At first glance, Renai Boukun might look like your typical harem anime. It’s set in a high school, with your average high-school guy at the centre of a crowd of girls that scream character archetypes. You hear that it has supernatural elements, and you might picture the sort of battle-style harem à la Gakusen Toshi Asterisk or Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry that always seem to be a hit with the harem crowd. If you’re into that kind of anime, Renai Boukun probably isn’t going to scratch that particular harem itch, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching - quite the opposite! This is one romcom parody you shouldn’t miss out on this season. With that, here’s three ways in which Renai Boukun is a terrible harem anime - and why that’s a good thing. Beware of spoilers up until episode 6 of the anime here on out!
1. No Accidental Boob Gropes Here
If you love a useless male protag who - whoops - just happens to land face-first into some snuggly chest-pillows, or accidentally sees which pattern of panties the girls around him are wearing that day, you’re probably not going to like Seiji Aino all that much. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to get these ecchi elements - just that they’re pulled off with a more original twist (I’m talking Shikimi basically jacking the blade in Seiji’s leg), or, well, by Guri. In fact, it would be quite easy to argue that it’s Guri, not Seiji, who is the centre of the harem in Renai Boukun. Afterall, she’s quite the Harem Seeker, happy to add anyone to their relationship group, whereas Seiji is more reluctant (if completely unable to find Guri’s stop button). So if you like your harem to centre around one guy who has some innate ability to drive the ladies wild, you’re in the wrong place - or in a place which is so, so right, and you just haven’t realised it yet.
2. Not Everyone’s in it for the Main Man
Let’s take a moment to look at the dynamics we have on our hands, shall we? It started with Seiji and yandere queen Akane. Seiji had a lukewarm crush on her, she was willing to crush skulls to get her hands on him. Fair enough, go for it. But then Guri decides that oh boy, does this look fun, and gets on in the action herself - without having any particular feelings other than curiosity towards either of them. Then there’s Yuzu, Akane’s younger sister who is obsessed with her onee-sama and wants to be in a romantic relationship with her - but doesn’t care about Guri, and straight up hates Seiji (at least at first, before the tsundere starts slipping out).
It’s hinted that Akua feels the same way about Seiji that Yuzu feels towards Akane, but Akua hasn’t actively tried to get in on the action. Then there’s Shikimi, who isn’t in the relationship group as of now, but it wouldn’t be surprising if she joins, even if as an enemy character. The only reason Shikimi’s interested in Seiji is so she can mess him up and mentally ruin Akane - no one else gets a look in. If you love a harem because everyone’s drooling over the man in the middle, then you’ll just have to love the other elements of Renai Boukun, I’m afraid.
3. It’s All About the Parody and the Polyamory
Basically, what we have in Renai Boukun just can’t be classed as a harem right now, unless it turns out that everyone ends up falling in love with Seiji for real (at which point, I for one will stop watching). While it’s a romantic comedy focusing on the relationships between a group of people that involve one guy, the individual relationships between each of the characters is unique. We see feelings of love, obsession, jealousy, mild interest, curiosity, and even plain old apathy. However, there’s a sense of harmony to the group (excluding Shikimi, of course). No matter what happens, they accept that they all feel differently about each other and learn to function as one unit - something not all that far from some polyamorous relationships in real life. So while Renai Boukun fails the harem test, it wins all kinds of other prizes - including one big poly tick and best Death Note parody. Who cares if it makes a terrible harem anime? That doesn’t stop Renai Boukun being one of the most enjoyable anime this season!
Well, that’s it for our three reasons why Renai Boukun doesn’t make the best harem anime - and why that’s a good thing. Do you agree with our points, or do you think it follows more harem tropes than not? What are you enjoying/not enjoying about Renai Boukun so far? Make sure to let us know in the comments!