Top 10 Harem Anime
Love them or hate them, harem anime are here to stay. While there is some debate over which anime was truly the first (it really all depends on your definition), some of the earliest examples include Tenchi Muyo, Ranma 1/2 and Urusei Yatsura.
Since those early examples though, many popular series throughout the years have taken the harem trope and run with it much further than anyone in history may have thought it would have ever gone. In this article, we take a look at some of the best examples of harem series from the last couple of decades and try to determine which is truly the best of the best.
10. Girls Bravo
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Jul. 2004 – Sept. 2004
Much like another entry found a bit further down on this list, one could make a pretty compelling argument towards mentioning this series and the word 'classic' in the same sentence.
Yukinari is a small guy with a big problem: he's allergic to girls. Even when his best friend approaches him he breaks out into hives. One day though, he is magically transported to a new world where he meets Miharu, the only girl that he's ever met that doesn't trigger his allergic reaction.
With a harem that includes the strange girl from another world named Miharu, Miharu’s older sister, the token best friend character, the primary antagonist's little sister and many others you can imagine that there are a number of standard tropes that appear throughout the run of the series and you’d be mostly right in that regard. What makes this series such a rare treat within the harem genre though is that Girls Bravo walks an interesting line between ecchi and not ecchi. It certainly has its fair share of suggestive scenes and moments but it doesn't feel the need to rely on these elements at all times to make you laugh or tell its story.
9. Haganai (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2011 – Dec. 2011
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai (also known as Haganai for short) is an interesting harem series in that while the main character is absolutely and obliviously in a harem setting, all he truly wants is to have friends.
Everyone in Kodaka's class thinks that he's a delinquent because of his blonde hair and a series of misunderstandings that occurred on his first day of school. When he is given a chance to join the "Neighbor's Club" and make some new friends, he jumps at the chance only to find out that everyone else who joins is just as socially inept as he is!
Subtle is not a word that you can often use with series that fall into the harem genre but barring a few momentary exceptions, subtle would be an appropriate word to use to describe Haganai. This is a series that doesn’t beat you over the head with the typical tropes. With all of the girls being completely inept at expressing themselves or knowing how to behave around other people, the progression of the romance is slow and steady. While seasoned anime fans will recognize the direction that this series eventually heads toward, those who aren’t as familiar with the harem genre may find the romantic angle that is eventually explored surprising. The humor can certainly be on the nose but the romance is delicately done which really emphasizes the social awkwardness of the female characters.
8. To LOVE-Ru
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2008 – Sept. 2008
In this off the wall comedy, the hero is Rito Yuki. He's in love with a girl at his school named Haruna but before he can confess his feelings to her he finds himself in a compromising situation. A compromising situation that involves an alien princess named Lala. While taking a bath one night, Lala appears and he accidentally gropes her breasts which in her culture means that they are now engaged. This doesn’t sit well with her father but rules are rules so he decrees that he either goes through with the marriage or the Earth will be destroyed!
To Love Ru is a harem series through and through and there is no denying that. Between the alien princess Lala, the schoolmate Haruna, the uptight Yui, the assassin Golden Darkness and the many others who express some kind of sexual desire towards the main character throughout the run of the series; Rito certainly has his hands full (sometimes literally if you catch my meaning). To Love Ru may be heavy on the ecchi elements but that doesn't change the fact that at times it can be comedy gold. Never afraid to dive head first into absurd territory, this is a series that revels in the tropes of the genre.
7. High School DxD
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2012 – Mar. 2012
Lots of people like to think that an anime series can either be ecchi or have a good story, but it can never be both; High School DxD takes that perception and shatters it. You know how in most harem series the hero is a timid guy who doesn't actually want all the attention that is being showered on him by beautiful women? That's not really the case in this series.
Issei is a pervert. He admits it and is seemingly pretty proud of it. Deep inside though all he really wants is a girlfriend... who will let him fondle her breasts whenever he wants. He's a man of simple tastes. One day he finally gets his wish when a beautiful girl asks him out on a date. Things are going great until the end of the date when she attempts to kill him. On the brink of death, Issei is saved by the even more beautiful Rias who brings him back to life as a devil who must now serve her unconditionally. Always looking on the bright side though, Issei figures out that if he works hard he might someday become as powerful and respected as Rias which will allow him to form his very own harem!
Ironically, while Issei spends most of this series working towards forming his own harem, he doesn’t actually need to work that hard as one forms around him without him even realizing it. Rias starts things off but soon she finds herself in competition with other willing females, including one of her subordinates, a former nun, and even possibly a male classmate who sometimes makes Issei uncomfortable with his remarks. Admittedly to read the synopsis you might go into this series not expecting much in terms of plot or humor. That is a mistake though as High School DxD proves to be filled to the brim with clever writing and plot twists that keep the audience entertained throughout its run.
6. Is This A Zombie? (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2011 – Mar. 2011
It can be hard to do something that is truly classified as unique and different these days but Is This A Zombie? manages to do just that by combining harem and magical girl elements and creating an amazing blend.
Life isn't easy when you're a zombie trying to go to school and hide the fact that a beautiful, mute necromancer is living in your home. Life can be even harder when you come across a magical garment girl, accidentally steal her powers and are forced to take over her job of defeating villains until she can figure out a way to fix the situation. Add in a vampire ninja and you have the makings of one twisted harem.
The thing that you have to love about Is This A Zombie? is how incredibly tongue in cheek it is. It's a harem series that doesn't take itself seriously in the least and goes out of its way to poke fun at the genre making it a series that is worthy of being watched again and again.
5. Date A Live
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2013 – Jun. 2013
Form a harem or the world will come to an end. No pressure or anything.
In this reality, there is a new type of disaster called spacequakes. These disasters can hit at any time and cause massive amounts of damage. Thinking that he needs to save his little sister from one of these disasters, Shido runs towards the epicenter of a spacequake and finds... a beautiful sword wielding girl? Soon after he finds out from his little sister (who was safe and is actually the captain of an elite squadron) that this girl and others like her (called Spirits) are the cause of the spacequakes. Along with this he also learns that he must figure out how to make these spirits fall in love with him in order to make the disasters stop.
Date A Live takes the harem genre and does something that not many others do: exploring the consequences of actually trying to date multiple girls at the same time. Sure, it's easy for an anime to say that the main character is going to form a harem with girls who are totally into him. However, what if one (or more) of these girls is the jealous type who wants the main character all to herself? This issue and others like it, are just some of the things explored by the plot of Date A Live.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jul. 2005 – Jan. 2006
Shuffle! might go down as the harem series with the darkest ending ever.
Rin was living a normal high school life until one day when the king of heaven and the king of the underworld both burst into his classroom. If that weren’t strange enough he is also informed that he has to choose to marry one of their daughters which doesn't sit well with any of the other girls who already had their eye on him.
His childhood friend Kaede and his friend Asa are just two of the many girls in Rin’s life who had their eye on him way before he was presented with two princesses on a platter. While I won't go into specifics on why Shuffle! features one of the darkest endings ever (you'll just have to go watch it to find out what I'm talking about), this series belongs on the list because it's not afraid to go to some dark places and give viewers a satisfying ending that will stick with them for a very long time afterward.
3. Love Hina
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2000 – Sept. 2000
The word classic gets thrown around easily by anime fans. However if there's one entry in the harem genre that truly deserves to have that word attached to it, it would be Love Hina.
Keitaro Urashima made a promise to a girl when he was a kid that they would someday be reunited after they both got into Tokyo University. Unfortunately Keitaro has failed the entrance exam multiple times and his family is getting fed up with his lack of forward progress. Finally they force him to go work for his aunt... who happens to be the manager for a boarding house inhabited entirely by beautiful females of various types and ages. Naturally, pretty much all of them find their own reasons for falling for him. From the crafty older tenant, Mitsune, down to the junior high students, Shinobu and Kaolla (plus a few more friendly females who don’t live in the boarding house). Keitaro is never lacking in attention from the opposite sex (not that he has any idea what to do with it).
Love Hina is a series that has aged gracefully since it first aired. It is true that you can accuse it of relying on jokes that we've come to take for granted or have just plain gotten used to over the last decade or two. This is a series that broke new ground in the genre when it made its debut by giving the audience at the time fresh humor.
- Episodes: 20
- Aired: Jan. 2014 – May. 2014
Based off a long running manga series and first airing in the winter of 2014, Nisekoi is a harem for the modern fan in every sense of the phrase. In this series, the main character is Raku Ichijo and he's poised to become the next leader of a yakuza family (despite not really being cut out for it). As a kid, Raku made a promise to a girl that someday they would be reunited and they would get married. Naturally though he can't really remember much about her including what her name is. Over the course of the series Raku's harem will include: the daughter of a rival gang that he must pretend to be engaged to, his classmate that he actually has a crush on, a girl who wants to kill him in order to end his relationship with Chitoge, the daughter of a police officer, the little sister of his classmate, and more.
If you're a fan of classic harem antics that include an ever increasing cast of characters, and eye catching animation from the same studio that brought you another famous harem that you might have heard of, Bakemonogatari, then you're going to want to check this series out post haste.
1. Hayate the Combat Butler (Hayate no Gotoku!)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: Apr. 2007 – Mar. 2008
Another word that doesn't get used with harems very often is innocent, but that's exactly the right word to use with Hayate the Combat Butler.
Hayate has the worst luck imaginable. He works as hard as he can while also going to school but one day he comes home to find out that his parents have deserted him. Not only that but they’ve left behind a huge debt that he must pay off. Feeling like he has no choices left, he attempts to kidnap a young girl who mistook his words for a love confession. One thing leads to another and she ends up hiring him as her new butler.
Hayate the Combat Butler is one of the purest and sweetest harem series ever. It never relies on fan service to make a joke and the love that the characters feel for Hayate is pretty chaste. With so many series feeling that ecchi automatically equals funny, it's nice to have a series like this one to fall back on when you just want some clean comedy.
Harem anime can be an acquired taste but to completely ignore the genre because some of them have elements that you dislike is doing yourself a disservice. If you're someone who has written off the genre entirely due to some bad experiences we hope that you've found a couple of new titles here that have piqued your curiosity.