Empirical Data Shows That Harem Protagonists Have Terrible Taste In Women



It is commonly assumed by anime fans that the Harem Protagonist, the audience stand-in for socially inept Japanese males, has shit taste in women. Close analysis of any given harem anime reveals that a vastly superior Best Girl is ordinarily present within the harem framework. A question that presents itself is why Harem Protagonists do not simply bang the Best Girl when she clearly displays strong amorous desire for his dick. This systematic study of harem anime shows that Harem Protagonists are genetically encoded with bias towards girls with severe IQ deficit.


The shows were selected from those classified under the ‘harem’ genre on MyAnimeList.net. Short OVAs and spinoffs were excluded. Here is the full list in alphabetical order:

Ai Yori Aoshi
Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka
Amaenaide yo!!
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Da Capo
Date a Live
Dual Parallel! Trouble Adventures
H2O: Footprints in the Sand
Hanaukyo Maids
Hand Maid May
Happy Lesson
Hayate no Gotoku
High School DxD
Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi
Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou
Ichigo 100%
Infinite Stratos
Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari
Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai
Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de
Kishin Houkou Demonbane (2006)
Kiss x Sis
Koi Koi 7
Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
Ladies Versus Butlers!
Love Hina
Love Love?
Lovedol: Lovely Idol
Mahou Sensei Negima!
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!
Mashiroiro Symphony: The Color of Lovers
Mayoi Neko Overrun!
Nagasarete Airantou
Nyan Koi!
Omamori Himari
Onegai Twins
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!
Onii-chan no Koto nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky.
Princess Lover!
Rosario to Vampire
Saber Marionette J
School Days
Seitokai no Ichizon
Shukufuku no Campanella
Sister Princess
Sora no Otoshimono
Tayutama: Kiss on My Deity
Tenchi Muyo!
To Heart
To Love-Ru
Tsuki wa Higashi ni Hi wa Nishi ni: Operation Sanctuary
W: Wish
Walkure Romanze
White Album
Yosuga no Sora
Zero no Tsukaima

Then, the Main Heroine for each series was identified. When in doubt, the girl that showed up most prominently in the promotional art was deemed the Heroine. (This is a foolproof, scientific method.)

Finally, I read their character descriptions and ascribed a generic label to them.

Data Results and Analysis

The most frequently occurring personality traits are as follows (approximate weaboo translations in brackets):

Dumb Bitch (tsundere): 24

Goody Two-Shoes (yamato nadeshiko): 23

Airhead (genki girl, dojikko): 19

Alpha Female (ojousama, oneesama): 9

No Personality (kuudere): 6

You might notice, if you count, that there seem to be more Main Heroines than harem anime. This is because some girls fall into more than one generic label.

Tsundere is the most popular character type, with the generic pure-pure girl right behind it. Either the Main Heroine is a complete stuck-up bitch or is so insufferably nice that it induces a strong desire in the viewer to slap her across the face. The intelligent kuudere and the independent, sexually proactive types of girls are ranked on the bottom.

This is apparently a turnoff
This is apparently a turnoff

How do academics and social scientists explain these seemingly inexplicable trends? Some academics have pointed out that the Japanese culture is still a patriarchy at heart. Thus, the rise of the Herbivore Male, as represented by the traits of a typical Harem Protagonist, seemingly subverts traditional notions of gender identity but ultimately merely enforces male hegemony.

In other words:


Because they want to be like Harry Potter, Harem Protagonists are afraid of strong, independent women.

Thus, this study explains why Japan’s birthrate is so low. In order to preserve their treasured virginity, Harem Protagonists prefer girls who are too stupid to even have sex. This is a significant finding that the Japanese media should take note of.

Another theory states that the Harem Protagonist’s shoddy taste in females does not actually reflect the average consumer’s taste. The Harem Protagonist is deliberately shipped with the Worst Girl so that the Best Girl can remain desirable and so more doujinshis can be made and sold at Comiket every year. Therefore, the extreme popularity of Kuroneko in Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai can be partly attributed to Kirino being such an annoying character who is shipped with her equally annoying brother.

If this is true, then harem writers are a lot cleverer than we typically give them credit for.


According to this scientific study, Harem Protagonists prefer dumb bitches and goody two-shoes. Ergo, they have terrible taste in women.



I would like to thank my real-life group of hardcore otaku friends, whose exhaustive knowledge on the intricacies of each and every one of these obscure shitty harem shows saved me from actually having to watch them. If there are any mistakes in this report, they are mine and not theirs.

(Incidentally, this is my 100th post.)


  1. Ha ha ha, I can tell right away that this isn’t meant to be a serious post, so I’m not going to analyze and give serious opinions. I’m just going to enjoy reading and laughing at it.

    That’s not to say there’s no truth in here. Generally it annoys me to see the protagonist pick an annoying, bitchy girl over a much better girl who’s nicer and simply has a better personality, but I don’t think it really reflects actual consumers’ taste in women or that harem writers are secretly smart.

  2. In a way, your research is very sound. But I personally don’t think that goody two-shoes is an indication of a “bad taste” women. They are very good wife materials, but I can see why you see things that way. Real goody two-shoes are in no way the same as the ones depicted in anime.

    As a side note, I personally prefer nice big sisters for a girlfriend. *chuckles*

    • I do actually like nice girls in real life but there’s something that rings false about their anime counterparts. Possibly they’re too idealised and flawless for me to seriously buy into?

      You, on the other hand, appear to have fine taste :)

  3. Most of the time, the “chosen one” is lamer than most of the other contenders who want some strudel. On the other hand, the fact the boy toy even has a “chosen one” to begin with is commendable…and that’s about the full extent of praise he’ll get.

  4. I’m suddenly very glad that I’ve only watched one of those shows (Tenchi Muyo).

    However I note that you fail to mention the First Girl Wins trope. This provides a alternative hypothesis that the male’s choice is predestined, and that the universe will conspire to enforce it.

    Possibly by imposing the first hypothesis as a character flaw. ;)

    • That’s true! If the Harem Protagonist is forced to date the First Girl, then that would mean he has no choice in the matter and is slowly brainwashed into becoming the mindless love slave of the Dumb Bitch (no other way to explain how Louise and Saito get together in Zero no Tsukaima!)

  5. Bwahaha, just realised that although I’ve seen a few episodes of many of the shows listed here, I’ve only seen one of them in its entirety (Tenchi). Anyway, I don’t really have anything to add except to thank you for another entertaining article – as usual, nice job. *thumbs up* And happy 100th!

    • Thanks! And you should consider yourself fortunate for not sitting through the entirety of these shows. In fact, I myself felt as if I was losing braincells merely from reading the same synopsis (e.g. “mentally retarded girl falls from the sky and literally onto protag’s lap”) over and over again.

      • But Noukome is fun that way. Lol. Go go chocolat. More of a Harem satire than true harem though…

        Either way, in general you want equals, and since most of the Protagonists are idiots to begin with, dumb bitches be good matches.

  6. I was so inspired by this beautiful article, I decided to apply the same principles to reverse harems. I’ll note in my super scientific study of the like five reverse harem animes I remember, the heroine either chooses no one or everyone (I guess not Hakuouki but that doesn’t count ’cause ****spoilers*****: everyone dies). A clear showing of sly intelligence because she knows the guys will never give up and they’ll be hers forever. The fans will never judge her that way and she’ll get love from all sides. A truly prudent decision. Empirical evidence that reverse harem heroines > harem heroes.

    (I’ll also note that this totally serious not joking at all study doesn’t take into account that the heroine might choose a hero in the original work – like in Ouran or Fruits Basket. Doesn’t matter. That version of the heroine is obviously dumber and thus the producers knew what they were doing when they didn’t include that part).

    • Excellent work, my co-assistant researcher! I was indeed rather curious about the state of reverse harems. I personally feel that reverse harem heroines lack personality to such a severe extent that they are able to cunningly avoid relationship commitment even more effectively than the average male Harem Protagonist. You can, in fact, be a slut and a virgin at the same time! Truly, the beacon of womanhood all girls should aspire to!

      • Thank you. It was worth the one Google search and looking at the plots of Amnesia just to get praised.

        Yes! It truly is something to aspire to! You, too, can constantly get abused by several vampires by keeping your personality cunningly subdued and having the correct amount of plot armour! However, I must admit that I believe the ‘lack of personality’ is a ploy. These girls think everything out 10 paces ahead so they don’t need to choose any one boy. They all belong to her, after all. She could also be creating a Survival of the Fittest Game. The one that gets her love shall be the last one standing! Never give in, boys! As she laughs from her throne…

  7. Dear Froggykun, are there animes with actual polygamous relationships?

    Excuse my ignorance, but I have yet to delve too deeply in that part of anime/manga. Rather than harem animes with horny teenage boys, shallow stereotypical girls and absurd amounts of fanservice, why not an anime where there is actual discussion and reflections between husband and wives?

    And I’m talking specifically husband/wives, not boyfriend/girlfriends. A focus on loving balanced relationships between two and more people. How they balance this out and how the man has to be fair and just. Also some fanservice and humor because too serious is boring.

    Maybe it’s because I live in a predominantly Muslim country but I feel that’d be pretty interesting compared to the formulaic plots of these harem animes. Because in Malaysia, people are far more interested in married life than boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. Note: I actually know one millionaire that has two wives and loves them very much. He has contributed so much for my father when he first started out and we are very much indebted to him. He’s a real nice guy. Also he’s Buddhist not Muslim and I personally know no Muslim man with two wives.

    On another note, do people realise how terrible actual harems are?! Seriously, the ‘Muslim’ (air quotes there) leaders of Istanbul kidnapped Christian women, blind and deaf them and lived in cages by the dozens. Chinese emperors had concubines that were treated like sex slaves (because they were). And don’t get me started on concubines. Harems are terrible terrible dehumanizing things!

    Harem animes are loltastic though.

    • Dear Froggykun, are there animes with actual polygamous relationships?

      School Days comes to mind. Have you seen it? Pretty messed up stuff.

      On another note, that’s a really interesting story about your culture and yeah, I think it would be a nice change to see stories about husbands and wives. We don’t get nearly enough of it in anime.

      Harem animes are loltastic though.

      You said it!

      • School Days. School Days. How people like that, I have no idea. Shock ending does not make a good anime.

        Yeah, boyfriend/girlfriend while expected and tolerated, are still limited to confines of cultural and religious expectations. Basically no doing the upside down tango until married. That being said, romance dramas and movies are booming like nuts here. An interesting contrast between conservative religious countries and the more secular ones.

        Funny enough, SAO pulls the husband/wife thing… kind of. In a way. The two are still bf/gf phase and I kind of wished they push the marriage part more than the dating part. They’re married as far as I’m concerned. At least that’s the impression I get from the LNs.

        Now speaking from a social standpoint, why is anime (and most of fiction) far more concerned with dating than marriage? Save for family sitcoms, marriage is like so underused. It’s like people have this fantasy expectations that being relationship is sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. Instead of what marital relationships really are, symbiotic ties where two (or more) people depend on one another. That is waaay more interesting than dating.

        And since I don’t have a Twitter, best I reply here. Even if you can’t finish NaNoWriMo, I’d still like to read. Don’t give up, man! I need to fill my comedy quota!

        • why is anime (and most of fiction) far more concerned with dating than marriage?

          My guess is that since anime is often aimed at younger audiences, so they don’t relate to stories about the difficulties of marriage.

          Secondly, stories that feel too “real” are often difficult to watch, so they’re not often mainstream successes even if they’re well-written. Escapism is the big draw of fiction, after all.

          Even if you can’t finish NaNoWriMo, I’d still like to read.

          Oh, gosh, you’re serious? Is your body even ready for that? I can tell you that I’ve written over 20k words so far and I wasn’t planning to continue, because in actual fact it stopped being funny and turned into a melodramatic soap opera.

          But if you’re that eager for some comedy, I’ll see what I can salvage by the end of the month :’3

      • Do you think that should be changed? Should anime be taken more seriously? And more importantly, should it take itself seriously?

        I’m no anime expert, video games are more of my forte. I can see that video game creators want to be as widely acknowledged and recognised as films and books. While video games are trying to be more ‘artistic’ and ‘mature’, could that be said about anime? I know there are in fact anime that can be considere mature and serious. It may not be mainstream but mainstream (almost always) created to pander to the lowest common denominator.

        I can’t say for a fact how the anime industry wants itself to be like. The last three anime I saw were Log Horizon, SnK and SAO. Very limited I know. But they never reached that, how do you say, focal artistic point that video games want to do. (See Journey and Spec Ops: The Line)

        Is anime going to be that one niche genre or is gonna be taken seriously by the masses?

        I’ve read worse pieces of literature, believe me. Bring. It. On.

        Also congrats on the 100th post. An impressive milestone for an anime blogger. May you continue to your 200th and provide your readers with quality food for thoughts.

    • Ah, if you wouldn’t mind an additional reply, I’ll try.

      “Dear Froggykun, are there animes with actual polygamous relationships?”
      There’s actually an article on tvtropes about polyamory and one called “Marry Them All” (you can probably just Google them). A surprising amount are based on technicalities, but it might be a start if your’e truly interested. (Oh, yeah, if we’re talking visual novels, I think Duel Savior’s final end in the eroge version was a harem… actually quite a few eroges have harem ends).

      “Now speaking from a social standpoint, why is anime (and most of fiction) far more concerned with dating than marriage?”
      Allow me to take a little bit a of a different stance here and say that this could also be shipping purposes. Sometimes we want to allow space for the characters to break up and get together with the character of our choice and the producers and directors want to encourage fanworks like that. When the producers have them married it’s about 10x harder (how many people seriously want NTR in their anime?) and if it’s an anime about marriage, there are no chances for other ships. If you don’t like the first ship you’re screwed. The difference between that and a shoujo manga that makes it obvious who the winning guy is is that I can easily break them up in my fanon and my fanfic and fanart (because it’s a chance for delicious angst) and you at least get moments where they could be The One to base your pairing off of. A shipper (who probably won’t like how for example White Album 2 is gonna go)’s opinion, I guess.

      • Ah! I forgot! There is a shoujo manga about a marriage, although I think they start from having no relationship. It’s called Hapi Mari, if you’re interested. The reviews look alright, although i haven’t read it myself so there’s no guarantee of quality here.

        • Ah, on the note of shojo about marriage, you’ve reminded me of something too. There’s Itazura na Kiss. Kind of a shojo staple, I think. (One of my first!)

          Like Hapi Mari (which I also haven’t read), the story begins with their pre-marriage courting and then covers their married life for over ten years, I think. Not that I think it addressed the issues of marriages very well. It was still very ~SHOJO SPARKLE KISS~ if I do say so myself.

      • Well those are eroges. I take the believability of those type of stories with a (very small) pinch of salt.

        I can see the logic behind that. Shipping is srs bisnes after all. Also fanart keeps things alive way after a series/manga/ect ends. You know the difference between Japan and the West when it comes to these things? There’s only one guy and many LIs in anime while the West have many of both genders. Sitcoms like How I Meet Your Mother is a good example. There’s only stable couple, the rest fall in love with each other or with others outside the cast.

        Yet! I notice that the shipping with a specific familiar cast is far more frequent than those outside of the cast. It’s why the Naruto franchise have ships left and right while shipping in sitcoms are far far less frequent.

        Here’s one question that boggles me as a gamer. Why are dating sims so prevalent in Japan while not so in the West. Scratch that, the West do have dating sims (Katawa Shojou) but most ‘dating’ sims are like those in RPGs. The romance is completely optional and is secondary to the plot while this is the entire opposite when it comes to visual novels.

        • Why are dating sims so prevalent in Japan while not so in the West.

          I think this comes down to Japan having a very different gaming culture than the West. Our culture is very macho and we tend to prefer hyperviolent games that are quick to get to the action. Western gamers just don’t seem to have the patience to sit through a visual novel. Male-targeted romance isn’t really a common genre in our romance market – romance is often equated to chick flicks and is regarded for sissies.

          Another thing is that in Japan, the gaming industry is so closely tied with the anime and manga industry that getting into Japanese games seems to require an interest or at least an appreciation of anime subculture. The games are less interactive in the traditional sense, much less emphasis on multiplayer too. So unless you dig into the whole otaku consumerist culture, you just won’t get the interactive appeal.

          It’s too difficult for game distributors to transfer a whole culture from one country to another, so the appeal of visual novels over here will always be a niche market.

  8. Congrats on your 100th post!

    I feel obligated to point out that in Campione! the protagonist gets all the girls. It’s acknowledged by the harem and they instead have a waifu ranking system.(couldn’t make this shit up if I tried) 1st wife 2nd wife etc…

    In all seriousness, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some connection between the doujin market and harem stories. I’ve read the some of the authors are friends with the big name artists and such, but everything I’ve heard is entirely hearsay. I doubt it has anything to do with which girl gets picked and more ambiguity = everyone wins. In older harem stories they would often end with the protagonist picking a heroine. In the newer ones I feel like they would much rather just leave it all open and let the viewer come to their own conclusion. I don’t make it to the end of enough harem stories to have a solid opinion on that though…

    • Ooooh man, I know about Campione! having sat through the entirety of that dreck myself. I counted Erica as the Main Heroine seeing as she is the 1st waifu and all. If you’re curious, there are plenty of other ambiguous cases where I picked a Main Heroine simply on the basis of the girl being the main character and not on her romantic viability in-story. i.e. Nagi for Hayate and Elsie for TWGOK.

      As for the changing landscape of harem stories… my understanding is that older harems were usually based off games, so even if the anime writers picked a definitive ending, it wouldn’t upset the fans. Harems these days are often based off LNs or some other media, though, so naturally the stories are more open-ended to keep the shipping alive.

      • I actually kind of enjoyed Campione! >_> Maybe because I actually read a few of the LNs… I have a crush on mythology that let me enjoy something that probably wasn’t very good, what can I say.

        I think a lot of the older harem anime that come to mind for me are actually manga. Tenchi Muyo! is where it all started in anime right?(not that I’ve actually seen it) But also Aoi Yori Aoshi and Love Hina come to mind when I think of early driving factors in harem anime. I’m not sure what sales or popularity for any of these really looked like in Japan though.

        It’s interesting to note that most of the VN adaptations I’ve followed have avoided being ambiguous.(and it often have upset fans) A lot of time those VNs do have a character on the title and she will get the attention in the anime. Walure Romanze seems to be going that route for one, and Little Busters will as well. Even Yosuga No Sora, which I see on your list, isn’t ambiguous, it’s just resets the story 4 times and tells 4 different stories… 5 if you count the bonus stuff with the older maid… I haven’t actually watched say To Heart or list of shows it inspired though… I’ve tried, but they honestly bore me to tears.

        As much as I like reading VNs, LNs make much better anime in my opinion. It’s just a more natural transition I think. What it might really come down to might just be that there is a pretty big rift between what a VN adaptation is and what an LN adaptation is.

  9. Nice research and I mostly agree with your conclusion. Yet I think the reverse is even more truthful: Harem women have absolute terrible taste in men! Why do they all go after a spineless bland weakling of a protagonist when there are far better men in the world (aside from that it’s a plot device)?!
    Maybe a topic for a follow-up research?

    • That is often true, but it makes the exceptions all the more entertaining! The World God Only Knows (Kami Nomi ), all those girls have genuine reasons to like our lead. Their lives are improved because of him, and the boy is no loser-idiot like so god damn many animes. Our capturing god always wins, even if he has to suffer through a few pratfalls along the way. . . and is not personally interested in any of them.

    • Ah, no, I did different deeply scientific research. The female in me gives this resounding answer to your question, though: “Sometimes they’re hot.” (Fun fact: that’s the first thing I look for in my harem anime because then I can understand some of the attraction).

      Besides that, I’m lead to believe there ARE no better men in their world. It’s a conspiracy so the girls have no one else to turn to. Think about it. What decent men have you seen in these series? I’m not giving you ‘the perverted best friend’, okay?

      Of course, this is leaving aside series with harems with genuinely likeable protagonists (the visual novel series Grisaia, for one, or White Album 2’s isn’t bad if you want an anime one, and Majikoi’s is smart and pretty good looking, if you wanted one off the list…).

      • Crap, I misinterpreted Sylpher’s question. Good thing you were still qualified to answer the question, Lambda!

        I will also have to agree that sometimes I find harem lead characters to be physically attractive, sometimes more so than bishonen. I can’t really put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because some bishonen look too girly. Anyway, it’s the personality that counts, right? RIGHT?!

  10. Brilliant post, I love it! And congrats on your 100th post (:
    Believe it or not but I’m actually a fan of the harem genre, although I do have to agree with Sylpher that these girls have terrible taste in men. Even the best and “good” harem animes have weak protagonists. Also I was kinda sad to see that there was not a single yandere or dandere main heroine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s