Supporting Harem

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A Subtrope of the Harem Genre, a Romantic Comedy with one male protagonist, one female Love Interest, and a bunch of female side characters who also happen to be in love with the protagonist.

In these stories, the bigger emphasis is usually on the "romantic" part of Romantic Comedy, with the relationship building between the main Official Couple, and the side characters are only there for the viewer to like them, and maybe as a Romantic False Lead, to keep some drama between the main characters.

Certain character types like the Hot Teacher or the Ojou are likely to be members of this, as a straight romantic story with them at the center probably wouldn't work at all, or at least it would invite too many unusual plot points.

One of the causes for this set-up might be if it is the adaptation of a Romance Game, where every girl got the focus of attention in her own route, but only one route got an adaptation.

Contrast with Balanced Harem, where several girls have equal prominence during the story.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • Accel World: Haruyuki is very clearly in love with Kuroyukihime and not only she reciprocates, she confessed her feelings first from early on; the only reason they are not an Official Couple yet is because Haruyuki has too many self-esteem issues to believe any girl could ever love him. While Haruyuki is often put into a lot of various... situations with many other girls, the series never acts like anything will come of it.
  • In Ah! My Goddess, there's never any question that Keiichi and Belldandy are the only canon OTP, but that doesn't stop Skuld, Urd, Peorth, and Mara from being Pretty Freeloaders.
  • Ai Kora is this, as it seems clear that Sakurako is in the lead, with Yukari trying to make this a Love Triangle but not quite. Tsubame, Kirino and everyone else is just there to have one of Hachibei's beloved parts.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi is clearly this, as the lead girl Aoi has already won within the first few episodes. It's just that she and the male lead Kaoru feel the need to keep their relationship a secret for various and pretty complicated reasons, so the rest of the harem doesn't know this.
  • Subverted by Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka, of all things. The entire series makes Yuuhi the main haremette and it's clear she'll win... But at the end, the main choses his sister Minato instead. There were some hints of this, but it mostly came out of nowhere.
  • The Asterisk War: From early on, Ayato chooses Julis as the girl he loves and wants protect the most. He may have several other girls vying for his attention, but it's obvious none of them have a chance.
  • In Brynhildr in the Darkness, there's no doubt Kuroha is the only girl Ryouta truly loves. It doesn't stop the other girls from trying, but it's clear they can't win against Kuroha.
  • Cat Planet Cuties is a variant: While there is a female lead, she's an alien Cat Girl who has no problem with sharing her boyfriend with the other haremettes.
  • Chivalry of a Failed Knight has Ikki and Stella getting together by the end of the first volume of the light novel / first arc of the anime adaptation. The other girls still develop romantic feelings for the protagonist, but, while he cares about them, the romance is one-sided.
  • CLANNAD made it very obvious in the first scenes who was the main love interest, and the harem concept was entirely dropped during the first season anyways. In the original visual novel, the alternate routes can still be pursued, but only one of them gets a substantial follow-up in After Story.
  • DearS, especially in the anime, is primarily focused on Takeya and Ren's budding relationship, though he also has Miu and Neneko chasing his affections. The manga, however, is somewhat more balanced. Takeya eventually gets to "make babies" with the entire DearS race.
  • El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, in both OVA and anime continuities, gives Makoto a main Love Interest, but the details differ.
    • In the OVA continuity, Makoto chooses Ifurita, but Shayla Shayla and Nanami both make plays for his affection, and Ifurita is Put on a Bus after the first OVA, though we see that Makoto will be reunited with her later. In the third OVA, The Alternative World, Makoto attracts a fourth love interest, Qawool, and the harem antics are played up significantly; while Shayla Shayla, Nanami and Qawool have yet to have a love confession from Makoto (at least he hasn't outright rejected or discouraged them), that doesn't stop them from trying to Tenchi things up (and it is even Ship Tease in the special episode-end credits for both Nanami and Shayla-Shayla in the 4th season that Makoto eventually gives in).
    • In the TV series, Makoto's Love Interest is Princess Rune Venus (who isn't in his harem in the OVA), and while Shayla Shayla and Nanami are both hot for him, he's not interested. Ifurita is a much different character in this adaptation (an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain instead of a deadly serious Person of Mass Destruction), and is not a Love Interest at all.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, "Louise The Zero" is not just the title character, but also connected to the protagonist with a magical contract sealed by a kiss. He confessed his love to her on the second season, and they even got married at the end of F. It doesn't stop more girls joining in with each succeeding season, for a grand total of four extra girls all in all.
  • Fushigi Yuugi has a Gender Flipped version, with Tamahome as the lead, and the other Seishi as supporting members. Tamahome actually marries Miaka later, as a reincarnation by the name of Taka.
  • With Haiyore! Nyarko-san, you know that Nyarko's the one who's going to win in the end — she's the title character, after all. Unfortunately for Mahiro that doesn't spare him the affections of Hasuta and later Cuuko. The "budding romance" part is also given a twist in that Nyarko tends to do things "three steps forward, two steps back", annoying Mahiro by being too goofy and clingy, but pulling him back from the brink at the last moment with honestly heartfelt expressions of love.
    Nyarko: "Cthuko! Except for me, no one is a leading role! All evil gods are supporting roles! You and Hasta are both supporting roles!"
    Cuuko: "I still don't acknowledge myself as a supporting role."
  • Heaven's Lost Property: Ikaros is in the lead, but Tomoki still has Nymph, Sohara, Astraea and Chaos as candidates.
  • A variant in High School DD: It is clear to everyone, from the start, that however much he may care for the other girls he hangs out with, Issei is in love first and foremost with Rias, and his relationship with her gets the spotlight over anyone else. However, the rest of the girls still pursue him... with Rias' blessing, as she doesn't mind Issei being with multiple girls as long as she's number one. The EX Novel shows that they do eventually end up like this: Rias is officially his wife, but several of the girls have taken the Hyoudou name (while Issei took the name Gremory), and most, if not all, of them had children with him.
  • Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere has a similar variant to High School DD: It's perfectly clear to everyone from the beginning that Toori only has eyes for Horizon. His other two friends Asama and Nate also have feelings for him, but they never pursued him because they know he will always love Horizon first and foremost. Later in the light novels, however, Horizon gives Asama and Nate her blessing for them to further their relationship with Toori, even proposing them to actively share him and live the four together so Toori can have the emotional support he needs from the people who love him the most.
  • Love Hina is a very good example of this. It was obvious by the end of the first manga volume that Naru was Keitaro's "Promise Girl" and not even the "complications" that came with Mutsumi (who also made a promise with Keitaro... and another with Naru...) and Kanako could put a dent in it. The author did try by having Naru be a couple of years younger than Keitaro (while not really a big deal by the time Keitaro moves into the Hinata Inn, it would have been a substantial age difference when they were pre-schoolers) and having her state flat-out that she wasn't the "Promise Girl" (using pretty much exactly that reasoning), but by that point Naru is clearly Keitaro's favorite regardless of whether she's Promise Girl or not. Turns out she actually is; she just doesn't remember it because she was so young, and Keitaro has retconned Promise Girl's age in his own mind since he was too young to remember it properly.
  • Another gender-inversion is Marmalade Boy, where from very early it's clear Yuu will win, no matter how much Ginta and the others try. At least they get their own girlfriends. It's also a straight example from Yuu's point of view. It's that kind of show.
  • Mayo Chiki! has Subaru as the clear lead girl. How clear? Even the other haremettes love her!
  • Medaka Box: Both Medaka and Zenkichi get a few admirers of their own; Medaka attracts the attention of Akune, Oudo, Kumagawa, and a few other enemies, as well as Zenkichi himself. Zenkichi gets his own best friend Shiranui as well as Emukae. Despite this, it's fairly clear that the primary relationship is between Medaka and Zenkichi.
  • In My Bride Is a Mermaid, it is very clear that the male lead Nagasumi only has eyes for his fiancée, Sun, despite some other females also harbor interest in him. Sun has her own admirers as well, but is extremely devoted to Nagasumi.
  • In My Monster Secret, it's clear from the start that male lead Asahi only has feelings for female lead Youko, but their female friends still have feelings for him, with one adopting the attitude that she'd be okay being his "rebound girl" if things don't work out. This state of affairs doesn't really change even after Asahi and Youko's Relationship Upgrade, but none of the girls actively resort to trying to break up the relationship. Things get really complicated when Grandkids from the Future start showing up and referring to members of the supporting harem as "Grandma" or when a mysterious figure appears and claims that Asahi and Youko don't get married in the end.
  • Nisekoi: From the start, it's very clear that the primary relationship is between Raku and Chitoge. Raku may have about 5 other girls vying for him, but only Onodera seems to actually have a chance against Chitoge. Even then, no matter how much he tries to deny it, Raku's preference for the latter becomes painfully obvious even to him.
  • Ouran High School Host Club in which every boy who knows she's a girl (not quite, but close) falls for Haruhi, but it's obvious she's going to end up with Tamaki, the host club president. It's not over done though, and only one or two actively seek to win her over, and even for them it's more of a journey of character than anything. It's Lampshaded by Tamaki in one episode in which he famously (and unwisely) pegs himself and Haruhi as the romantic leads and the rest as the homosexual supporting cast.
  • It's pretty clear from the start of Ranma who is going to be Ranma's love interest. While Shampoo and Ukyo get screen time here and there, Akane is on screen almost as much as Ranma is, and he actually lives in her house. She also gets his attention far more than the other girls. At the end of the series, Ranma inwardly declares his love for Akane and there is a Maybe Ever After ending. Take that as you will, shippers.
  • Rosario + Vampire has Moka as the only girl Tsukune clearly loves. The other girls try, but there's nothing they can do. Until someone suggests he Marry Them All, that is. Other than the Official Couple, everyone thinks it's a great idea.
    • It gets deconstructed. Kurumu and Mizore know they don't have a chance, but they still love him... and it becomes really complicated: Kurumu's nature as a succubus means that unrequited love is literally killing her, while Mizore is a biological Christmas Cake and due to her love for him and no one else, she'll sooner or later end up barren.
  • Subverted in Strawberry 100%; while Junpei does initially express feeling in Satsuki, Tsukasa, and Aya, it becomes clear that Aya is his primary love interest. In the end, he chooses Tsukasa instead. Fans weren't happy.
  • Kirito's "harem" in Sword Art Online is unquestionably this. Kirito and Asuna actually get married before the end of the first book, so there's really none of the normal Will They or Won't They? or Ship Tease you'd get in a real Harem Series. Most of the girls who fall for him are presented as quiet tragedies, since they never had a shot with him in the first place. Asuna also has a harem of her own, but most of the named members are her husband's friends, so again, there is no Ship Tease.
  • To Love-Ru started out as this, with Lala and Haruna getting all the screen time, with Word of God claiming they were intended to be the main focus of the story. However, as time went on, more girls were introduced and screen time evened out and it became much less clear who Rito would choose (it was a bit Lala-centric at first); in other words, it evolved into a Balanced Harem. In fact, the sequel To Love-Ru Darkness, is aiming for the Marry Them All (or at least, one of the harem members is actively trying to make it happen) and Lala and Haruna have been Out of Focus, aside from A Day in the Limelight stories.
  • Akatsuki no Yona may qualify as a gender-swapped version of this, though its status as a reverse harem is arguable. Yona has Hak; Kija; Jae-ha; Tae-jun; and even possibly the series' antagonist, Su-won; all in love with her. Despite this, Hak is pretty clearly pegged as the main love-interest from the very start. Ironically though, he actually spends a sizable chunk of the story as a Hopeless Suitor.

    Fan Fiction 

     Literature  
  • Twilight: Bella has Eric, Tyler, Mike, and Jacob all in love with her, but her One True Love is Edward. Not even Jacob giving her a Forceful Kiss in a later book could seriously challenge this.
  • A Gender Flipped example from the Mahabharata: Draupadi is married to 5 men at once (the Pandavas brothers), and though she does care for all of them one way or another, Arjuna is her favorite. This is because Arjuna is the incarnation of the god Indra, and Draupadi is the reincarnation of his wife Indrani. This comes back to bite her in the ass later, because she collapses on the mountain climb to Heaven as a result of "playing favorites."
    • In the Javanese version (heavily influenced by the spread of Islam), Draupadi is married only to Yuddhisthra, but collapses on the mountain because she has feelings for Arjuna.

     Video Games  
  • Despite "the ability to pursue multiple love interests" being the main drawing point of nearly all Dating Sims and romance Visual Novels, this trope can still occur in them if the game is clearly biased in favor of a specific love interest.
  • One example of the above is Sweet Pool in which Tetsuo, Makoto, and Zenya are all interested in Youji and have endings with him, but Tetsuo gets the most development and backstory with Youji, four endings with him including the game's True End and all his endings manage to have at least a bittersweet tinge to them, whereas Makoto and Zenya each get only one ending with Youji that can't qualify as anything other than a Guro Horrific Ending by any reasonable standard.

     Western Animation  


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SupportingHarem