While so many different anime hairstyles seem to defy the laws of physics, there is no hairstyle more perplexing than the ahoge. Ahoge can be broken down into the two Japanese words words "aho" meaning idiot or fool and "ge" which means hair. The term "ahoge" refers to that strand of hair that you see sticking straight out of a character's head. You know the one!
Ahoge came from hairdressers who referred to cowlicks as "stupid hairs." The hair itself seems to stick out with no aid from hairsprays, gels, or other styling agents, but it also cannot be smoothed back down into place as some characters have been known to attempt. It is somewhat a lost cause, it seems. There are times when ahoge does not refer to a single strand of hair but a tuft of hair, such as in the case of the youngest Minami sister, Chiaki from Minami-ke.
Since the term ahoge was first used, ahoge has evolved from being used to describe a person's hairstyle to a person's personality or level of intelligence. Many characters will be immediately labeled as stupid or fools. It's essentially a visual cue signaling the audience that the character may be a bit dimwitted, but the world is not black and white, and neither are characters with ahoge.
For the most part, many characters with ahoge tend to be quite dimwitted or dense. They just don't seem to get what is going on and are incapable of reading the atmosphere which makes for some awkward situations! Characters will demonstrate a complete lack of understanding for what is normal in society or a lack of awareness, which may go hand in hand with an ahoge.
Naivety is also a common trait for many characters with ahoge. Hikari from Special A is known for her obliviousness and naivety so often times when she is presented with an unusual situation, a long strand of hair will just pop out of her head. This can be seen more in the manga, however.
Sometimes, though, you can get a fairly serious character who isn't stupid with ahoge such as Douma Taihei from Himouto! Umaru-chan. Taihei is hardly stupid nor is he carefree or mischievous. Can you explain why he has one? Maybe it's because of his naivety that causes him to take Umaru so seriously? You'll never know. Another intelligent anime character with an ahoge is Shiroe from Log Horizon, who clearly does not fall under the "stupid" category.
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2008 - September 2008
Yuuki Rito is too shy to confess to the girl of his dreams. One day, a princess from the planet Deviluke, Lala, appears completely naked while Yuuki is bathing. It turns out that she is running away from home to find someone she wants to marry and she has set her eyes on Yuuki himself!
In To Love-Ru, it's Lala who has the ahoge! This seems quite common in alien characters, but Lala is kind of an idiot. By that, I mean, she is unfamiliar with Earth customs and has no real idea of the situations that others are in. Lala is an alien creature so of course she's more than a bit ignorant of Earth customs, but that with her lack of human common sense makes her the perfect "stupid" ahoge character. Still, isn't that what makes Lala so much fun? That or her tendency to somehow end up naked, right?
To Love Ru - Official Trailer
Ahoge characters are not always stupid, however! Another trait displayed by characters possessing ahoge is carefreeness. Some characters just do not seem to have a care in the world so they tend to shirk their responsibilities and lay around as if there is nothing important to do. Don't some people have it easy?
An odd trait of some ahoge is its ability to move based on a character’s emotions. That may mean a twitch, moving around as if it is dancing, or even going completely straight when it is usually curved. You can see this at times for carefree ahoge characters, but haven't you seen at least one male character whose ahoge goes completely straight? Wonder what he's thinking...
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2007 - September 2007
This is an anime all about the small things in life: doing homework, going to school, playing video games, and all that good stuff, but that doesn't mean it's boring! Konata, Kagami, Tsukasa, and Miyuki are just enjoying the small things in life that makes it so great.
If you hadn't guessed who the most carefree in the Lucky Star gang is, it's Konata! Well, technically, Kagami and Akira have been shown to have ahoge, as well, but you can hardly call them carefree, though I dare you to call Akira stupid.
Anyway, Konata is far from stupid, though her grades may create that illusion. In reality, Konata is actually carefree. Maybe a little too carefree. Konata tends to play video games all night, often forgetting about homework, or spend the rest of her free time playing arcade games, reading manga, and watching anime. When does she have time to do anything else? Who knows? Somehow, her family gets fed and she has managed to graduate, so Konata has to be doing something right.
HD-Lucky Star Opening Creditless
If an ahoge character is not stupid nor is he or she carefree, they might just be mischievous. There are quite a few mischievous anime characters. They tend to be the ones who seek out trouble, pull pranks, trick their friends into doing something they want to do, etc. Some mischievous anime characters are just looking for a quick laugh or to cause trouble, but that is all in the fun of the character!
An interesting trait for mischievous ahoge characters is the ability for the ahoge to pop up out of nowhere as if the character had an idea, which they usually do. When a character suddenly comes up with an idea to cause trouble, a hair will pop out of place turning them into an ahoge character. Although this does happen enough, not all characters that sometimes display an ahoge are mischievous. Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke may rarely have an ahoge, but clearly, Sawako is not a troublemaker.
Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 2011 - October 2011
The only way to travel between the worlds of humans and demons is through possession, but Satan, ruler of the world of demons, Gehenna, is unable to find a proper host. Instead, Satan sends his own son to the world of humans, Assiah, to grow into a suitable host. Okumura Rin may have a troublesome nature, but finding out that he is the son of Satan is enough to get him to change his ways to fight Satan! Now, Rin must work alongside his twin brother Yukio to accomplish this dream or mankind is in danger!
While male ahoge characters are somewhat more rare than female ahoge characters, Ao no Exorcist's ahoge character is the male, Mephisto! You may not always notice it because Mephisto keeps his ahoge hidden under his hat. What a little devil. Mephisto Pheles, though he is a man of many names, is a man of mystery who seems to find enjoyment out of the troubles going on in people's lives, though he'll swoop in to stop his own students from killing each other. Mephisto is a bit of a troublemaker and the type who enjoys misleading others, but he really adds to the complexity to Ao no Exorcist. Mephisto is quite the eccentric troublemaker which suits mischievous ahoge characters quite nicely don't you agree?
Blue Exorcist Part 1 Episodes 1-13 Trailer
Ahoge is a very common anime trope, but it seems that not many people are aware it exists or know what it means. Many characters fall under a specific characterization when they have an ahoge, but sometimes, it's all in the character's style. At least it's not a consistent trope like other characterizations, but ahoge is not to be confused with antennae-style hair which features two strands of hair sticking out.
After reading this article, can you think of any ahoge anime characters you may have seen before? Do you have any ahoge favorites?