It's a trap!!

Where else can you find a genre that shamelessly flaunts underage girls as an object of desire, where every girl fulfills some sort of perverse fantasy, where the only human with a pair is the nondescript main character? To some, the Harem genre has become the general definition for anime itself – and for good reason – by the sheer number of shows produced, the Harem has gradually worked its way up. One can’t help but think that anime has evolved (or degraded) into a visual showcase for cute animated girls.

Hey, whatever brings in the yen, right?

It’s no surprise, then, that the grateful otaku is graced with ever more Harem paraphernalia every anime season. What does surprise me, however, is the genre’s staying power – it’s been going on strong for years now, on the same basic formula of cute girls and sappy romances. How do the writers of Harem stories keep the genre fresh and inviting? What exactly goes in this formula? Let’s take a closer look.

Well, no…let’s not. You won’t see any more by looking closer – except maybe a cameltoe or two. There usually isn’t much of a plot to speak of, and character development is restricted to how much more the girls fall for the guy. The freshness, then, relies entirely on the only thing that matters in a harem – the girls.

The truly amazing thing is that out of the hundreds of harem girls created over the years, they have, for the most part, been rather distinguishable from each other, through clever manipulations of hair, eye color, personality, talents, hobbies, and uhm, chin sizes, resulting in keeping audiences interested enough to buy figures, body pillows, towels, and other various fan goods. The fact that the Saimoe contest can take place is testament to just how individual and unique each one of these girls are.

We know by now that these character creators have a sort of “moe pool” in which they fish out desirable traits, and throw them together to make a new character. Among these include the ever popular ones such as the “catgirl,” the “childhood friend,” the “imouto,” the “tsunderekko,” and the “psycho-eyed split personality girl.” Different combinations of these traits result in completely different characters – for example, a “vampire catgirl tsunderekko imouto” or a “big-chested airhead loli time-traveler cosplayer” (I don’t even need to tell you the names – you already know!)

While the characteristics found in the pool are numerous, the sheer number of girls generated will eventually exhaust all possible combinations. There’s two main ways to prevent that – the first one involves taking the complete opposite. Good cook? Let’s make her a pyromaniac and call her “Master Carbon.” Catgirl? How about a doggirl with an over-sensitive tail! Genki girl? Let’s make her have some kind of incurable magical disease so the guy has to take care of her!

But alas, opposites have been used up as well, leaving one other option: to introduce a completely new fetish. The new fetish of the season can also be considered an “opposite,” but on a much greater scale. One that takes to the very heart of the Harem genre – let’s make the girl a guy.

And what a resounding success. I’m not just talking about Mizuho, but also that awesomely energetic cross-dresser Jun from Happiness. Although the two are very different characters, both share the same “ho’moe’sexual” appeal that is still confusing audiences everywhere.

Love or hate? The appeal of Mizuho, and especially Jun, is in the very fact that the viewers start out believing that s/he is a girl. We’re lured in…enticed…and fall face-first into the trap. So how are we supposed to react to this confusion? The same thing happened with the first episode of Ouran (albeit the other way around), and that turned out fine! Screw it, I say…others have also echoed this sentiment. As harem animes are meant to be lighthearted fun taken at face value, why should the characters be any different? This face tells me it’s alright!

Some of you may remember, however, that Mizuho and Jun aren’t the first s(he) characters to grace the anime world. Ranma was able to transform into an actual girl with some cold water (well, most guys do shrivel up in the cold but not to THAT degree…), Hibiki dressed up as a woman to become a teacher in I My Me ! Strawberry Egg, Megu was turned into a girl by a mischievous book-demon in Tenshi na Konamaiki, and Hazumu was dephallusized by apologetic aliens in Kashimashi. Those girls were great in their own right, but one intrinsic difference exists: previous audiences saw these characters in their “male form,” whereas Mizuho and Jun are only presented in full female regalia at all times. The only thing revealing their true gender is, well…we’re told. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that anime fans don’t give a damn what others say.

So who are you going to believe, some random anime character or your own eyes?

I know my answer. For now, at least, until we start seeing “big-chested loli catgirl…trap”


KANON WATCH: First uguu, then auu, now nyuu! Yu1’s seamless juggling of all those girls is masterful. Kanon is doing a good job of separating itself from Haruhi and developing its own identity and niche. Can they keep this up for 26 episodes? Let’s hope so…!


  1. well this is just the japanese culture taste going into anime form(that´s all)
    A perverted mind from the japanese men and women turned into something that can pleasure them wherever they are!!at work at home at shopping centers….etc….etc!!
    say this things are “a little cliche” is take too easy with the words 😀
    but aahhhhhhh….OK….show me just what “I WANT TO SEE” 😉

  2. Did you mean ‘diphallus’? ‘Dephallusize’ is not a word (I actually wanted to know what it means, but I couldn’t find a definition for it even when I’d it).

    Man… I’m already following 8 series this season… DON’T TEMPT ME WITH ANOTHER.

  3. Androgyny has always been a typical trait amongst male anime characters, so it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve taken it a step further and just given every hot anime “chick” a pair of testicles (or so we’re told. No one’s forcing you to believe it, I mean the “fap first worry later” only makes too much sense here).

    I won’t be surprised if in the near future female harem leads turn out to be “tentacle-monsters-with-more-phallic-objects-than-you-can-throw-a-stick-at in disguise”. And in fact I can’t wait. 😀

  4. Woot!!!!! OtoBoku airs in a few hours! can’t wait for the blogs since the hd subs for 3+ aren’t out yet..

    damn, the huge resolutions of those HD subs are spoiling me, i don’t even want to watch anime if its not HD =p

  5. You guys forgot to list one of the earlist crossdressers in anime: Aoi Futaba form your are under arrest.

    “big-chested airhead loli time-traveler cosplayer”

    isn’t that one of the girls form popotan?

  6. Ding dong. Reminder: They are freakin’ anime characters.

    Animes have the visuals. It doesn’t matter if you are attracted to cross-dressers in animes because they are ATTRACTIVE. Yeah, they can make any guy look so much like a girl (and often even MORE like a girl than the other girls in the show) that the audiences won’t even believe their own eyes. But that doesn’t mean you are homosexual. Attractive characters get the attention, and it’s just a natural tendecy of a human being to trace the sexy with horny eyes no matter what your marital status is. Even if you can’t keep yourself from staring at a cross-dressing anime character, if you can keep yourself from cross-dressers in real life, you don’t have to have any worries regarding your sexual orientation.

    Hell I find Mizuho the most attractive character in OtoBoku. But how could I not? He has long hair, which I incidentally love, a pretty face, a slim body, a girl-like casual wear, a girly name, and on top of that he’s voiced by Horie Yui, my favorite VA of all time. I won’t deny it. I don’t even try to remind myself that Mizuho is a boy. The game does show him having sex with other girls, but that’s another story because the game is rated 18+.

  7. The “staying power” of the harem theme is NOT the testament of how far anime had gone at all. It’s a biproduct of a disfuntioning social mentality from a country that’s supposedly one of the more powerful and influential. “Soft power” my butt.

    You talk about Mizuho (Otoboku) and Jun (Happiness). Let’s talk about Satou (Welcome to NHK), the hikikomori-tachi, and how the Japanese media does that “art imitates life” crap as oppose to helping in the treatment of them.

    Seriously, though. Good behavior, around $100, and a visit to the Red Light District will cure this hikikomori ailment that’s been going around as of late. 😛

  8. Xellos: It could just mean that Mariya’s been getting her hands on Mizuho’s ‘goods’ and helping him “hide the package” as it were… which may explain her meltdown upon seeing OTHER girls in Mizuho’s bed.

  9. “Agreed. Harem is taking over the market! We need more stuff like Bleach, D.Gray-man, Death Note.”

    Ahh yes get rid of harem and bring on the shounen crap, yeah I could see that working. Out of every shounen title out there death note is like the only noteworthy one there. The only reason why its shounen is because its publish in a shounen magazine.

    Its nice to see stuff like Mushishi, zentai shounen, bartender, Monster, NHK etc. To add some variety to the anime genre. (I know there’s others like these shows here but I just cant name them for the time being, but you know the types i’m talking about.)

  10. Its nice to see stuff like Mushishi, zentai shounen, bartender, Monster, NHK etc. To add some variety to the anime genre.


    I read the whole article. Not much I can comment on the second, but like you said, as this isn’t real life, that’s why it works so well. They can make a “trap” look -exactly- like a pretty girl, and just tell us it’s a guy, something you can’t notice at -all- by looking at them.

    On the first paragraph, meh@ the so called “harem” genre. I’m sick of it and how lacking most of the shows are (at least to me), which is made even more apparent when compared to the corresponding games…the last I watched was F/SN, and I was very satisfied with it, but I won’t watch any of the typical ones anymore; F/SN was a little…different. I’d surely miss out on some good ones too, unfortunately, but I just can’t be arsed really.

  11. “Genki girl? Let’s make her have some kind of incurable magical disease so the guy has to take care of her!”

    That’s the only one I couldn’t figure out. Who is that line referring to?

    Anyway, I admit that I like harem anime. Not sure if I’ll ever get tired of it. Then again, I haven’t watched as many as most watchers. I only started downloading stuff the beginning of last summer…


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