Follow TV Tropes


Balanced Harem

Go To

A Sub-Trope of the Harem Anime genre, a Romantic Comedy with one male protagonist, and a bunch of girls who are all in love with him, and equally close to him. The plot intentionally tries to balance out the relationship, with equal amounts of screen time, fanservice, and plot relevance for the girls.

In these stories, the bigger emphasis is usually on the "comedy" part of Romantic Comedy, if there is any relationship building, it will happen with all the girls one after another, or it will be reverted by the end of the episode.

In some cases, if some of the girls are still in different levels of prominence, they are organized in "tiers" of 2-3 main love interests, whose prominence is still balanced compared to each other, and a larger number of "minor" harem characters, who are also balanced out compared to each other.

This plot type is common in Light Novel series and their adaptations, probably because of the low production costs, and the lack of hostile market competition, that allows writers to lengthen a plot for dozens of volumes.

Compare Marry Them All, an Ending Trope that uses a similar logic. A show can have a Balanced Harem plot earlier in the story, and still avert Marry Them All by choosing a girl in the end, or avert Balanced Harem by having a main heroine in the plot, and still end up with a Marry Them All.

Contrast with Supporting Harem, where one of the girls is always "in the lead".


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Rentarou does everything in his power to invoke this trope, no matter how many girlfriends he collects.
  • Amagami SS takes this to its logical conclusion, being adapted in an omnibus format, with a Reset Button after each arc allowing each girl to "win", one after another. Its Spiritual Successor Photo Kano, and its sequel, Seiren, also follow this format for the same reason.
  • A Bridge to the Starry Skies keeps the screentime, importance and Fanservice well balanced across the six girls. Not that it matters since fans only care for the main character's younger brother.
  • Hachi Ichi's whole premise: Shinichirou's grandfather sticks him in a house with eight girls he's never met before for a year and tells him he has to marry one.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler is pretty good at balancing the screentime of the main girls, with three or four getting more attention than the rest.
  • Imaizumin-chi wa Douyara Gal no Tamariba ni Natteru Rashii: ~DEEP~: Each of the three girls have about equal amount of screentime and A Day in the Limelight flashbacks. Keita also doesn't have a preference between them.
  • The anime of Kamigami no Asobi takes this approach - Apollon tends to be placed first or last whenever the gods are in a sequence (e.g. he sings first in the ending theme, he is the last god Yui meets, etc.), but her relationship with him isn't that much closer than most of the other gods.
  • The Kanon anime could be seen as an example of this - it's not a case of Marry Them All in the end, but it does strive to give all five girls roughly equal time and make them all plausible choices for Yuichi.
  • Mashiro-iro Symphony is a fairly standard example of this, Sakuno and Airi get a little more screentime but not much so it still counts as balanced. And at the end, Miu won.
  • Monster Musume has a good amount of screentime, Ship Tease and Fanservice among all six girls of Kimihito's harem, and even some of the girls outside of it. The only member of the harem who doesn't get regular ship teases has her own reasons for her patience.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi features an unusual example. First of all, the protagonist Negi is a 10-year-old boy teaching a class of middle school girls. At the beginning, there were only two girls who were presented as potential romantic options for Negi, although the number of admirers increases considerably as the manga goes on. While some girls are more prominent than others because of the large cast, everyone gets roughly equal Fanservice and Ship Tease. Negi doesn't show definite romantic feelings for anyone because his young age and his job as a teacher make him think he shouldn't enter a personal relationship with any of his students. It's only until the very last arc that Negi has enough time to actually decide on who he has feelings for.
  • A rare non-Harem Anime example occurs in Ōoku: The Inner Chambers, where Yoshimune makes sure every concubine has a go with her. That way no one could claim otherwise when she names one of the more malleable concubines as the father of her child.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets has the hero Fuutarou tutoring five quintuplet sisters: Ichika the Cool Big Sis actress, Nino the tsundere Supreme Chef, Miku the Shrinking Violet history buff, Yotsuba the athletic Genki Girl, and Itsuki the (mostly) serious one. Overall, the girls all get an equal amount of focus (save maybe for Yotsuba) and all have some kind of private interaction with Fuutarou at one point or another. There is also a bit of subversion, as despite being the first girl introduced, the only one who spent time in his house and the most acquainted to his family, Itsuki is the one who has the least romantic interaction with him, acting more like a platonic friend.
  • In Saber Marionette J, Otaru loves his three marionettes equally and they are fine with sharing him as long as he loves them all the same. Since they are The Three Faces of Eve, together they make the perfect woman he wants.
    • Deconstructed near the end of Saber Marionette J to X. For the whole season, Otaru deliberately tries to treat the trio of girls equally and not favour any one over the others - even working overtime to afford extra tickets for a vacation, so that he won't have to pick just one of them as a guest. Another guy falls in love with Bloodberry, but is content to let her be with Otaru. He then learns that Otaru actually has this trope and is not happy, accusing Otaru of leading all 3 girls on just to spare his own feelings. Otaru eventually agrees that each girl deserves someone who will treat her as his "number one" instead of as one-third of a whole, and resolves to upset the balance, permitting the marionettes he doesn't choose to live their own lives. It doesn't work because all three girls prefer to still be with him anyway.
  • Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi: All of the girls who like Yoichi are in the same level, probably because he is so dense, he doesn't even realize any girls like him. In the manga, only one of the girls even realizes that she likes the guy at first, the second is given less screentime after her inital appearance and a few chapters and the others are unsure or unwilling to pursue him and fall into the story quite a bit later. A secondary one-sided relationship is also brought in.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei includes a dozen students with feelings for Nozomu, but as the series progressed only three- Komori, Matoi, and Chiri- remained consistantly amorous toward him. The others got days in the limelight, but it never lasted for long. Until the ending, that is.
  • Subverted by the School Days anime. The protagonist has sex with every single girl from the original game, and even more, but there is no Status Quo Is God to fall back to, so they are pissed.
  • Sekirei is very cleverly balanced, cause Minato has specifically stated that he likes all his girls equally, and wants to return ALL their feelings. Initially there was a disproportionate emphasis on Musubi, but over time Musubi lost her camera time edge and was often paired off with Tsukiumi during any scenes showing her, allowing the other girls their chance to shine. This has helped the balance greatly.
  • SHUFFLE!'s anime doesn't originally seem like it's very balanced with Kaede seeming to have a huge head start, but it actually juggles all the girls fairly evenly apart from Primula, who has her love interest role downplayed. And the eventual "winner" is not Kaede. As for the original Visual Novel, there is no real favored girl at all. In fact, there are multiple sequels. All of them happen to follow different endings such as Tick? Tack! following Nerine and Really? Really! following Kaede.
  • Tenchi Muyo!, the quintessential Harem Anime, does this, to the point that you aren't really sure at the end ''who'' Tenchi is supposed to be with and leaves you with the thought that polygamy is more than on the table. This realy only applies in the "main" Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki cotinuity, though. The Alternate Continuity spinoff Tenchi Universe focuses far more heavily on Ryoko and Ayeka as the only "real" contenders (with some of the other girls being flat-out uninterested), and the TV ending and the second movie strongly imply that Ryoko will be the "winner" in this continuity.
  • To Love Ru started with a Betty and Veronica situation between Rito, Haruna, and Lala, but developed a Supporting Harem a few volumes in. By the Sequel Series Darkness, Haruna and Lala are Demoted to Extra, and most of Rito's suitors get similar amounts of screentime. Yami and Momo are nominally the lead heroines of Darkness, but this doesn't lead them to advance much romantically, and the latter (fruitlessly) attempts to get Rito to Marry Them All.
  • The seven female mages of Trinity Seven are all essential to the plot because each one uses a magic archive of the Seven Deadly Sins and Arata acquires their abilities as he gets closer to them in his process to become the Demon Lord. Every member of the Battle Harem has their time to shine, Fanservice, and Ship Tease with Arata. There's also Hijiri and Anastasia, two mages equal to the Trinity Seven, who are also in love with Arata and they get decent amount of focus too.
  • Umi no Misaki has a male lead who genuinely cares for all the girls in his harem and takes all three of them out on dates, occasionally at the same time.
  • We Never Learn: Rizu, Fumino, Uruka, Mafuyu, and Asumi all have roughly equal amounts of screentime and romantic development with Nariyuki, although the first three show a more obvious attraction. Chapter 150 reveals that the story even has Multiple Endings, quite a rarity for a manga. The author says that all 5 are "main" heroines, and thus each deserve their own route.
  • The World God Only Knows: It seemed to start out averting the harem tropes, but thanks to a major arc it became an actual harem with Keima (unwillingly) pursuing 5 girls at the same time, in cooperation with another one of his harem members, all at the urging of yet another one of his harem members (the one who at first it seemed might be the lead harem girl). It all makes sense in story, but for almost the entire series it's completely confusing who Keima could possibly end up with. Well... unless you count Yokkyun. The thing is Keima is aware that he has a harem and manipulates them by acting like he has feelings for them occasionally so he can move along his plan to catch the bad guys and save the goddesses. The part after Diana asks him to kiss her makes this extremely evident. It's not that he doesn't care about what happens to them, it's just that he has not shown any romantic affection of sorts for them... Until the penultimate chapter where he eventually chooses Chihiro, both because he wants everyone else in the harem to move on and cease pining for his affection, and because the girl he chose was the only person whom he cannot shoehorn into any Dating Sim stereotype.
  • Yosuga no Sora followed the format of Amagami SS, with keeping all the Multiple Endings.


  • In Anti Magic Academy The 35th Test Platoon, every girl has her own personal arc where she bonds with Takeru and deals with her tragic past as she struggles to overcome her problems with Takeru's support. All the girls are treated as invaluable members of the team, get screentime in all the arcs, and Takeru will do anything to protect all of them.
  • A Brother's Price: The setting has sororal polygyny, and Jerin's father taught him that it is of vital importance to invoke this trope by spending each night with another wife, and the repeat in the same order, to prevent jealousy.
    Jerin: And if that wife is sick at the time?
    Tullen: Then you sleep alone.
  • Date A Live: Each of the Spirits have an individual arc dedicated to their character and relationship development with Shido. While some fight for his attention, Shido has a strong bond with all the Spirits as they contribute to his power evolution.
  • Demon King Daimao: The anime made sure to show the girls for the same amounts of times, in the same situations in the opening and ending credits.
  • The Faraway Paladin: Parodied in book three when Gus wonders why protagonist Will (his adoptive grandson whom he's seeing for the first time in two years) is still single, and rattles off a list of cliche situations where a Stock Light-Novel Hero would normally have met a girl or three.
    Gus: On a more serious note, is there really no one? There’s normally something when you go adventuring. You know, like rescuing a strong-minded woman captured by bandits, or gallantly saving a merchant adventurer who lost her bodyguards, or recruiting a dependable swordswoman, or protecting a polite and proper lady of a fallen kingdom. Any number of things. Why are you giving me that look?
    Will: All of those were guys.note 
    Gus: (laughs his ass off)
  • Haganai is a little weird about this. The screentime is somewhat balanced, but it is done by having the entire cast be together almost all the time. However, closer examination reveals a two-tier format, with Yozora and Sena being the main girls, and making the others a mixed-bag of genre tag-alongs.
  • If Her Flag Breaks: Most if not all of the girls (and one guy) usually appear in every chapter and get equal amount of interaction with Souta because they all live under the same roof. They also share equal amounts of fanservice and it's possible for any of them to win Souta over. This deserves special mention, being the most loving and supporting harem ever written. The girls will constantly help each other get closer to Souta, then act confused when outsiders suggest this might be detrimental to their own feelings. Akane and Okiku in particular are absolutely delighted whenever a new girl pops up.
  • In Another World with My Smartphone: The story starts out right away on this trope, with Touya meeting sisters Elze and Linze almost immediately and both of them presented as equally-viable love interests. By the time he meets Yumina (the first girl to actually propose to him and make her intentions clear), he gets told by God himself that polygyny is A-OK in this new world and only a few episodes later, Yumina agrees to share him with the other girls, making Marry Them All the only sensible ending.
  • The Multinational Ensemble Battle Harem of Infinite Stratos get equal screentime with the protagonist Ichika and he's so dense that none of them is making progress with him. Note that although his main harem consists of five girls, only three of them are expected to actually have a shot—Houki, Laura, and Charles/Charlotte. Season 2 adds two more girls into the mix with the introduction of the Sarashiki Sisters, although one of them just forced herself into the harem on a whim.
  • MM! has a two-tier format, with a Tsundere and an androphobic girl as actual love interests, and a trio of tag-along girls for gags and Fanservice.
  • Oreshura: Eita's Childhood Friend, Chiwa, is obviously in love with him but Cannot Spit It Out, and Eita is too oblivious to notice. Masuzu blackmailed him into being her fake boyfriend, and they claim to dislike each other, but there's clearly more to it than that. Himeka thinks she's Eita's girlfriend from an alternate reality, having apparently experienced Love at First Sight, and quickly becomes as close to the male lead as the other two.
  • Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle: The series has given all the girls in Lux's harem equal prominence to the story and romantic development with Lux.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Bachelor, whose entire premise is based on this (one man choosing from twenty-five women).
  • HBO's drama Big Love, about a Mormon Fundamentalist and his three wives.
  • Sister Wives, a reality show on TLC that is essentially the non-fiction equivalent of Big Love.

    Video Games 
  • Ensemble Stars! follows a girl who has transferred into a previously One-Gender School for male idols in training, and even though the enormous cast features over 30 different students, all of them get their time in the spotlight, and all have at least some kind of relationship with Anzu. However, the romantic content is more toned down here than in most harems - only a handful of the cast explicitly has romantic feelings for her, with the guys often being more interested in the very complex friendship, rivalry, hate, and possibly romantic relationship dodecahedrons amongst themselves.
  • Memory Days, an Animesque Dating Sim on deviantArt, has the protagonist, Ai, and three potential love interests (Haru, Daichi, and Kai) that she has equal amounts of cut-scenes, interaction, and chemistry with. The same also goes for the other Dating Sims the creator, Pacthesis, has made (Kingdom Days, Chrono Days, Wonderland Days, Lunar Days, Number Days, etc.), though not always with just three love interests (some even include a Gay Option).
  • In Prom Dreams, Kyle Mason spends equal time with each of the three possible love interests. Justified, since they're all trapped in a time loop, and when a love interest is killed on prom night, she disappears in the following loop, forcing Kyle to choose a different girl.
  • In Super Robot Wars Judgment, male protagonist Touya Shun has three girls vying for him, who also double as his co-pilots. Players can choose which girl gets the highest tier by having them as his co-pilot during scenarios, but if they keep rotating on who's the co-pilot of the scenario, then the Mid-Season Upgrade of the Humongous Mecha Touya uses won't unlock its final attack. Additionally, this trope is required to save The Dragon from performing a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Funbag Fantasy Series has protagonist Lute Hende interact with several big-breasted women who all get equal amount of screen time (and sex scenes) and story arcs depending on the route taken with multiple endings leading to him hooking up with one of them. However, the canon route is Lute getting together with all of them, marrying three of his original six and the others promoted to a high royal position under him. More ladies are added to Lute’s harem in the direct sequel titles where he practically does a Marry Them All on a whopping ten out of a possible eleven gorgeous beauties. The fact that Lute is near unbeatable in bed certainly helps.
  • The Little Busters! visual novel comes across as this in the way it makes all the girls' routes canon, has the ending route more based around friendship than Riki's love for Rin, and has a scene at the very end where Rin asks Riki who he likes, offering up all the girls as potential choices, but having him refuse to answer. Even one of his guy friends is, while not dateable, a totally canon-compatible (and, depending on who you ask, canon-supported) ending possibility. This is in complete contrast to CLANNAD, which couldn't have made it more obvious that Nagisa was the winning girl, and the Little Busters! anime, which removed almost all the romance altogether.
  • As mentioned above, School Days can subvert this, although depending on the route you take you can also play it straight or avert it.