The female protagonist: An exploration
Admittedly, my knowledge of “reverse harems” is lacking. The anime industry doesn’t exactly throw reverse harems in my face quiet as aggressively as traditional harems, and I don’t exactly go out of my way to look for them. But after thinking about it, I’ve realized something: The female protagonist is usually a character. The male protagonist is usually an avatar.
What does this mean? Basically, in reverse harems, the female protagonist shares similar aspects to the male protagonist. She is more or less the “normal” person surrounded by exaggerated characters. But, and this is important, a female protagonist has her own backstory and motivations divorced from the harem. Whether it’s family issues or personal goals, the female protagonist has her own story arc to go though. This is the opposite of the male protagonist, who’s just there to hang out. This is indicative of the differences between male and female centered stories. Stories for male audiences tend to be flashy and bombastic, and generally unsubtle. Stories for female audiences tend to focus more on personal and interpersonal interactions, and are much more down to Earth. This is of course a gross generalization, but it helps frame the main differences between boy’s harems and girl’s harems.
Consider the set up. Harems for boys start with a girl entering the protagonist’s life, and other girl’s following throughout the story, and everyone falls in love with him. Harem for girls starts with the girl being some degree of trouble, and being taken in by a pre-formed group of boys, like a club, group of friends, or family members, and maybe developing a romantic relationship with one of them over a long period of time. Basically, female protagonists in harem shows tend to be more believable in how they act and are acted upon by the world than the male protagonist, whose world and people tends to revolved around them.