by Soo-won. By killing the royal family, Soo-won plans to properly rule the kingdom of Kouka. With the help of her bodyguard, Hak, Yona escapes from the kingdom and goes into hiding at Hak’s birthplace, the Village of the Wind. Hak’s grandfather, Son Mundok, advises Yona and Hak to find an oracle named Ik-su. When they find Ik-su, he tells them the legend of the first king of Kouka and the four dragons. Ik-su tells Yona and Hak to go on a journey and find these four dragons, who will help her take back the kingdom of Kouka from Soo-won.
This is one of my favorite historical and fantasy theme shoujo manga series. There is an excellent group of male supporting characters, each having their own unique skills, personality, and back story. I enjoyed the story arc of Shin-ah. Shin-ah is an outcast within his own village because the people fear his special dragon ability. His abilities allow a victim to be paralyze in fear and suffer from scary hallucinations as they stare into Shin-ah’s eyes. Eventually, the victim ends up dying. His power has led to many people misunderstanding him and avoid interacting with him due to fear. Yet, Yona ignores those rumors and becomes close friends with him. In fact, they have a special bond, and she even gave him a name.
By accepting Shin-ah, Yona demonstrates her open-mindedness when it comes to meeting different people. Yona has charming and bold traits that make her a perfect role model for girls. Even though she has an entourage of guys serving and protecting her, Yona still insists that she should learn self-defense. Hak was at first reluctant to teach Yona, but he does anyways. Hak teaches Yona how to use a bow and arrow. One could say that teaching a girl self-defense is breaking gender role stereotypes. Usually, women are seen as dainty and fragile, and men have the task of protecting a “damsel in distress.” Yet by learning self-defense, Yona shows that girls do not need to depend on a man for protection. Yona is independent, courageous for going up against enemies, and also tactful in finding solutions for political issues.
While being a fugitive, Yona learns a lot about the political matters in her kingdom. In the beginning, Yona views her father as a righteous king that doesn’t use violence when there are issues. Yet his nonviolent philosophy has led him to be ignorant about the needs of the people. As a result, the people disliked him as king, and his passive approach to political issues has brought nothing but more problems. When Yona learns about the truth of her father’s rule from the people, she begins to understand the necessary qualities a ruler needs. As her maturity increases and as she gain new experiences on her journey, Yona is shaping into a better ruler than her father. Unlike her father, Yona will be more assertive and actively seek solutions to the problems that plague her kingdom and people.
Yona’s personality makes her one of my favorite female protagonists. In the beginning, she is deemed weak, but she is a dynamic character that develops into a strong and courageous woman.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (赤髪の白雪姫, Snow White with the Red Hair)
(Manga 2006-ongoing, Anime 2015-ongoing)
By: Sorata Akizuki
Shirayuki is born with apple-red hair. One day, the naive Prince Raji falls in love at first sight with her, and demands that she becomes his concubine. Shirayuki refuses this proposal and decides to escape to the neighboring country. While trying to escape, she comes across a boy, Zen. Shirayuki heals Zen’s wound, but he accidentally gets poisoned from an apple that was given to Shirayuki by Prince Raji as a way to easily capture her. This is a fantasy romance story between a young heroine in hopes of being a doctor, and a prince, who is always guarding her.
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime has been one of the most anticipated anime shows this summer season. From all the blogger reviews I read, I heard great things about this anime. I read the manga, but haven’t watched the anime yet. I am going to be honest though, the manga wasn’t as engaging and interesting for me. I don’t have any particular reason why it wasn’t interesting, but I just couldn’t get into it. I am not going to totally disregard the show and not watch it. Once the anime series ends, I’ll watch it. Hopefully the anime will change my mind about the manga and I’ll read it again.
Reimei no Arcana (黎明のアルカナ, Dawn of the Arcana)
By: Rei Touma
In order to appease the bad relations between the two kingdoms, Nakaba, the princess of Senan, is forced to marry Caesar, the prince of Belquat. Nakaba and her servant, Loki are forced to move into the kingdom of Belquat. Nakaba has a special gift known as the Arcana. The power of Arcana is greatly feared among people; as a result, there was a genocide against the people who have the Arcana gift. The Arcana is different for each village. Nakaba’s power allows her to see the past or future and is known as the “Arcana of Time.”
Loki is Nakaba’s faithful servant, and he is an Ajin. Ajin are half-human and half-animal species. They are looked down upon by humans, and are forced into slavery. Nakaba is caught in the middle of political problems between Belquat and Senana, and also a fight for equality between Ajin and ordinary humans.
I actually enjoyed reading this manga because it discusses many social and political issues. There is more to this manga besides a love story. I think the fight for equality between Ajin and humans could be applied to the issues in today’s society. As humans, we fight for equality in many areas from wages to sexual orientation. This manga touches upon the fight for equality, which makes this manga relatable to read.
These three manga implies that all red hair anime women possess certain characteristics. In these three manga, having red hair isn’t natural and it is treated as a sin to have. Thus, these three female characters are outcasts from the rest of society. Despite being outcasts, red hair makes these female characters special. In fact, red hair implies certain positive traits such as strong-will, bravery, hardworking and intelligence. Their physical appearances make them seem fragile, but they all have a strong mentality. I think these qualities is what viewers admire from these red hair female protagonists, and it places them as feminist icons in the anime/manga world.