Anime Harems – How They Hook YOU! (Part 11)

This post series really doesn’t need to be as long as it currently is, and in fact you may be able to argue that this is the genre which needs the least parts since it has very little to talk about, but the fact that the genre feels like such an anomaly compared to all of the other genres which have many shows different to each other that makes me want to discuss it so much! Needless to say I’m just continuing this series for fun, getting more in depth, whilst pretty much my entire point has been brought up in the other posts. This time I’ll look at how the most popular harems hook the viewers in and keep them despite the fact that they devolve into genericity very quickly.

The shows mentioned will be sorted by popularity from my anime list and skip any shows I’ve not seen. As well as this a common trait of all the popular shows is that they’re comedic, and obviously a huge appeal for fans of that style of humour, this will focus on the plots (or should I say premises) instead because they also play a massive part in hooking the audience. I don’t even think all of these shows mentioned are bad, just that their good parts compensate for the terrible parts brought up in the show by having a harem.



High School DxD

Whilst most harems use fan service this (Excluding Shinmai Maou No Testament) is the only popular show that really is prepared to go in fully with its fan service. When I used to watch harems frequently the fan service had nothing to with it, not that I hated it but I wouldn’t have minded either way, but the promise of fan service combined with a more perverse main character is an extra appeal worth mentioning.

A lot of viewers can relate to a group of three friends who aren’t getting any luck with women, this gives the main character a relatability which you might be surprised to discover, is shared with a lot of harem protagonists.

Then all of the action and cute girls get introduced and the combination of the mildly relatable, action and fan service make the viewer continue. The harem in this show doesn’t really start straight away so we also aren’t really plagued with clichéd backstory like we usually are which easily ruins the opening episodes.


Ouran High School Host Club

This show feels really out of place doesn’t it? Well that’s because the harem isn’t given much importance whilst the consequences of it is played for laughs constantly. The show gets you engaged with cool looking, hilarious characters who you want to just see. As well as this because it’s a reverse harem and most of its comedy is from places outside of the harem genre it can often not feel like a harem anime at all, which isn’t really a bad thing.



All fans of the harem genre have seen their first harem anime and think that every other show is copying pretty much everything from it. For me this was Nisekoi, a show I felt like everything was copying from before I realised how stupid that notion was.

The way the fans of the show are hooked in is the relationships present. Being forced into a fake relationship whilst you love another person, who also just happens to love you back, can create a fun dynamic of small amounts of tension and a lot of comedy. At the time I didn’t care about the romance and was never involved or didn’t even think about the Onadera vs Chitouge debate so the show was more about the idea and funny situations of the shows premise.

This show was basically ruined for me when I realised that it was implied the sister loved the brother, it was really disappointing to see in a harem that was already too massive.

Date A Live

This shows very purpose seems to be to create a harem anime. The main character needs to save the world by seducing a series of aliens who want to destroy the world, this sounds quite difficult to do so the audience is hooked by trying to see how someone with the wrath to try and take over the world could be persuaded against it without simply blowing the main character up.

The situations and methods used seem unnatural and only work because the characters fit the clichés perfectly but I can see how someone might enjoy that despite all the flaws.


I think that’s enough shows to discuss today. The funny thing about these harem shows is that if you’re hooked into them based off of the premise and humour the show technically delivers on it. In all the shows everything established at the opening continues to happen, so it’s not so rare for the people who finished the shows to feel let down. Unless they consider themselves a completionist people who’ve finished these shows don’t tend to go “OH NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE? THIS SHOW WAS TRASH THE ENTIRE TIME!” but instead go “yeah, that was ok”.

So why is this a problem? Well I’ve got ten other parts explaining it so why would I repeat myself now!

17 thoughts on “Anime Harems – How They Hook YOU! (Part 11)

  1. It’s always in the hook. That’s how they get you. Actually, that’s how any decent storyteller gets you. It’s the not the premise or the genre, it’s the hook that draws you in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Harem anime are basically manga/anime retelling of the full route map of a dating simulation game. Every character is shown to her good parts and depth which justifies the hero liking her, and why. Fan service is a nod to the H versions.
    There’s some especially good ones you’re missing, but I’ll just note Asobi ni Ikkuyo is worth seeing. It was an OVA rather than a TV show, so is made to high standards, is a bit more risque with the H jokes, and the harem is limited to three girls who would individually suffer without the hero in their life to offer balance or meaning. Its a bit unusual that way. Crunchyroll has that show.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alright I’ll check it out! The shows covered here are the most popular on MAL so I hoped to supply at least one show someones’ watched despite having many gaps left. I like the idea of your dating sim interpretation however I’m not really too sure how true it is or what you exactly mean. Hopefully I’lll get a better idea by watching the show! Thanks for the comment!


      1. Dating Simulation games are basically a choose your own adventure romance game. They make versions for girls and for boys. Harems are usually a male protagonist interacting with several girls, who he has to talk to and date in various ways to increase her affection and move the relationship forward. Most dating sims only let you get serious with one girl, so players tend to do various saves to date each girl seperately and see the ending provided. It being Japan, only the H (ecchi, Hentai) versions go beyond a love confession, and those are censored. The technique of playing different variations of the games so you can see what a romance would be like for each girl in the game is called “route mapping”, and getting the romances to advance is called “setting a flag” which is why those jokes turn up in anime so often. There’s even an anime about flags specifically called “If Her Flag Breaks” which starts cute and goes sour-emo pretty fast. The flag itself is actually a database term, since those types of games work by programming numerical activation of events based on numbers which when reached ie “emotion > 25 then activate scene 3” kind of thing, showing some new dating option with girl X, like ice cream parlor. Some anime even have a ding or show a momentary flag over her head, as a joke. These are meant to be 4th wall jokes, like Deadpool talking to the camera.

        Btw, Ouran High School Host Club is a great example of a reverse harem, and considerably better made and funnier than Fruits Basket or Boys Before Flowers. Most reverse harems are popular with yaoi fans, and they even pervert shounen action series like Gundam into gay romance stories because that is how their minds work. They are called Rotten Girls for a reason. The second and third seasons of Genshiken are about Rotten Girls, as is Denkigai, which is a shop that sells yaoi doujin in Shibuya, Tokyo. Jokes about yaoi and the girls who like this are a subgenre of anime.

        If you wanted to watch a good example of a pure vanilla romance, without a harem, try watching Kawai Complex. It is the story of a guy who falls for a library girl who owns the boarding house where he and several others live. The office lady is hilarious, as is the psycho girl and the pedo guy who likes shibari. Its not a long show, but the inability of the two to express feelings towards each other is cute, and the others mocking them is also hilarious comedy.

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        1. Thankyou I watched an episode of the show you recommended and I kind of got bored with it. I’ll watch your other recommendations though! I quite like genshiken but not seen much of it though. Do you play visual novels, you sound well informed. I’ve recently played Doki doki literature club, have you heard of it?


          1. Kawai Complex has a slow romance. Its not quick, and if that’s not your thing, that’s fine. You might like Masamune Kun’s Revenge better. That’s the story of a fat boy who confesses his love to a girl who mocks him, breaks his heart, and convinces him to lose the weight, become perfect, and get her to fall for him under another name to break her heart when she confesses, as retaliation. Naturally, this isn’t going to work out.

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              1. They tend to rush shows plots at the end when they figure out they aren’t getting a 2nd season. This is why some shows are half good, then get plotty (and bad) in the 2nd half. Demon King Daimao starts good, with real humor potential in the characters. The fake android that’s pranking the hero is a great example. It has a plot in the second half that’s kinda dumb and feels really rushed.

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                1. Is that really a thing? I understand in cases like code geas but don’t most shows not get a second season anyway, and for ones who do don’t they announce it later? That’s a possibility for masamune kuns revenge but I don’t really remember the pacing changing that much, I basically didn’t like it towards the end because it got generic and it’s initial appeal didn’t seem to last. Not saying your wrong, because it sounds right, I’m just asking if your sure.Did the same thing happen with kabaneri?


                  1. I haven’t seen Kabaneri. In the old days, a show got at least 26 episodes to tell its story. Some got 52. Now they’re all down to 13 eps and maybe beg for an OVA to make money.

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                    1. True, sometimes it works fine but i’d rather have longer shows instead of multiple short season ones. The last massive show (I think, the most massive risky recent one at least) was Sousei no Onmyouji and it was a shame it really sucked, but that’s the risk of making a long show and it always has a chance to happen.


                    2. Many Shounen Jump anime run really long, hundreds of episodes. Tournament anime, like Shokugeki no Souma is technically Shounen Jump and its on season 3 or 4 now. Its worth watching if you cook semi-seriously, since the tips used actually work. There’s a chef making the dishes on WordPress. So longer series do exist, but they are usually ones which have easier plots to create rather than emo drama or comedy, which is harder to write and has a limited character arc.


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