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Is Harem Anime BAD? Well, It All Comes Down To This

harem anime wallpaper cute girls
Avatar of Theo J Ellis

Is Harem anime bad? That depends on who you ask.

Harem anime is statistically one of the WORST genres in the industry.

I say statistically because:

  • Reviews
  • Ratings

And things along those lines aren’t the best for Harem anime shows.

harem clique

When you think of harem THIS is what usually comes to mind.

A cliche protagonist with a “bland” personality, surrounded by girls he could never hope or DREAM of talking to. But somehow becomes a love magnet.

Worst of all: he’s indecisive so none of the girls ever get chosen.

That’s probably what people mean when they say harem anime is bad.

Thought of this way it’s easy to believe it is a pile of sh*t. And has no place in the anime industry.

It’s not like harem anime happen to be the best shows ever made, right?

harem anime myanimelist

And If we judge it by ratings, harem anime has an average of 7/10.

Not bad. Not spectacular. Decent at best and in fact – we can all point to an anime in the 7 range that we love to death so again – not bad in a literal sense.

I’m not the biggest fan of using reviews to make a point, but it’s a point nonetheless, and it does tell a story.

It’s just not the whole story.

The rest of that story is something I’ll talk about now.


Harem Anime’s “bad” points:


1. Lack of creativity

There are over 400 anime shows in the harem genre. That’s not a lot.

Compare that to Shounen, a genre with almost 2000+. Same with a slice of life, romance, comedy and adventure.

The difference between the harem genre and other genres is the awful ratings. Or the ratio, I should say.

This isn’t surprising when you get familiar with the average harem series and see the lack of creativity.

Many harems do the same things and feel like copied and pasted versions of different shows by different studios.

harem anime protagonist surrounded by girls

Take this “harem” anime as an example.

Does this look any different to the dozens you’ve already seen without knowing what it is?

Without knowing the plot, do the designs seem creative at the least? Or the outfits?

It doesn’t matter if it’s surface level (what you can see) or under the surface (plot, angle, etc); harem anime don’t try to differentiate.

Studios just pump them out like they’re in a hurry, and few feel good enough to be entertaining.

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2. Copy n paste protagonists

harem protagonists designs 1

There are exceptions, but the average harem protagonist has:

  • Black/Brown hair.
  • Kirito-looking facial features.
  • Average design.

You can spot one in a heartbeat. And what’s what makes harem anime lose their appeal when you already know what’s gonna happen. And how they’re gonna behave.

Even the female characters in harem anime are the same.

Back to point #1 there’s no creativity here at all.

The MC is blander than watching paint dry, and somehow the girls “want” a piece of the protagonist…

Even though he hasn’t earned it or has anything about him, that stands out.

Related: 13+ Anime Shows That Have Same Face Syndrome


3. Dull characters

harem protagonists normal looking

Harem anime protagonists are almost always drawn to look:

  • Normal
  • Bland
  • Basic

It’s almost as if it’s done this way to give the viewer “confidence” that even a bland person can pull 20 girls and have them all falling over themselves to be near you.

In all seriousness, though, many of these characters aren’t memorable. And only the stellar ones stay in a person’s mind long after they’ve watched the anime.

That doesn’t reflect the average harem protagonist, though, and it doesn’t reflect even a fair amount of them.


But Harem Anime isn’t all bad

Harem anime isn’t inherently bad.

On the surface, It’s just like any other anime genre.

It has:

  • cliches
  • tropes
  • expectations
  • certain plots and characters
  • Certain elements
  • And so on
nisekoi anime harem

And, of course – not all harems are made equal.

Nisekoi is actually a solid anime in the harem genre. Its ratings are higher than the average for a harem. There’s a good reason why.

The characters are MORE than just some silly girls hanging around the main protagonist and being cute for cute’s sake.

There’s a story, a personality, depth, progression and even relatability to them.

They feel like people and not just an object or a cliche with lazy writing and a lazy plot filled with fan service.

kosaki onodera and chitoge kirisaki anime

Onodera is a good example.

She likes the protagonist and has for a long time. They’ve known each other for a good while.

She doesn’t just come out of nowhere and start falling in love.

The same is true for Chitoge (blonde hair). Her family’s at war with the main character, and that’s where she falls into the picture.

saekano megumi and tomoya

Saekano is like that as well.

Yes, there are “moments” when the harem cliches take center stage. But for the most part, it’s a harem that goes beyond its cliches and gives you more.

It avoids overloading you with the usual BS just because it sells.

Each female main character has their own identity, and none are the same. It’s not tiddies every 5 seconds either, even though it’s an Ecchi and that’s a solid element.

And even though the MALE protagonist is designed in a“typical” way-ish, he ends up being more than that himself.

YouTube video

I won’t sit here and act like “all harem is bad”. I’ve barely watched 50 or 100 (if that).

But some of the more popular and recommended ones can have “that” kind of reputation, so it makes sense why so many think harem anime is bad.

Just look at the cheap tactics and all the nonsense the industry puts out when it comes to harem. It’s hard not to see it as one of the worst anime genres.

It’s probably made even worse when you realize there are anime that aren’t labelled as harem but have “harem” elements in them as well.

But in the end – harem has potential, even if there are bad things about it.

You just have to look a little harder to find gems, and that’s true until the industry does something about it.

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