I’ve detailed my criticisms of the harem genre to a large extent over the previous parts, however I’ve not ever really said what I’d so about it or how I’d fix it if I was a part of the anime industry and actually had a say in the production of shows. So let’s talk about the big thing I would change, the only real important thing I’d change.
It is the motive behind making a harem anime. A lot of these harems are often made as a quick cash grab and are insanely trashy and clichéd to appeal to the broadest audience possible. What these people don’t realise is that a harem which only appeals to small specific audiences could simply raise to the top due to its nuance and difference and fans of the genre appreciating how new it is.
But there’s a good and bad kind of nuance that can be applied to the harem genre. Something bad for example would be a harem set in the workplace instead of school, just anything that’s closely similar but with one slight difference. The good kinds of nuances comes from actual passion and messages the creators want to communicate, this doesn’t have to appeal to a small audience but most harem directors think that’ll happen by default if they deviate anywhere from the standard formula.
In my opinion popularity doesn’t necessarily mean success in the anime industry, what success means to me is having an anime which stays with people in their hearts and becomes something they think about constantly, having it influence their thoughts and life’s for the better, giving them more than simple enjoyment. This ultimately creates a more passionate fan base prepared to spend more on the show. Currently harems are made for popularity and not my version of success, switch these two around and suddenly the harem genre has a completely new face at the obvious risk of bankruptcy, which nobody wants.
But how much does money play into this? If the anime industry made more money would we suddenly see an influx of passion filled harems replacing all the tired clichéd ones, or would harems vanish entirely or are the current harems we see the passion filled projects I’m talking about and all of us are desensitised to it? The latter is the saddest answer possible.
I don’t believe every show has to be a masterpiece and a display of meaningful artistic messages, what would be great is something that simply feels new and doesn’t make me feel like a scumbag with terrible taste for watching. Something that treats its characters like characters and treats its story like it matters. If that was what harems were I probably wouldn’t have nearly as many problems with it and this whole series might not even exist and by extension this blog. Yeah I started right out of the gate with six parts criticising this genre!
It’s pretty funny when you stop and consider how stupid it is for a harem to even be considered a genre. Anime is the only medium which really has a harem genre and that’s mostly because every other genre realises how stupid the idea of it is for storytelling.
There are 330 harem anime listed on myanimelist. That’s over three times the amount for the thriller genre; something I think is far more interesting. But 234 of these harems have released in the last ten years whereas the remaining 96 released from 1990-2006. Part of the reason for this increase it the fact that more anime is releasing everywhere, not just in this genre but more harems are coming out in recent times regardless and more anime harems are successful enough for second seasons than ever before.
So when so much can be done with a harem and when so many shows aren’t doing this and staying similar and generic, I can only conclude that it’s happening to capitalize on the popularity that other shows have made by re-using the same premises and tropes. This degeneracy is only inspiring more of it and anime companies should learn that they could just reach a wider, more interested audience if they could simply deviate from the norms. But safe money is often preferred over a chance to make it or break it.
So it’s not really until the genre starts failing, and creators deviate their attention to something unique and inspired, that the genre can really move forward.