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meowmeowneko
2007-06-20, 16:14
OK, this might sound off topic but I had to get it out there: why do the main characters of these harem animes ( Shuffle (Rin), Nagasarete Airantou (Ikuto), and Seto no Hanayome (Nagasumi)) look so alike?

Radiosity
2007-06-20, 17:57
It's the generic loser archetype. Follows the same principals as the Hotheaded archetype, the Tsundere archetype, the shy loli archetype, etc. etc..

I sometimes wonder if they're trying in some way to appeal to all the people who fit the general archetype, attempting to send the message that 'look! even sad, hopeless losers like you can get laid, really!' I'd be a little worried if they honestly were doing that though, heh.
However, given Japan's general preoccupation with sex yet one of the lowest birth rates in the world, I think all it's really doing is promoting self-love ;)

Asai
2007-06-20, 18:11
However, given Japan's general preoccupation with sex yet one of the lowest birth rates in the world, I think all it's really doing is promoting self-love ;)

Going off-topic a little, this reminded me of an article I read a few days ago. Despite the fascination with sex, Japanese people are apparently having very little of it.

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/archive/news/2007/06/17/20070616p2a00m0na026000c.html

A few key snippits:

When it comes to the number of times people have sex each year, the Greeks, the gods of love, come out first with 164, followed by the Brazilians with 145 and the Poles and Russians tied for third place at 143. The global average was 103 times, but the Japanese notched up only a dismal average of 48. Sure, some may argue that sex is not about quantity but quality and I should be talking about sexual satisfaction.

Average Japanese people don't even have sex once a week?

Well, this survey also asked respondents about how satisfied they were with their sex lives. <snip> When it came to lack of satisfaction, Japan was at the bottom with only 15 percent saying they are satisfied

Could this have something to do with the glorification of sex in the Japanese culture? Who knows =p Anyway... don't really want to derail the thread. ;.; I just thought it was funny.

To put some input on the actual topic, I think the harem protagonists tend to look alike because it works. People are used to that stereotype by now, I guess. Same old story, goofy/geek/loser kind of guy gets a bunch of girls for some completely unbelievable reason. The origin (and maintained stereotype?) possibly comes from the mangaka basing chars on themselves as youths. =p

Vexx
2007-06-20, 18:38
Wellllllll, describe the average japanese guy.... medium height, dark eyes, black hair somewhat tousled. You've just described japanese "everyman" which is the target for a male lead in a romance written with a male audience in mind.

The girls get their wacky hair colors as much to help easily differentiate them in a simplistic artform.
But you'll notice in the anime targeted at older folks they'll tend to use hairstyles and different shades of reddish/brownish/black tones with an occasional blonde highlight that reflects the things women do to their hair.

@low-sex-rates discussion:
One of the things I note is that Japan's women are going through their sort of 'awakening' from tradition (something like what the US went through in the 60s/70s) but the japanese men are stubbornly pretending its still "Betty Crocker in 1958"). Therefore, women are avoiding marriage, children, and divorcing in record numbers (now that they get part of the pension) while they figure out what they want to be. All I have to say is that if the men don't catch on and adapt, there's going to be a lot of pretty women looking for gaijin. Wake up over there in Japan, guys, wake the hell up and adapt to the new situation over there. :)

Kaioshin Sama
2007-06-20, 19:00
The point is that they are pretty much supposed to be you the player. For that reason they make the harem lead look as generic as possible (short brown/brown hair, medium height, medium build, plain clothes, black/brown eyes, wish/washy personality etc). At least that is the best I could come up with in terms of this very true trend in harem leads.

Blond hair also seems to symbolize that a character in a harem series is forum. Just thought I'd mention that stereotype and trend too. You can have any wacky hair colour in the world, but once they settle on Blond for a character they are either from America or Germany (95% of the time).

Vexx
2007-06-20, 22:55
That would be the "Tina Foster, Ana Coppola" mythology. I suppose that comes along with them having to have a Texas or British accent. :)

Asai
2007-06-20, 23:03
That would be the "Tina Foster, Ana Coppola" mythology. I suppose that comes along with them having to have a Texas or British accent. :)

Amusing, both of those chars are voiced by my two favourite seiyuu; Yukino Satsuki and Noto Mamiko, respectively. I've not seen either series dubbed. Did they have proper Texan and British accents in the dubs?

I can think of a few other blonde characters that were English or American... also a Russian (Balalaika in Black Lagoon) but can't think of any Germans off the top of my head. Hmm.

Aoie_Emesai
2007-06-20, 23:06
Going off-topic a little, this reminded me of an article I read a few days ago. Despite the fascination with sex, Japanese people are apparently having very little of it.

http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/archive/news/2007/06/17/20070616p2a00m0na026000c.html

A few key snippits:


Average Japanese people don't even have sex once a week?



Could this have something to do with the glorification of sex in the Japanese culture? Who knows =p Anyway... don't really want to derail the thread. ;.; I just thought it was funny.

To put some input on the actual topic, I think the harem protagonists tend to look alike because it works. People are used to that stereotype by now, I guess. Same old story, goofy/geek/loser kind of guy gets a bunch of girls for some completely unbelievable reason. The origin (and maintained stereotype?) possibly comes from the mangaka basing chars on themselves as youths. =p

The Japanese has low birth rates. Now let me go google some things and i'll come back with the statistics.

--> http://www.indexmundi.com/japan/total_fertility_rate.html

or 1.23, and I still don't understand why we get partial, but i'm gonna assume that means all Japanese womens.

- Well if you consider the style that most artists follow, then the artwork should looks somewhat similar, since you can only draw so different. If you can ignore that fact that all anime look alike, then you can enjoy it a bit better.

Nekonron
2007-06-20, 23:48
I sometimes wonder if they're trying in some way to appeal to all the people who fit the general archetype, attempting to send the message that 'look! even sad, hopeless losers like you can get laid, really!' I'd be a little worried if they honestly were doing that though, heh.

That could be possible. I mean, hey, whatever makes more sales works no matter what the subliminal message is ;)

But most probably the reason is that a more generic type character would represent the majority of the players better, thus making the role-playing more interesting for the players themselves.


All I have to say is that if the men don't catch on and adapt, there's going to be a lot of pretty women looking for gaijin. Wake up over there in Japan, guys, wake the hell up and adapt to the new situation over there. :)

Well, if they don't that just means there's more chances for me to hook up with one ;) j/k lol

Risaa
2007-06-20, 23:56
Well, if they don't that just means there's more chances for me to hook up with one ;) j/k lol

That reminds me of two [off-topic] things my mother has said:
1. "I knew I wouldn't stay in Korea and that I'd one day go to the U.S... Korean men are so boring."
2. "Never date a Korean man raised in Korea - they are all boring, they all smoke, and they all wear thin black socks."

Mirrinus
2007-06-20, 23:59
The generic loser archetype is precisely the reason why I tend to avoid harem anime: almost every male protagonist is someone I'd like to punch in the face. If it weren't for Key's daring move to include actually likable male leads in their stories, there wouldn't be a single romantic drama on my favorites list. Although, I still have my doubts that Key's stories are THAT romantic for the most part, but I like them just fine for that.

You'd think someone out there would have the brains to design male protagonists that were actually cool and admirable, to motivate each viewer to be less of a hopeless loser.

Kaioshin Sama
2007-06-21, 00:11
The generic loser archetype is precisely the reason why I tend to avoid harem anime: almost every male protagonist is someone I'd like to punch in the face. If it weren't for Key's daring move to include actually likable male leads in their stories, there wouldn't be a single romantic drama on my favorites list. Although, I still have my doubts that Key's stories are THAT romantic for the most part, but I like them just fine for that.

You'd think someone out there would have the brains to design male protagonists that were actually cool and admirable, to motivate each viewer to be less of a hopeless loser.

The thing is from what I've seen in the anime at least couple with what I know of the game as a whole, Yuuichi doesn't come of as at all likeable. There's sarcasm as a character trait and then there is sarcasm as a defining trait, and to me Yuuichi falls among the latter (in no small part as a result of his Seiyuu). That's not to say he's not a more interesting character than the average lead at least by a small margin, but just not a likeable one.

Too me the most amusing H-Game/Harem/RPG character is Rance (http://img129.imageshack.us/img129/6955/chr01bvv5.jpg) from the series of the same name. Basically picture Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, only more brutish and with less heroic motives and you almost have Rance. He's probably the most tolerable Harem/Whatever lead I've come across. Plus if you don't like the weakling harem loser type character, he often threatens to kill any weak willed man he comes across and sometimes actually does.

SeijiSensei
2007-06-22, 08:07
I can think of a few other blonde characters that were English or American... also a Russian (Balalaika in Black Lagoon) but can't think of any Germans off the top of my head. Hmm.

Both Johan and Nina in Monster are blonds; so is Tenma's fiancee.

I'd guess Sawachika Eri in School Rumble is German/Japanese, or perhaps Russian/Japanese? Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion is apparently German, but she's obviously a redhead. Frankly I never really figured out Asuka's background. Was she a Japanese girl raised in Germany, or a German/Japanese mix?

Xellos-_^
2007-06-22, 12:09
Both Johan and Nina in Monster are blonds; so is Tenma's fiancee.

I'd guess Sawachika Eri in School Rumble is German/Japanese, or perhaps Russian/Japanese? Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion is apparently German, but she's obviously a redhead. Frankly I never really figured out Asuka's background. Was she a Japanese girl raised in Germany, or a German/Japanese mix?


Eri is English(Father)/Japanese(mother) mix

Asuka is German(Father)/Japanese(mother)

@low-sex rate discussion
I am sure a lot of american are willing help japan out with their low birth rate problems.

Ritzia
2007-06-22, 13:20
Just to prove that normies, or losers can get beautiful, wanna' do you girls too.
(I guess n_n')

Kyuusai
2007-06-22, 13:24
Vexx and Kaioshin nailed it. Aside from simply being a loser archtype, they are an everyman archtype.

I recall a one-shot throw-away character in an issue of Superman that gained a lot more popularity than expected. He was a very typical, "loser" type salary man that, in an emergency, performed a very minor heroic act in one place so Superman could save the day somewhere else. Our entertainment is escapism, but it's important that we're able to identify with the characters. Though they clearly appeal to a wider demographic, the target demographic of these harem shows are Japanese boys/young men.

Going off-topic a little, this reminded me of an article I read a few days ago. Despite the fascination with sex, Japanese people are apparently having very little of it.
<snip>
Could this have something to do with the glorification of sex in the Japanese culture? Who knows =p

Dingdingding! That would be it.

The portrayal of sex in the Japanese culture is as much a reaction to those cultural forces as they are a reinforcement of them. When people look at sex as a pursuit unto itself, rather than an expression of love in a relationship, they tend to become dissatisfied with their sex lives.

From what I've read from some Japanese marriage counselors, many Japanese people see their marriage partners as siblings or friends more than romantic partners. There are a LOT of social factors there, including the old "arranged marriage" practices, the traditional male view of relationships that has created the female view of relationships as a method of survival (which, as Vexx mentioned, is shifting, and the gears have been grinding for many decades now), but one of the most significant ones is a degraded, isolated view of sex.

Ironically, though Japan and the West started out so different, they both seem to be headed the same direction in these respects.

Blond hair also seems to symbolize that a character in a harem series is forum. Just thought I'd mention that stereotype and trend too. You can have any wacky hair colour in the world, but once they settle on Blond for a character they are either from America or Germany (95% of the time).

Or French. :D

If they're blonde and tan, they're probalby American.
If they're blonde and pale, they're probably French, German, Russian, or British.
If they're blonde, pale, and suave, they're French.

That reminds me of two [off-topic] things my mother has said:
1. "I knew I wouldn't stay in Korea and that I'd one day go to the U.S... Korean men are so boring."
2. "Never date a Korean man raised in Korea - they are all boring, they all smoke, and they all wear thin black socks."

Oh, and there's also the alcohol...

Your mother's frighteningly accurate generalizations bring one question to my mind: What's wrong with thin, black socks?! :uhoh:

If your mother told you what kind of socks men OUGHT to wear, let me know. If she didn't, you might ask her for me. :p

(I went from white athletic socks to black athletic socks to thin, black dress socks. I can't find any other kinds of socks, dangit!!)

The thing is from what I've seen in the anime at least couple with what I know of the game as a whole, Yuuichi doesn't come of as at all likeable. There's sarcasm as a character trait and then there is sarcasm as a defining trait, and to me Yuuichi falls among the latter (in no small part as a result of his Seiyuu). That's not to say he's not a more interesting character than the average lead at least by a small margin, but just not a likeable one.

Yuuichi can seem like a little bit of a jerk. He's not. He's just a natural ladies' man.

Grasshopper, the ways of women are hard to understand to a man not willing to empty his cup. Adopt a cat, and learn the way.

Ascaloth
2007-06-22, 13:34
Our entertainment is escapism, but it's important that we're able to identify with the characters. Though they clearly appeal to a wider demographic, the target demographic of these harem shows are Japanese boys/young men.


Indeed that is the case, but no matter what demographic they're aimed at, it remains that this is the most overused archetype in "harem" anime. Personally, I think it's time for a redefinition of "everyman", but that's just me.


Yuuichi can seem like a little bit of a jerk. He's not. He's just a natural ladies' man.

Grasshopper, the ways of women are hard to understand to a man not willing to empty his cup. Adopt a cat, and learn the way.

Truth, man. Absolute truth. Cats are good training, in this regard. :D

Kyuusai
2007-06-22, 14:24
Indeed that is the case, but no matter what demographic they're aimed at, it remains that this is the most overused archetype in "harem" anime. Personally, I think it's time for a redefinition of "everyman", but that's just me.

Actually, I agree. The "mop-headed, pathetic everyman" is tiresome and, I believe, ultimately a dead end for entertainment and creative and personal development.

When I was a kid, the shows I watched (both live action and animation) had role-model protagonist characters. They were characters that had personal strengths we could aspire to. Any need to develop viewer-identification with the characters was generally situational, or if characterized didn't consume the entire character.

These days... that's not so much the case. Being able to depict flawed, realistic characters is important, but today we're missing the other side of the picture: Characters we can admire. One way or another, we're going to find that we emulate what we see. I'd rather that we (and our youth) had something positive to emulate.

That's why I think characters such as Yuuichi in Kanon and Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann are not just awesome beyond words, but also socially important.

Truth, man. Absolute truth. Cats are good training, in this regard. :D

*whew* I was worried that no one would understand what I meant. :D

Ritzia
2007-06-22, 14:37
Wellllllll, describe the average japanese guy.... medium height, dark eyes, black hair somewhat tousled. You've just described japanese "everyman" which is the target for a male lead in a romance written with a male audience in mind.

The girls get their wacky hair colors as much to help easily differentiate them in a simplistic artform.
But you'll notice in the anime targeted at older folks they'll tend to use hairstyles and different shades of reddish/brownish/black tones with an occasional blonde highlight that reflects the things women do to their hair.

@low-sex-rates discussion:
One of the things I note is that Japan's women are going through their sort of 'awakening' from tradition (something like what the US went through in the 60s/70s) but the japanese men are stubbornly pretending its still "Betty Crocker in 1958"). Therefore, women are avoiding marriage, children, and divorcing in record numbers (now that they get part of the pension) while they figure out what they want to be. All I have to say is that if the men don't catch on and adapt, there's going to be a lot of pretty women looking for gaijin. Wake up over there in Japan, guys, wake the hell up and adapt to the new situation over there. :)


That was...amazing :cry:
It is usually the males to take long to adapt. The girl's wan't to do whatevers' popular, and they really wan't to get involved with western culture, but I guess the men don't really give a hicker-doodle. :rolleyes:

Deathkillz
2007-06-22, 16:15
All I have to say is that if the men don't catch on and adapt, there's going to be a lot of pretty women looking for gaijin. Wake up over there in Japan, guys, wake the hell up and adapt to the new situation over there. :)
SHHhhhhh! are you trying to ruin my chances? ;)

actually thats pretty much it for this discussion...most male harem leads just look like your average guy for the sole reason that it makes the viewer (which is mainly male) feel better...the thought of "what if something like this can happen too me" is a hope brought out in these harem type series...and how wrong it can sometimes be :heh:

-Breakthrough-
2007-06-22, 16:18
the thought of "what if something like this can happen too me" is a hope brought out in these harem type series...and how wrong it can sometimes be
I always thought the same with those things. Like creators and developers tend to make their male leads "Average"

But I sometimes wish for once, a GAR like Kamina (Gurren Lagann) and Archer (FSN) could be a harem lead or just a typical shounen hero like someone who can fight or isn't that goofy in personality like Kazuma from Kaze no Stigma to become a lead, thankfully, Hyaweh (Prism Ark) soon to be one of them, he's blonde and he can fight, lol.

retardation
2007-06-22, 17:50
seems like a lot of manga/anime people are just afraid to take risks though. i think even losers of today are tired of identifying with the helpless guy who will never do anything. shows with different sorts of romance heros also appear to be doing good anyway. i feel like the girls are the main focus of a lot of shows but that more interesting male characters give the female characters more options to make themselves distinct.

like, school rumble isn't a harem but harima being different is the factor the makes the show for the most part. harima acting towards his personality opens up all kinds of lanes for other characters to react in funny/cute ways. all these passive characters only lend themselves to the same gags and reactions in every series.

i also hate the whole childhood friend scenario. these characters are so shallow that they can't even concoct any reason for the female leads to like them other than some petty childhood event. if they are gonna be losers, it'd probably be better if they were losers who personally developed themselves to cause girls to like them rather than just have that just have the childhood friend card every time. i guess the childhood friend thing is somewhat more universal in that anyone could've been some hot chick's childhood friend though. a lot of the things that happen in these series are good ideas but these things are just so common now that people ought to want a change.

Ascaloth
2007-06-22, 23:33
But more than just the need to redefine male leads, I think it's about time that the ideal dynamic needs to be redefined, too. So far in any anime I've seen, the guy-girl dynamic is always skewed towards one side or the other; it's either always weak-strong (Love Hina, anyone?), or in less frequent cases, strong-weak (let's face it, Kanon 2006's Yuuichi was a great character who desperately needed a competent foil). Many anime relationships have been built on either of the two premises, and let's face it, IRL such a relationship is not a healthy one. Even worse is when the dynamic falls so low as to become weak-weak (Ichigo 100%. I mean, c'mon), and you have a variation of the blind leading the blind. Not a healthy relationship by any means, and definitely not something to be emulated IRL.

What anime really needs these days, as far as I'm concerned, is an advent of the strong-strong dynamic. Not to say that both sides should be perfect (I'm as much of an advocate for the flawed character as anyone else), but two people with spines causing friction between each other in the initial stages always make for far more interesting viewing than the norm; the first episodes of Hana Yori Dango come to mind. Which is part of the reason I'm so looking forward to CLANNAD TV; amongst other things, it seems to promise such a strong-strong dynamic in at least Tomoyo's scenario, if my guess hits the mark.

Skyfall
2007-06-23, 18:56
The fact that i don't find Rin to look much like Nagasumi/Ikuto at all aside...

In all honesty, i have never been able to get my mind behind the argument "It is easier for certain people to identify with them" (though that might be a good thing :heh:), and view it as overrated. Identify with them? The situations are so bizarre and unrealistic for the most part that i don't know how one is supposed to even think of that as something realistically possible, let alone relate with the situation :)

That aside ... it is a style that works and people are used to it, and i don't think it is particularly necessary to invent a completely different new look for the male character each time. I imagine the reason why female characters look so different (their hair color/style for the most part ^_^) is because it is easier to remember them, seeing that they are always provided in vast abundance. This isn't really a problem with the male characters, so there is no need to create easily distinguishable visual differences. Besides, i don't think it would be that easy to create that many decent looking versions of male characters. While particularly every color imaginable (and hairstyle) goes for a female character, i don't see this being an option for a male character - there are only so many hairstyles and hair colors you can come up with for it to look reasonable.

Just my random bit of thoughts ...

Slice of Life
2007-06-23, 21:38
I don't know if a less wishy washy male lead would be less easier to identify with and there might be very well differences between Japan and the West but that the harem anime watcher does identify with him I consider a given. You say the situation is too bizarre and unrealistic but s a harem more bizarre and unrealistic than, um, slaying zombie ninjas from outer space? The never ending complaints about harem leads are in my opinion the best proof that the identification is there. I have yet to hear complaints that the girls should better try and get their own lifes into rear and gear instead of wasting them on quarrels about who is allowed to shove her bento up the male's rear entrance. ;)

Kaioshin Sama
2007-06-24, 20:47
I always thought the same with those things. Like creators and developers tend to make their male leads "Average"

But I sometimes wish for once, a GAR like Kamina (Gurren Lagann) and Archer (FSN) could be a harem lead or just a typical shounen hero like someone who can fight or isn't that goofy in personality like Kazuma from Kaze no Stigma to become a lead, thankfully, Hyaweh (Prism Ark) soon to be one of them, he's blonde and he can fight, lol.

Seriously, go play Sengoku Rance if you want a GAR manly man male lead. It'll change your perception of the genre forever.

asaqe
2007-06-30, 14:59
I once made a topic similar to this (and got topic jacked by several guys) which detail this issue. But my opinion is, we need a harem main who can hold his water in the romance field, there is rarely a moment where the guy when confronted a situation where he is with a girl in a seductive manner (intentional or not) where he maintains his composture and says: "What the hell" And just kisses/makes out/maybe have sex with her. It seems like all of the playboys/Sexually competant guys are in Fox Sitcoms/Drama...

asaqe
2007-07-01, 17:41
Actually, I agree. The "mop-headed, pathetic everyman" is tiresome and, I believe, ultimately a dead end for entertainment and creative and personal development.

When I was a kid, the shows I watched (both live action and animation) had role-model protagonist characters. They were characters that had personal strengths we could aspire to. Any need to develop viewer-identification with the characters was generally situational, or if characterized didn't consume the entire character.

These days... that's not so much the case. Being able to depict flawed, realistic characters is important, but today we're missing the other side of the picture: Characters we can admire. One way or another, we're going to find that we emulate what we see. I'd rather that we (and our youth) had something positive to emulate.

That's why I think characters such as Yuuichi in Kanon and Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann are not just awesome beyond words, but also socially important.



*whew* I was worried that no one would understand what I meant. :D

I agree, we need to bring back confidence and motivation to our people instead of making them exsistentiallist thinking nobodies (I got this from the sims where a lesson Existentialism is practically depressing yourself thinking about it)