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Harem Anime

When polyamory would just be easier

By Loki TavielPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

Let's talk about something we're going to visit a lot in the coming months. A broad topic, and in fact an entire genre of anime that may be popular, but is riddled with issues. I could honestly probably build a full regular blog off of everything here, but instead, we'll cover just a few aspects.

Harem anime is a simple concept. We have a protagonist, and a supporting cast of many side characters, often interested and pursuing our main character. This often results in conflict between the supporting cast, as they vie for attentions, frequently ignoring the wishes of who they want to focus on. Generally there is some sort of pressure for the protagonist to marry one of the harem, and by the end he refuses to choose at all.

Much of the time, this conflict only exists because of the need to have a single choice of mate. The pressure of monogamy, and choosing "the one" creates chaos, conflict, and turmoil between everyone involved. Not only do we start delving into each character, learning to form attachments to them, but we also see the competitive aspects of trying to push the others out of the picture. Very seldom does the main character have a sense of agency, and is more often than not simply along for the ride of being dragged through everything the harem wants for the sake of their own attempts to win affection. It generally feels superficial at best, when we have so many series now that create entertaining, and yet deep relationship structures.

By the end of a harem series, there is usually one obvious mate, and the other characters squabble in the background, but resolve themselves to never actually gaining the affection of the main character, who often is horrible at laying down boundaries for his own goals. Oftentimes, we never even see the harem learning about the protagonist, or doing things that would even form a strong bond, but rather that the main character themselves must learn about, and slowly find redeeming qualities about each potential mate.

Realistically, when the protagonist is forming these relationships with the entirety of a cast, rather than having the pressure between any of them to just pick one, thereby spawning the competition of trying to be the most attractive mate, looking at polyamory would be an easier solution. Laying down the expectation that no one is better than anyone else, and that they can all form unique connections, and be taken care of would allow for a far healthier groundwork. And when characters wind up in conflict anyway, learning how to navigate that and seeing if those characters are meant for that relationship in the long run becomes the focus.

We can see characters trying to learn how to communicate, juggle interpersonal issues, and manage multiple life events at once. There's still plenty of conflict that occurs in life without the arguments and competition of trying to push others away. It's not as simple to make entertaining and amusing as the chaos of pressure for monogamy, but instead to can find more complex situations, which would create even more unique series. Trying to see the entire harem manage an event calendar would be incredibly amusing, or seeing the strain of real life events on the energy one has to maintain multiple relationships.

Maybe, we just need to push for less formulaic parts of the genre, rather than giving views to the exact same thing over and again. I would love to see some fresh takes on harem that spin it into a new direction, rather than putting a new disguise on the same thing.


About the Creator

Loki Taviel

Agender sex and kink educator, with a penchant for nerdy things that make me think.

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