Harem Analysis: The Simultaneity Requirement

A few posts ago when I claimed that Asu no Yoichi is the best harem anime ever, various commenters contended that the following were better:

  • Clannad
  • Kanon
  • Suzuka
  • Ranma 1/2
  • High School of the Dead

I cannot agree, not because these shows are (all) bad, but because they’re not harems (with the possible exception of High School of the Dead, which I haven’t read).

  • Clannad: fails the simultaneity requirement
  • Kanon: fails the simultaneity requirement
  • Suzuka: fails the multiplicity requirement
  • Ranma 1/2: fails the fixation requirement

In fact, of all the anime I’ve seen, these are the only ones I consider true harems:

  • Asu no Yoichi
  • Da Capo
  • Futakoi
  • Ichigo 100%
  • Kage Kara Mamoru
  • Love Hina
  • Negima
  • Shuffle
  • Tenchi Muyo
  • To Love-Ru

All of a sudden it’s not so shocking to claim that Asu no Yoichi the best. I have a strict, classical view of the harem anime—the only view that makes any sense. If you think a harem requires nothing more than at least three girls chasing one guy, you’re missing the point. A harem is much more than a three-girl quota; several additional conditions must be met. Today we’ll be discussing:

The Simultaneity Requirement

Why is the harem so alluring? Because you get to do multiple girls at the same time. Running off with each girl one at a time defeats the purpose of having a harem and makes you gay. Hence, shows like Clannad and Kanon are disqualified.

Kyou: Hi!

Tomoya: Who are you?

Kyou: I’m that girl who threw a book at you in the first episode.

Tomoya: Oh yeah…so what do you want? I’m busy gardening with Kotomi.

Kyou: Wouldn’t you rather hang out with both of us at the same time, like in a harem?

Tomoya: No.

It’s fine to shift the focus from one girl to another throughout the show, but when you completely ignore the rest of the girls for stretches of episodes while doing so—save a handful of token appearances—you’re no longer in harem country. As of today, visual novel adaptations that follow each girl route-by-route officially have their own genre.

Speaking of Clannad, Kyou’s Chapter was surprisingly watchable (despite the sappiness and clichés). I shall list its improvements over the original story in increasing order of importance:

5. No Nagisa
4. No Robots with Feelings
3. No Fuuko
2. No Magical Fuuko
1. Sunohara was actually a likeable character (I can’t believe it either)

36 people love sucking up to me

  1. All those VN Novel Adaptions seem like Harem Animes because they cant decide on ONE storyline but try to please the crowd with the inclusion of all the girls storylines and failing hard by doing so.
    The only VN Adaption ive seen was Kanon 2006 and Shuffle and its simply stupid when the leads attention jumps from one character to the next without a good reason besides the fact that they start another girls route.

    To Love Ru qualifies as Harem?Ive only seen the Anime and Im still stuck at Vol. 1 of the Manga but arent the only girls that are really after Generic Male Leads Wiener Lala and Sairenji? The other girls are just the support cast that are needed for some comedic and ecchi scenes but will never have an impact on the realtionship between the maincast.

    and you linked me again? Oh my! I guess Succing up to you worked

  2. I’m gonna have to toss in Mahoraba ~Heartful Days is being the best then, at least, as far as meeting the simultaneity requirement. It also has all the archetypes you mentioned in your classical definition, yet, somehow, succeeds in being far more heartwarming than Asu no Yoichi.

  3. You’re right baka-raptor, i’ll never doubt your judgment anymore.

    by the way, i just finished after story in the past week, and i wanted to ask you, what do you think about the ending ?

    the show itself is boring until late episode 15 when things starts to get interesting and amazing when nagisa die…

    i mean, it is almost as if your improvement list got aproved, with the no nagisa requirement.

    but they mess everything with the ending, that doesn’t make any sense at all.

    With the exception of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Claymore, all other shows just kill key characters in the story, because they’re pretenting to bring them back in a way or another.

  4. Hmm, does Hayate no Gotoku then fit the definition of a harem? Seems like the simultaneity requirement is met. What are the multiplicity and fixation requirements?

  5. So I stand corrected. High Shool of the Dead is in fact not a true harem series since the girls aren’t really after the main character as much as they’re just there for eye candy. And wow I got a link to my blog? Maybe I’ll get some readers now.

  6. Yeah Suzuka isn’t a harem, since there are only two girls who really have feelings for the lead.

    To-Love-Ru is a harem since more girls have shown feelings for Rito after vol 1. there is now Yui Kotegawa, Run, Lala’s little sister Momo, and even Rito’s own sister Mikan. sooner or later all the girls are going to be in love with our generic harem lead.

  7. I guess Love Hina is a bad testament to that, because Keitaro’s a fag and he went with Narusegawa. He should’ve went with Shinobu and his imouto instead.

  8. High School of the Dead merely revolves around mindless zombies trying to rape the girls, and the girls resisting by smashing up the undead heads.

  9. Great choice with Juuza there.

    It’s interesting to note these so-called harem anime missing the point. Now while I haven’t touched a harem anime for over a decade (Ranma got boring after three episodes) I can see where you’re getting at and a point which I agree wholeheartedly with: Get rid of the pussy male archetype. If I was in a situation where hot girls are literally thrown at me to have my way with them any way I want you’re not going to see me pansy my way out of there.

  10. @Rakuen: whoa whoa whoa …. so Keitaro sucks because he’s not a pedophile and refused to lust after hi sister? Come on, at least say he could have gone for Makoto. @Seinime: I completely forgot about Negima. Its stepped so far into naruto and bleach territory I sometimes forget its a harem manga at heart. Its a shame too that negima does shonen style fights way better than naruto and bleach, the “real” shonen shows…

  11. This might sound off-topic but lately I had enough time to spend on playing old games, and I chose Spellforce.

    And now I noticed that the elven are kind of a harem. Imagine having 50 sexy obedient slaves saying things like “Your wish is my command” or “What does the Rune (you) desire?” in a sexy British accent.

    And of course the things you order them to do include: finding wood, food, building things, killing animals, and fighting all the people you don’t like. I can’t imagine anything more perfect.

    Oh, wait, I can. It’d be more perfect if it was real. Oh well.

  12. @Blowfish: Sucking up to me always works. I dropped To Love-Ru at episode 9, so I can’t confirm that it’s truly a harem. I just got the sense a third competitor would pop up eventually.

    @NegativeZero: Each Shuffle girl had her own little story, but the others were more or less involved throughout the whole story. I may rewatch a little of it to make sure; it’s been about four years since I watched it.

    @Day: Maybe you should stop watching so much hentai.

    @zzeroparticle: I’ll add it to the list. It shall be watched in 6-8 months.

    @Laguna: I thought the ending sucked. My understanding is that it’s from the game, I mean, “visual novel.” If you do everything right, Nagisa and Ushio come back to life for some reason. Still, even if it’s directly from the game, I can’t imagine why they’d think it’d work in anime format.

    @RP: Haven’t seen it yet for some reason.

    @Seinime: Negi’s got the magic stick (starts at 0:10)

    @thekungfukid: What, your self-linking didn’t work?

    @TJ: I was thinking of the outside possibility of what’s her face from the track team liking the male lead, but even if that were true, it wasn’t significant enough to merit harem status.

    @Rakuen: You might be expecting me to call you a pedophile. However, Naru was only 17, so Keitaro would be a pedophile either way. By the way, you’re a pedophile.

    @double: Sounds like the best harem ever.

    @Zantetsu: The pussy male lead is dying out. Yoichi (of Asu no Yoichi) was sexually quite a pussy but otherwise quite respectable. Kakeru (from Akikan, not quite a harem, but somewhere in the broader range of wish-fulfillment anime), also defied the pussy male lead archetype. Outliers, or signs of changing times? Hopefully the former. Sooner or later writers will realize that good characters are more important that characters we’re supposed to be able to relate to.

    @animekritik: It’d even be good to be censored Cartoon Network Tenchi. Hell, I’d even be Tenchi in Tokyo.

    @Coaxen: It was quite on-topic. You had me at finding wood.

    @Kairu: Ok, enjoy your gay little no-more-than-on-girl-at-a-time “harem”

    @dood: Yeah, there are plenty of perfectly good shows in the pseudo-harem genre: School Days, Seto no Hanayome, Chaos;Head, Akikan, etc…

  13. @Baka-Raptor: Yeah , i mean…lots of show mess everything when they do not follow the manga when they should, in the case of after story it followed the game story when it should not. I read it was a great success in japan (After Story) , and as happened with Naruto Filler because of the commerce, they’re planning to do a filler season of Clannad with the story of ushio as protagonist… guess why ??? $$$ hahaha 😀

  14. Baka-Raptor, I read waaaay more BL hentai than I watch of regular hentai – I just happen to review all the hentai I watch.

    Also, Tenchi Muyo is not better than Asu no Yoichi.

  15. Yeah man, the one reason Hokuto no Ken has been my favourite anime and manga series since I was three was because I idolised the manliness everyone oozed from themselves, aspiring to be like them eventually. Keitaro from Love Hina? Not so much.

  16. @Baka-Raptor: I kinda troll on Love Hina even though it’s like my favorite harem anime of all time, because it got me out of all the shitty shounen shows that pissed me off at that time. And yes, I don’t blame you for calling me a pedo.

    By the way, hidoi desu yo.. and you forgot Maburaho.

  17. You make sense. I love this post. haha!

    And I totally agree to this Kyou chapter improvement: NO NAGISA

    I think the Tomoyo chapter also didn’t have her around.

    CLANNAD’s totally more decent without her. Ohohohoho!!!!

    I always find Sunohara likeable though . . . in whatever he does and in whatever episode xD It’s fun to make fun of him~

  18. @zif: No, it fails the multiplicity requirement. If you throw in one more haremette, it could pass.

    @Kyoin: In Tenchi Muyo, harem requirment you?

    @Laguna: An Ushio series? Please tell me that’s a joke…

    @lulu-tan: Believe it!

    @thekungfukid: Yeah, perhaps I went a little too far…

    @Day: Asu no Yoichi is far better than Tenchi Muyo. Tenchi simply has more non-pedophilic options.

    @Rakuen: Haven’t seen it. Pedophile.

    @Omisyth & Sapphire Pyro: My problem with Sunohara is that he’s always screeching about something irrelevant and/or having sex with his little sister. He’s comic relief overkilled52.

  19. >Outliers, or signs of changing times? Hopefully the former. Sooner or later writers
    >will realize that good characters are more important that characters we’re supposed
    >to be able to relate to.

    So they haven’t figured that out yet?
    I mean, most people shouldn’t be able to identify with neither pussy leads (at least
    not if they are sexually anxious) nor hot-blooded justice-loving badasses.

    If writers wanted people to be able to identify with the main character,
    they would only write hentai stuff.

  20. “Dual! Parallel Trouble” was made by Pioneer, the same people who made Tenchi Muyo (before the purchase by Funimation). It has simultaneity, so you might want to count it as another true harem anime.

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