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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 gyakuhāremu (逆ハーレム?).
Because romance is rarely the main focus of an entire series,[a] a harem structure is ambiguous. The most distinguishable trait is arguably the group of amorous girls and/or boys 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 two supporting characters who express interest in the protagonist. 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 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: Hayate the Combat Butler, The World God Only Knows, Brynhildr in the Darkness, Date A Live, Ranma ½, Girls Bravo, High School DxD, Ichigo 100%, Infinite Stratos, Iono-sama Fanatics, Koihime Musō, Ladies versus Butlers!, Love Hina, Negima!, Nisekoi, Rosario + Vampire, Sekirei, The Familiar of Zero, Monster Musume, Is This a Zombie?, Asu no Yoichi, OniAi, Tenchi Muyo!, Ah My Buddha, KissxSis, To Love-Ru, Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, Girls Saurus, Hundred, Freezing, and Absolute Duo.
- Examples of male harem anime and manga include Alice in the Country of Hearts, Boys Over Flowers, Brothers Conflict, Diabolik Lovers, Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club, Prétear, Hakuōki, Uta no Prince-sama, Neo Angelique Abyss, 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