The Natural and Whimsical Sides of Kigurumi Color Schemes

"Kigurumi usually represent living creatures, mainly animals."

This is the statement that we made while explaining the nature of basic kigurumi designs. This is the fundamental element that differentiates it from a onesie, and, depending on actual design, will be the main framework of what makes a particular theme cute.

Subdividing this classification further are the categories for color schemes. This is the signature set of basic colors that should be expected when looking for a particular animal motif. For instance, Tigers are almost always either white or yellow (orange?) with black or very dark stripes, while foxes are almost always orange.

However, we also understand that there isn't really any strict requirement to adhere to these rules. So long as the theme and visual pattern is "intact", the limitation extends to just about anything that you can fully imagine.

Thus, our topic for this blog. Well, it's not really meant to be a question. But the topic will be our gateway to exploring the wonderful world of kigurumi color schemes both in real and in anime.

Fixed Stereotypical-ish Color Schemes

As we have mentioned, a good number of default designs usually fall back to very familiar fixed color schemes. No, no, we are not talking about bear kigurumi in all manner of shades or brown, or those that can lightly tread in and out of its familiar tones like fox kigurumi.

We are talking about animal kigurumi with very specific color patterns that classify its identity. A good example would be any animal with spots or stripes in them. Tiger and leopard kigurumi for example, basically owe their entire identities to their skin patterns. Deviating from them is certainly not a taboo, but their classification as the animal they are trying to represent usually gets muddled. 

Even for the rather simpler tiger kigurumi, the acceptable color tone and pattern is significantly distinct, that there isn't even any fictional character that is identified with anything other than any combinations of light brown and bright yellow. Try Googling for any color plus the world "tiger", and you'll see what I mean.

Of course, if it is anything as distinct as leopards, even the tone itself sometimes need to be strict. Only light grey! Exclusively black and white! Again, deviations are not illegal in any way, but can you really draw up a cartoonish leopard kigurumi design with a wacky color scheme without anyone mistaking it as a macho version of your typical dreamy-themed cat kigurumi?

I mean, just look at pandas. No, no, not the smaller red ones. I mean the actual Ailuropoda melanoleuca panda itself. Is it even conceivable to think of another panda variant that has a distinctly different color than well... black and white? Hmm, now that I think about it, maybe that is possible. But it still doesn't have the same color freedom as cats, or dogs, or penguins... or heck even ponies.

And finally, polar bear kigurumi. Yup, absolutely no other arguments for this one. 

Color Variations Indicative(?) of Breed

Of course, before we even tread into the realm of wacky, crazy, and dreamy, we already have a good amount of different kigurumi color variations and patterns that can represent real-world breeds of different animals. Most common representations are, of course, from various cat and dog breeds, although other common kigurumi, such as bears and rabbits, may also apply.

First order are the (almost) pure color ones. These are pretty boring to be honest, but at least solid enough that they can be instantly identified and can be universally slotted into any classification or theme of a larger scale. Black and white comes as perfect staples for this occasion, with each respective categories of cat and dog kigurumi having its own entries to fill the part.

And before someone even mentions, take note that we don't have to be too strictly pedantic about being pure black or white when throwing a real-world breed design into one classification. If one color is more "overwhelming" than the other, then we simply dictate its color as such.

Second one to include are brown-colored ones. Although in this case, hue and blend are the focus, as there could potentially be an infinite number of browns that can be applied to multiple animal-themed kigurumi. One kigurumi's level of dark brown may be a few sRGB units different from another suit. Or, maybe the exact same hue of brown represents two or more different animal kigurumi bundled together.

Last one are the color blends, either in hues or in solid tinges. Many birds and exotic water-dwelling animals belong in this category, although more mundane ones can also exist. This one is more of a case by case basis though, so we can't really establish a direct pattern here. Just remember that most of these animal kigurumi are derived from color patterns at or near the original color of the design they are inspired with.

Oh yeah, greys also come closely behind, but we technically simply consider this as both black and white so it should instead be included in the first category. 

Unnatural Colors Symbolizing (or Suggesting) a Brand or Seal

This one is pretty straightforward. If there is a kigurumi design that came from some licensed character or mascot, and it doesn't use natural colors, then it fits right into this category. The same goes for kigurumi that does use natural colors, but are patterned in a way that can't possibly be natural no matter what.

Pokémon, for example, can have wacky examples that have strong anatomical similarities to the real-life animals, with the obvious exception of the aforementioned unnatural colors. For other franchises like Disney, characters simply follow a more predictable, "caricatured" color format, which is also unnatural, but the focus is more in exaggeration rather than outright using unrealistic colors.

Not sure if we should include mythical creatures here like dragons and unicorns, though. We don't even have a blueprint on their original color (ancient literary sources for both green and white respectively?), so we have technically no choice but to accept each and every entry for such kigurumi as "unnaturally colored." The more vibrant the more fitting for this category, I guess? 

Of course, anything that is already a mascot ("kigurumi") in the first place also earns a spot in this category. This is regardless if their resulting kigurumi color scheme would mostly represent clothing rather than skin or fur.

And yes, most of the unusual light blue penguin kigurumi falls under this category as well, despite the existence of an actual, darker blue penguin in the real world.

Splashing the Color Palette For Striking Patterns

Ultimately, we also have the concept of combining significantly different primary colors to create striking patterns signature only to their designs. While in concept this shouldn't be too difficult, spinning the rainbow dial for certain animal themes can be quite tricky. You don't exactly just paint a wolf kigurumi in like, three or more colors, unless all of it can come together coherently, do you?

Which... unfortunately causes us to occasionally fall back into mascot territory once again, where the number of colors doesn't really matter so long as the design stays intact. Mascots, or poster characters, after all, are meant to be as striking to the eye as possible.

By the way, cheating in this category is also actually possible. For example, if the multi-color ensemble is prominent enough to be considered as a central part of the kigurumi's motif. In that case, we can still throw it in the "rainbow" category. Or, if a design's color scheme can directly tread the RGB line in a consistent, totally-not-deliberately-random order.

I'd have to admit, however, that apart from I have already physically seen, there wasn't really that much multi-color splashes on kigurumi that I could draw inspiration into. They're certainly fun from a creative perspective, and as proven by many, already available designs, the idea can certainly work.

Image credit by 桜花 via Pixiv

Regardless of the chosen color scheme, though... I feel at least that the challenge still rests on the base motif of the kigurumi itself. Unless, we're no longer talking about animals here.