In anime, it’s common for Japanese animators to give their characters one uniform look throughout the series, creating unique identifiers that make the cast unmistakable. But, every so often, we get a team of creatives whose adoration for fashion reflects in their character’s style — creating in-vogue looks that could easily grace a runway or the front pages of a fashion magazine. Here are five examples of fashion icons in anime.
- Bulma Briefs: The Rihanna Of Dragon Ball
If we’re talking fashion in anime, one of the first names that come to mind is Bulma Briefs: the beautiful tech genius from the Dragon Ball franchise. The Capsule Corp baddie has switched up her style so much that we’re declaring her the Rihanna of the Dragon Ball Universe.
Bulma’s looks are so diverse they could fill a lookbook. Each of her iconic fits ooze femininity and confidence no matter what she decides to wear, making her #goals for cosplayers and an inspiration to girls all over the world.
Bulma was known for taking minimalistic styles — like tee shirts and tank dresses — and elevating them with the addition of accessories like utility belts, neck scarves, baseball caps, headbands, and goggles. Never afraid to push the envelope, she made all the boys drool with her curve-hugging dresses, tees, and bodysuits that even caught the attention of the world’s most arrogant Saiyan: Vegeta.
The only thing Bulma Briefs changes more than her clothes is her hair. Her infamous blue locks have been styled every way, from a long, adorable braided pony to a short and edgy bowl cut. Bulma’s style indicates that she’s not just a science whiz: Mrs. Briefs is a multi-faceted woman with the confidence to boot whose big personality ranges from casual and cool to flirty chic and fun. With that, we can all agree: there are few looks she hasn’t tried and no style she can’t pull off.
- Yusuke Urameshi: The Flyest Of Them All
Yu-Yu Hakusho is an anime whose fashion inspired a whole generation. Its reputation for frequently changing the style of its main ensemble cast made it a breakout star of its time. You don’t have to search very far to see Yu-Yu Hakusho’s influence on fashion. Hiei, Kurama, Yusuke, and Kuwabara have been remixed in numerous fan-art illustrations and featured in anime streetwear collabs with Hypland and Atsuko. Although the cast is full of fashion-killers, no one is fresher than your boy Yusuke Urameshi.
Yusuke is undoubtedly the flyest protagonist in Shonen history, inspiring young men with his high-top kicks and swaggy layered looks. Yusuke’s style is not just what he wears but how. His iconic gear exuded teen angst and arrogance, from tight high-waisted bottoms and sleeveless tanks to his infamous hands-in-the-pocket stance that lets his supernatural foes know he’s not the one to mess with.
Although his baggy green jumpsuit is his signature uniform, no anime fit will ever surpass the layered plaid button-down, yellow sweater, and green jacket. Urameshi brings the look together with his wild shaggy hair and black shades making it another effortlessly cool slay for Yusuke.
- Usagi Tsukino: An Icon In Angel Wings
Sailor Moon takes women’s wear and elevates it to a new level, giving us limitless variations of what feminine style could look like. In Sailor Moon, fashion is just as vital to the story as the setting and plot, with each character having distinctive styles and color palettes that reflect their powerful alter egos and everyday personalities.
Although each Sailor Scout is a fashion icon in her own right, none is more iconic than Usagi Tsukino, aka Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon’s style isn’t just in vogue; it symbolizes feminism and girl power. She managed to be a strong female protagonist while never compromising her softness and purity, inspiring a whole generation of girls who aspired to be just like her.
No matter what she wore, Usagi’s looks always complimented her statuesque figure; her patriotic sailor dress came with a mini skirt and tall red boots that enhanced her mile-long legs. In Sailor Moon, not only does Usagi switch her outfits often, but the emphasis on pastel colors, varying patterns, and layering made Usagi a teen-style icon.
Her assorted looks have birthed their own aesthetic, which has inspired everything from makeup to Pinterest boards. Usagi’s soft and feminine style adds a vulnerable humanistic element to her character that off-sets her powerful Sailor Moon form, making her relatable to young girls worldwide.
- Rohan Kishibe: The Gucci Trendsetter
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is an anime that takes its fashion seriously: the inspiration it draws from the high fashion industry is evident as soon as you look at its elaborately designed clothing and Jojo’s famously flamboyant poses. Hirohiko Araki — the author of the Jojo franchise — has admitted to being inspired by musicians and fashion illustrators like Antonio Lopez and Tony Viramontes. When you think of fashion icons from Jojo, you may think of Jotaro Kujo for his muscular physique and glamorized accessories. However, this entry is going to Rohan Kishibe, a mangaka made famous in Diamond is Unbreakable.
Rohan Kishibe is a side character whose look screams “high fashion model”: his slender build and angled face would definitely be all the rage on the runways of Europe. Rohan Kishibe’s aesthetic is so “high-fashion” that when creator Hirohiko Araki created an exclusive manga for his first Gucci collab, he was the first character that came to mind.
Rohan Kishibe Goes to Gucci was featured in the first issue of Japan’s fashion mag Spur; the 16-page book was displayed exclusively in the Shinjuku Gucci store in Tokyo! The high-end exhibition included a life-size Rohan statue and six original illustrations featuring clothing, bags, and sneakers from Gucci’s 2011 – 2012 Fall/Winter collection. How’s that for iconic?
- Nana Osaki: Putting On For The Punk Rockers
Nana is known for its nods to music, love, and, most notably: fashion. It is one of the most fashionable titles in anime history, thanks to creator Ai Yazawa’s background in fashion illustration. Nana’s punk rock aesthetics took off like wildfire in the past year. It inspired a new generation of fans to trade their colorful trendy pieces for leopard print jackets and plaid skirts, thanks to its spike in popularity on social media.
Although there are various stylish stand-out characters, Nana Osaki is the true fashion star of the series. Nana’s famously edgy ensembles have been the focus of countless lookbooks that are constantly being re-invented in Tik Tok and Youtube videos thanks to the show’s re-emergence on the HIDIVE network in 2021. Nana Osaki’s 90s punk rock aesthetic features replicas of real-life Vivienne Westwood pieces – a designer known for crossing the punk rock/new wave scene over to the mainstream.
Nana takes the idea of the female protagonist and gives it a punk rock edge. She rocks her dark hair short with wispy strands that perfectly frame her heart-shaped face. As the lead singer of The Black Stones, Nana completely emerges herself in the punk rock lifestyle; her wardrobe is dripping with looks inspired by new wave/punk rock fashion like leather chokers, studded belts, padlock chains, and plaid mini skirts. Nana’s choice to rock platform boots and corsets instead of a glamorized schoolgirl uniform sets her apart in the anime fandom and solidifies her title as a true fashion icon.
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Kaillaby is a writer from The Bronx with infectious high energy and a passion for geek culture. She loves connecting with Blerds like herself and hopes to create her own cartoon someday.