Taking The Harm Out Of Harems – 10 Complaints And Rebuttals About Harem Anime

Taking The Harm Out Of Harems – 10 Complaints And Rebuttals About Harem Anime

1. “All Harem Anime Are Sexist!”

It’s probably the most frequently levelled criticism against the genre and it’s easy to see why, a bevy of beautiful girls throwing themselves at a single guy! “What woman would act like that? That’s completely unrealistic! And insulting too! What self respecting woman would put themself in that kind of situation?!” But with the exception of some specific examples these girls are all willingly in this situation, they are individuals with the autonomy to choose their lifestyle and what they’ve chosen is to compete for the attention of a man they desire—regardless of whether others have too laid claim to said man. Are there harem anime that are sexist? Yes, for sure. But that’s the fault of specific creators who put sexist dialogue or situations in their series’. Harem Anime should be treated on a show-by-show basis as there’s multitude of show’s out there that run the gamut from offensively sexist to vaguely feminist. The genre as a whole however is not by default sexist.

Grisaia no Rakuen (The Eden of Grisaia)

2. “Harem Anime are unrealistic, superficial male fantasies!”

Well done for realizing that fictional anime and manga is meant to be escapist fantasy! The kind of wish-fulfilment fantasy is present in nearly every genre of anime so why are harem anime being singled out as especially offensive to certain sensibilities? I have a theory: Western pop culture idolizes heroes, superheroes specifically being deeply ingrained in our cultures as being the fictional ideal—modern day gods living amongst us. Polyamory however is not only frowned upon but downright illegal in many places in the West and so portrayals of these kind of relationships are are seen as a problematic kink at best or destabilizing to the natural order at worst. Do I think this should change? No, monogamy works for me as it does most people, but there’s no way we should treat Harem Anime any differently from any other fictional fantasy.

Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou (Monster Musume: Everyday Life With Monster Girls)

3. “Harem Anime give impressionable viewers unrealistic expectations about relationships and the opposite sex!”

Ah, I see your letting anime doing the parenting now? Certainly the media we consume does a great deal at informing our world view, especially if it’s all you watch. But I’d argue the way most harem protagonists treat the women in their lives reinforces ideas of being kind, being patient and listening to the concerns of your significant others. Once again the onus is on the individual creator as to whether their harem protagonist treats women with respect but in my experience most male harem protagonists only have the best interest of all the girls around them in mind. As for whether the actions and shenanigans reinforce imitable behaviour that can lead to women in real life being the victim of sexual assaults—well, let’s not bring up the tired “violent video games cause real life violence” debate again shall we? We’re all smarter than that, right?

Shinmai Maou no Testament (The Testament Of Sister New Devil)

4. “People who like Harem Anime are perverts!”


5. “Harems don’t make logical sense, someone’s going to end up hurt—it’s an unrealistic way to build relationships!”

Because nobody ever gets hurt in monogamous relationships, right? /sarcasm. In all but the cheapest and poorly written of harem anime, the concept of ‘who’s best’ and ‘who’s sidelined’ is a common source of drama and dilemma not just for the girls themselves but the protagonist too. Navigating the minefield of emotions of not just one but multiple women means a smart harem anime can mine a lot of worthwhile plot and character development. People learn who they are and what they really want when under these trying and unusual situations and that in of itself is very interesting to behold.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (Haganai: I don’t have many friends)

6. “Harem anime fetishises having multiple partners and encourages infidelity!”

You’re right… damn it, you’re absolutely right, I have three anime body pillows and it’s not enough, I just want more and more and Harem Anime is all to blame!

7. “You can’t be a feminist and like Harem Anime!”

I used to be a feminist, til I took a harem in the knee. Do I support equal rights for men and women–literally the definition of feminism? Yes I do–we’re all human beings deserving of the same treatment. Am I incensed by depictions of inequality in the sexes, mistreatment of women under patriarchal societal norms and negative gender bias? Also yes, there’s no need for reinforcing harmful behaviour in entertainment. But do I like watching scantily clad girls fawning over a guy, endless panty shots, boob gropes–accidental or otherwise–and all manner of other Harem related shenanigans? You bet I do! So where does this leave me? Am I still a feminist? Can I still have my cake and grope it too? Sadly, this is one question I don’t have an answer for. People are complicated…

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi (A Bridge to the Starry Skies)

8. “I don’t like Harem Anime!”

And that’s okay, because there’s plenty of things I don’t like either. Having a genre bias is fine, it’s perfectly normal in-fact, not everything in this world can be viewed objectively. But what’s not fine is…

9. “All Harem Anime is the same, it’s all trash!”

You must have been busy then, ‘hate-watching’ every episode of every Harem Anime that’s ever been produced! The amount of times I’ve watched what I thought was going to be a standard Harem Anime only for it to find someway to subvert expectations is surprisingly high. Whether it be in the form of nuanced characterisation and devastating personal backstories (The Grisaia series), or the protagonist having a surprisingly delicate and personal way of letting down each of the characters in the harem to finally settle on one (A Bridge To The Starry Skies), or even an unexpected choice of final partner (The Hill Dyed Rose Madder). Be it strained and varied interpersonal relationships between the girls in the harem (Haganai series), complex plotting and narrative (Monogatari series) or a harem with an emphasis on taking care of everyone’s varied physical and emotional needs (Monster Musume). There are harems that explore the idea and viability of the concept itself while assessing what it means to even be in a harem (To Love-Ru Darkness series), harems about saving the world with the power of friendship (Konosuba, Yusibu!) or even saving the world with the power of orgasms (The Testament of Sister New Devil, Hybrid x Heart)! I can’t even claim to be an expert on Harem Anime, I’ve only seen a small percentage of what’s out there but what I have seen has been varied, complicated, exciting, enriching and most of all… unique.

Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san (Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs)


10. “It doesn’t matter how “unique”, or “interesting”, or “good” you say it is, I’m not going to change my opinion on Harem Anime. I just don’t see the appeal!”

You don’t have to see the appeal in something to appreciate the fact that its existence brings joy to others. If it’s legal and it doesn’t hurt anyone, then what’s the harm in me having my little “unrealistic, superficial male fantasies”? Just remember, if you’re someone who finds themselves so angered by something merely ~existing~ that you have to tarnish an entire genre to make yourself feel better, maybe you’d be better off talking about something you do love and fill the world with positivity instead, that’s at least what I’ve tried to do here.

To Love-Ru Season 2 (Motto To Love-Ru)

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Scorching Ping Pong Girls – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Scorching Ping Pong Girls.

***Note- If you haven’t read Irina’s review of Scorching Ping Pong Girls, it’s advisable to do so as her review leads into this one***

What’s the show? Scorching Ping Pong Girls (2016).

This doesn’t happen to be a hentai set in Bangkok is it? No! It’s a sports anime!

Oh god! Why are you watching sports anime again? You barely made it Haikyu season 1 alive what with your irrational and unexplained aversion to sport in all its forms. It’s okay this time; I’ve got a cute girl buffer to ease me in.


That sounded way dirtier than it should have. But really? You can watch this no problem because of cute girls, dude, that’s shallow, even for you. Listen, if I tell you the real reason I don’t like male oriented sports anime (and by extension irl male sports) but why this is fine, will you go easy on me?

Yeah, I suppose so, as long as it’s nothing stupid. No promises, but here goes. See, I grew up in Australia, a country so obsessed with sport that there’s multiple public holidays just for sports events. It’s safer to confess to being an atheist in public than it is to say you don’t follow sports. Sport is deep within the Australian DNA, and I’ve just never seen the appeal. Yeah, maybe it’s because I was a lazy, introverted gamer as a kid, maybe it’s because the kids who teased me in school were also into sports.

Yeah, we already know you don’t like sports, you’re just reading from the stereotypical nerd biography here, the question was why is this girl focused sports anime getting a pass whereas male sports anime undergo far more critical scrutiny from you? Because sport is about men, and I’m just a big self loathing male. Like the fact it’s taken us until 2017 in Australia for the formation of a National women’s AFL league (Aussie Rules Football)  is a travesty, but even then it’s still treated by the majority of the public as some sort of “lesser” event, like it’s some unbefitting niche that can’t possibly compare to men’s sport. I have zero interest in women’s sport but at least my reason is that sport played by either sex is boring to me, the majority of the public’s reason for not embracing female sport is a deeply rooted patriarchal oppression of women daring to doing anything other than being subservient to men.


I was counting down ‘til you brought up the patriarchy I knew it was coming. Oh shut up, so what if I’m a feminist?

Yeah, when it suits you… Excuse me? You think just because I enjoy watching ecchi and fan-service anime that makes me somehow less of a feminist? Actually you know what, this is a subject for another day, don’t get me side-tracked from the main point.

Fine, what point are you trying to make then? The point is, that even if other male sports shows are better written and have more nuanced characterisation than that of Scorching Ping Pong Girl’s, I have next to zero starting partiality for ‘the struggle’ of male athletes because they already start elevated thanks to male privilege, at least that’s how my narrow gaze as an Australian living in a country that deifies male athletes over everything else sees it. So that’s why it’s only natural I would gravitate towards the ‘underdog’ who in this case is literally the entire female gender at least as it comes to sports anime.


But it helps that they are cute girls, right? Yeah, so what? Male athletes are good looking, and in anime especially, why can’t the same be true for female sports?

I’m just saying, you talk a big game about feminism and oppression and all that, but I doubt you’d be going to bat as hard if this show weren’t cute girls… Fine, I’m shallow, I enjoy watching these aesthetically appealing anime girls play sport and work hard and get excited when they win and strive to do their best, what’s the problem?!


Hey, I’m not the one arguing with himself… Right, I sometimes forget that you’re just another voice in my head… Anyway, I don’t know if this will be the same for other people who don’t traditionally gravitate towards sports anime but I found the fact it was women playing sports a lot more compelling, even if it followed the same tropes and story beats as other sports anime.

Well now that we’re done learning more about how your brain works more then probably anybody wanted to know, let’s talk about the actual show. Hmm, ‘kay then! It’s about a Junior High Table Tennis Club, and specifically Koyori, a shy second year transfer student who has an intense love of the game which manifests in an innate talent that quickly makes her one of the top players in the club. Her rival, also a second year is Agari, whose popularity as the ‘ace’ of the team is threatened by the newcomer! See, Agari has always been in the sport because her parents pushed her to be number one, and the only thing she could be number one in is table tennis. She thrives off the ‘doki doki’ she gets from being praised as the best, but this new girl threatens to take her ‘doki doki’ away!


And what does ‘doki doki’ mean? Sometimes I forget how much of a ‘normie’ you are, it means heart-racing feeling.

So she only plays because she wants to be praised by people? At first, but there’s a lot of character development, Aragi goes through the biggest changes throughout the 12 episodes and ends up all the better for it. But everyone on the team has different reasons for playing. Koyori gets her ‘doki doki’ just from the thrill of playing the game and seeing the face of her competitor as they try their hardest to beat her.


And the other girls? Right, so there’s Hanabi, an energetic girl who is close friends with Hokuto who’s the cute and quiet one with her mouth always covered for some reason. Then there’s Mune or Munemune as she’s nicknamed, she’s a confident but sensitive gal with large breasts. And finally there’s Kiruka, a powerful player and captain of the table tennis club who enjoys punishing her teammates by making them wear cat ears.

A colourful bunch then. Indeed, and I love how the show takes its time in giving every character worthwhile and interesting backstories throughout the season and establishes connections between the characters. It makes the victories so much sweeter and their defeats all the more heart breaking!


So does this mean you now see the appeal of sports in anime?! Not really, sport is still inherently boring to me, but I would like it if more female sports anime’s were made, I’d be at least interested in watching those more than the male ones.

So… in other words… no progress has been made… I didn’t realise that was the goal here, I watch things, I like what I like, I don’t like what I don’t like. Besides it’s not like I gave season 1 of Haikyu a negative score I ended up giving it a score in the high 70’s, its just sport anime will always have a harder time getting through to me by default. Well unless someone makes an anime about WRC Rally driving, now that I could get into! Or an anime adaptation of Everybody’s Golf, I’d watch that too.


Fair enough—final recommendation? I don’t know, I mean Irina’s review of the show is probably going to be way more in line with the more relatable opinion on the show; she is totally into sports anime after all. If you’re fine with or just indifferent to sports anime it might be a harder sell unless you like a lot of the moe-character clichés that come with anime’s starring cute girls. If you’re a hard-lined sport hater like me though, I guess it comes down to why you hate sport, if you just hate it because it doesn’t appeal to you then there’s probably not much for you here, but if you hate it because the culture of men’s sport in the real world has alienated you from ever enjoying it then this take might be just what you need. A powerful serve! 85 out of 100.

Irina: Wow, awesome – that pretty much answers it all and so so much more! Thanks Matt!

Wait, what are you doing here Irina? Ah crap, now the review’s longer than 20 Questions! Do I get paid overtime for this? No, now be quiet and let Irina finish. Also, no problem, glad to have last-minute’d this almost a collab with you!

Irina: But on a serious note. Your particular vision of the Sports genre was fascinating to read and a stance that had simply never occurred to me. It’s quite interesting to see that aspects that attract me to the genre in fact deter you. For instance, Sports!! anime generally features the underdogs (like most sports movies as well) The idea of rooting for the little guy is quite central. But I never even considered the fact that even the least successful athlete is still considered somewhat elite in the grander scheme. Even though they are represented as losers and dorks in these shows still I’m glad you enjoyed Scorching Ping Pong Girls. Now to see what a hardcore Sports!! fangirl thinks….Guys? Let us know!


Darling in the FranXX Episode 8 – 20 Question Anime Review (Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Darling in the FranXX Episode 8.

Please note: This review is no longer representative of the author’s feelings on this show for an up to date review please read: Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episodes 1-15)

What’s the show? You know what the f**king show is, don’t be cute.

Whoa! Where’s this anger coming from? You ever watch something so insulting that you despair for humanity?

Hmm, like Adam Sandler’s ‘Pixels’? Right, sure, except the difference is there aren’t thousands of people proclaiming the brilliance of Pixels a lot of people are with Darling in the FranXX.

Oh boy. We’re going here again aren’t we? I intended to do a quarterly review of this show every 6 episodes, content to watch on in eye-rolling disbelief as the show progressed. But episode 8 made me so mad I almost put my fist through the screen!

So the clothes melting monster slime only touches the women, hmm? HMM?

Haven’t you heard the phrase, ‘don’t blog angry’? No, and I think you just made that up.

Well someone has to be the voice of reason, besides no one likes reading your rants… They don’t want to read it, they don’t have to.

No chance of that, I’m in full rage mode!

Way to antagonize, buddy. So I guess there’s no stopping this 50 ton freight train of hate, so what about the episode has got you so riled up? Oh you know the usual trash you’d come to expect from this show: casual sexism played for laughs or titillation, women being reduced to less than objects as they are stripped and ogled and then told to not be so up right about it. Reinforcing toxic gender stereotypes, suggesting that women should just ‘get along’ with men regardless of how uncomfortable it makes them.

It’s like ‘the Fappening’ all over again…

U Mad Bro? Don’t you fucking meme with me!

Sorry! I just thought we needed a little levity. So the show continues to be shitty to its female characters, what else is new? Not to be harsh but you knew that 3 episodes in, why do you keep watching if it aggrieves you so much? Because I’m fucking delusional obviously, it’s like the dog who keeps going back to its owner even though it knows it’s going to get beaten down. Because the owner was once good and kind and fun, but is now content to do everything to undermine any sense of what used to be.

Did I forget to mention “heteronormative” because, well yeah…

So ‘all that’ aside, is there anything redeemable you can say about it? I know you praised the animation and the mystery behind the larger story in the previous review, what about now? Nada.

Yikes, you’ve really lost anything favourable to say about the show haven’t you? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this defeated by something. It’s like if you went to a decent restaurant for a while and then one day after going you get the worst food poisoning of your life, like literally body sweats, white knuckle, out every orifice kind of food poisoning. You’re not going to go, when asked “how’s that restaurant?” Say “yeah the bread sticks are good and the wait staff is nice,” no you’re going to say, “stay away, I nearly shat my soul out after eating there.”

Who could’ve guessed this show was written by men?! I mean women totally just sit around and lament about how they nag too much.

Evocative imagery… But do you see what I’m saying? There comes a point where it doesn’t matter if a show is half good, if the part that’s half bad is so bad it makes you shake with rage.

So it is half good? You want me to be honest? Fine, yes, the animation is still very good and the setting is interesting, and the mystery is one that begs answers. But it’s also dumb as heck, I mean this episode literally had a trope as tired and lazy as dividing the house in two with a taped line to determine the boys side and the girls side. I mean really?! Why not just get all your plot points from old sitcom reruns since you’ve evidently run dry of all the anime tropes you stuffed in to the previous episodes?!

“Lucy! You’ve got some ‘splaining to do!”

I have a feeling I know the answer to this question already, but seriously why don’t you drop the show? Nobody’s forcing you to watch it. Yes, in fact every one is forcing me to watch it. Every 5 star review or 10/10 score is goading me into try and understand what kind of people are out there and what they could possibly see in this show? Like I long gave up trying to understand the scores shows get on MAL relative to one another, and understanding people is about as fruitful endeavour as trying to drink soup with a sieve. But I need to know that it’s more than just ogling girls in demeaning positions and big robots fighting that has made this show so acclaimed and so quickly.

Maybe it’s just not for you? Maybe, but then who is it for?

People not like you. And why are there so many of them?

I don’t know. And why do they hate women so much?

Okay then. I think it’s time we pull the breaks on this train before you say something that looses you a follower. It’s okay, they probably won’t notice, they’re too busy what with all the women hating.

She’s giving permission for to be leered at, but only a little. Because, you know, nobody likes a king leer. #lamejoke

You know you could be wrong and this show goes on to subvert all your expectations by the end. I hope this day comes, I truly do. I hope after episode 24 airs and it’s actually revealed to be a masterclass in feminist discourse, that everyone who’s been aggrieved by my comments towards the show they love comes to me and says, “ha! You were wrong, it was smart and sensitive and actually about deconstructing all the things you said it was enabling” and I’ll say, “guess you were right all along, pardner” and I’ll tip my Stetson to them and ride off into the sunset on my gallant steed content in being wrong and contrite enough to know that I was a fool to ever doubt the geniuses at Studio Trigger.

Well I’m glad you got that off your chest, it must feel better to have written that all down now you can do the sensible thing and delete it and everyone will be happy. And published!

Darling in the FranXX Episode 1-6 – 20 Question Anime Review (Spoilers)

A 20 Question Anime Review for Episode One to Six of Darling in the FranXX.

Please note: This review is no longer representative of the author’s feelings on this show for an up to date review please read: Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX (Episodes 1-15)

What’s the show? No, just no, I don’t want to do this…

What do you mean? We’re here we have to do it… Ugh, fine, you really want to do this? Fine! Just give me a minute to get into an appropriate character for this, okay?

‘Character?’ You’re not usually in character for these reviews are you? No, but this is a special circumstance. Bare with me a second.

Ah, fine, sure, take your time. *messes up hair, slumps shoulders, readies fingers above keyboard, becomes a virgin again* Okay, I’m ready, or whatever bro…

Okay… what’s the show? Tch! Only the best effin’ show on the planet my dude!

Right… It’s like Studio Trigger’s ‘Darling in the FranXX’ my dude. Tch! What cave have you been living under?

Are you even speaking English? Totally my dude, and seriously did you watch that gif I sent you because I’ve been jackin’ it til I’m red raw!


Please, I regret everything; can I press the abort button? No doing my scro! We’re in this til the bitter end, did I mention how Darling in the FranXX is like killer JO material my bro, my scro, my dude.

Okay, stop. Just time out. I have no idea what you’re trying to go for with this particular character, but it doesn’t seem very realistic. What do actual fans of Darling in the FranXX really sound like online? You SJW cucks are not intellectually prepared for something as complex and revolutionary as this show, if you’d bother to not get triggered (heh!) for half a second you’d realise that the allegory is….

Wow! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse… But just wait you beta-cuck; I haven’t even got to show you my fanfic where Trump and Putin pilot a FranXX together.

Oh my f***ing god. Can we just get the regular guy back; you know Cactus Matt or whatever his name is. Oh so now you want to hear my opinion, huh?


Yes, for f**ks sake, yes! Cool, so Darling in the FranXX is a pretty good show, I mean when it’s pandering to the worst of the anime fandom, namely stunted immature males who think women amount to nothing more than the subject of physical attraction and sexual connection. The sad thing is that if the writers and animators had consulted oh, I don’t know, precisely one woman in the production of their show they might have had the obvious idea to put the protagonist Hiro in the ‘subservient’ role in the FranXX robot Strelitzia alongside 002 rather than have him ‘dominating’ and perpetuating the obnoxious degradation of women for the sake of what amounts to a Saturday morning wank-fest for twelve year old fanboys. Heck I’d even settle for it just being 50/50 where half of the FranXX have the female characters in the demeaning position and the other half the male in said position. But that’d never happen, no, there’s no money to be made in that right?


I feel like I walked into a pool that’s a mile too deep for me. Everyone who thinks Darling in the FranXX is a show beyond criticism because it’s made by a talented animation studio seriously needs to get an attitude adjustment! It’d be like giving Studio Ghibli a pass if they just suddenly decided to make rape themed hentai!

Wow, okay, I feel like you need to say something positive about this show or else we’re going to be blacklisted from the Crunchyroll anime awards in 2019. High ambitions there… Besides, there’s plenty good I can say about the show, the world is intriguing, the characters are mostly likable, the setting is appropriately mysterious and the action is well animated. Oh and just quietly the opening theme is gorgeous.


So what’s the problem? OH I’M SORRY WAS THE MESSAGE TO SUBTLE FOR YOU? There’s literally giant robot mechs who are controlled by two person crews, the female of the crew is posed in doggy style position while the male ‘connects’ to her from behind. At which point he literally becomes ‘the brains’ in total control of her body. And don’t give me that bullshit excuse that the robot doesn’t work unless they’re perfectly in sync, thus it’s about equality or something. It’s just fan-service, and I know what you’re about to say next…

But you love fan-service; some of your favourite show’s are full of fan-service, how come this show in particular irks your ire while others get a pass or even a hearty recommendation? It’s hard to put it into words! Maybe I am being a hypocrite, but it just feels so degrading here, and so pointless and so… so…

So? It’s like when you see a father out with his son and the father has one of those shirts with a half naked woman on it, and you get that kind of worrisome, nauseating feeling in the pit of your stomach like, “wow, bet that kid’s going to grow up with some real positive opinions on women.”


So it’s about the patriarchy? Now, I’m definitely not going down that rabbit hole.

I feel like we haven’t really gotten anywhere with this review. Just kind of made fun of people who like a certain show, that seems kind of mean spirited. And for that I will apologise, not everyone who watches and likes this show fits into easily definable stereotypes. And far be it from me to criticise people for something they love, even if I do think its representation of women is more harmful than almost every other anime I’ve seen. The point of this post was twofold, to let my opinion be known and to say that no anime is beyond criticism. It doesn’t matter if it’s made by a beloved animation studio or whatever, every piece of media that’s produced should be able to be analysed critically from all points of view and discussed to understand why certain things effect people and not others.

And this is only the first 6 out of 24 episodes. Exactly, we’re a quarter of the way through; it’s not beyond redemption. Maybe the show will have some grand and important things to say about the place of women in our society by the time it’s finished. At which point I’ll gladly say I was wrong about it. Or maybe it’ll just remain a beautiful looking but deeply flawed and problematic contribution to the art form of anime. Either way, I’ll be watching and waiting to see what happens.