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Old 2010-10-15, 13:42   Link #1
DragoZERO
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Harem Juxtaposition - Their Characters, Plots, and Developements

There are many elements in harem series that we either love or hate. Whether it's how the protagonist acts in regards to it, the girls who are "victim" to it or the overall plot and it's development.

We may discuss a wide variety of anime and manga series, so let's please be courteous and use spoiler tags.

From an off-topic discussion growing from the To Love-ru -Trouble- Darkness manga thread:

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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
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Originally Posted by Kanon View Post
Yes. Yes, he is. Seriously, To Love-ru 's harem is one the best I've ever seen. There isn't a single girl in it I dislike.
There are harems where you don't like a girl? Usually every girl is likable. I can't think of a harem where I dislike a girl.
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Originally Posted by Freeter View Post
I can. *points at Nishino and Suzuka*
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Originally Posted by Used Can View Post
To be honest, I tend to actually dislike harems. I've got nothing against the idea of polygamy, but I'd rather have proper romantic development, than a lot of girls with no meaningful romantic development and a lot of comedy (which tends to be pretty much similar, in most harems). Not to mention that, even though these are harem stories, they rarely have harem ends. In fact, harem ends are rather rare in harem stories. They usually end with the girl who was rather obvious at the very beginning, or they have no resolution at all.

As for dislikeable girls in harem stories, yes, there are, plenty.
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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
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Originally Posted by Freeter View Post
I can. *points at Nishino and Suzuka*
*GASP*

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Originally Posted by Used Can View Post
To be honest, I tend to actually dislike harems. I've got nothing against the idea of polygamy, but I'd rather have proper romantic development, than a lot of girls with no meaningful romantic development and a lot of comedy (which tends to be pretty much similar, in most harems). Not to mention that, even though these are harem mangas, they rarely have harem ends. In fact, harem ends are rather rare in harem stories. They usually end with the girl who was rather obvious at the very beginning, or they have no resolution at all.

As for dislikeable girls in harem stories, yes, there are, plenty.
Well, some series have harem elements but aren't exactly harems like TLR. If every female is endearing to the protagonist and two or more girls have romantic feelings, it's counted as a harem (see Suzuka). There are harem series where there is an actual plot and development in all of the comedy, like Love Hina. And then there is a rare one that is perfect on all counts, like Umi no Misaki.

I think we need a topic for this. I am going to see if there already is one, if not, make it. So hold your replies.
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Old 2010-10-15, 14:00   Link #2
Used Can
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Well, Love Hina definitely had development. My issue with it, though, is that it falls under the issue in which the end girl is obvious since the very beginning. Of course, someone may argue that the end is not what matters, but the ride. But, in my case, I don't like spoiled ends, and it ruins the "ride" for me. I guess my biggest issue with this is that you usually end up having one girl getting most of the focus; thus, rendering the idea of a harem useless, and the development for the other girls ends up feeling unnecessary.
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Old 2010-10-15, 14:12   Link #3
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Though I don't consider romance to be the chief element I'm looking for (it can be part of an overall narrative, but to me, the resolution of the story is often character growth, not two characters hooking up), I seem strangely drawn to love comedies. Primarily the comedy element. So in that case, as long as it isn't afraid to ramp up the absurdity and have enjoyable characters, it can do whatever it wants. The story's dictating itself to me, not the other way around.
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Old 2010-10-15, 14:14   Link #4
OceanBlue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Used Can View Post
Well, Love Hina definitely had development. My issue with it, though, is that it falls under the issue in which the end girl is obvious since the very beginning. Of course, someone may argue that the end is not what matters, but the ride. But, in my case, I don't like spoiled ends, and it ruins the "ride" for me. I guess my biggest issue with this is that you usually end up having one girl getting most of the focus; thus, rendering the idea of a harem useless, and the development for the other girls ends up feeling unnecessary.
I somewhat agree with this, but I feel that if the characters are endearing enough, you can appreciate their development without feeling that it's a waste, especially if it becomes part of a plot. Shows like Clannad and Toradora remind me of this.

Otherwise, this also bothers me, mostly because I never seem to like the main love interest as much as I do another character. Which is strange, since that seems to happen often in harems [not only for me, as well].
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Old 2010-10-18, 13:38   Link #5
DragoZERO
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I think this topic of conversation would have lasted longer in the other topic...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Used Can View Post
Well, Love Hina definitely had development. My issue with it, though, is that it falls under the issue in which the end girl is obvious since the very beginning. Of course, someone may argue that the end is not what matters, but the ride. But, in my case, I don't like spoiled ends, and it ruins the "ride" for me. I guess my biggest issue with this is that you usually end up having one girl getting most of the focus; thus, rendering the idea of a harem useless, and the development for the other girls ends up feeling unnecessary.
Well, knowing the end girl is independent of any harem themes. But the harem theme usually goes along with any romance you find, so yeah.
Spoiler for Ichigo 100% - Manga:


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Originally Posted by OceanBlue View Post
I somewhat agree with this, but I feel that if the characters are endearing enough, you can appreciate their development without feeling that it's a waste, especially if it becomes part of a plot. Shows like Clannad and Toradora remind me of this.

Otherwise, this also bothers me, mostly because I never seem to like the main love interest as much as I do another character. Which is strange, since that seems to happen often in harems [not only for me, as well].
I always end up rooting for one of the underdogs.
Spoiler for Suzuka:
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Old 2010-10-18, 13:55   Link #6
Archon_Wing
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I usually don't like harem anime so much. The weak point in the anime is typically the guy or wherever the source of romantic focus is. Usually the feelings get dilluted way too much and we're kinda stuck in this limbo where nothing can happen.

To love RU is a pretty good example as it happens the girls are just way more interesting than the guy*. Which makes you wonder why they're interested in him in the first place.

It just doesn't work for the most part. I feel that it needs alternate interests for the other characters or ultimately end some in a platonic relationship; having satelite characters are usually boring. But would it be considered a harem anymore?

And the final thing is that success (an actual relationship) is pretty much the destruction of the premise. This results in so much indecision, making failure the only option. Until people are willing to make all points of this love [insert shape] here interesting, I find love triangles [and more sided shapes] in anime to piss me off.
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Old 2010-10-18, 15:35   Link #7
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Even in real life harems, the sultan has his no.1 woman in there. No worries.

My favorite harems are Love Hina and Ah My Goddess, both of which have the chosen girl obvious from the start. That does not prevent the dorky lead from becoming the target of every other female. So it's ok.

I am not a fan of shipping wars by the way.
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Old 2010-10-18, 18:19   Link #8
DragoZERO
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Love Hina is great because there is a line drawn. The girls all know what's going on.

I'm trying to read Ah My Goddess...but it's starting out awfully slow and boring. There is like, no development either.

Anyway, if you want harem endings you really have to go hentai because let's face it - that's the only reason a guy would put up with multiple girls.
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Old 2010-10-19, 04:01   Link #9
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Originally Posted by DragoZERO View Post
I'm trying to read Ah My Goddess...but it's starting out awfully slow and boring. There is like, no development either.
Lol why would you expect that in a harem???
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Old 2010-10-19, 07:36   Link #10
DragoZERO
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Lol why would you expect that in a harem???
It's not a harem really. Only two girls vying for him right now.

It is good when the harem grows slower though. You learn about the girls a little more and it's not thrown in your face all at once.
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Old 2010-10-19, 09:44   Link #11
Sackett
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
I usually don't like harem anime so much. The weak point in the anime is typically the guy or wherever the source of romantic focus is. Usually the feelings get dilluted way too much and we're kinda stuck in this limbo where nothing can happen.

To love RU is a pretty good example as it happens the girls are just way more interesting than the guy*. Which makes you wonder why they're interested in him in the first place.

It just doesn't work for the most part. I feel that it needs alternate interests for the other characters or ultimately end some in a platonic relationship; having satelite characters are usually boring. But would it be considered a harem anymore?

And the final thing is that success (an actual relationship) is pretty much the destruction of the premise. This results in so much indecision, making failure the only option. Until people are willing to make all points of this love [insert shape] here interesting, I find love triangles [and more sided shapes] in anime to piss me off.
Yeah, this is the weakness of most harem anime- why are all the girls interested in this guy anyways?

However, I think there can be some divisions made of harem anime, especially by looking at the more successful ones.

Version 1:

One of the most common versions, as point out up thread, is when there is a main girl that the lead character is actually interested in, and then there are several other girls pursing him. I tend to think of this as the Maison Ikkoku template, (Love Hina basically follows the same plot but with a much less effective execution).

Lots of anime follow this template, but the ones that succeed are the ones that (like Maison Ikkoku) give the male lead character development and growing maturity. Basically it's all about the guy proving himself worthy of the first girl, who he likes. The other girls serve partially as obstacles, and partially as temptations. After all, he could just give up on his dream girl and settle for one of the girls that are pursuing him. That's what this version of the harem is all about.

However, such a template depends very heavily on the guy being someone interesting. Whether it's because he's got a big heart and always keeps on trying no matter the setbacks (Godai from Maison Ikkoku), or maybe he's a bit of a joker who has natural leadership and initiates plans to do things (Tomoya from Clannad), the guy has to be interesting for such a plot to work and be effective.

Additionally while the other girls have to be truly appealing and tempting, the guy can't be too willing to go along with those temptations- otherwise we start thinking he's a jerk who doesn't deserve any of the girls. (This is another common flaw- supposedly done to create drama by making us think the other girl could win- instead it just makes the viewer not like the guy).

Another common flaw in this version is to make the dream girl violently opposed to the guy. The idea is to create greater obstacles for the guy to overcome, but the effect is to just make the viewers hate the first girl and wonder why the guy doesn't just dump her and go with a clearly superior girl who actually likes him.

The better way is to create actual understandable obstacles that make the "dream girl" have mixed feelings about this boy who is wooing her. She is still in love with her dead husband, the guy lacks the ability to provide for her, and he is a bit wishy washy, even if he is kind and sweet (Kyoko from Maison Ikkoku). Or it can be something else- my best friend is in love with him, so I shouldn't steal him from her. My parents are opposed to him, so even though I like him, I don't want to go against my parents. And so forth and so forth.

Version 2:

The next most common version is the harem as farce. Or as I tend to think of it, the Ranma 1/2 template. In this situation the harem is played for humor. Either the guy wants the harem ending, and the girls roundly object to it. Or the guy doesn't really want any of the girls, and views the harem not as temptations, but as annoyances.

Comedy is more forgiving than drama, because of the Rule of Funny. And in such a format the girls being interesting is far more important to the comedy than the guy. However, there are still pitfalls that are pretty common.

For one thing, even though the guy's character isn't as important, a flat male lead still hurts the show. Having a strong male lead adds to the possibilities in the show. For example, a martial artist who lacks social graces and so tends to insult people (and the girls), but doesn't really care that much because he's focused on developing his art, not romance (Ranma)- creates an interesting male lead that viewers can care about separate from the harem antics- such that some viewers might agree with him that the girls are just an annoyance.

Another common flaw that tends to go with the flat male lead is the lack of motivation for the characters. If the guy doesn't want the harem, then why doesn't the guy just choose a girl? Give him competing obligations of honor, parents that are too pushy in trying to get their kid to get married and produce grandkids, or maybe some other problem in life that is far more pressing and leaves him no time for romance (all used in Ranma 1/2).

If the guy does want a harem, then why are all the girls wasting their time chasing him? Normal solutions to this are to make him rich, nobility, or have parental arranged matches. In other words, it's something other than the guy that the girls are interested in. Sometimes they throw in something about the guy having done something "heroic" which won the girl's heart.

The point with such harems is not the end, but rather all the hilarious adventures and events that take place because of the harem. Don't bother complaining about the show if you don't like it- it just wasn't made for you. Not everyone needs to like this kind of show, nor does everyone need to hate it. Humor is very often a matter of taste, that varies widely from one person to another.

Verison 3:

I guess there is that final version. What we can call "the true harem". This is primarily a wish fulfillment idea. What guy wouldn't want an actual harem.

Well... actually quite a few. Which is why this version tends to fail. That and it's pretty hard to believe that the girls would go along with it.

The only anime I can think of that comes close to pulling this off is Tenchi Muyo (the OVA series).

To be successful the series has to first provide evidence that the guy is truly and sincerely in love with each girl (preferably for different reasons). You probably need some private moments with each of them that are not interrupted- as they would be in the other versions.

Second, you need to make the girls love each other. Even if they are rivals and fight viciously over their man, you need to create some kind of bond that makes the girls care about each others happiness. This is why a common tactic is to force all the girls to live under the same roof (usually with the guy too). That way creating the artificial feel of already being a family.

Finally, it needs to make the guy someone interesting enough that the girls are impressed enough with him that "sharing" begins to be considered preferable to "losing". Essentially you need to make the guy so amazing, (by being charming, heroic, or what have you), that women upon witnessing his awesomeness scream out: "I want to have your babies!".

These last two are related. In that the more the girls like each other the less awesome the guy needs to be, and vice versa, the less the girls like each other, the more awesome the guy needs to be.


I think that all the different harem anime can be viewed as a blending of these different versions. Some tend to be focused exclusively one one version, others tend to try to combine them.
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Old 2010-10-19, 11:41   Link #12
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Finally, it needs to make the guy someone interesting enough that the girls are impressed enough with him that "sharing" begins to be considered preferable to "losing". Essentially you need to make the guy so amazing, (by being charming, heroic, or what have you), that women upon witnessing his awesomeness scream out: "I want to have your babies!".
Is there such a show ever made? The leads are by default blunt characters missing a pair.
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Old 2010-10-19, 21:43   Link #13
Tenchi Ryu
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Is there such a show ever made? The leads are by default blunt characters missing a pair.
Trust me....This is the ENTIRE THEME of Tenchi muyo....hell I've dreamed many nights thinking to myself it would be damn good to be living Tenchi's life. Especially in the OVA which is my favorite continuity, his awesomeness takes it to the point where literally just about EVERY girl he meets is attracted to him, including family members....and when the girl actually falls in love with him, its a done deal that she's not going no where. The creator of the show, Masaki Kajishima, just about makes ALL his harem leads straight bad asses in their own way.

Another example of a Harem that has qualities of version 1 and version 3 is Asu no Yoich. Takes all the plot tricks from version 1, but instead of the lead male being weak and pathetic, he Literally starts off in the FIRST episode as a version 3 lead male that is not the one to mess with in a battle. Yea the girls might hit him every now and then, but thats only cause he considers them family. Don't think you will punk him, cause he will straight b#tch you. And the girls who currently like him are so busy thinking about him, all of their friends can clearly tell they like him EXCEPT the main character who is COMPLETELY oblivious that anyone likes him. He also is not really interested in seriously committing to a relationship with anyone, cause his training is FAR more important than sex

Last edited by Tenchi Ryu; 2010-10-19 at 21:57.
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