Since the beginning of human history, there has always been something about a redhead. For the most part, people with red hair have mainly been associated with having a hot temper or an outgoing personality; sometimes, even rebellion. And in the world of anime, those same attributes are even associated with the natural element of fire or intense energy. Some characters are even portrayed as resilient, hard-headed, or strong-willed and prepared to survive adversity at any cost. Naturally, not all red-haired anime characters share those personality traits, but it’s hard to ignore the many red-haired anime stars whose demeanors make them stand out in a crowd. Let’s take a look back at the best ones so far and see if that sentiment is true…
Renji Abarai (Bleach)
One of the most recognizable characters in the Bleach series, Renji Abarai, is the powerful Soul Reaper vice-captain of the 6th Division. His Zanpukto, Zabimaru, is one of the coolest anime weapons in history, as it is a combination of a whip and a sword that is hard to attack and defend against. His fighting skills are versatile for a swordsman, and he’s one of few lieutenants to achieve Bankai–the second stage of his Zanpukto’s power. He can keep up with many captain-level Soul Reapers and has enormous spiritual pressure that has impressed his peers and enemies.
Renji is usually hot-tempered and dynamic, which is why he and Ichigo have such a fiery bond. He’s strong-willed and determined to become a better fighter, making it hard for him to turn away from the fight. Willing to fight, kill, or die for his beliefs, Renji is a dangerous warrior to any who stands in his way.
Gene Starwind (Outlaw Star)
As the captain of the Outlaw Star, Gene Starwind is a wild risk-taker whose street smarts usually play a big part in weaseling out of complicated situations. Left to fend for himself after his father died, Gene is generally very guarded about his feelings. Instead, he has learned to put on a brave mask towards others, to keep himself pushing through the numerous issues that the Outlaw Star crew faces together.
A pilot, gunman, and all-around jack of trades, Gene drowns his feelings with business, booze, and women, the latter becoming a vice that leads him to make decisions that ultimately lead him on crazy adventures. Against the advice of his business partner and best friend, Jim Hawkings, Gene always seems to take on contracts that usually end up leaving them looking foolish and deep in debt. But when the chips are down, and he’s really needed, Gene gets serious and proves that he’s capable of being a competent leader…at least until the next time he gets drunk.
Hisoka (Hunter x Hunter)
There may be tons of anime villains, but there aren’t too many that can chill you to the bones quite like Hisoka from Hunter X Hunter. The red-haired assassin and member of the Hunter’s Association not only loves to fight and kill his opponents, but he also enjoys being part of grand schemes that are usually malicious in nature. His voice, which is as silky as a snake’s, can come off as very disconcerting for someone who can kill you in a matter of seconds. It certainly doesn’t help that he’s dressed like a court jester; since clowns are usually synonymous with happy times. Hisoka may be smiling a lot of the time, but there’s nothing happy about his intentions.
Considered to be one of the strongest and deadliest Hunters in the Association, Hisoka tends to switch sides from antagonist to supporting protagonist in the blink of an eye, making him a compelling character that’s hard to trust and figure out. Even other villains are not sure what to make of him. But one thing is certain: don’t turn your back to Hisoka, or he may just walk around to stab you in the front while he’s smiling in your face.
Azuma Genraku (Deadman Wonderland)
A tortured soul residing in the depths of Deadman Wonderland, Azuma Genraku is a self-proclaimed Buddhist priest who believes that the only way to be saved from the world is to be taken away from it. As the leader of the special Anti-Deadman unit–the Undertakers – Azuma is another sadistic prisoner whose sole purpose is to “cleanse” opposing Deadmen by killing them. However, he spares Nagi in the hopes of convincing him to join the Undertakers, even though he’s the one who killed Nagi’s wife two years prior. Yeah, you gotta be at least a little twisted if your mind works like that.
Though he’s a laid-back individual, Genraku can be very brutal and excessively violent; all thanks to his unstable mind. He even slaughtered his own men as he sported a creepy grin the entire time and even smiled as he died at the hands of Ganta and Nagi. But despite his extreme flaws, Genraku was an exciting and powerful character who will be remembered as one of Deadman Wonderland‘s better characters.
Shura Kirigakure (Blue Exorcist)
Aside from being regarded as one of the most attractive characters in the series, Shura is also one of the strongest exorcists at the True Cross Academy. As a First Class Exorcist, Shura is pretty laid back and very blunt about her thoughts, even when the situation calls for a more tender approach. She has no problem challenging superiors to a fight or being transparent with them about their flaws, which has gotten her into trouble with the administration. Nevertheless, Shura is a competent Exorcist who takes her vow to eradicate anything related to Satan very seriously.
Because of her expertise with demon swords, Shura is tasked with being Rin’s mentor to teach him how to use his demon-slaying sword, Kurikara, effectively. However, because of her vow, Shura is always watchful and protective of her student, preparing for the possibility that his demon side may take over and she will have to kill him to protect the world.
And despite her own dark past to put behind her and an unsure future ahead, Shura’s personality still has remained unchanged.
Himura Kenshin (Rurouni Kenshin)
This swordsman has gone by a few names, but none is more recognizable than Himura Kenshin. The calm soft-spoken red-haired assassin was once known as the most feared killer in Japan, Hitokiri Battosai. However, after disappearing for years, he returned as Himura Kenshin–a wandering swordsman who protects the citizens with the vow that he will never take another life.
Despite his vow, Kenshin is still very proficient and deadly with a sword, often defeating many armed opponents at one time with his reverse blade katana. Because of his newfound mission and peaceful ways, Kenshin manages to make friends and finds the happiness that he never thought he would be able to obtain due to his murderous past. Out of all the red-haired characters on this list, his story of atonement and redemption is the most interesting.
Reki Kyan (SK8 the Infinity)
Now, this guy isn’t cool because he’s well trained in combat or can pilot a ship to the far reaches of space. No, Reki is cool because of what he can do on a skateboard. But not only that, Reki is probably also the best red-haired friend you can have. Always smiling and outgoing, Reki has always had a way of inspiring others around him, which is seen when he’s able to convince a former snowboarder like his friend Langa to take up skateboarding, just with his sheer enthusiasm for the sport.
But he doesn’t just inspire them; he supports them, even if it means that they may surpass him. Despite his fear of being left behind, Reki still pushes himself to just enjoy life and his friends, which means more to him than anything else. He cares deeply for all of his friends and will do anything to make sure they’re okay, even if it means putting his own safety at risk. Though he may not be as good as his more skilled peers, Reki still has a great deal of knowledge and experience with skateboarding. He’s so well-rounded that he even designs and creates skateboards for other skaters, which is how Langa got his first board and learned how to skate.
Reki may not be as physically inclined as the rest of the red-haired characters on this list, but it’s his dedication to his friends and his overall impact on them that certainly makes him a hero.
So just to recap, we have a hot-tempered Soul Reaper, a promiscuous risk-taker, two assassins (one active and one inactive), a killer priest, a defiant Exorcist, and an outgoing skateboarder. So what were the attributes again? Hot-tempered, rebellious, hard-headed, resilient, strong-willed, intensely energetic, outgoing, and prepared to survive at any cost? I’m, starting to think the sentiment might be true…at least in anime.