Harem Anime: An exploration of Anime Sexual Cooperatives in 20th Century Social Consciousness [6 Year Anniversary]

The male protagonist: An exploration

A lot has been said about the male protagonist in a harem show. He’s not especially strong, or smart, or handsome. He’s perfectly average in every way. The male protagonist in harem shows is designed to appeal to as many male audience members as possible. His personality often ranges from lawful neutral to neutral good. He is specifically a “nice guy.” He is empathetic, caring, and selfless. This is why all the members of his harem fall in love with him. He’s not much to look at, but he has a good personality. A very appealing message for most of the audience watching harem shows.

But on the flip side, the male protagonist is passive and indecisive. He does not form the harem, the harem forms around him. This is by design. The harem genre feeds the male fantasy of sexual virility, but it does not endorse sexual aggressiveness. The second the protagonist tries to take advantage of the situation, he becomes instantly dislikable. We see this happen in the anime School Days, where the protagonist uses his ability to attract multiple love interests to sleep with them, becoming a detached sociopath with little regard for his female counterparts. This is not the type of characters most audience members want to project themselves onto. Instead, the male protagonist in a harem has to be a passive agent. He can get into sexy situations, but these need to happen due to comedic turn of events. For example: The male protagonist walks into a girl changing clothes not became he was trying to peak, but because the girl was changing in his unlocked bedroom. For most male protagonist in harem anime, their character growth revolves around making a decision and actively choosing which harem member to commit to. Essentially, the ultimate goal for a harem male protagonist is building up the confidence to ask a girl out.

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