Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Presence of Red & Blue Oni in Anime

Red & Blue Oni
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Since anime is influenced by Japanese culture, it is almost no doubt that we can find cultural concepts hidden within the vibrant series. To top that off, in many series featuring human characters, we have a pretty high chance of seeing a dynamic duo in the cast of characters. Sometimes these characters are represented by two colors; the most common being red and blue.

Although red and blue can mean many different things when it comes to anime or life, a lot of the color combinations and pigments of character's appearance aren't just for show. They have deeper meanings, and relate to their personality and role within the story.

To make this more understandable, we can examine the cast of various anime and find some similarities. Even though anime feature different stories, it's very intriguing to know that some of the same cultural traits linger beneath each of them.

Oremonogatari Red Oni Blue Oni
Sunakawa on left, Takeo on the right.

It wasn't until I started watching an anime by the name Oremonogatari that I started to notice a trend when it comes to certain characters. For those who haven't heard of the anime, Oremonogatari or Oremon, is a pretty unique shoujo featuring a male as the main character. Although my thoughts on the story are pretty mixed, I would say that it is an anime worth watching.

Moving on to the main character of the anime, Takeo, is pretty interesting. He's big, brawny, and somewhat intimidating. Despite this, he's one of the nicest guys you can find. His best friend, Sunakawa, is quite the opposite. He fits the stereotype of the anime pretty boy with good looks, brains, and a cool personality. Similarly to Takeo, he has a silly side that isn't always seen.

From the ground up these characters embody the ones in a certain story, The Red Oni Who Cried. In summary, the story features two oni, which are mythological creatures in Japanese traditional stories. One of the oni, the red, is sad and wishes to have friends. The blue oni, decides to help his friend by pretending to terrorize the villagers, laying out the road for the red oni to not only make friends, but to be seen as a hero.

Similar to how cultural elements make their way into our cartoons, it's interesting to find many Japanese traditional values being the basis of many plots, character designs, and other such things, in anime. In fact, a red oni and blue oni pattern is so common in anime and media, that places such as TV Tropes has started creating a list of characters who fall into this category.

Red Oni Blue Oni Pairings in Anime
In clockwise order, starting from the top right: Nagisa and Honoka ~ Pretty Cure, Soul and Maka ~ Soul Eater, Moka and Tsukune ~ Rosario + Vampire, Natsu and Gray ~ Fairy Tail

With that being said, is building characters on such values a bad thing, and are humans able to be split into such categories? For the first topic, I believe that using certain tropes or traits for characters isn't always a bad thing. I believe creators should try to avoid making characters that are near carbon copies of their stereotypes, (such as the every-so-common tsundere.) and instead use those roles and break stereotypes to flesh out the characters more.

For instance, Dog Days, while coming off as an adorable moe based anime, had quite a bit of character development and is now showcasing an even deeper plot. A character by the name of Eclair was a stereotypical tsundere at the start of the series. She had many of the generic traits and honestly didn't feel that interesting as a character.

However the key trait that separated her from others is that she was subject to "change." Change allowed her to become more flexible. Change allowed her to become less prone to irrational outbursts and more level-headed with her decisions. In my opinion, this is more realistic than a character who embodies a single characteristic without any progress.

The same goes into play for the Red Oni and Blue Oni character types. Anime can implement these types for sure, but they then need to chose whether to keep these sides separate and make them static characters, or to play around with these roles and allow for a dynamic role.

Dog Days Eclair
Eclair from Dog Days

In regards to humans, I believe that we as people cannot necessarily be split into categories. Despite this, I don't think we should cast away and completely ignore such things. Instead we should try to learn from it or take it as something for fun. Although I relate more to the Red Oni, the Blue Oni has traits that speak to me as well. Similarly to Yin and Yang, Order and Chaos, and other similar pairings, we should remember that life isn't all white and black. It's okay to identify with a certain side more than the other, but it's best to remember that both are necessary to make a whole.

So now, I would like to hear from you. If you have time, take a look at TV Tropes page on Red Oni, Blue Oni, and let me know what you think. Which character type do you identify with more and why? Do you enjoy stories where the roles overlap, or ones where the characters stay fixed in these roles throughout the entire series? Please comment below and share your thoughts!

As always, thank you for reading.


  1. Hey! I'm seeking for Anime/Manga bloggers and stumbled on your blog. I could not find your email here, could you kindly send me an email: alysonburston[at] --- It is regarding writing about Anime/Manga type of offer. This is not spam btw. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for commenting!

      My apologies, its somewhat inconvenient to work with in my layout. My email can be found from clicking on my name on my posts, then following the link that's on my profile. I plan to add an easier way to contact me on my sidebar, which I will implement ASAP.

      I will gladly email you.


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