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Why Harem Anime Is So Popular, And Still Manages To Thrive

Avatar of Theo J Ellis
Why Harem Anime Is So Popular And Still Manages To Thrive

Harem anime has been popular ever since they started churning out these types of shows in the 2010s.

I’d argue that’s when harem anime became the most popular and “accepted” into modern anime culture (anime, NOT Hentai by the way).

Before then it was more romance in general, with the odd Ecchi, rom-com, Shoujo, etc.

harem word google trends | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

A quick peak at Google Trends shows the word HAREM shot off like a rocket in 2017, which makes sense in my mind given anime like High School DxD, To Love Ru, Nisekoi, and so on.

All anime that released in the 2010s.

And when you look at Google Trends related topics for “harem”, guess what shows up?

harem related topics | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

That’s right – Anime is the #1 associated topic with harem.

It’s synonymous with anime and even Doujin.

Plus, Japan is the most interested in this topic shown by G Trends, unsurprisingly.

 

 

That is the question.

Why did it take off after 2017?

Why do fans wanna watch this crap?

Let’s talk about it.

 

1. Wish fulfilment

 

Harem anime has an obvious element of wish fulfilment that can’t be denied. You’d have to be overly attached and foolish to pretend it doesn’t exist.

When you see an anime character, a male anime character in particular, who seemingly:

  • Gets all the girls.
  • Is a chick magnet.
  • All the girls are drawn to him.
  • Who doesn’t struggle to attract hot and sexy women.

And that same male character is nothing but a dense, bland MC, you know it’s wish fulfilment for the viewer more than anything else.

What man wouldn’t wanna be surrounded by 2, 4, 7, 10 hot and attractive women who want to get in your pants or simply be in a romantic relationship with you?

And to such a degree that they’ll fight each other over it, get mad at each other, but then blush and become submissive for no reason at all other than that you’re “nice” and sweet.

Shido Itsuka | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

Shido Itsuka from the anime series Date A Live is a perfect example of this kind of main character. He’s nice, thoughtful, doesn’t like to see girls get hurt, and will do all he can to help a girl in need.

While that’s noble, he’s also a bland main character who all the girls are attracted to, including a Yandere, and other female tropes (and tropes in general).

No one in the same age group as Shido Itsuka could realistically achieve and pull off that sort of female magic by being bland, dense, and boring.

Hence, one of the reasons for harem anime’s popularity is its wish fulfilment.

 

2. Idealistic

issei dxd harem | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

An Ideal is something we all want and strive for. Some are better than others, while others are plain silly. In the sense of anime, it’s an ideal that’s pure fantasy.

The main character of the anime series High School DxD has no trouble getting all the prettiest women, even if he decides to only choose ONE woman to commit to.

It doesn’t change the fact Issei (the main character of DxD) has 10/10 women falling over themselves to get a piece of him, whether forcibly or not.

This is an ideal. It drives the idealistic nature of many harem anime series, which in turn makes harem popular to a segment of anime fans who would LOVE to be that guy.

The guy who despite being average or bland, can still get girls because those girls are open-minded, or flirtatious, or so grounded and down to earth that they’ll overlook the kinds of things no real-life woman (most) would ever do.

At least not for the sake of it.

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3. Comedic factor

Nisekoi harem comedy | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

Some harem anime are genuinely funny. One example of this is the series Nisekoi, made by studio SHAFT.

The anime follows Ichijou Raku, and Chitose Kirisaki, as well as the side character Kosaki Onodera. Kosaki has liked and known Ichijou since childhood but lacks the self confidence to make it official.

Chitose is from a rival gang to Ichijou’s family, and the two pretend to be in a relationship to quell the gang’s rivalry and aggression (Nisekoi translates to “fake love”.

As the anime progresses, more girls come into the picture and more are interested in Ichijou, and the comedy gets stupider but in a good kind of way.

It’s the kind of stupid that’s:

  • Entertaining.
  • Fun.
  • Likeable.

And somehow, not cringey like the average harem series.

But even when it is cringey, the comedy aspect in harem anime is different by design, and this helps it thrive, become popular, gain attention, and get a few laughs for what it’s worth.

With that said, Nisekoi in particular is a stand out harem series.

 

4. Catered to teens

anime pervert sanji | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

Teenagers who don’t know a thing about women, girls, how to approach them, talk to them, haven’t kissed girls, are virgins and so on, revel in the idea of having their own harem.

This goes back to wish fulfilment and it’s the reason why teens are a prime target audience for harem anime shows.

How could they NOT be?

They’re more naive, suspectable, overly optimistic to the point of lacking self awareness, and since many lack self esteem it makes it easier for a “harem” style of anime to warm on them.

It’s catered to them after all, rather than being catered towards men in their 20s and 30s.

 

5. A fresh take on romance (depending)

Quintessential Quintuplets harem | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

Sometimes the harem genre of anime can pull off feats when it comes to a fresh take on romance. But not many harem anime are able to pull this off in large numbers.

First of all, like Ecchi, Harem anime is one of the worst genres when it comes to average ratings.

An anime called Quintessential Quintuplets is one of some exceptions to this rule, and it helps the harem genre blossom even more, gain more popularity, and succeed at new levels.

It’s all because it convinces fans who aren’t into harem that maybe there’s some value to it after all (even if they’re not the target audience).

Another harem anime with a fresh take or that’s better in general is How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend or We Never Learn.

 

6. Stirs the imagination

harem anime kiss x sis scaled 1 | https://animemotivation.com/nsfw/why-harem-anime-is-so-popular/

Watching an anime series like Kiss x Sis is bound to stir the imagination for a lot of reasons, one of them being its harem nature.

The main characters are girls and ONE guy obviously. With implied incest and other elements to this series, it’s no wonder it manages and intends to stir the imagination with the harem aspect being a major part besides Ecchi (not that I’d recommend it).

By design, harem is made to stimulate, stir the imagination, and have the viewer imagine things that they may not have if they weren’t watching it.

It’s that type of genre and it pairs well with Ecchi, adding fanservice which only makes it stir the imagination even more.

In fact, the ecchi element is important for other points like Wish fulfilment and other reasons that make Harem popular.

In the end, you could say there are plenty of reasons why harem anime is popular.

But I’d say it comes down to this.

Wish fulfilment has to be one of the biggest reasons without question.

 

Read:

The 14+ Harem Character Types You’ll Always See In Anime!

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Fan of dating sims? Then this is the adult anime game you’ll wanna try next.


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