… 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.)