Actually, I don’t Mind… The Occasional Harem Anime

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When it comes to stories, I like a lot of different types but what about harem anime or even reverse harem?

Karandi ponders watching Harem Anime

I mean 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.

And when it comes to anime, I’ll give almost anything a shot. That ‘almost’ is important though because while I might try comedies, it is pretty clear I’m not in love with them and sport and idol anime have to do something to draw me in before I’ll commit.

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…? And inevitably the question of harem anime will come up.

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 anime 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.

Besides, harem anime crosses genres with a great number of isekai stories also being harem and the same for adventure, fantasy, rom-com and so on. Even if I flatly said I didn’t like harem anime it would be quite obvious that I enjoyed titles like Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon which most definitely has a harem queuing up behind the protagonist.

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.

Kodaka - great male lead in a harem comedy.

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.

The familiar of Zero - another harem anime

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.

chaos-head-anime-season-2 - Check out this harem anime

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.

The Asterisk War - A Harem anime that is still pretty interesting.

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. But I love Tigre and the plot is actually pretty solid even if the anime leaves it unfinished.

Lord Marksman and Vanadis - harem anime

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?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

11 thoughts on “Actually, I don’t Mind… The Occasional Harem Anime

  1. I totally agree with you. I also watch any kind of show as long as it has a good story and/or good characters. Do you have a series you can recommend to me?

  2. I usually skip vampire and shounen-fight animes the easiest, but by now days I really don’t have the time to watch many series, so I mostly go for original stories, psychological and seinen ones.

    As for harem anime, I definitely want to mention Love Hina as both a classic and as one I really enjoyed.

  3. Tomodachi Sukunai is so hilarious! (๑✧∀✧๑)
    Chaos;Head was an adaptation that needed to have been longer to make justice to the game and its themes really (;^ω^) But it wasn’t bad as a harem show!
    Zero no Tsukaima I haven’t finished watching it, but I really do need to (・Θ・;)
    The rest I never heard of, so I might have to check them out १|˚–˚|५

    1. Chaos;Head definitely needed more episodes and slightly more coherent storytelling but at least the harem aspects weren’t intrusive.
      I did a review on Lord Marksman earlier. It’s a bit of an odd duck but certainly interesting. Also a bit unresolved. What is it with harem anime not coming to a conclusion? Other than the fact that they’d need to resolve the harem before they can resolve the plot of course.

      1. Agreed (^v^)
        Harem shows have an allergy for resolution, decisions and conclusions (^_^;)
        Plot psssh, what’s a plot? < most harem shows xD

  4. “Okay, I could probably list more harem anime that I disliked, but the point it. . .”


    Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Familiar of Zero were two of my first anime since coming back to it in 2012. I really liked the former, but a recent re-watch had me finding it less than sunny side-up. Familiar of Zero was one of the first anime I found myself hating. The first and second season get away with some things while being moderately entertaining, but the next two seasons made me want to tear my eyes out.

    Interesting list here. A harem I really dig, even now, is Mayo Chiki!. It’s very much in the “guilty pleasure” category, but something about it speaks to me. It seems shinier than most harems.

  5. I was never one for harem anime myself, but I have a strange fondness for one in particular, Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki the 1992 classic (Might even be the oldest harem). It’s a really fun romp of space antics involving an ancient space pirate, a bunny that grows up into a ship, its quite ridiculous but enjoyable as it doesn’t deviate into generic harem antics much.

    1. I never did like the original Tenchi Myuou but I actually didn’t dislike War on Geminar which is weird given story wise clearly the original is much better than this iteration in the series.

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