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Harem (ハーレムもの hāremumono; "harem works") 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 sexual orientation and/or the romantic orientation interest in the protagonist.
Sociosexuality amongst each individual participants range from restricted to unrestricted. Some characters are portrayed as asexual, prudish or otherwise less willing to engage in casual sex. Some characters prefer greater love, commitment and emotional closeness before having sex with romantic partner(s). Some characters are inherently monogamous cuckolds/cuckqueans, and either accepts or encourages their partner's infidelity in having other intimates as well. Some characters are portrayed as pansexuals being comfortable engaging in sex as a recreational activity.
Harems need not be strictly gender binary or 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.
The protagonist can be diverse. Because of different situations and plot devices in the story the protagonist normally end up discovering hidden aspects which make females and/or males within the "harem" more attractive while highlighting interesting aspects of their personalities, usually because of said protagonist's kindness, courage and the will to protect/support their friends or the world.
These protagonists usually end up with a harem accidentally, because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time due to some unforeseeable circumstance or random chance. Most protagonists don’t even want the harems they start, as they mostly only have one main love interest and all other members of their harem simply fall in love with him or her because they deeply admire some part of their personality, and the protagonist can’t bring themselves to tell them to leave.
Harem endings typically follow two different routes;
- The person of desire ends up with one of the characters who fall in love with them.
- The person of desire winds up with none of these characters.
Other series have a route where the story concludes with a multi-marriage ending.
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These lists display stories according to the role harem plays in them.
Male harem as a central element
This list shows series in which interpersonal attraction between Male-centric harems and the protagonist(s) – regardless of cited sex, gender, orientation, etc. – play a central role in their genre or storylines. Such elements are labeled by publishers as harem.
- Alice in the Country of Hearts
- Bonjour Sweet Love Patisserie
- Boys Over Flowers
- Brothers Conflict
- Dance with Devils
- Diabolik Lovers
- Fruits Basket
- Kiss Him, Not Me
- Magic-kyun Renaissance
- Makura no Danshi
- Neo Angelique Abyss
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Uta no Prince-sama,
- Yona of the Dawn
- nil admirari no tenbin.
Female harem as a central element
This list shows series in which interpersonal attraction between Female-centric harems and the protagonist(s) – regardless of cited sex, gender, orientation, etc. – play a central role in their genre or storylines. Such elements are labeled by publishers as harem.
- Absolute Duo
- Accel World
- Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero
- Ah My Buddha
- Ai Yori Aoshi
- Akaneiro ni Somaru Saka
- Akashic Records of Bastard Magic Instructor
- Aki Sora
- Amagami SS
- Angel Tales
- Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-Chan
- Brynhildr in the Darkness
- Cat Planet Cuties
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight
- Comic Party
- Date A Live
- Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
- Demon King Daimao
- Dragonar Academy
- Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure
- Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
- Girls Bravo
- Hakuoki – Demon of the Fleeting Blossom
- Hanaukyo Maid Team
- Hand Maid May
- Happy Lesson
- Hayate the Combat Butler
- Heaven's Lost Property
- High School DxD
- Highschool of the Dead
- Holy Knight
- How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
- Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia
- In Another World With My Smartphone
- Infinite Stratos
- Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
- Is This a Zombie?
- Invaders of the Rokujyōma!?
- Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de
- Ladies versus Butlers!
- Lord Marksman and Vanadis
- Love Hina
- Maken-ki! Battling Venus
- Masamune-kun's Revenge
- Miss Caretaker of Sunohara-sou
- Monster Musume: Everyday Life with Monster Girls
- My Bride is a Mermaid
- My First Girlfriend Is a Gal
- Nakaimo - My Sister Is Among Them!
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi
- Omamori Himari
- Outbreak Company
- Princess Lover!
- Princess Resurrection
- Rail Wars!
- Ranma ½
- Rosario + Vampire
- Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
- Sword Art Online
- Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi
- Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner
- Sky Wizards Academy
- Sister Princess
- Strawberry 100%
- Tears to Tiara
- Tenchi Muyo!
- The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
- The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water
- The Familiar of Zero
- The Fruit of Grisaia
- The "Hentai" Prince and the Stony Cat.
- The Testament of Sister New Devil
- The World God Only Knows
- To Heart
- To Love-Ru
- Trinity Seven
- UFO Ultramaiden Valkyrie
- Ultimate Otaku Teacher
- Unbreakable Machine-Doll
- World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman
- Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
- Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs
- a. ^ "Series" implies any that are designated as a harem.
- Oppliger, John (April 17, 2009). "Ask John: What Distinguishes Harem Anime?". Anime Nation. Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Matthew Alexander (March 19, 2015). "Omamori Himari Vol. #12 Manga Review (Series Finale)". Fandom Post. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
- 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