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Harem (ハーレムもの, hāremumono; "harem works") in anime and manga is an emphasis on polygamous or love triangle relationships characterized by a protagonist surrounded amorously by three or more members of either the same and/or opposing gender, sex, and/or love interests.[1] When it is a yuri or male-hetero oriented harem series, the polygynous relationship is informally referred to as a female harem or seraglios. When it is a yaoi or female-hetero oriented harem series, the polyandrous relationship is informally referred to as a male harem, reverse harem, or gyaku hāremu (ハーレム).[citation needed]



The word derives from Harem, which was a term used to refer to the most private rooms of a household in the Islamic world, especially among the upper class where only women and close relatives were permitted inside.


Because romance is rarely the main focus of an entire series,[a] a harem structure is ambiguous. The most distinguishable trait is the group of polyamorous females and/or males who accompany the protagonist; in some instances cohabitate with the protagonist. While intimacy is just about customary, it is never necessary. When it is present, it is always a minimum of three supporting characters who express sexual orientation and/or the romantic orientation interest in the protagonist.


Sociosexuality amongst each individual participants range from restricted to unrestricted. Some characters are portrayed as prudish or otherwise less willing to engage in casual sex. Some characters prefer greater love, commitment and emotional closeness before having sex with romantic partner(s). Some characters are inherently monogamous but accepts and encourages their partner's infidelity in having other intimates as well. Some characters are portrayed as being comfortable engaging in sex as a recreational activity.


Harems need not be strictly gender binary or heterosexual; instead of having a male lead character that all the female characters fawn over and desire to be with, a Yuri-themed harem, for example, forgoes this "classical" harem and omits the male lead character. Additionally, it is not essential for there to be one exclusive boy or girl. Many protagonists can exist as long as they are given less attention or the story calls for an unusually obscure sex ratio.[1]


The protagonist can be diverse. Because of different situations and plot devices in the story the protagonist normally end up discovering hidden aspects which make females and/or males within the "harem" more attractive while highlighting interesting aspects of their personalities, usually because of said protagonist's kindness, courage and the will to protect/support their friends or the world.

These protagonists usually end up with a harem accidentally, because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time due to some unforeseeable circumstance or random chance. Most protagonists don’t even want the harems they start, as they mostly only have one main love interest and all other members of their harem simply fall in love with him or her because they deeply admire some part of their personality, and the protagonist can’t bring themselves to tell them to leave.

Harem endingEdit

Harem endings typically follow two different routes;[2]

  1. The person of desire ends up with one of the characters who fall in love with them.
  2. The person of desire winds up with none of these characters.

Other series have a route where the story concludes with a multi-marriage ending.


Notable seriesEdit

Female harem
Male harem

Notable harem leadsEdit

Some examples of protagonists range from a special agent like Yuuji from Grisaia, a charismatic pervert like Issei Hyoudou from High School DxD, an army leader like Hakuoro from Utawarerumono, a teaser like Arata from Trinity Seven, a moralist like Touma from Index, a shy guy like Rito from To Love-Ru, a princess warrior like Yona from Akatsuki no Yona, an easy going zombie like Ayumu from Kore wa Zombie, a dense but caring guy like Raku from Nisekoi, a shameless playboy like Akatsuki from Hagure Yuusha, a comical tsukkomi like Haruhi from Ouran Club or Tsuda from Seitokai Yakuindomo, a great Demon King like Arawn from Tears to Tiara, the otaku expert like Tomoya from Saekano, a condescending swordsman like Ayato from Asterisk, a magician teacher like Negi from Negima or a crazy teacher like Nozomu from SZS, and a tragic hero like Kotarou from Rewrite.


a. ^ "Series" implies any that are designated as a harem.


  1. ^ a b Oppliger, John (April 17, 2009). "Ask John: What Distinguishes Harem Anime?". Anime Nation. Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  2. ^ Matthew Alexander (March 19, 2015). "Omamori Himari Vol. #12 Manga Review (Series Finale)". Fandom Post. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 

Further readingEdit