When it comes to stories, I like a lot of different types. I definitely have a preference in novels and TV for fantasy and science-fiction, although paranormal romances are certainly starting to fill my shelves in recent years. Whether that is because they are any good or because of the sheer volume of books that fall into that category being published is another story. When it comes to anime, I’ll give almost anything a shot.
I do state a preference for darker anime, action or mystery or drama. Maybe fantasy or science fiction if done well. But I watch romances, comedies, the very occasional sport, slice of life, and more or less anything else. The genre itself doesn’t put me off because I watch anime for the same reason I read books and watch movies. I want a good story or some great characters. If I can get both simultaneously then I’ve hit the jackpot. And failing a good story or great characters, I want something that doesn’t bore me (though that is an entirely subjective judgement on my part).
But when you tell people you’ll try almost anything (even if not for long) they then start asking the obvious question. What about…?
Recently I had a conversation with someone after I mentioned in passing that I’d watched Super Lovers during the Spring season. After the interesting discussion that followed that (regarding BL in general) we began discussing other anime genres that sometimes get dismissed out of hand without really looking at the individual releases. That landed us squarely in harem territory.
If you were to ask me if I like harem anime my answer would probably be, not really. They are predictable and generally the protagonists are dull and surrounded by girls that are either cookie-cutter stereotypes, overly sexualized, or just plain stupid. But that isn’t every single anime that falls into the harem category – and even if it is, that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t genuinely entertaining.
So what are some harem anime that I’ve enjoyed?
- Boku wa Tomodachi no Sukunai: It’s hilarious. Kodaka has more personality than most protagonists in this genre (though is still passive and clueless) and the girls still fit particular types (and treat each other horribly) but I laughed so hard while watching this and by the end of the second season I really wanted Kodaka to end up with someone.
- The Familiar of Zero: So the girls here are pretty much as standard as they come, as is our mostly personality-less protagonist. Why I like this one is because of the fantasy elements and the plot outside of the harem. I really like the story of Louise and her familiar and their trials even if the harem aspects of this show drive me a little crazy.
- Chaos;Head: Alright, like is probably not the right word for this one. I enjoyed it and was bemused by it. Frustrated because the storyline didn’t really find itself. Honestly, until someone else pointed out that this had a harem in it I hadn’t even noticed because I was too busy trying to figure out the plot. It’s dark and interesting and the protagonist is actively pathetic at times rather than just the generic every man. I don’t know if that is much of an improvement, but at least it made him stand out.
- The Asterisk War: Yeah, our overly nice protagonist is overpowered and apparently irresistible, but I enjoy this anime. I do want them to finally let the two main characters get together and I know they probably won’t because that would ruin the whole harem setting, but I enjoy their relationship and want to see it develop.
- Lord Marksman and Vanadis: I did a review of this recently and quite enjoyed this anime. The harem aspects are unnecessary and occasionally distracting, but the storyline is really interesting.
Okay, I could probably list more harem anime that I disliked, but the point it, I can hardly claim to dislike the whole genre when there are so many that I have enjoyed. I also quite enjoy reverse harem anime but I’m leaving that conversation for another day.
What about you? Is there a genre you avoid like the plague? Do you have a favourite harem anime?