The vast majority of anime fans who don’t watch harem anime pretty much look at it like a series of shows that are nothing but scenes of girls of all shapes and sizes naked, in their underwear, swimwear, undressing, or wearing any kind of sexually suggestive clothing to please a single male protagonist.
To that I say “Hey! …There’s shows where it’s guys for one girl too!”.
In all seriousness though (technically that last comment is half-serious), there’s far more to harem anime than just ecchi scenes. Granted most harem anime feature them, but that’s not really a problem to me, unlike a lot of your typical SJW feminist folk out there who cringe at the sight of a fictional girl having a gust of wind blow up her skirt. While some harem anime are legitimately shit, a lot of them feature really good stories with fleshed out characters and a really cool setting and premise.
But why do I personally watch harem anime? There’s a ton of reasons why I watch a ton of different shows that fall into that category.
#1: The tons and tons of humor – When it comes to anime, there’s very few out there that are super-serious and can grab my attention. I imagine it has a lot to do with the anime I started watching when I was younger. I watched shows that were cheesy and funny, I recall every morning in grade school waking up and catching the last 5-10 minutes of Sailor Moon, followed by the first 15 minutes of Pokémon before the bus arrived. But the one show that really started my anime craze, was FLCL and anyone who knows that series knows how batshit crazy that show is.
Harem anime 9 times out of 10 will be a lot of things, but a comedy will be one of them. Some are very sharp with their jokes, a lot of the times breaking the fourth wall (which I adore in any piece of media), others are just insane, all over the place and I love every second of it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some serious shows out there that I love like hell (like Hellsing, pun absolutely intended), but if you sit me down and have me watch two shows and one is serious, the other comical, I’d say there’s a 80-90% chance I’m liking the funny show over the serious one.
Speaking of humor…
#2: The sheer absurdity of how often the MC walks in on girls at the most embarrassing times – Most will look at this as a perverted point of harem anime and in some cases, I absolutely understand. Sometimes the main character intentionally (whether he admits it or not) gets himself into these situations. But the ones I like is when they are purely accidental, you know he never meant to do such a thing. Some are even beyond his control, take Ichika discovering that ‘Charles‘ is actually a ‘Charlotte‘ (not that it was hard to tell that in an all-girls school with only one boy the new super-feminine looking French boy was actually a girl).
Regardless of how people feel about the girls being seen in various states of undress, I really enjoy the scenes, from a comical value and admittedly a sexual value. The facial expressions are always glorious, and you can feel how tense a lot of these situations are. It’s just a matter of whether it just makes things even more awkward, or if you’re about to watch the MC get beaten within an inch of his life.
#3: It’s not depressing! (most of the time) – Like I said earlier, I prefer comedy anime far more than super serious. There are a few shows that I’ll get into that are extremely depressing. The two big ones for me have been Anohana and Your Lie in April, great picks too, on a Ranker list of the saddest anime, Anohana is #1 and Your Lie in April is #4. And yes, I balled my fucking eyes out when these shows reached their super depressing and sad endings.
Harem anime on the other hand, doesn’t make me cry! Well, at least not out of sadness. You know how far down I had to scroll to get to a harem anime I’ve watched that was on that Ranker list? #71 with Love Hina! And there were only 75 shows listed! Generally speaking, harem anime are not meant to be depressing, they’re meant to be mindless, cheesy anime that doesn’t require to get too emotional with it. And that’s how I’d prefer it most of the time.
Though admittedly, Anohana and Your Lie in April are absolutely phenomenally good shows. But if I knew how depressing they were, I wouldn’t have started watching them.
#4: The wide variety of characters – The thing about harem anime is that in order to have the sheer number of girls vying for the MC’s attention is that you have to make them all individually unique so there’s arguably a girl for everyone to root for.
This forces those who write the characters and stories of these series to actually put some thought into the girls’ development. They can’t all just be Sexy Girl #1, Sexy Girl #2, Sexy Girl #3, etc., there has to be something unique about them. Let’s use one of the more extreme harem anime out there to show this off, take Monster Musume for example:
Miia is the super wife-like girl of the series, she wants to take care of Kimihito. She’s very innocent, but isn’t afraid to show herself off when she feels threatened by the other girls also trying to gain his affection.
Papi is very child-like and can be rather dense at times (a birdbrain if you will). Though she is absolutely adorable and looks at Kimihito like he’s family.
Centorea is a very noble and elegant woman, she views Kimihito as her master that she constantly tries to fight her feelings for him on. She’s a warrior, willing to protect him from anyone or anything, yet has that very feminine side she tries so hard to supress.
Suu is a slime girl. I could explain more, but you really have to watch the show to understand what she is to the series (be warned though).
Meroune is an absolute fucking flirt, let’s be honest. While she’s very polite and a warm personality, she’s secretly a tragedy addict, she wants to be part of an affair, that sort of thing.
Rachnera is extremely, well…extreme. She’s a bondage lover and at times will randomly tie people up just for her own pleasure/enjoyment. However at times she seems the most calm and level-headed of the entire group.
Lala is a very interesting case. With her head being detachable it appears that her head and body have two different personalities. Full-body, she’s very stoic and expressionless, while with the head detached, her body seems far more emotional and loving. It’s really weird, I know.
The M.O.N. crew are unique as well. Zombina‘s a badass tomboy with a real crazy sense of humor. Manako is super shy and not very good around people in general. Tionishia is a sweet (gigantic) girl who is a bit of a klutz. Doppel is a real trickster loving to mess with people (and an implied nudist as you rarely ever see her with clothes on). And Smith is a woman who switches between lazy and irresponsible to super-serious and very responsible when she wants to be.
And even the side characters are unique as well, but I’ll stop where I am. Notice also with the pictures that they’re also unique looks-wise and that isn’t just applying to their race in the show. They all have a different style to them so not only do they act differently than every other girl, they look very different.
#5: The action can be just as good/intense – Shows like Infinite Stratos, Highschool of the Dead and Date A Live aren’t just romantic comedies either, some harem anime house some fantastic action sequences and have plenty of battles going on.
It’s a great balance for me, not only do I get the comedy, not only do I get some attractive girls, but I get some badass action scenes as well. While some are just slice of life high school romantic comedies, other shows can be just as badass and just as intense as your average serious-ish action anime.
Look, guns in harem anime don’t always just refer to boobs…
#6: The stories can be just as compelling – While some harem admittedly has very little premise and story (which is why I stay away from most of them), some offer great storytelling with arcs, curveballs, whatever you can throw at a viewer. I’m not saying these shows are fictional storytelling masterpieces, but they definitely offer engaging stories that are more than just clothes falling off.
Take Highschool of the Dead for example. Lots of blatant sexual content in that show, I will fully admit that. However, the story and premise of the show does zombies extremely well to me. The reality of being in the middle of a developing zombie apocalypse is very prevalent in this show and they don’t sugarcoat it either. There is fear, there’s a lot of breaking down. It’s no School-Live! but holy shit it’s not just a tits n’ ass kind of show either (though people could argue that).
#7: The sexual content – I can’t ignore the fact that a percentage of the reason I watch harem anime is for the sexual content, I’d be an absolute hypocrite and outright liar if I said otherwise. But unlike a lot of people out there it seems, I’m not bothered by the content at all, on either side. I would happily watch the same shows if they had guys naked all the time too, the nudity doesn’t ever bother me in anime because apparently I’m far more comfortable with sex than others. I’d far prefer watching a scene in anime where a girl undresses than watching someone get torn apart and it’s not because I’m perverted, it has to do with the fact I don’t handle violence very well at all. I’m not a huge fan of horror movies and very few shows are violent and have gore and I can put up with it, shows like Hannibal (which rarely shows the act of violence, just the result, which I’m more okay with) and in terms of anime, shows like Hellsing, HOTD/School-Live and Is This A Zombie? (which adds comedy to its violence) apply. Shows like Attack on Titan, Elfen Lied, stuff like that? Not a chance.
Back to the ecchi content though, people seem to associate those who watch these shows as perverted. I equate it to being a straight male. I’m attracted to girls, why would I not enjoy seeing pretty girls (whether they’re real or not) in various states of undress? I can’t imagine straight women who wouldn’t enjoy seeing sexy men with their shirts off or even naked. We’re attracted to what we’re attracted to, I don’t see why that’s a problem to some people.
Can it be excessive in some shows? Absolutely. Some harem anime is literally just scene after scene of half-naked women. The majority of those I turn away from, because they offer little to no plot and at the very least I’d like some substantial story along with the panty shots.
So that’s my thoughts on harem anime, I have zero problems saying that I truly do adore watching that type of content. Some of my favourites include Infinite Stratos, Monster Musume, Date A Live, Highschool of the Dead and many more.
But what are your favourite harem anime and that includes reverse harem anime where it’s all boys. List yours in the comments below!