Harem Genre

"...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 normally takes place in a High School setting, with one male lead and at least three (often a lot more) girls who are romantically interested in him, or at the very least are bound by circumstances to live with him. Gender Inverted Examples also exist. Usually, each girl personifies a single classic characterization archetype.

The protagonist either takes it as an Unwanted Harem, reacts as a Harem Seeker, or is Oblivious to Love.

Works where a Harem Genre set-up is put in front of other relationship dynamics, and the plot is written with the intention to keep the "race" for the male protagonist's heart as tied as possible, are known as the Balanced Harem subgenre.

In recent shows, the Harem genre has become somewhat divided into two "routes". The first, the legitimate "Harem Route", has the girls choose to share the lead character, equally or otherwise, rather than risk losing him and their friends completely. The other, more realistic route is called "Shuraba", sometimes translated as "Bloodbath"; here, there can be only one, and all contenders are willing to destroy their enemy to achieve their own happiness.

In other cases, when a work uses this genre together with a more traditional Romantic Comedy Official Couple relationship, that is called the Supporting Harem subgenre.

Many of these works are also shared with the Ecchi genre, as it is harder to find a Harem story that isn't filled with gratuitous Fanservice than one that is.

Contrast Royal Harem, which is about the literal, traditional sort of harem as found in a royal palace.

Harem genre tropes:

Common character types for the Harem members:

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Examples of works in the Harem genre:

    Anime and Manga 

    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 ib 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.
  • Dating Sim Tokimeki Memorial, as it can't fit in Visual Novel catagory because you actually need to build 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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.


Alternative Title(s):

Harem Anime, Reverse Harem, Harem Series, Harem Show, Harem Comedy, Harem Cast