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Harem (ハーレムもの hāremumono; "from harem"?) in anime and manga is an emphasis on polygamous or love triangle relationships characterized by a protagonist surrounded amorously by three or more members of either the same and/or opposing gender, sex, and/or love interests. When it is a yuri or male-hetero oriented harem series, the polygynous relationship is informally referred to as a female harem or seraglios. When it is a yaoi or female-hetero oriented harem series, the polyandrous relationship is informally referred to as a male harem, reverse harem, or gyaku hāremu (逆ハーレム?).
The word derives from Harem, which was a term used to refer to the most private rooms of a household in the Islamic world, especially among the upper class where only Women and close relatives were permitted inside.
Because romance is rarely the main focus of an entire series,[a] a harem structure is ambiguous. The most distinguishable trait is the group of polyamorous females and/or males who accompany the protagonist; in some instances cohabitate with the protagonist. While intimacy is just about customary, it is never necessary. When it is present, it is always a minimum of three supporting characters who express romantic interest in the protagonist.
With characters such as Haruhi Fujioka (Host Club) and Keima Katsuragi (The World God Only Knows) being the rare few exceptions, the main "love interest" protagonists of any "harem" anime, manga or video game, are rarely given much focus or character development. These characters are "blank slates" meant to literally allow the reader, player, or viewer to pretend they're the protagonist and apply their own personality.
Harem protagonists are designed to make females and/or males within the "harem" more attractive while highlighting interesting aspects of their personalities. Harems need not be strictly heterosexual; instead of having a male lead character that all the female characters fawn over and desire to be with, a Yuri-themed harem, for example, forgoes this "classical" harem and omits the male lead character. Additionally, it is not essential for there to be one exclusive boy or girl. Many protagonists 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. This is usually with the consent of the other characters. In some cases, the harem ending is unavoidable.
- Examples of female harem anime and manga include: Ah My Buddha, Asu no Yoichi, Date A Live, The Familiar of Zero, Girls Bravo, Hayate the Combat Butler,High School DxD, Ichigo 100%, Infinite Stratos, KissxSis, Ladies versus Butlers!, Love Hina, Monster Musume, Negima!, Nisekoi, Ranma ½, Rosario + Vampire, Sekirei, Tenchi Muyo!, To Love-Ru and The World God Only Knows.
- Examples of male harem anime and manga include: Alice in the Country of Hearts, Boys Over Flowers, Brothers Conflict, Dance with Devils, Diabolik Lovers, Fruits Basket, Makura no Danshi, Ouran High School Host Club, Prétear, Hakuōki, Uta no Prince-sama, Neo Angelique Abyss, Magic-kyun Renaissance, and Akatsuki no Yona.
- a. ^ "Series" implies any that are designated as a harem.
- Oppliger, John (April 17, 2009). "Ask John: What Distinguishes Harem Anime?". Anime Nation. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Brenner, Robin E. (2007). Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 82, 89, 112, 297. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5. OCLC 85898238.
- 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