… Face it, the fujoshi would be all over it.
One of the most common complaints about Haganai as it is right now is that the harem setup is really unrealistic for a story about not having many friends. Sometimes, I want to say to Kodaka: “Mate, you have a harem, what the hell are you complaining about?” This video, which became a meme in the Japanese fandom, pretty much sums it up.
I suppose that if you were going to take this idea of a bunch of loners making a club, it would be more realistic to imagine that the boys in the club would outnumber the girls. And that the boys would be smelly and unattractive. But that would be too depressing, so let’s not think too hard about it.
Instead, let’s turn Haganai into a reverse harem with every character’s role being pretty much the same, only genderbent.
Note: This has some spoilers for Haganai NEXT, so read at your own risk.
Kodaka: Instead of scaring everyone off because of apparently being a delinquent, people look at fem!Kodaka’s blonde hair and think she’s a slut. The girls make up dumb rumours like she’s slept with 100+ boys in middle school, even though fem!Kodaka is actually really awkward and never talks to guys. As a result, she has no friends.
Yeah, she’s still an idiot. If anything, though, she has even more incentive to not pick anyone and to pretend to be dense. Girls are sensitive towards subtle relationship dynamics.
Yozora: Instead of being a girl who looked like a boy back in childhood, male!Yozora was actually a boy who looked like a girl. His childhood friendship with fem!Kodaka was very sweet, just like in the anime, and they separated for the same reasons.
As a teenager, male!Yozora is a grouch, prone to snarky comment and bitter about the success of others. However, he is less of a bitch and less prone to strong emotion. His motive for making a club just to get close to fem!Kodaka again is pretty much the same.
Sena: male!Sena is seemingly a manly man, but is actually really into shojo. He thinks he’s cool shit but is majorly insecure about himself.
male!Sena is probably the most different out of all the genderbent characters. See, the thing about Sena’s character is that her social awkwardness and otaku tastes extend logically from her being a cute girl with big breasts, and somehow this makes sense from how it’s portrayed despite making zilch sense in real life. In other words, her gender is really fundamental to making her personality work.
I guess male!Sena is probably the type of person who would alternate between not saying anything to anyone out of awkwardness and not being able to shut up about a subject. He doesn’t talk to the guys very much because he can’t relate to what they’re talking about, and for some reason the girls really admire him (he doesn’t give much of a crap, though). The guys in his class all assume he’s a playah and thinks he’s better than them, so they don’t talk to him much.
male!Yozora and male!Sena are rivals. male!Yozora frequently calls male!Sena a “manwhore”. The Meat nickname still applies. They frequently try to beat each other up and outdo each other in any competition. You can practically smell the homolust from your computer screen.
Rika: Still the same loony scientist. And probably still into hardcore yaoi! A devout shipper of male!Yozora x male!Sena but decidedly not gay himself. Swears a lot, even more than his female counterpart, but is really a nice guy who would do anything for his friends.
One more thing: I don’t think male!Rika would change his hairstyle every day like the actual Rika does in NEXT. But one day, he will probably show up with hair that looks like this, just for shits and giggles:
Yukimura: Still gender confused, and now a legitimate trap. He wants to be the most ladylike lady ever and refers to female!Kodaka as “aneki”. Secretly has urges to make passionate love to her but misinterprets these feelings as simple admiration.
…I can’t even begin to imagine how awkward that bath scene reveal would be.
Maria: The annoying shota voiced by Kaji Yuki. A shota priest who is boyish and loud. Unchanged from the series. Now called Mario.
Kobato: Kodaka’s cute little brother, who is a chuunibyou. Shy around strangers but in possession of a very active imagination. Instead of hugging a doll to his chest, though, he would probably carry around a giant plastic sword or something equally as dorky.
In my head, male!Kobato is so cute he brings out my inner shotacon. And yours too – don’t you dare deny it.
On the whole, it actually seems to me that the tone of Haganai would be relatively unchanged if it were genderbent. There would be less fanservice, sure, but the dirty-minded otaku humour would most definitely remain.
Obviously, the biggest question that brings up is: Would Genderbent!Haganai Be A Better Series?
The answer really depends on your taste, I think. The biggest problem is Sena, who I don’t think works nearly as well as a comedic character if she were a male. But the dynamic between Sena and Yozora would probably be extremely entertaining to watch and would most likely be much more shippable than any potential pairing involving Kodaka. Oh wait that’s already how it is in the anime. I love bitches fighting.
Reverse harems have a very poor reputation in the mainstream fandom, but I think the chemistry the Haganai characters have would make it more like an Ouran High School Host Club than your average otome game adaptation. The mixed-gender friendship theme, for instance, is something that I think can be conveyed more powerfully in a reverse harem setup than a regular harem. When it comes to guys, especially lonely guys with no experience with women, there is really no such thing as a “friendzone”. In a way, that’s kind of a heartbreaking thought, especially from the girl’s point of view. But it also makes for very interesting drama!
After all, how many reverse harems can you think of that have the female lead lamenting on how she will never truly be “friends” with her love interests because they are her love interests? She might privately think of them as her friends but she can never acknowledge this because she knows it will break hearts and cause their relationships to come tumbling down. And so she must pretend to be dense to the guys’ romantic inclinations.
I think that this is something that any girl who has male friends would probably be able to relate to. Can platonic friendship between mixed genders ever truly exist? Does romantic desire “cheapen” friendship?
These are themes that we can see Haganai as we know it beginning to explore by the end of NEXT, and this is what makes me so very interested in the series. It’s not a literary masterpiece or anything, but it touches on ideas that not many harem anime have the balls to acknowledge. By writing about a genderbent Haganai, I hope this got you thinking about the themes already present in the anime. I think it genuinely understands what friendship means.
So what do you think about Haganai as a reverse harem? Yay or nay?
(Answer: Still better than Diabolik Lovers.)
Despite never watched the anime, your analysis is quite interesting. Anyway, I have a platonic female friend which is so close that we are mistaken for a couple by others. I don’t think the romantic feelings cheapen the friendship in this case, instead the friendship was reinforced upon understanding that while we can never get involved romantically, we are able to understand each other better than ourselves and accept each other as we are.
Speaking of Diabolik Lovers, I decided that I won’t watch this even if the male leads are not bastard boyfriends on the grounds that I do not fancy myself in situations where there are multiple potential love interests. Two is slightly tolerable, but more than that would make me sick.
As an unrelated note, how do you feel about the ending of Aikatsu? I personally thought that it is far more maturely handled than what I initially expected, but then again, similar instances happened before
Thanks for sharing your story! It does mirror some of my own experiences. I personally do believe mixed gender friendships can come out very strong, since possible romantic tension is something you have to overcome together and shared difficulty is what brings people closer.
Spoilers for Aikatsu below:
Well, for all intents and purposes, Aikatsu never ended since there’s a new episode next week :)
But this last episode was really, unexpectedly moving. It was sweet without feeling saccharine and, like you said, the situation was handled with a lot of maturity. Makes you realise how far Ichigo and the others have come. I was a bit wary of the “Ichigo leaving the academy” plot going in, but instead of reversing her decision like I thought she would do, she really did take the opportunity to move on to the next stage of her life. I liked that. It’s a really powerful statement for a kid’s show to make.
The problem is that genderbend Kodaka still falls into the much maligned trope of the passive Otome game protagonist. A socially awkward F! Kodaka would not be received well. The thing is, Kodaka approaches these girls with significantly more confidence than the vast majority of Harem protagonist – so, I think, that has to be ported over to Female Kodaka, somehow – she has to be more confident than most Female Otome Protagonists, else she won’t be genderbent Kodaka.
Also, the main problem with Kodaka is not that he’s so much as socially awkward, but rather discriminated because of his dirty blonde hair, and being a Half Japanese.
I think the main problem with Kodaka is that so much of his character traits are tricky to port over to a socially isolated Female. It’s strange – what may seem to be believable traits for a socially isolated male wouldn’t seem so much so, if ported to a socially isolated female. I think this is an even greater challenge to Genderbent Hagani, then genderbending Sena.
You bring up a good point about some of Kodaka’s traits being difficult to transfer. I did think fem!Kodaka would be more confident or at least snarkier than your typical otome game protag. If anything, if she played the straight man like her male self in the anime, she would come off as being a lot like Haruhi from Ouran.
Another possible model might be Riko from Love Lab – only, imagine her significantly socially isolated – if only on the account that Kodaka in Hagani is in very good physical shape, in all accounts, and also, Kodaka’s manner of dressing.
The other is the negative self-image that Tomoko of Watamoe, that could be looked into – ultimately, genderbending Kodaka would probably require looking into various models of socially isolated/ delinquent looking female characters.
Here’s another thought: what if male Rika was into hard core Yuri instead? I can imagine how creepy Rika would come of from that angle, having fantasies of trap Yukimura and Fem! Kodaka together. And how much stronger the drama might be, once later Volumes male! Rika moves out of that persona, to a very perceptive but lonely person.
Truth be told I love haganai but your genderbent idea actually sounds much more interesting to me. I would love to see that. If I could draw better I would draw that. I feel that maybe Genderbent Kodoka might be a little jaded from the whole slut calling thing and any uh…guys seeing if she was I would think she would be kind of not believing anyone wants to be real friends with her.
Reverse harems are kind of crappy, sad really. I like them but the heroine always is this weird blob that can’t have any emotion other than cry and if she does get angry its for a second. Just let main characters have personalities! That’s all I want for Christmas!
Also, Diabalik lovers is my new worst reverse harem that I will refer too XD I’m watching it because it’s bad lol
The thing that frustrated me about writing this post was that I looked for genderbender pictures across the net but couldn’t find any! (admittedly I just half-assedly typed ‘genderbend haganai’ into Google). I’d love to see someone draw the cast genderbent – it would be so interesting.
What are you talking about? Every reverse harem anime is the worst reverse harem anime.
But oh man, you’re managing to watch Diabolik Lovers? I admire your strength of character. *brofist*
Yep it takes a lot to watch that thing. *shudder* well, My style is a bit um…special but I would love to draw them some day after I get some practice. XD I guess this show doesn’t have enough people that want to see the bending of the genders
I don’t know why, but I imagine that “male!Sena” would be very into MyLittlePony and stuff like that. Not that I like this show.
Somehow, I agree with you… n-not that I like MLP either!
I guess it was a good idea for me to skip Haganai 2 if this post had to exist. Sena and Ku.Ku.Ku rock, but they are not enough to make me sit through 12 more episodes of Maria. Yozora becoming more Tsundere than ever doesn’t do me any favors either.
Either that, or you were just curious about reversing the roles for one of your many hair brained experiments. I’m going for the latter.
Y-Yes it’s the latter.
Personally, I actually think Haganai NEXT is superior to the first season because I think it really finds its footing in combining its harem and friendship themes. In the first season, it felt like two separate elements often working against each other. Unfortunately, yes, Yozora is still a bitch. Alas…
We get it Yozora. You want Kodaka all to yourself. But for Pete’s sake, put some effort into making friends yo. Look at the lovely Sena. Even if some people do not like her, By Jiminy Cricket, AT LEAST SHE TRIED TO MAKE FRIENDS. Effort. That’s all Yozora.
I see Celestia Ludenberg from Dangan Ronpa. :D
[…] If Haganai Were Genderbent […]
(Answer: Still better than Diabolik Lovers.)
watched 10 minutes of diabolik lovers, was like: THIS IS SOMETHING TOTALLY FOR 1D and Justin fagieber.
A male Sena could work if he was good-looking… At least among fujoshi, “men who like shoujo(and maybe yaoi) and cute things” are pretty much like “non-fujoshi female otaku who like sentai/mecha/action/ecchi” are to men. They’re considered somewhat rare but desirable.
I also agree that a female protagonist needs to be more assertive or aggressive(but not annoying). I like the idea of a female former delinquent, because it kind of reminds me of Onihime in Sket Dance, who is one of the few female anime characters that a feminist can like as a character.
The description for Kodaka sounds like a typical Shoujo series heroine, and well there are more than enough of that(it’s the reason I avoid most Shoujo series, even though I used to love it when I was young). >.<