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)

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