Harem (ハーレムもの, hāremumono, "harem works") is a genre of light novels, manga, anime, hentai, and video games originating in Japan in the 1970s but exploding late 1980s and 1990s with dating simulator games and focused on polygynous or polyandrous relationships, where a protagonist is surrounded by three or more androphilic/gynephilic love interests or sexual partners. A story featuring a heterosexual male or lesbian protagonist paired with an all-female/yuri harem series is informally referred to as a female harem or seraglios; while a heterosexual female or gay male protagonist paired with an all-male/yaoi harem series is informally referred to as a male harem, reverse harem, or gyaku hāremu (逆ハーレム). Although originating in Japan, the genre later inspired variants in Western media.
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A harem structure is ambiguous. The most distinguishable trait is the group of polyamorous females or males who accompany the protagonist and, in some instances, live with the protagonist. Intimacy is customary but never necessary.
A reverse harem is the gender-opposite of a "straight"-harem, wherein a harem is directed towards male protagonists with women and/or gay men courting the protagonist. In a reverse harem, it focuses on female protagonists who are being courted by males and/or lesbians, usually seven or more.
Although traditionally the harem is considered to be one of the most gender binary and heterosexual genres of anime and manga, this condition is not mandatory, and work in the genre can contain characters of very different LGBT gender identities and sexuality, or even concentrate fully on characters of the one gender. "Reverse harems" garner popularity, as they sometimes have the harem's genders mixed up without regard for the protagonist's sex or gender.
- List of harem (genre) anime and manga
- Mel Gough interview: Reverse harem an old fantasy turned on its head, Romantic Novelists Association
- Matthew Alexander (March 19, 2015). "Omamori Himari Vol. #12 Manga Review (Series Finale)". Fandom Post. Archived from the original on April 27, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
- Oppliger, John (April 17, 2009). "Ask John: What Distinguishes Harem Anime?". Anime Nation. Archived from the original on November 16, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-16.
- Brenner, Robin E. (2007). Understanding Manga and Anime. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 82, 89, 112, 297. ISBN 978-1-59158-332-5. OCLC 85898238.
- Drummond-Mathews, Angela (2010) "What Boys Will Be: A Study of Shonen Manga" in Johnson-Woods, Toni (e.d.) Manga: An Anthology of Global and Cultural Perspectives Continuum International Publishing Group pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-8264-2938-4