Anime characters, especially protagonists and villains, often come with unusual hair colors, but that isn't the only way for character designers to make their darlings stand out.
Changing the texture of a character's hair can have a stark impact, and curly hair is one of the more interesting and lesser-used options.
Curly hair can infuse an anime character with a modern look and silhouette that immediately catches your eye. After all, one of the first things people notice about a character is their hair, so adding curls can make them very distinctive.
Here are our picks for the best anime characters with curly hair and why they're awesome beyond just their hairstyles.
Note: For this list, we're counting curly hair as having visible, stylized curls or obvious curly texture that serves as the defining feature of a character's look. So, even though Sailor Moon has two large curls at the ends of her pigtails, she doesn't make the list.
11. Ryota Miyagi (Slam Dunk)
Slam Dunk is a bastion of great anime characters with curly hair, but one of the best will always be Ryota Miyagi. He's the point guard on the Shohoku High School basketball team and he's best friends with the main character, Sakuragi Hanamichi.
Ryota is noteworthy for his relatively short stature as a basketball player, coming in at a positively diminutive five-and-a-half feet tall. However, that doesn't hold him back—his heart, drive, and dedication to training make him a force to be reckoned with on the court.
10. Launch (Dragon Ball)
In terms of character design, Launch was a product of the era back when Dragon Ball first premiered: the 1980s. It was a time of big hair, which likely inspired creator Akira Toriyama when he was designing her.
Launch is interesting because even though the volume of her curly hair stays consistent, the color actually changes depending on which of her two personalities is currently in control.
Every time she sneezes, Launch switches between blue hair (with a calm and sweet personality) and blonde hair (with an aggressive and violent personality). How's that for mood swings?
Unfortunately, Toriyama forgot about the character halfway through the manga, so we never really see what becomes of her.
9. Usopp (One Piece)
The Sniper King of the Seas, Usopp has been part of the Straw Hat Pirates crew since the earliest arcs in One Piece. His curly black hair can be seen at the back of his bandana, even if it's his distinctive nose that most people notice first.
What's great about this character is that even without the Devil Fruit powers that so many characters have in the show, Usopp manages to hold his own—even against some of the strange creatures of the Grand Line—all thanks to his expert marksmanship and creativity.
8. Giorno Giovanna (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a fascinating anime series for many reasons, one of them being that each Part takes place in a different setting in a different time period with a different main character.
During Part 5: Golden Wind, the main character is Giorno Giovanna: a Stand user with the power to give life to non-living things. That might not sound like a powerful ability, but his creativity and quick thinking allow him to succeed where so many others fail.
The three massive curls on the front of his pompadour hairstyle make him unmistakable, even among all the outlandish character designs of this truly bizarre anime series.
7. Mai Valentine (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Like all the best femme fatales in fiction, you never know exactly where you stand with Mai Valentine. She's beautiful and charming, but also willing to do whatever it takes to win any card battle she finds herself in.
Though she isn't in Yu-Gi-Oh! for as long as many of the other characters, Mai still manages to leave a lasting impression.
6. Muzan Kibutsuji (Demon Slayer)
Sometimes, the bad guy is the coolest-looking character in the show. Muzan Kibutsuji is the father of every demon in Demon Slayer and he continues to control them through his incredible power.
But Muzan's character design feels remarkably familiar to most fans: the parallels between Muzan's look—with the suit, hat, and curly hair—and the late Michael Jackson are hard to miss.
Unfortunately, Muzan never actually breaks out into an elaborate dance routine at any point in the anime series. If you ask me, that's feels like a sorely wasted opportunity!
5. Afro (Afro Samurai)
Afro Samurai is a feast of an anime for viewers who love over-the-top action and violence. It follows Afro as he seeks revenge against the most powerful swordsman in the world.
To get there, he has to go through countless challengers, each with elaborate powers and abilities that test Afro's skill with a sword.
There's a lot of blood and gore in this anime—even for adult audiences—but the fight scenes and animation are stellar more than 15 years after the anime was first released.
4. Nui Harime (Kill la Kill)
Nui Harime is a woman who's almost more curls than person. Her pigtails are massive and unmissable, giving her an adorable look that will almost make you forget she's one of the bad guys of Kill la Kill.
She's one of the most powerful anime characters with curly hair, proving that it's always the cute ones you need to watch out for.
3. Yumiko Miura (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU)
Never underestimate the power of a mean girl. Yumiko Miura is one of the most popular girls at Sobu High School, and she uses that power for her own gain constantly.
She might look harmless with her blonde hair with curls at the ends, but she's ruthless and manipulative of everyone around her. Yumiko wields her popularity like a sword, convincing other students to do her bidding even when it hurts them.
2. Spike Spiegel (Cowboy Bebop)
Spike Spiegel's hair is nearly as cool as he is, with his afro giving him a distinctive silhouette in a show that oozes style from every frame. Whether it's a shoot-out or a melee fight, Spike always manages to make it out looking good.
While you can't see any individual curls in his design, you don't get that kind of volume without plenty of curls.
1. Tatsumaki (One Punch Man)
Among the heroes in One Punch Man, Tatsumaki is in a class all her own. Her hero name is Terrible Tornado, which sums up pretty much all you need to know about her.
Tatsumaki is an S-Class hero with psychic powers capable of leveling entire cities, but her mood swings and childish personality often get the better of her.
Still, her curly green hair is distinctive and keeps in line with her characterization. Watching her personality clash so heatedly with everyone around her is always a treat to see.