Whether it’s in real life or in any form of fiction, romance/love is a hard thing to describe. There really is no clear objective way to describe. It will always be a subjective experience based on the person you ask. That doesn’t stop film, TV show and anime makers from doing their darndest to portray how romance between two people should happen, whether it turns out good or not. But rather than do a Top 6 List of what I dislike most about romance in anime, I’ve decided to instead break down the 3 biggest pet peeves I have on the subject. And the first stop on this roller coaster ride of emotions and illogical actions is the Harem Genre!
To begin, I’m not going to act like some high and mighty anime connoisseur and say I’ve never dabbled in harem anime before. Some of my favorite anime can be either classified as harems, or at least have an inkling of it within its structure. That doesn’t mean, however, that very concept itself makes a whole lick of sense when you really sit down and think about it. For those not in the know, there are at least 4 absolute truths to any and every harem anime ever made, in no part:
- First girl shown is the first girl won. I.E. The 1st girl gets the guy 100% of the time.
- The main character, male or female, will always be a bland, uninteresting blob.
- There will always either be a beach episode, or a bath house episode.
- No one EVAH agrees with how they end.
I’ll further explain these truths by first addressing what I believe to be the key to any successful harem anime: The main character. As we all know a good portion of harem anime are based on visual novel games, so it sort of makes sense that most main characters are supposed to be empty vessels whose shoes we, as the viewers, are supposed to fit into. But therein lies one of the main issues with harem shows: How does one relate to a block of wood?
As much as I love the Tenchi series, Tenchi himself was as bland as vanilla ice cream. Just a simple, down to Earth guy who lived a boring and uneventful life before all the shenanigans began. The only romantic interest that seemed the least bit relatable was between he and Ryoko, and that was only because Ryoko had been watching the guy since he was born. Tenchi never did a single interesting thing until the girls showed up in his life, which can be said of many harem anime main chars. You have to give the guy or gal some sort of personality for us to either enjoy or hate. Even Makoto from School Days gave us something to react to. That is, him being the biggest douchebag to ever walk this PLANET!!
The whole Beach/Bath house thing pretty much explains itself. These types of shows are marketed towards young males so it’s only natural the girls will at one point get down to their skimpies. Heck, the entire Love Hina series was basically a Beach/Bath House episode stretched out for multiple seasons and movies!
Then there’s the concept of 1st girl shown, 1st girl won, which pretty much nullifies the majority of the romantic tension that occurs during harem series. No matter how many incidents, situations or experiences that might occur with girls B-Z throughout the show, everybody knows that girl A will almost always win out. Now, some might say that this is how they have to be done because you can’t have multiple ” Happy Endings” for every girl who fawns over our main character. And for the most part you’d be right….except that a little show called Clannad, which I wholeheartedly believe is the best harem anime ever made, knew that some viewers wouldn’t agree with Nagisa getting Tomoya and made 2 OVAs where he got to go out with both Kyo and Tomoya. Why more harem series don’t take that route is something I don’t understand.
My last statement pretty much segues into the 4th truth about harem anime in that not every one will agree with its ending. Everybody has their “best girl” that they hope the main char chooses. But again, 1st girl shown/won pretty much dashes their hopes from the very start. And as much as I love Clannad, the Tomoya OAV was the better route to go in my opinion. Not that Nagisa was a bad character, but I felt like the only reason Tomoyo ended up with her, outside of Truth #1, is out of pure sympathy. I’m pretty sure every one who’s watched one of these can come up with a reason why the MC should’ve ended up with girl C, G or Y.
Now, maybe Truth #1 isn’t as set in stone as I’ve made it to be. I’ve only watched a handful of harem anime myself and that was a quite a while back. Maybe studios have shuffled up things more than I talked about. But I’m pretty sure these 4 truths hold up even in more modern takes on the harem genre.
Well, that sums up Part one of this 3 part series on Romance in Anime. Next time I’ll discuss Love Triangles and why they are just about as asinine as harems. Trust me, it only goes downhill from here people. This NEETaku from Just…My 2 Cents signing off!!