Manga characters have unrealistic designs. They may have unnatural natural hair colors like blue or purple, eye colors that are very rare or nonexistent in real life, superpowers, unrealistic physical limits, and more. The more a manga strays from reality, the more unrealistic its characters become. I, for one, enjoy that. Why try to ground everything in reality when we could go beyond? However, some of the more interesting designs are ones that take something real from our world and change it. Like heterochromia.
There are three different kinds of heterochromia, but I’m only concerned with complete heterochromia, where someone’s eyes are two completely different colors. There’s usually a reason for this unique characteristic rather than simple character design, but I can’t deny that it’s still compelling!
Reader Alert: there will be spoilers
1. Akashi Seijūrō from Kuroko’s Basketball
Akashi is an antagonist for most of this series. He is the former leader of the Generation of Miracles, a group of six basketball players at Teikou Middle School who had special abilities regarding basketball (and sports in general). Akashi’s ability is called Emperor Eye, where he can predict the future by closely observing people, including their muscle movements, breathing, etc. Due to this, as well as strenuous practice and his perfectionist nature, he never loses. His Emperor Eye changed his left eye color from red to yellow.
Akashi didn’t always have Emperor Eye; he developed it in the middle of a one-on-one match where he was losing. His personality changes after this, though only the other Generation of Miracles noticed it. Akashi appears to have DID, where someone has two or more distinct personalities within them. Akashi used to be kind, patient, and compassionate. After he unlocked his Emperor Eye, he became aggressive and ruthless. His personalities swap again toward the end, and his eyes change, but the other personality is still inside and still a part of him.
Click here and here for analyses on Akashi as well as his DID and how it affects him, those around him, and the series. These articles will discuss DID at length, as well as Akashi’s childhood trauma, so read at your own discretion.
2. Ciel Phantomhive from Black Butler
Earl Ciel Phantomhive is a 13-year-old orphan who runs his family’s confection and toy company called Funtom Corporation. He is also called the Queen’s Watchdog who does tasks she gives him, many of which are less-than-savory. He used to be a cheerful, kind boy; but after his parents were betrayed and killed, and he went through literal torture, he changed to a cold, stern, and arrogant boy. He also suffers from PTSD due to the horrific and tragic events which come up a couple of times.
He formed a contract with a demon named Sebastian (who is disguised as his butler) to avenge his parents’ murders and those who tortured and humiliated him. Proof of the contract is Ciel’s right eye, which is purple with a pentagram. He usually covers it with an eye patch. After Sebastian helps Ciel with his revenge, he will consume Ciel’s soul.
For an analysis of Ciel (which will contain spoilers for the series), click here. Please note that this article briefly talks about the torture Ciel endured, as well as a lengthy discussion on PTSD and trauma, which may be triggering to some people. Read it at your own discretion.
3. Hatake Kakashi from Naruto
Kakashi is a Jōnin ninja (meaning high or elite ninja) who leads Team 7, the main team the story follows. He is a soldier, leader, teacher, and, later, the Hokage. His personal life, however, is tragic. His mother died when he was a baby, and his father committed suicide when he was five. Later, at around 12 years old, he lost his two teammates—Obito Uchiha, who died saving him, and Rin, who he was forced to kill. A few years after that, he lost his teacher. Through his adult years, he has also lost many friends. Despite this, he is a caring person who emphasizes the value of teamwork, and he is always there for those he cares about.
Kakashi got his Sharingan, unique to the Uchiha clan, from Obito to replace the eye he lost earlier. Rin implanted it in him, and Kakashi was able to use it despite not being an Uchiha. However, because he isn’t an Uchiha, he can’t deactivate it, and it takes up a lot of chakra, which is why he covers it with his headband. The Sharingan gives wielders two main abilities: he can see chakra, and he has enhanced perception, which is how Kakashi became known as the Copy Ninja. He can see the hand signs for a jutsu once and recall them immediately. For more details on the Sharingan, click here.
4. Lelouch Lamperouge (a.k.a., Lelouch vi Britannia) from Code Geass
Lelouch is quite a complicated character. He is the 11th prince of Britannia, but he was exiled to Japan at ten years old with his younger sister, Nullany. He wants to make the world a better place for Nullany and go against Britannia. After being mistaken for a terrorist, and having a gun pointed at him, an immortal being named C.C. granted him the Geass. The Geass is an ultimate power that manifests differently depending on the person. In Lelouch, it’s called the “Power of Absolute Obedience,” where he uses eye contact to tell people what to do. He uses this throughout the series to further his goals.
He gave up his title as prince after his mother’s assassination. He accused his father of allowing it to happen, which caused his exile. His mother’s “death” (she is later revealed to be alive) and his sister were the reasons he kept pushing for a better world, though his methods were questionable. He is selfish, ruthless, and aggressive. He isn’t completely evil—he does have love and compassion for those close to him, and he cares for his subordinates, as well as generally being charismatic, among other positive traits. However, having the Geass shows more of his true nature. He changes as the series progresses, but he doesn’t do a complete turnaround.
For an in-depth character analysis, click here.
5. Todoroki Shouto from My Hero Academia
Todoroki is a hero-in-training at U.A. Academy. He has an ice and a fire quirk (quirks are basically superpowers) from his mother and father, respectively. This is also why his hair is two different colors and perhaps why his eyes are different as well. Having two quirks is exceedingly rare, and he is one of the most powerful students in Class 1A. His father, Pro Hero Endeavor, was extremely harsh with his training, to the point of blatant abuse. He saw Todoroki as the one who would surpass the number one hero, All Might. This is a big part of Todoroki’s character, and he struggles with this throughout the series.
Todoroki is the only character in this list whose heterochromia doesn’t serve as a plot point or give him a special ability. It’s just a part of him, like his hair. He looks like his father on his left, which is also where he uses his fire quirk, and his mother on his left, where he uses his ice quirk. This may be him having two quirks. Maybe it’s to show both his parents. Maybe it’s just his character design. I don’t know, but the choice to give Todoroki his parents’ eye colors is worth exploring.
There are some other manga characters with heterochromia, though it’s pretty rare. But there are all kinds of fascinating characters, both in good ways and bad. And if you’re new to manga and not sure where to start or looking for new ones, I recommend all of the ones mentioned.
For more on manga, click here.