Harem, hāremumono (ハーレムもの), broadly, is an ambiguously-defined subgenre of anime and manga characterized by a protagonist surrounded, usually amorously, by three or more members of the opposing sex and/or love interests. The most common and practically tantamount scenario is a male-oriented harem anime where the main male character is surrounded by a group of females; when it is a female-oriented harem anime, it is informally referred to as a reverse harem, or gyakuhāremu (逆ハーレム). More recent variants include polyamorous characters and removing the protagonist's opposing sex and/or gender identity to better appeal to a more broadly diverse audience, such as futanari-oriented harems, yuri-oriented harems (as with Iono-sama Fanatics), and yaoi-oriented harems (as with Gakuen Heaven).
Because romance is rarely the main focus of an entire series,[a] harem structure is ambiguous. The most distinguishable trait is arguably the group of girls who accompany, and in some instances cohabitate with the boy, and while intimacy is just about customary, it is never necessary; when it is present, there must be a minimum of two girls who express it. Additionally, it is not essential for there to be one exclusive boy; many can exist as long as they are given less attention or the story calls for an unusually obscure sex ratio.
Some visual novels offer a "harem ending" route, where the main character pursues a romantic relationship with multiple other characters simultaneously, with the consent of the other characters. In some cases, the harem ending is unavoidable. Examples of harem anime include Rosario x Vampire and Princess Lover!. Example of Reverse Harem anime include Uta no Prince-sama, "Fruits Basket", and Brothers Conflict
Harem is criticized for often excessive use of clichés and stock characters, occasionally to the point where stock characters are inserted simply to broaden the title's appeal to viewers with narrow interests in character archetypes. Additionally, harem is often characterized by decidedly shallow, violent female characters, to the point where the generalization becomes misogynistic. Other ethical objections are based on the positive light in which polygamy is cast.
- a. ^ "Series" implies any that are designated as a harem.
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- "Harem Ending". The Visual Novel Database. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
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- Drummond-Mathews, Angela (2010) "What Boys Will Be: A Study of Shonen Manga" in Johnson-Woods, Toni (e.d.) Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives Continuum International Publishing Group pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-8264-2938-4
- Anime News Network discussion on harem anime
- Anime News Network discussion on reverse harem anime