Women’s role: The many faces of Harems
But what about the women in harem shows? “Traditional” harems are sold by the female cast. As such, harem shows are a collection of female archetypes designed to appeal to a largely male audience. What’s interesting is that harem shows have the largest representations of female characters in all of entertainment, their just written by men to appeal to other men. So it’d be more honest to label the women in harem shows as caricatures.
Female characters are the catalyst for any harem plot. In most cases, a new woman will enter the protagonist’s life, turn his life upside down, and cause more women to flock to him. This character usually has pink to red hair to emphasize her vibrancy. She is the manic pixie girl, the women that teachers the introverted male protagonist to laugh and love and to embrace life. This character is then followed by the child hood friend, a character with more consistent bond with the character, but is stuck in the typically male “friend zone.” She usually has black/brown hair to represent her normal and down to earth demeanor. Obviously, more characters appear, but they their characterization range is too broad to be properly explored here.
Since most harem anime are written for the lowest common denominator, their characters lack a lot of depth. So the female characters are used to play up the stereotypes they’ve been assigned. The better the chemistry between them, the better the harem story. If one positive is to be gleamed from this, is that most female characters in harem shows show little disdain for each other despite “competing” for the same man. Liking the same boy doesn’t stop them from becoming friends. This is important because the women in harem anime are the driving force behind the plot. They form the harem around the male protagonist, and create a lot of the comedic situations in the story. In a form of irony not unlike reality, you couldn’t make this work without women, even if their actions end up benefiting their male counterpart.