Harem Genre
aka: Harem Cast

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"…serials about awkward young men very pointedly NOT having sex with a selection of eager women."

Harem is a genre/plot frame that is mostly present in the Japanese media of anime, manga, Light Novels, Visual Novels, and Video Games.

It typically features a High School–aged male lead with at least two (usually at least three and often a lot more) available girls who may be actively interested in him but at the very least are bound by circumstances to be close to him. Gender Inverted, LGBTQ, and If It's You, It's Okay examples exist, as do age-adjusted renditions for younger audiences. Typically each harem member has a markedly contrasting personality, often personifying a single classic characterization archetype.

The protagonist may take it as an Unwanted Harem, react as a Harem Seeker, or be Oblivious to Love; but he almost never actually enters a consummated romantic relationship with any of them, except perhaps as the grand finale. Particularly pure examples of the set-up, where the plot is designed to keep the "race" for the male protagonist's heart in a perpetual dead heat, are known as the Balanced Harem subgenre. Other possible dynamics include the "Harem Route", where the girls choose to share the lead character amicably rather than risk losing him and their friends completely, or the "Shuraba" ("Bloodbath") route, where There Can Be Only One and the contenders ruthlessly sabotage each other to secure mastery. There is also the hybrid option where the harem is "led" by a female lead in a conventional Official Couple relationship with the MC and "backed" by a Supporting Harem. In such cases, the work usually indicates only one or two girls as the main characters, in contrast to the standard harem works.

Not surprisingly, Harems frequently go hand-in-hand with the Ecchi genre and gratuitous Fanservice. That said, outright Hentai harems are rarely seen and often poorly exemplify a genre where Wanting Is Better Than Having and Unresolved Sexual Tension is a primary source of dramatic interest.

Contrast Royal Harem, which is about the literal, traditional sort of harem as found in a royal palace. See our handy-dandy guide if you want to write one of your own. Also note that many works have a standard set of heroines and tropes of this genre as Supporting Harem, however such titles do not belong to the harem genre because they only pretend to be harem for fan service and attracting the audience.

Harem genre tropes:

Common character types for the Harem members:


Examples of works in the Harem genre:

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    Fan Works 

    Literature 
  • Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note: While downplayed due to this being a series about and primarily aimed at tweens, there's no escaping the fact that it's one girl surrounded by boys that she and everyone around her consider to be cool and good-looking, and she even develops some feelings towards some of them. While not as strong as older Reverse Harem series, it still has the same effect.
  • In Tairen Soul, Ellie is surrounded by handsome men who swear they'll die to do her bidding. They (officially) don't want to be together or sleep with her, however.
  • In BladeArc, Yuuto has an elf, a thief, a female ogre, a swordwoman, a princess, a crew of female warriors, and Death herself in love with him.
  • In Eight Cousins, Rose Campbell goes to live with her Uncle Alec, and becomes the target of affection to her seven handsome male cousins.

    Video Games 
  • Agarest Senki requires you to pick one girl out of three in each generation after you've spent some time with them. The system works similarly to Phantasy Star III's system. Rex, the final hero, however, can end up with one of any girl you've gotten in your party so far of the maximum number of nine in the Golden Ending.
  • Ar tonelico series is a RPG hybrid with Visual Novel element in the form of Cosmos Sphere, focusing on romance developments between The Hero and two (later three) heroines. Ensemble Darkhorse Cocona not included.
  • Any game created by Bioware has romance side-plots reguarding the player character. Most of the time it's just a love triangle, but the ammount of people your male/female Shepard can become interested by someone in Mass Effect 2 pretty much borderlines a harem.
  • In Bully, the main character amasses himself a nice harem.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land pits you with 4 girls, each with their own ending, and the game provides another special ending that's really hard to get. Since this is a linear RPG, romance paths aren't really obvious.
  • RPG Shooter: Starwish is a hybrid RPG shooter where the harem consists of 5 girls (only 4 are available at a time) and 2 guys, with a special ending if you can get all of the individual endings (and another one — featuring a fifth girl who was not previously in the story except for a few lines at the beginning, which the protagonist assumed was All Just a Dream — if you don't).
  • RPG Maker 2000 game Romancing Walker features a pretty boy hero and his six love interests.
  • In Scarface: The World is Yours Tony Montana can obtain a large collection of trophy girlfriends.
  • Hakuoro of Utawarerumono sleeps with six women throughout the game, five of whom love him. Kuuya, empress of the bunnypeople, also seems to love him and offers her best friend as a concubine without knowing quite what that means. Mikoto and possibly Mutsumi in the back story. Yet he's entirely oblivious of how most of them feel until the very end of the game, thinking of them as mostly friends/retainers and of the sex as being rather casual.
    • Considering that he's the king, who also comes from modern society, where sex IS casual, and they live in a world which still has EMPERORS… it makes sense.
  • In the Sakura Wars games, both Ichiro and Shinjiro can end up attracting the affections of all of their female teammates (and even some of the support staff); in fact, your party's combat stats are in large part determined by how well the heroes can build up their relationships with the ladies during the Dating Sim sections.

    Visual Novels 
Many visual novel plots revolve around this, especially in eroge, but this trope isn't eroge exclusive.

  • The upcoming But I love you. is an Affectionate Parody and Deconstructor Fleet for the genre. The main character, who can be either a boy or a girl, finds hirself stranded in a mysterious town when hir car breaks down. The player encounters a number of girls, from the childish, passionate Ryanne to the shy, dumure Alison, who all try to help them in different ways and can be flirted with. Eventually, though, the girls begin to act clingy, giving off signs of being unhinged, and the player must make a choice: either ignore the warning signs to keep courting the girls or try to escape from the town, which is afflicted with an as-yet unknown curse by a mysterious Big Bad. Among its Multiple Endings the player may either successfully complete a romance with one or more of the ladies, escape or be killed.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry initially seems as though it'll be one of these, what with the main character, Keiichi, being in a Games Club consisting of only four girls and himself (later adding two more girls, Shion Sonozaki and Hanyuu), and the first parts of each arc focuses on their shenanigans. Soon, though, it's revealed that this series is about something else entirely. Not to mention that in the second half of the series the position of main character shifts to Rika instead of Keiichi. It's also worth noting that only Mion and possibly Rena are actually hinted to be in love with Keiichi in the series proper, since Shion is in love with someone else, Satoko and Rika are too young, and Hanyuu is a Physical God who was married and had a daughter when she was still human. In the end, none of the girls end up with Keiichi, since the series is ultimately not about romance but The Power of Friendship.
  • Kamigami No Asobi features a harem of gods - Apollon, Hades, Susano'o(a.k.a. Takeru), Tsukuyomi (a.k.a. Tsukito), Loki, and Balder.
  • Muv-Luv.
  • Tsukihime. Five girls with their own routes plus one without, having been Demoted to Extra. Most of them are quite violent about it too; Akiha flatly hates Ciel (who hates her back) and Arcueid (who doesn't seem to know what hate is) and those two have a 'weird friendship' that occasionally includes trying to kill each other. Akira is added in the first fandisc, Kagetsu Tohya seems to add Len considering she expresses a preference for having sex with him when making a contract and implies most of his classmates are attracted. Melty Blood adds Sion.
    • Do note that this only applies to the extended Tsukihime-verse in the Nasuverse, where Shiki is actually saddled with all the girls in an Unwanted Harem. In the actual visual novel there is no harem ending (aside of Ciel's good ending, which teases a Threesome Subtext with Arcueid as the third prong).
  • Key/Visual Arts' AIR, Kanon, and CLANNAD feature an ordinary (or not so ordinary) high school student who attracts girls of every moe and general description type into a long-running harem.
    • Little Busters! is interesting in that it's both more and less of a harem than the others — more because all of the routes happen canonically as different timelines, meaning that all of the girls fall for him within the same reality, rather than in alternate universes as with most Key games where often only one or two girls ever like the protagonist at the same time and because the first ending explicitly leaves open the question of who he ends up with, but also less because the anime removes all Riki/girl romance except implications that Kurugaya and Rin might like him, leaving only non-haremette Suginami explicitly, and unrequitedly, in love with him.
  • My Harem Heaven Is Yandere Hell focuses on Yuuya and his three Childhood Friends. At first, he and his friends are trying to help save their club, but once he starts getting close to one of them, everything takes a dark turn.
  • Yandere: I Love You So I Want to Kill You is centered in a high school with Subaru and three attractive choices in women. Although, like the previous entry, the word "Yandere" should be noted.
  • Purino Party gives the player his own personal harem. He arrives at his new private school and gets to stay at a house full of girls with unique quirks.
  • Dating Sim Tokimeki Memorial, which actually revolves around building stats and managing dates on multiple girls at times to get one of loads and loads of girls without angering the rest and ruin your game.
  • Seven Hotties, All My Husbands features a strange situation where the protagonist has become part of a polygamy with seven men.
  • Harem Protagonist is a particularly silly and self-aware take on the genre. For starters, the protagonist can hear and interact with the game's narrator, who is disappointed that our hero is not some suave high-school Casanova but an ordinary schlub.
  • Extracurricular Activities is a Westernized take where cute schoolgirls are replaced by muscular anthropomorphic men, complete with the Childhood Friend, The Quiet One, and more.
  • The Shall We Date franchise is a Reverse Harem series - every single game has a female protagonist and the many men who are in love with her.
  • Enchanted in the Moonlight is another Reverse Harem - the protagonist is being protected by five ayakashi, and will have to bear one of them a child in exchange for continued protection.
  • In Starry Sky, the heroine is the only girl at an all-boys school, and starts being courted by twelve young men (although there are only three per game).
  • In Diabolik Lovers, the heroine is sent to live in a mysterious mansion, and is courted by six vampire brothers.
  • In Harem Island ~Otoko, the hero works part time at a major theme park situated on a deserted island. Among his co-workers happen to be six lovely women who cosplay as various characters (it's a fantasy-themed park). Naturally, he begins courting all the women and begins his own personal harem at the park.
  • Magic-kyun! Renaissance appears to be taking this route in the anime, with Kohana meeting and forming relationships with the six main male characters.
  • In Eji Koi, the heroine attends school alongside Egyptian gods, and is able to start a romance with any one of them.
  • In Dream Daddy, the protagonist is romanced by seven single fathers.
  • In Seduce Me (Otome), the heroine allows five incubi to stay with her, and they end up falling in love with her.
  • In Star-Crossed Myth, the heroine is romanced by twelve gods of the Zodiac.

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Alternative Title(s): Harem Anime, Reverse Harem, Harem Series, Harem Show, Harem Comedy, Harem Cast

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HaremGenre?from=Main.HaremCast