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Post Reply Why are Harem style Anime normally frowned upon or looked at in bad taste?
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Posted 6/20/16 , edited 6/22/16


But earlier you said his love life is a constant topic. And we both know his love life consists of his relationships with multiple girls, which is a harem. How can his harem be a constant topic and not be enough to classify the series as a harem?



Choosing a girl doesn't mean something stops being a harem. Neither does a girl stepping down. The first 3 major arcs each dealt with Kirito's relationship with a different girl, with a few minor characters on the side also falling for him. Even long after his virtual wedding with Asuna.

Having every single girl chasing after a guy at the exact same time throughout the entire show from start to finish isn't necessary to make it a harem. I even said in an earlier post that the only modern harem I can remember that does anything similar to this is Nisekoi. Maybe Monster Musume too. You will never see this in Monogatari. You will rarely see this in any of those LN battle harems that introduce a new girl each volume and then she's forgotten in the next volume unless she's the first girl. The only exception that comes to my mind is Date A Live and that's due to Kurumi and Kotori's unique roles in the story.



Really? I'm pretty sure at least 90% of their (Liz and Silica) screen time after Aincrad is them being jealous of Asuna whenever she's flirting with Kirito or when Kirito and Sinon have a moment...



Um... But isn't that the whole point of this conversation? The harem aspect of these shows? Why is anything else relevant? I've been trying to tell you guys that the other genres a show has don't matter. Are you trying to say that a show like Gakkou Gurashi can't be defined as a post-apocalypse series just because it's nothing like Attack on Titan or Seraph of the End other than that one theme they all share? Because that's basically what you'd have to say if you applied that same logic to other shows and genres.

Your examples don't even make sense. Only 2 girls show romantic interest in Tatsumi in Akame ga Kill (unless you also count Bulat, who acted more like a big brother/mentor than a love interest). Same for Shinichi in Parasyte. In No Game No Life there's no clear romance unless you count wincest between Sora and Shiro. Steph might have feelings for Sora but that's it. Jibril only worships Blank. None of the other girls show any interest.



I think you missed the point of my Psycho-Pass example. A show doesn't have to check off 100% of the boxes in a checklist in order to be labeled as a certain genre. It doesn't have to be the perfect image of the genre. If someone wants an action series, more often than not they're envisioning something with a lot of fighting like a shonen show. Psycho-Pass isn't really like that at all but it's still an action series mixed with a lot of other genres, therefore it would still fit with what's being asked unless the person specifies that they want DBZ type of fighting.

If someone asks me for a harem, I could recommend SAO, although in reality there are a lot of better shows I would much rather recommend. If that person says they want a harem without a fantasy or futuristic setting or a harem with boys going after one girl, I wouldn't be able to say SAO anymore.



Then why is it one of the few things SAO is famous for? If I told someone that SAO was all about a normal guy who plays video games, they'd probably laugh at me. The video game theme is more of a fancy decoration than a story. Kirito's end goal in each game/arc doesn't become important until the first and last few episodes. His overall journey is just him picking up girls and showing off how powerful he is. It may not have been what the author intended, but that's what the finished product became.



dwilson was the one who brought up the topic of SAO not being a harem despite being one of the several things SAO is known for...

You guys keep saying that I haven't proven why SAO is a harem (which I have repeatedly) but the question is supposed to be "how is SAO not a harem?" dwilson made the claim. I asked for an explanation since it goes against the common belief about SAO. I have yet to see a consistent answer from either of you to explain this bizarre idea. Your only arguments come down to "all the girls aren't focused on at the same time," which doesn't even apply to most harems to begin with, or "the romance/harem isn't focused on," which isn't true since the majority of the episodes focus on Kirito and at least one member of his harem, just like you'd see in a lot of other popular harems. Some of your statements even contradict each other.

If you still insist that SAO isn't a harem after everything I've just said, my only conclusion is that you and dwilson must've seen a completely different SAO. Or maybe you're just familiar with some unknown type of harem that isn't like the 25+ harems we get every year because most harems don't match your criteria for what a harem is always supposed to look like...
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Posted 6/20/16 , edited 6/20/16

DazaiShinju wrote:

It absolutely depends on whether or not there is any character development/whether or not it is fairly original.

I liked Ouran Host Club, and I'll admit I quite enjoyed Strike the Blood in spite of myself.

Diabolik lovers is a great example of all the things wrong with the Harem Genre, yet I watched the entire thing through tears of despair and laughter.


Ouran Host Club was great. It's a reverse harem and does a goob job of not doing what every other Harem does wrong which are the characters.
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Posted 6/20/16 , edited 6/20/16

PhantomGundam wrote:




If I might weigh in on this topic. I never got too far in SAO myself, it was not my cup of tea. I dropped it after episode 2 because it was at that point I realized it was not what I was expecting going in. I expected it was going to be a series of them trying to get out of the game and there was going to be some epic adventure to get to the top of the tower, least that was what Ep1 made me think..., but then Ep2 happened and it skipped several months to the point they only had a few floors left to do and then they were going to be out.

Anyway, after reading the arguments from all three people involved here about the series..., I can say SAO has Harem elements later on, but I wouldn't classify it as part of the Harem genre. To me what a Harem genre is, is a series where a bunch of people are trying to get with a single person, or that single person is trying to get with a bunch of other people. Normally this also involves a lot of sexual humor and with more of a focus on the romantic elements then the other elements of the series. And what separates something for me from having something be labeled as a genre vs just having elements of that genre comes down to what the main focus is of the series. So like, if a series is mainly about fighting then it would be an action series and if it was a lot of jokes mixed in then it would have comedy elements and if a lot of people are trying to get with the MC then it has Harem Elements.

So using Date Alive (loved it BTW) as my Harem example, it would be a Harem Genre with action, comedy and slice of life elements. I guess the proper term for Elements is "Sub-Genre"?

Edit: And the reason I consider it a Harem Genre first and foremost is because even though a lot of action happens in the series, the main plot and goal of the series is not the action, but about the MC having the girls fall in love with him due to plot reasons I am too lazy to do a spoiler tag to explain.
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Posted 6/20/16 , edited 6/22/16

SDtheElf wrote:

and if a lot of people are trying to get with the MC then it has Harem Elements.


Which is exactly what happens in SAO most of the time from episode 3 onwards.

The show seems to suffer from an identity crisis where it starts out as this epic survival adventure inside a video game and then that quickly becomes an afterthought with most of the attention diverted to anything with a vagina falling in love with Kirito.

The beginning can be excused since the anime was just adding the side stories to take up time. There's no excuse after that.
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Posted 6/22/16
The problem is that Harem itself is a genre. There are so many shows that will throw a blank slate and a bunch of skittle colored girls with stock personalities that the genre is too saturated leading to backlash. Sexual pandering is boring to watch and often has really ugly art due to low budget. Sometimes a genuinely good premise is found, but ends up as a backdrop to the harem. A show doesn't have to be "intellectual", but it does need some measure of progress, development, and pacing to avoid being bogged down. Good characters won't save a show with no purpose. All in all I find that good harem shows will succeed in spite of having a harem instead of because of the harem.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16

dwilson2000 wrote:
And Akkikan is labeled ecchi so close enough.


Thing is, Akkikan and Chobits are not "harem" with only one girl and two or three others showing up later--
Anything that starts with the lonely-apartment-dweller fantasy of one magical babe showing up and having to share space is the "Girl in a Closet" genre that was started by Urusei Yatsura.
(And although Ataru Moroboshi invented the H-word in anime, what he had was most definitely not a "harem" except in his own stubborn mind.)

Tenchi started the idea of two girls in the same closet fighting over him (and even that was meant to be a parody on the Rashomon Gate love-triangle from classic Japanese tragedy), and going from one girl in a closet to two or three or later four or five established the "Seraglio" Under-One-Roof trope long before Love Hina's date-sim-game boardinghouse was adapted to an anime.

The point being?: SAO IS NOT A HAREM ANIME just because you don't like the fact that girls like the hero!!
They don't have roofs to be stuck Under One of.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16

Which is exactly what happens in SAO most of the time from episode 3 onwards.

The show seems to suffer from an identity crisis where it starts out as this epic survival adventure inside a video game and then that quickly becomes an afterthought with most of the attention diverted to anything with a vagina falling in love with Kirito.

The beginning can be excused since the anime was just adding the side stories to take up time. There's no excuse after that.


I feel like this analysis is super shallow and cherry picked. The survival adventure aspect follows through all the way until the end of the Aincrad arc, whether or not you personally looked at it that way is another story entirely. As for the relationships he has, there is Sachi
which was an interesting and enjoyable story(in my opinion). There were two episodes with Silica and Liz where only Liz states that she has feelings for him, Silica never does(it's implied and it doesn't seem like much more than maybe a minor attraction). And then there's Asuna who becomes the main focus for the remainder of the story.

Saying SAO is a harem is the equivalent of saying "If more than three people have been attracted to you in different points in your life then you've had a harem". Also, as far as Silica and Lizbeth go even though their episodes were right beside each other in the story line they could have been months apart from each other.

Any bits of expressed jealousy afterward(I think it may have happened twice?) were not pointed, nor definitively about anyone in specific. For all we know the implication could have been that they were jealous of the relationship as a whole and wanted something similar for themselves(with anyone not just Kirito).

It really feels like you're just tossing the tag harem on the show and not talking about any specific examples of why, or how it could be considered a harem. If a couple of passing thoughts count as a harem then sure. But none of these girls are just pining over him 24/7 as some people would like to imply.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16

InSightv1 wrote:

I feel like this analysis is super shallow and cherry picked. The survival adventure aspect follows through all the way until the end of the Aincrad arc, whether or not you personally looked at it that way is another story entirely.


Sure it was still there, but that plot mostly took a backseat after the first two episodes and wasn't the main focus again until the final two episodes of the arc. Everything in between ranged from cheesy and unimportant villains to pointless romance. You could argue that the relationship with Asuna wasn't pointless but was there really a need to have several episodes dedicated to their "baby" and their honeymoon?


As for the relationships he has, there is Sachi
which was an interesting and enjoyable story(in my opinion). There were two episodes with Silica and Liz where only Liz states that she has feelings for him, Silica never does(it's implied and it doesn't seem like much more than maybe a minor attraction). And then there's Asuna who becomes the main focus for the remainder of the story.

Saying SAO is a harem is the equivalent of saying "If more than three people have been attracted to you in different points in your life then you've had a harem". Also, as far as Silica and Lizbeth go even though their episodes were right beside each other in the story line they could have been months apart from each other.


Except that's not what happened in SAO. Kirito may have met all the girls throughout different periods of time, but that's nearly every single harem in existence. Most of the girls stop actively pursing Kirito once they know he's dating Asuna, but that never magically made their feelings disappear. It doesn't work like that for real people and it certainly didn't work like that in SAO. You could clearly see throughout the story that they're still attracted to him.

Asuna isn't even the main heroine for most of the story. She's only the main heroine in Aincrad and Mother's Rosario. The other 3 major arcs each feature a different girl(s).


Any bits of expressed jealousy afterward(I think it may have happened twice?) were not pointed, nor definitively about anyone in specific. For all we know the implication could have been that they were jealous of the relationship as a whole and wanted something similar for themselves(with anyone not just Kirito).

It really feels like you're just tossing the tag harem on the show and not talking about any specific examples of why, or how it could be considered a harem. If a couple of passing thoughts count as a harem then sure. But none of these girls are just pining over him 24/7 as some people would like to imply.


I've watched SAO more times than I'd like to admit (for different reasons each time). Every time I watched it, the one thing that stood out just as much as, if not more than, Kirito's Gary Stu strength was the fact that girls were constantly throwing themselves into his arms for most of the series. As I said in an earlier post, there are hardly any episodes that don't feature his harem together or an individual member of his harem. It's not like Liz or Silica showed up in one episode and said "I don't like him anymore. Goodbye." They're repeatedly returning and rarely say anything beyond how much they like Kirito or how jealous they are. Their entire purpose for existing is to show us how easy it is for Kirito pick up girls. Then there's Suguha who's romance drama overshadowed the second half of season 1. The real danger Asuna was in was only mentioned in like one or two sentences. Most people only remember the villain as a rapist since the plot about him trying to control the minds of 300 people is almost never brought up.

If Kawahara never wanted this to be a harem, he should have never included a harem in the first place because he obviously has no idea how to keep the harem from stealing attention that should've gone towards the plot.
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Posted 6/22/16

PhantomGundam wrote:

If Kawahara never wanted this to be a harem, he should have never included a harem in the first place because he obviously has no idea how to keep the harem from stealing attention that should've gone towards the plot.


The original novel is haremless, unless you count Klein.

It is a fantasy romance novel that is heavy on the romance aspect in the second half with Asuna.

All the extra girls were added into the story as part of side story anthologies later on by fan demand he write more material. If you want to blame anyone for SAO becoming a harem, blame the fans lmao.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16

sonic720 wrote:


PhantomGundam wrote:

If Kawahara never wanted this to be a harem, he should have never included a harem in the first place because he obviously has no idea how to keep the harem from stealing attention that should've gone towards the plot.


The original novel is haremless, unless you count Klein.

It is a fantasy romance novel that is heavy on the romance aspect in the second half with Asuna.

All the extra girls were added into the story as part of side story anthologies later on by fan demand he write more material. If you want to blame anyone for SAO becoming a harem, blame the fans lmao.


I'm aware of that. The other girls in the first arc, including Yui, were only in side stories that were written later on once the first story was already finished. It doesn't matter who demanded it. It clearly exposed this guy's inability to write multiple romances without interfering with the story. Something's wrong when a harem is all he can think of when asked to write more material.
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Posted 6/22/16

PhantomGundam wrote:

I'm aware of that. The other girls in the first arc, including Yui, were only in side stories that were written later on once the first story was already finished. It doesn't matter who demanded it. It clearly exposed this guy's inability to write multiple romances without interfering with the story. Something's wrong when a harem is all he can think of when asked to write more material.


Well, he was an amateur writer writing for a contest at the time, so... expectations should not be high it won't come off as a fanfic, cause it kind of is one.

Dude was just excited his work took off and gave the people what they wanted. He never intended it to be more than the first novel and never had any of the larger world or story in mind beyond it initially. Everything after that novel is piecemealed in by fan demand by an unpaid amateur writing his web fanfic. Expectations should be tempered appropriately.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16



I feel like this analysis is super shallow and cherry picked. The survival adventure aspect follows through all the way until the end of the Aincrad arc, whether or not you personally looked at it that way is another story entirely.


Sure it was still there, but that plot mostly took a backseat after the first two episodes and wasn't the main focus again until the final two episodes of the arc. Everything in between ranged from cheesy and unimportant villains to pointless romance. You could argue that the relationship with Asuna wasn't pointless but was there really a need to have several episodes dedicated to their "baby" and their honeymoon?


As for the relationships he has, there is Sachi
Spoiler Alert! Click to show or hide
which was an interesting and enjoyable story(in my opinion). There were two episodes with Silica and Liz where only Liz states that she has feelings for him, Silica never does(it's implied and it doesn't seem like much more than maybe a minor attraction). And then there's Asuna who becomes the main focus for the remainder of the story.

Saying SAO is a harem is the equivalent of saying "If more than three people have been attracted to you in different points in your life then you've had a harem". Also, as far as Silica and Lizbeth go even though their episodes were right beside each other in the story line they could have been months apart from each other.


Except that's not what happened in SAO. Kirito may have met all the girls throughout different periods of time, but that's nearly every single harem in existence. Most of the girls stop actively pursing Kirito once they know he's dating Asuna, but that never magically made their feelings disappear. It doesn't work like that for real people and it certainly didn't work like that in SAO. You could clearly see throughout the story that they're still attracted to him.

Asuna isn't even the main heroine for most of the story. She's only the main heroine in Aincrad and Mother's Rosario. The other 3 major arcs each feature a different girl(s).


Any bits of expressed jealousy afterward(I think it may have happened twice?) were not pointed, nor definitively about anyone in specific. For all we know the implication could have been that they were jealous of the relationship as a whole and wanted something similar for themselves(with anyone not just Kirito).

It really feels like you're just tossing the tag harem on the show and not talking about any specific examples of why, or how it could be considered a harem. If a couple of passing thoughts count as a harem then sure. But none of these girls are just pining over him 24/7 as some people would like to imply.


I've watched SAO more times than I'd like to admit (for different reasons each time). Every time I watched it, the one thing that stood out just as much as, if not more than, Kirito's Gary Stu strength was the fact that girls were constantly throwing themselves into his arms for most of the series. As I said in an earlier post, there are hardly any episodes that don't feature his harem together or an individual member of his harem. It's not like Liz or Silica showed up in one episode and said "I don't like him anymore. Goodbye." They're repeatedly returning and rarely say anything beyond how much they like Kirito or how jealous they are. Their entire purpose for existing is to show us how easy it is for Kirito pick up girls. Then there's Suguha who's romance drama overshadowed the second half of season 1. The real danger Asuna was in was only mentioned in like one or two sentences. Most people only remember the villain as a rapist since the plot about him trying to control the minds of 300 people is almost never brought up.

If Kawahara never wanted this to be a harem, he should have never included a harem in the first place because he obviously has no idea how to keep the harem from stealing attention that should've gone towards the plot.


Again, you're just kind of cherry picking information and not really giving and real solid examples of what you're talking about. Like you say that they only return to talk about how much they like Kirito or how jealous they are but you're not really providing any situations where this actually happens(continued talk about how they like Kirito that is). episodes? time periods? It doesn't really happen. The characters exist later on in the show but it's never mentioned outside of only Liz's individual episode that she likes Kirito and never for Silica. Again the jealousy isn't pointed you're just presuming it is.

There is a big difference between a romance with different interests at different points in time and a harem. You're just not separating the two.

As for Suguha people will only remember him as a rapist because that's what they choose to remember. In real life people don't just walk around all speed racer like "Haha! I'm taking over people's minds just in case you forgot, Haha!". Mentioning it once or twice was fine with me really.
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Posted 6/22/16 , edited 6/22/16
Some harem shows are good and some are bad. What annoys me is that the main lead usually does not have a good normal close friends that aren't in love with him/her at all. Also the characters seem to be stereotypes that have minor character flaws if any flaws at all. The plot formula also gets old after a while:
1) violent love interest tsundre
2) comic misunderstanding that usually involves falling into boobs or walking in on a love interest naked
3) the manditory beach scene
4) the manditory hot springs scene
5) tragic backstory to build an emotional attachment to a character that doesn't add much to the theme or character development
6) little sister character that does not act like a real little sister would at all.

For Sword Art Online I wanted to hit Kirito when he called Asuna a 'comrade' in front of his new love interest. Asuna was your "wife" for two seasons! Now that there is a hot girl in the room you're going to call her just a "friend" in front of everybody?! Overall I enjoyed SOA though.

With 'Is this a zombie?' I hated how the main character fantasized the necromancer as being a moe little sister type while ignoring the personality and character of the girl in front of him. Can he even say he actually really knows her or only his delusions of her?

So basically harem shows can be entertaining, but if i analyze or psychoanalyze them too much they really annoy me.
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Posted 6/22/16
How I see it problem most harem anime face in criticism is the focus is based in lazy writing. They're defiantly are and can be good examples as a exception the important difference being that mix of a conflict or path (plot) along with the harem romance circle of the main cast. Bad examples that make up of the bulk of the genre rely on "look at these hot anime girl's swarm over this MC what's his name who cares pretend it's you doing ecchi stuff".

So that creates a stigma that the writing in harem is always just fanboy daydream scenario just before the never coming X-rated scenes. I watch a anime or any series in media for continuing story. If it's a series and nothing ever really happens its has to have comedy otherwise it's just repetitive and boring. I mean if there characters are generic and don't get involved in plot or conflict what am I watching for? What is any viewer invested in?

I like SAO but I would defiantly say its a good example of harem, but still harem by being mix of the trapped video game plot and conflicts witch is enough to make it good but always combined with every freaking girl kirito meet's instantly falling in love with him (because he's so strong....right). It's always present I mean how the creator pushes his chosen girlfriend Asuna out of the scene so much shows the intentional juggling of love interests presented to the viewer. The 10+ episodes of the obsessed cousin drama shows the peak effort to have almost every girl get their love drama session with him. Further evidence is there is fighting, and scifi-tech elements, yet there is not one other prominent male character, his buddy klein series is like ya he's there handful of times but he's 25 so old and irrelevant to the existing 5+ girls characters. His one other male friend is a middle-age married bartender so don't worry about him and bunch of villains that are blatant psychos and rapist.... the harem takes away from a otherwise interesting story.
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Posted 6/22/16

sonic720 wrote:

Well, he was an amateur writer writing for a contest at the time, so... expectations should not be high it won't come off as a fanfic, cause it kind of is one.

Dude was just excited his work took off and gave the people what they wanted. He never intended it to be more than the first novel and never had any of the larger world or story in mind beyond it initially. Everything after that novel is piecemealed in by fan demand by an unpaid amateur writing his web fanfic. Expectations should be tempered appropriately.


I'm not arguing about his skills as a writer to insult him or anything. I only brought this up to emphasize how SAO ended up becoming a harem despite not being what he initially intended. I'm just surprised there are people saying it's not a harem.


InSightv1 wrote:

Again, you're just kind of cherry picking information and not really giving and real solid examples of what you're talking about. Like you say that they only return to talk about how much they like Kirito or how jealous they are but you're not really providing any situations where this actually happens(continued talk about how they like Kirito that is). episodes? time periods? It doesn't really happen. The characters exist later on in the show but it's never mentioned outside of only Liz's individual episode that she likes Kirito and never for Silica. Again the jealousy isn't pointed you're just presuming it is.




This is seriously the only thing they ever talk about when they're not distracted for a few seconds by whatever monster is in front of them or by Suguha's big breasts. Their entire purpose in the show is to be Kirito's fangirls. It would be a challenge to find a scene where they aren't talking about Kirito, not including scenes where they're distracted by something big.


There is a big difference between a romance with different interests at different points in time and a harem. You're just not separating the two.


I am separating the two. The first one is definitely not what happens in SAO.


As for Suguha people will only remember him as a rapist because that's what they choose to remember. In real life people don't just walk around all speed racer like "Haha! I'm taking over people's minds just in case you forgot, Haha!". Mentioning it once or twice was fine with me really.


First of all, you got Suguha and Sugou mixed up.

Second, you completely missed my point. The Kirito - Asuna - Suguha dilemma largely overshadowed the biggest crisis in that arc, which was a guy trying to take over the minds of several hundred people including Asuna. This issue is only brought up for a few seconds in the entire arc so that Kirito could focus only on Asuna and Suguha, making this issue very forgettable and defining the villain as nothing more than a simple rapist. This arc was entirely about Kirito's love life. SAO is undoubtedly a harem. The only people who say otherwise would be people who can't differentiate between a show being about video games and a show using video games as only a setting like in SAO.
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