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A Decade of Reverse Harem

Reverse Harem Garden actually turned ten last September. Sorry, for the late post. But be warned, to compensate for the late post this ...

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Decade of Reverse Harem

Reverse Harem Garden actually turned ten last September. Sorry, for the late post. But be warned, to compensate for the late post this is going to be a very lengthy one.

You may be familiar with this already. For the longest time, I kept on looking for animes similar to my all-time favorite, Fushigi Yugi. I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. But then I chanced upon Ouran High School Host Club and I had a lightbulb moment like the Ouran boys when I heard Kirimi uttered two words that will later become my passion for the next ten years. It also opened up my world to mangas, Asian dramas, novels and otome games as chronicled here in Reverse Harem Garden.

Let's look back at all the trends and notable events that happened in the past ten years. In 2007, we only have a handful of animes and dramas. And I was only discovering reverse harem mangas. I always try to look for leads to add to my to watchlist and readlist, but now we're at the point where it's so many that I don't know where to start!  

Over the years, the successful franchises are Fushigi Yugi, Hana Yori Dango, Hana Kimi, Ooku, Angelique, Diabolik Lovers, Uta Prince no Sama, Hakuouki and more. They had anime/manga/ otome/ stageplay/ movie spinoffs after spinoffs.

But hands down, anime adaptations of otome games outdo mangas even though there is certainly no lack of resource material. And more recently too, more and more smartphones games are either being animated or being launched first as animes like Bonjour Koiaji Patisseire, Dame x Prince etc.

But in Asian dramas, mangas dominates the adaptations. No otome game has been adapted into live action...yet. (But Click Your Heart is said to be like an otome). In Korea, the flower boys are in full bloom especially after Boys Over Flowers with You're Beautiful, Sungkyunkwan Scandal and TVN's Oh Boy series. And for some weird reason Boys Over Flowers, started a (non-reverse harem) parody trend in Korea of Grandpas Over Flowers, Noonas Over Flowers etc.

In dramas too, the trend is remakes from other countries. Hana Yori Dango had Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino (upcoming) and some ripoffs like Chinese and American adaptations. Hana Kimi had two Japanese versions, Taiwanese and Korean spinoffs. But it's not only Japanese mangas who enjoyed this status of success. The Korean You're Beautiful drama also had Japanese counterpart, Ikemen Desu Ne, and Taiwanese, Fabulous Boys.

In the recent years too, the buzzword is multimedia and/or collaborations. Titles that spawned anime, game, manga, stageplay, cd dramas, and other events. It can be collaborations too with different media companies. Like Dance with Devils, Idolish 7, Ensemble Stars and more. Even in dramas, we get collaborations between countries like Gogh, The Starry Night, Dream Knight and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo.

At one point, there were Korean boy bands getting a reverse harem and pseudo reverse harem web dramas like Dream Knight, To Be Continued, Click Your Heart and Exo Next Door.

We had gains and losses too. Some otome games get the bishonen anime sans the heroines like Meine Liebe, Sengoku Paradise Kiwami, Marginal Prince, Dynamic Chord, Ozmafia, and Yume 100. But we have gains too. Some non-reverse harem titles became otome game like in the case of Osomatsu Brothers, Vampire Knight, Fushigi Yugi Genbu Kaiden and Cute High Earth Defense Club Love! There was also a reversal of harem set up like The Selection novel series with The Heir and The Crown, Sakura Wars with Sakura Kanadegumi and games like Pia Carrot with Pri Pia ~Prince Pia Carrot~  and Girl Friend Beta with Boy Friend Beta. And surprise, surprise even X-Men also gets a comic reverse harem treatment with X-Men Misfits. But the most popular reverse harem moment in popular culture is the reverse of Naruto's harem jutsu to the villain of all villains, Kaguya.

Another trend is "classic" mangas getting prequels and sequels which are not necessarily reverse harem. Fushigi Yugi with Genbu Kaiden and Byakko prequels. For sequels, we had Fruits Basket Another, Hana Yori Dango: Hana Nochi Hare ~HanaDan Next Season and Ashita no Nadja: 16-sai no Tabidachi.

There were instances too that I accidentally started a wrong title like in the case of Penguin Brothers thinking it was Penguin Revolution. And I locked on Scarlet Heart Ryeo the first time I read news about it, thinking it was Jade Palace Lock Heart. But all's well that ends well as they were also both reverse harem. What are the chances?

There were some problematic adaptations too. The American Boys Before Friends and the localization of Taisho Alice.  We also have some intriguing news about live action adaptations of Red River, Saiunkoku Monogatari, and Fruits Basket. 

For English novels or novels set in Western setting, I think the very first intentional reverse harem was The Ghost Bird Series which started in 2012. And in the last two years, reverse harem novels and serials especially in ebook format rose and gained cult following. The authors even banded together and released a collection of short stories, Falling For Them. But prior to this golden age, I resorted to labeling YA novels as reverse harem like To All The Boys Who Loved Before and The Boyfriend List. 

If in novels, the first is The Ghost Bird, in otome games the generally acknowledged is Angelique. In mangas and animes, it's Fushigi Yugi and Hana Yori Dango. But afterward, I found out Hanasakeru Seishnounen manga predates the two.

Stage adaptations are nothing new but in recent years a lot of reverse harem titles have jumped on the bandwagon that it needs no example. Just think of a popular reverse harem. You name it and most likely it has already been adapted. And as I was writing this I realized that this is the only format that I have not seen. So I must write this as bucket list: Watch a reverse harem play! Or too ambitious?  Maybe watch revere harem movie or eat at reverse harem themed collaboration in a cafe. Ohhhh I hope the Otomate building is done by then! 

And speaking of the planned Otomate building, in industry news, Quinrose shut down. Quinrose's most popular title is Heart no Kuni no Alice. Voltage (otome app) created anime and IP division and Brocolli (Uta Pri and Kamigami no Asobi) sales went down 70% during first half of last year.

And in other industry news, localization of otome games are increasing in North America and if I'm not mistaken starting with Hakuouki. In Japan, there are many games being ported to PS Vita. But I read an otome blogger forecasting that in the future all will be mobage (mobile games). If you scroll in your app store there are indeed many titles including titles originally from consoles. Even Square Enix and Sega have jumped in too with Kimi to Kiri no Labyrinth for the former and an idol-raising app for the latter. Special mention to breakout Korean otome mobage, Mystic Messenger.

Reverse harem became a tool too for marketing like Lotte Chewing Gum for Gum Kare and Lotte Duty Free for 7 First Kisses, where 7 of the HOTTEST guys in Korea starred in one show. 

I was able to attend reverse harem events too like Jenny Han's (of TATBIB), E. Lockheart (The Boyfriend List) and Ruroni Kenshin to see Emi Takei (of Asuko March). I missed Kiera Cass (The Selection) because I was pregnant at that time.

Life imitates arts when co-stars from reverse harem dramas became couples in real life: Mao Inoue and Jun Matsumoto of Hana Yori Dango (They never confirmed), Sakai Masato and Kanno Miho of Ooku, Fujigaya Taisuke and Takimoto Miori of Ikemen Desu Ne, Maki Horikita and Yamamoto Koji of Atashinchi no Danshi and Kiritani Mirei and Miura Shohei of Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto. And I only realized now that they are all from jdramas! But wait, I found out recently too Zheng Shuang and Zhang Han of Meteor Shower dated too for a while after their drama.

But sadly, we lost people too. Masaaki Tsukada who voiced the Chairman of Yumeiro Patissiere, Jang Ja-Yeon of Boys Over Flowers, Anton Yelchin of Memoirs of Teenage Amnesiac and more recently, Jeon Gi Sang who directed Boys Over Flowers and To The Beautiful You.

This is the first time I read all my blog posts. I cringed at my previous reviews, posts, grammatical errors and missing pictures from Imageshack. Sorry, no time to edit yet. But it's a good thing since it has given me a new perspective on the direction I want to take and prioritize. I only wished I did the yearly review since then.  When I first started reverse harem it was not clear as a genre then but now reverse harem is spreading out in all directions and I don't think it will ever stop, but it will continue to grow and evolve. I'm excited to where the next decade will take us.

There are times I get in a slump and I  get afraid that my tastes may be changing as I get older. But then I get to read something beautiful or even downright silly and I know I'll never stop loving reverse harem.

It's not complete to discuss reverse harem without discussing the tropes within the trope but I believe it deserves its own post. And I also don't want to post top 10 reverse harem as it is truly hard to narrow it down at the moment but I did make an attempt before. But instead, let's take a look at the most popular posts for the last 10 years.

7. Crash! -4484


  1. That was an amazing post!! Thank you for your hard work and happy 10 years!!

  2. I can't believe it's been 10 years for this site! I've been around probably since 2011 and found your site useful for discovering reverse harem anime. Had your site bookmarked since then and even now. Keep up the good work and thanks for all this!

  3. Thank you for the 10 years! Time flew by so fast! Honestly, can't remember when I first visited your site but you were always my go to when I needed RH fix. Thank you! Looking forward to many more years!

  4. wow happy 10 years to you as well ^_^


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