At the start of the series, Kaneki's hair is dark brown, except in the OP, where it we see an image of him with white hair. In episode 11, we see a final scene of Kaneki, his hair having turned white. This turns out to be a preview of things to come, his hair being brown at the start of episode 12.

However, during episode 12, we see a scene, theoretically taking place in Kaneki's mind, or as a hallucination, wherein his hair fades from brown to white.

Kaneki's hair changing color

After this scene, however, this color change seems to manifest in the real world, too. (Kaneki's clothes also seem to invert colors.)

What caused Kaneki's hair (and/or clothes) to change color in the actual real world during this episode?

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    also the fingernail turn black. Sep 22, 2014 at 7:19
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    Sakata Gintoki? Sep 22, 2014 at 9:46
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    The hair is pretty obvious due to the whole marie antoinette syndrome, although it did turn white pretty quickly. But the black nails? Dunno. As for the sudden mental transformation thing in his body? Probably because he mentally adapted to the powers and that's what triggered the sudden change. Now the clothes...that must have been a plothole or louzy writing.
    – user8762
    Oct 17, 2014 at 20:09

6 Answers 6


You should read the manga. His hair turned white because of the stress of being tortured 2 or 3 times everyday for 10+ days.

The anime is wrong. Why? Because Kaneki's hair didn't change in a moment, in the manga they show us his hair gradually turning white while he also loses his mind.

Gradually turning white

There his toenails are already black

CrazyGhoul Badass

They don't explain why the hair turns white or the nails black (also they are not black black, they're more like super dark blood colored), but we can assume that the hair it's because of the Marie Antoinette syndrome, and the nails are because of the constant regeneration. Like I said before the nails are like dark blood colored, they're not pure black, it's like when you hit a finger really hard, and the nail falls off in a time? Well before that, it gets really dark blood colored, Kaneki's are like that.

I know you posted this a time ago but maybe if you can read it, or other people that has the same doubt will understand.

  • Your answer is the best in my opinion. Nice explanatiom Oct 26, 2018 at 21:16

It seems that his hair turning white and his nails turning black was both due to the physical and mental stress he was experiencing during the torture and the forced regeneration of his toes. (Sources: one, two, three)

The whitening of the hair due to stress is also known as Marie Antoinette Syndrome. The condition got its name after Marie Antoinette's hair supposedly turning white the night before she was going to be executed.

Sidenote: Another anime I know of where Marie Antoinette syndrome appears is Gosick where Victorique's hair also change colour due to experienced stress.

The changes going on both in his mind and the real world (even though that is just my opinion) might be because what happened in his mind affected his behaviour in the real world as well (gave him strength to fight "Jason" while standing up to Rize) and vice versa. Another possible reason is to depict the change in him as a person (not just the physical appearance).

  • His nails, weren't those painted by Jason?
    – FatalSleep
    Sep 29, 2014 at 8:35
  • Might be - I did notice that his nails were black/dark way before his hair turned white. However, most of the sources I found state the nail color change together with the hair, and blame the stress and regeneration for that. As far as I know, in the anime, they didn't show Jason painting his nails, but maybe someone who read the manga might know more.. Sep 29, 2014 at 8:39
  • Interesting. Although, I could be confusing this with Terror in Resonance when Lisa has her nails painted by Five. Either way, I don't believe that Kaneki's nails changing color were part of the MA Syndrome or are supposed to be affected by something like that.
    – FatalSleep
    Sep 29, 2014 at 8:53
  • Definitely. The nails are not a part of the Marie Antoinette syndrome - it goes just for the hair changing to white. Sep 29, 2014 at 9:06
  • "Kaneki's hair was white only for 10 days" - I think the Wiki is saying that he was tortured for 10 days, not that his hair color change lasts only that long.
    – Cattua
    Sep 29, 2014 at 19:29

Unlike stated in some of the other answers, it's not Marie Antoinette Syndrome. In the Tokyo Ghoul Re: manga, it is explained in Chapter 131:
because the bodies cells are only able to divide a certain number of times before they fail, aka Ageing.

As Kaneki had to repeatedly heal his toes over and over and over, all the while being tortured and borderline starved. His body was basically getting weaker and weaker because the cells were wearing thin, which is why his hair turns white, as happens with people when they get old.
This is also why Takizawa from Re: had his hair turn white, torture.

For the same reason Kaneki's hair turns black again, because he was no longer undergoing torture.

It's explained in Chapter 131. Directly states that his torture has caused him to age at a heightened rate. Which seems to be an issue with human turned ghouls though... Same with Takizawa


His change in hair color is probably due to Marie Antoinette syndrome, a rare condition that causes the hair to suddenly become white in response to some great stress or shock. It's so named because Marie Antoinette's hair supposedly turned white after she was captured during the French Revolution.

Here's Wikipedia on Marie Antoinette Syndrome.

Here's a more reliable article from JAMA Dermatology, a site that archives papers in dermatology.

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    Could you provide a source? Go google it is not very nice. You should provide the answer here...
    – Gerret
    Sep 21, 2014 at 10:37
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    Even though I added sources to this answer to make it better, I still don't find it very helpful. The real question seems to be "Why did Kaneki's dream-world changes end up coming into the real world?", not "What could cause someone's hair color to change to white?"
    – Torisuda
    Sep 22, 2014 at 7:12
  • I think another point might be that they wanted to show that kaneki changed not just mentally but physically. Using that syndrome as a plausible theory. Since his hair color did turn white which fits the syndrome's description. At the same time Kaneki also killed his the inner Rize it might have triggered something in his body to adopt to that change. I won't put this as an answer because its purely speculation. Hope it helps someone
    – xwillflame
    Sep 22, 2014 at 10:52
  • TG:Re seems to back this up, as after losing all his memories and living a relatively stress free life for several years, his black hair has started growing back out. (1 year after the end there was a little black around the roots, now ~2 years after that it's a little over half black. Mar 6, 2015 at 4:24

His clothes change colors probably due to the blood on his shirt drying. Usually, when blood dries and forms scabs, it turns black. That is also the basis for the suddenly darkened color in the fingernails.

His hair changes in color in response to extreme stress as pointed out by the others and is called Marie Antoinette syndrome.


Having read the manga and kind of knowing the style of writing this author does I doubt it's due to some Marie-whatever syndrome. It's such a huge detail and having it be because "oops biology" doesn't seem very likely to me. I would bet that it's symbolic, either just for Kaneki's change in character (although that maybe wouldn't make much sense since the second time Kaneki gets black hair he doesn't act at all like he did the first time he had black hair) or for some deeper poetic or philosophical reason. The manga at the very least is very poetic after all. But what this symbolism means is a different discussion.

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