by Shance and Yi.
Shance: It is so often said that hair is a symbol of a woman’s beauty. It can be styled in a thousand ways, and can captivate men with all but a single touch. That being said, it is no wonder that a lot of us love certain hairstyles, as well as the personalities that wear them. A good example of this is a hairstyle that I hold dearly close to my heart: the Hime cut hairstyle.
Yi: A supposed favorite among noble Japanese women in the imperial courts during the Heian Period—hence the “princess” cut (姫カット)—the style consists of a very structured look: symmetrical frontal fringe, side locks, and long remaining hair. These parts are all straightened, uniformly cut to various lengths. The cuts create a layered, but very organized and maintained look. Today, though it may have lost its high society associations somewhat, Hime cut is still a popular look among women, who sport either the original or some sort of variations.
Shance: In anime or manga, it is often believed that any girl with notable status or importance to the story will sport the Hime cut, mostly because of its origins. From student council presidents to miko to even the rare Yamato Nadeshiko, the Hime cut never fails to denote elegance, grace, beauty, and purity in the Japanese sense. If sex hair catches attention because it is asymmetrical, then the Hime cut can do the same and a lot more, all by just being the sex hair’s opposite.
The best and most prominent examples of a person wearing the Hime cut are those of the legendary bamboo princess, Kaguya-hime. Being a well-known story both in Japan and in other countries, it is through the legend’s depiction of the princess that lets the Hime cut stand above the rest of other character hairstyles. Therefore, we can say that the usage of Hime cut in anime and manga isn’t really something to be trifled with.
To further understand, let’s take an example from one of the recently finished shows: Rise Matsumoto of Yuruyuri.
For one with a keen eye for hairstyles, it is obvious that Rise sports the Hime cut, and by common standards will hold some sort of significance in the show, whether major or minor. And it is true, because Rise Matsumoto is the student council president, and is seen as an icon by her teachers, peers and fellow students, all while sporting the basic traits of a Yamato Nadeshiko. That’s enough reputation for a very silent side character, don’t you think?
Yi: Indeed, the Hime cut is so iconic that its wearers automatically give the audience certain expectations. The character may not fit all the stereotypes, but more often than not, she has certain traits common to the Yamato Nadeshiko. Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke, in terms of personality, perfectly embodies the ideal Japanese woman in traditional beliefs: kind, soft-spoken, gentle, and reserved. Yomi from Ga-Rei Zero takes on a different aspect of the yamato nadeshiko—she is the daughter of a well-respected noble house. In both cases, the girls fit part of our expectations that come with Hime cuts.
Conversely, even parts and variations of the Hime cut can give a similar effect. The very original Hime cut refers to a style with symmetrical frontal fringe and side locks, and all the locks of the hair must be as straightened; neatly worn, luscious, black hair is highly desired. However, today, we much more often see something resembling the essence of the Hime cut without having all these elements.
Shance: What you said is very true, Yi. There are a lot of variations for the Hime cut, most of them achieving the same effects as the original. A common one is the varying of lengths for the fringe, sidelocks and the actual length of the hair. Shionji Yuuko of Kamisama no Memochou is an example, having a symmetrical front fringe and asymmetrical sidelocks and hair length. Another interesting variation is the hairstyle of Victorique de Blois from Gosick , whose wavy blond hair gives an attractive and unnatural feel. Lastly, fashionable trinkets such as ribbons and laces gives a refreshing effect, like the hairstyle of Patchouli Knowledge from Touhou. Speaking of which, it’s quite interesting that Hime cut hairstyles compliment traditional eastern clothing, as well as gothic lolita and, on a more extreme note, sexy bedroom attire such as oversized shirts and underwear.
Yi: Mixing up fashion and styling can really create its own gorgeous look. On runways and in photoshoots, styling—that is, hair, make-up, accessories, and all that jazz—have to come together with fashion to complete a model. In the above cases, we see very fresh, unique takes on both aspects of the looks. Unlikely, but pretty combinations. Hime cut does not always have to go with traditional clothing, nor does it always have to have that set structure.
A recent issue of Vogue China shows just how adorable mixing things up can be.
Hyoni Kang’s styling is not just vaguely reminiscent of the classic Asian beauty, but her hair is also a variation of the Hime cut. Yet it does not feel out of place with the modern, edgy fashion. The tailored, manly top and those loose pants may be contrary to the yamato nadeshiko ideal, but under different lenses, the model is a gorgeous blend of femininity and masculinity.
As an aside, Hyoni Kang is stunning! I really, really love her on this cover.
Shance: Nice picture, Yi! That picture is a testament that no matter how you wear it, the Hime cut will always be a prominent hairstyle, whether in anime, manga, or reality. It’s not just because Japanese have straight, black hair. It’s also not just because it’s an ancient and historical hairstyle either. It’s simply because you can wear the hairstyle that makes it iconic, elegant, beautiful. For a very oriental country like Japan, Hime cut will always be supreme, no matter what people think or say about it. You can count me in on this one.
Yi: Haha, your passion I feel. Although I still prefer voluminous, wavy locks, I certainly understand the classy appeal of Hime cuts; I have my favorite princesses. And just maybe, maybe… I will even rock the style one day.
Shance: I’ll certainly be one to anticipate that! And with that, I bid you adieu and good night, madesmoiselle. It’s been a nice chat, this blog post.
About the Guest Author:
Shance is a fun blogger who writes on a wide variety of anime related topics. Together, we put forth our ideas about a common fascination. It was a super, super fun colloquium, our having approached the topic with very different (yet similar) ideas. Shance blogs over at Rainbowsphere. Be sure to visit!