Harem Anime Subgenre
A staple of romance and drama anime, harem series follow the complicated love dodecahedrons of multiple characters all aiming for the affection of a single character. Harem anime are defined by their involvement of multiple romantic interests where no one character can break ahead and claim the protagonist. Series in this subgenre often involve indecisive protagonists, ambiguous commitments and very obvious romantic interest from all other people involved. The key to defining a harem anime is that no one character is perceived as the main interest, at least not right away.
Series where a hoard of girls chase a guy around is referred to as “harem” whereas any series where boys chase after a single girl is referred to as “reverse harem”. Polygamous relationships can occur but harem mostly focuses on the period between relationships.
One is not enough. If there’s not three or more characters vying for the attention of the protagonist, at best you have a love triangle or just a romance anime. Harem hinges on the interest shown by multiple characters and anything less easily falls into other categories.
Everything for you. Harem guys and girls will often go to great lengths to win the affection of the one they admire. They’ll do anything to be near their beloved and will hardly leave their sight, even if it goes against their personality quirks. This can lead to…
Love is a battlefield. With so many guys or girls interested in just one person, things can get heated, and not in the good way. Any progress made with one is a direct challenge to the rest, and you can bet that there will be blood.
Suddenly popular. Harem anime is in essence a fantasy for its watchers, and so protagonists will be as much of a self-insert as possible. This often means that dull, average protagonists suddenly gain a huge boost in popularity which can come out of practically nowhere.
Romance. With all the romantic tension in the air, it’s not hard to see harem feed directly into the romance genre. When things get gentle or the protagonist decides who they want to spend their life with, things move on from the hectic harem pace to the even pace of romance.
Comedy. Never far behind romance, comedy is harem’s go-to source for all of its antics. Drama is rarely a big thing when love wars are so much fun. Besides, comedy leads perfectly into…
Ecchi. What’s a self-insert series without some fanservice and heavy petting? As we move into the era of ecchi romcoms, more and more series push the line when it comes to adult situations. They also push the line when it comes to bust size.
Slice of life. With so much love flying through the air, large plots don’t have room to lift off the ground. Harem anime often focuses on small stories or episodic tales that don’t feed into much of an overall story. At least not besides the romantic one.
Here's our top 10 'Best Harem Anime Recommendations'
1. Ouran High School Host Club – The androgynous Haruhi uses her boyish charms to pay back a debt by becoming the school’s newest male host. As she flirts with girls, helps guys find their spark, and gets along with the other hosts, the boys around her begin to see her more than just a friend. A fun, sincere reverse harem romcom.
2. The World God Only Knows – Keima Katsuragi is a dating sim pro, but his prowess is about to be tested in real life when he unwittingly accepts a contract to capture escaped demons from hell. Now tasked with making actual girls swoon, Keima needs to pull out all the stops or pay the ultimate price. A series strong on the comedy and otaku aspects.
3. I Don’t Have Many Friends – Kodaka’s luck in life has never been too great. Because of his appearance, he can’t approach anyone without them running away. But when he finds Yozora, a seemingly crazy girl, he’s roped into creating a new club with the intent to find friends… except all the girls who join only want to be friends with him in a different sense. A fun romcom with awkward characters and lots of ecchi moments.
4. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou – Sorata is the newest resident of Sakurasou, a dorm house where his school shoves all its problem students. Being the only normal person around is tough, but especially so when the next housemate is an artistic prodigy who can’t even put her own panties on. A harem romcom that twists all the usual aspects and works in a moving plot.
5. Amagami SS – When Junichi’s heart broke, he thought he could never love again. All that changes when he meets the most popular girl in school – Haruka. From there, he discovers a whole bunch of girls who are all dealing with their own problems. A more structured approach to harem anime, where progress is made with each girl in separate realities.
6. Clannad – Tomoya has a bleak outlook on life and starts his final year of high school with a heavy heart. It’s by pure chance that he meets Nagisa and begins to invest more of his time in coming to school and helping the girls around him. A classic harem anime that opens up into romance.
7. Monstory – It’s not long after being attacked by a vampire that Araragi Koyomi finds oddities naturally seek him out. Rather than be repelled by the supernatural, he’s also drawn to it by his unfailing hero complex. By helping the women in his life with their supernatural problems, he grows closer to them and the unseen world as a whole. A playful harem anime with some plot and clear romantic progression.
8. Fruits Basket – After a family disaster, Touru is sent to live with the two most popular boys in the school. She soon realizes there’s more to the two than meets the eye – especially when they turn into small animals when shown affection! A cute slice of life series that doesn’t stray from drama and backstory.
9. Date A Live – Dating sim antics are taken to a whole new level when love skills are needed to save the world. With the threat of being annihilated by invading women, the world tasks Shido with romancing the invaders so they forget about their plans of conquest. A series that playfully parodies harem tropes.
10. UtaPri: Prince of Songs – The next step in achieving Haruka’s dreams to be a songwriter is to enroll in an elite academy for idols. As she struggles against other talented students, Haruka is pursued by six men all intent on pairing up with her. A music-focused reverse harem with plenty of colourful characters.