What is a Reverse Harem Anime? [Definition; Meaning]

If the typical harem anime features your average guy surrounded by wonderful girls fawning over him, girls need to cheer up because it has its counterpart: the reverse harem anime! The word “harem” comes from “harumumono”, and it literally means a polygamous type of relationship, in which one person gets the attentions from different people. So, a reverse harem anime usually portrays your average girl surrounded by handsome men, who try to get her attention, and possibly win her heart over. But let's deepen these premises, now, and explore the reverse anime universe in all its respects!

A non-conventional romance.

What could the story be in a reverse harem anime? This genre can vary a lot, but there's a common trait for each reverse harem anime: a girl is the center of the story. In some of these shows, our heroine is a girl with a family drama, or some trouble; in others, she is your average girl, with a normal life, suddenly thrown into unusual circumstances she doesn't even understand at first. Our heroine gets surrounded by handsome guys, each of whom tries to win her heart over. Usually, there's a reason why all these guys stick together and focus on this central character. Because of some circumstances, the guys and the heroine get to spend a lot of time together, and so their relationship deepens, and turns to real affection. In some reverse harem anime, the girl has a favorite guy toward whom opens up, while in some other ones she just builds a solid bond of mutual trust, and friendship with each of them.

Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love 1000% (Uta no Prince Sama)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2011 – September 2011

Haruka Nanami's dream is to become a composer, and have the chance to write music for her favorite idol, Hayato Ichinose. She leaves the countryside, in order to enroll the Saotome Academy, which is a vocational school for the performing arts. There, she suddenly realizes how the competition among students is fierce, and what's more, all her classmates are more talented than she is, and they also show off. One night, after wondering whether to give her dream up or not, Haruka decides to take a walk around the school. That's the moment when she has a fated meeting that will change her life for good, and give her a reason to keep chasing her dream...

UtaPri is a perfect example of reverse harem anime, as it very well explains what we stated above. The hot guys surrounding Haruka have all a reason to do so: she turns out to be a very talented composer, and each of them trying to become idols, wishes that she writes their music. Clearly, they court her also, but in a very subtle – or Japanese – way. Eventually, they all become close friends, and manage to build a solid bond. If you fancy idols and reverse harem anime, UtaPri is a real masterpiece of the genre!

It's like a Harem Anime, but not quite!

There's a huge difference between your typical harem anime, and a reverse harem anime. Harem shows feature nudity, and a lot of ecchi scenes. What's more, harem anime are usually humorous, and funny, full of gags and moments in which our main male character is embarrassed. On the contrary, a reverse harem anime is completely deprived of nudity, ecchi scenes, and the comedy parts aren't the peculiar trait of this kind of anime – even if they aren't lacking altogether. In a reverse harem anime, you can expect shirtless guys showing off their perfect bodies, but that's all. Of course, you can expect that these bishounen will make your heart race, and your face blush, though.

Kamigami no Asobi

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Apr 2014 – Jun 2014

Yui Kusanagi is your average high school girl, passionate about kendo and martial arts in general. One day, she wakes up in a different place, in a new school, and with a new mission she can't really understand. In fact, Zeus summons Yui, explaining what her purpose will be: six gods have been acting selfishly, and have no clue about what love really is. She will help them understand what bonds among people mean.

Kamigami no Asobi better explains what we meant in the above paragraph! This show wields some comedy parts, it's true, but on the other hand it's full of handsome guys who can make the girls' hearts go “doki doki”. What's more, in this show you'll get to see young, shirtless gods, or their transformed versions which leave a lot of naked skin in plain sight, but still not enough to be considered erotic, or vulgar – in a word, it's not ecchi. Kamigami no Asobi is yet another must-see in the reverse harem anime universe!

Kamigami no Asobi Trailer:

The ending you should expect.

What ending should we expect from a reverse harem anime? Usually – but it's not a rule – reverse harem anime are adapted from otome games in which the player chooses a route and commits to one selected character. When an otome game gets an anime adaption, what should we expect then? It these cases, frequently the story is open-ended, and each viewer is left imagining a happy ending with whoever character they end up preferring. And this is even true for original reverse harem anime: the heroine doesn't always pick a final person.

There are some reverse harem anime, though, in which it's clear from the beginning that the heroine has a preference toward a certain character. In these cases, all the other male characters still create a bond with her, but a different one. A good example is Kamisama Kiss: Nanami is surrounded by handsome guys all the time, but it's clear from the start that she'll end up picking Tomoe! Then, let's close this article with one of the most wonderful reverse harem anime out there.

Hakuouki (Hakuoki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2010 – June 2010

Hakuouki revolves around Chizuru Yukimura. It's 1860, and Chizuru's father, who is a doctor, leaves her and heads to Kyoto. When his letters stop coming, Chizuru disguises herself as a man, and decides to head to Kyoto, too. Upon her arrival, though, she gets attacked by a vampire-like creature, and then rescued by one of the members of the Shinsengumi. Then, Chizuru is taken to the Shinsengumi's base, where her fate will be decided: should they kill her, or not?

Hakuouki is the epitome of the reverse harem anime, as it wields all what the viewers would expect from these kinds of shows. Chizuru is surrounded by the handsome men of the Shinsengumi, who put their lives in danger to protect her. And to confirm what we said up above, in this show our heroine eventually picks a person to commit to, and toward whom she had a clear preference. Hakuouki is the anime adaption of a wonderful otome game, but as such, it doesn't disappoint the expectations. So come on, catch it up!

Hakuouki Season 3 Trailer:

Final Thoughts

With our examples we gave you an idea of what a reverse harem anime is. Probably this genre is not everyone's cup of tea, but we are sure that they can turn out to be enjoyable for one reason, or the other. Plus, every reverse harem anime is a real feast for the eye, as they are full of prince-like, and super hot guys, and this is always good and welcome. Give them a try before giving them up: you may discover a new passion! Now, please, don't hesitate to share your thoughts below, and ask questions. See you next time!

Kamigami-no-Asobi-Wallpaper-699x500 What is a Reverse Harem Anime? [Definition; Meaning]


Author: Mari Mari

An italian girl currently living the Japanese Dream. I'm an anime and manga enthusiast (I mean... very enthusiast. XD), and my other hobbies are writing, reading, playing volleyball, listening to good music and thinking about pointless things.

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