Love it or hate it the harem genre is here to stay in anime. Practically every season has a new addition to the genre, with most being forgettable affairs. Still there are some out there that stand above the rest, and I am one of (what feels like) very few anime bloggers that actually enjoys the genre. These are just my opinion, and are subject to change with the times. Honestly I should just wait till this season is over, since I’m enjoying some of the harems in it so much. Still I wanted to let my readers know where I stand, so here are my top 5 harems.
5) High School DxD
The king of ecchi harems comes on the list to start it out. The story of Issei Hyoudou and his quest to become the harem king of devils is one of the best harems simply because the main character acknowledges his want for a harem. Issei’s probably the only protagonist on this list that wants all of the girls that surround him. It’s one of the few shows outside of hentai that admit that a high school boy probably has lustful thoughts, weird though that is in anime. On top of this the comedy and over the top action scenes will keep you entertained, even if you get sick of all the naked breasts (like you could). If there is one weak point it’s that the story sometimes becomes convoluted, but to be fair the story is pretty weak to begin with. Be warned there is a lot of nudity in this show, and at times it tip-toes on the borderline of hentai. If you are of age to watch it, and you get a chuckle out of risque humor then this is a series worth your time.
4) The Familiar of Zero
A harem in a fantasy setting with a tie into World War 2 would be good enough to at least merit an honorable mention. Rie Kugimiya playing the tsundere main girl (Louise Françoise) boosts this show into another level. Familiar to Zero is pretty unique in the harem genre for having the protagonist clearly choose his love interest in the show. I won’t spoil his decision, but if you can’t guess who it is you might have recently suffered a head injury. You might ask why the protagonist (Saito Hiraga) would bother with the other girls if he chooses one, but the other girls don’t really give up and the main girl is the jealous type. Other than that the “fish out of water” plot is decently delivered, though some parts of it reek of Stockholm syndrome. There are pretty good dramatic moments, but one of these is spoiled by a plot reverse that made it pointless. Through the bad points lies a fantastic harem with some pretty epic battles and an interesting love story. If you enjoy fantasy settings, slightly overpowered protagonists, and Rie Kugimiya’s beautiful voice then this’ll be a good show for you.
This came as a surprise to me when I was running down the pro’s and con’s of all the harems I had seen. I simply kept coming back to this show despite Yozora’s constant bullying, and Rika/Sena’s overplayed overreactions. The thing I think I like most about this harem is the fact that the main character (Kodaka Hasegawa) has a fairly legitimate reason for not wanting to choose one of the girls. His intense desire for friends, and a place at school to belong makes him fear ostracizing most of the girls by going out with one. I was further impressed by the fact that one of the girls calls him out on it in a pretty intense scene near the end. Hagnai also adds in enjoyable popular media references and jokes that keep you entertained throughout the show. That being said, this anime does end on a cliffhanger, but 2016 will see the revival of Haganai! It’s up in the air as to whether or not I will still enjoy the series after the next season, but for now it’s still one of my favorites.
2) Tenchi Muyo
One of the first harems I ever watched, Tenchi was practically a staple of my youth. The comedy, sci-fi space battles, and different storylines kept me coming back every new iteration of the series. To explain a bit the Tenchi series is comprised of several different shows, each with a different spin on the story. Tenchi is almost always the focus (with one or two exceptions), and for the most part the story follows him defeating an evil alien. This is one of the few anime I’ve watched where the English dub is better in my opinion. The comedic timing by the English voice actors is flawless, and the accents the use work well with the character visuals. It might seem strange to newer viewers since it is a 90’s anime, but rest assured it is well worth adjusting to watch this old school harem.
1) Ranma 1/2
Ranma 1/2 is my number one harem, and will continue to be until the day that the perfect harem anime comes. I’m not holding my breath with the amount of stagnation in the genre, albeit pleasant stagnation with all the ecchi goodness. This was the first anime I saw with nudity and crass jokes in it, and I loved every second of it. It was also my first experience with a tsundere character (Akane), and a “best girl” (Shampoo) debate with fellow fans. The show’s plot is very episodic in that the overall story stays the same, but almost every episode is a new adventure for Ranma and friends. Still the multiple plots are fun, the characters are varied, and the all the ridiculous martial arts tournaments and transformations are entertaining. If you watch Ranma 1/2 without laughing at least once, I’m convinced you lack a sense of humor.
Like my top first impressions of fall 2015, I’d like to throw in some honorable mentions. Sekirei and Monster Musume missed the list because I’m more into their manga than their anime, and Monster Musume’s anime is a million times better than Sekirei’s. Date A Live and Rosario + Vampire get an honorable mention too for being hilarious, but they’re forgettable overall. Saekano and Shomin Sample get mentions as potentials for this list if their future episodes deliver on a quality harem experience. I might revisit this list in the future, but as of now this is the order of my regard for on the first genre’s of anime I ever got into. Got an opinion on this list? Tell me in the comments, or on my Facebook/Twitter pages! Let’s keep the anime discussion going, but remember (as I said in a past post) don’t be a dick.
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!