Being an anime fan, even a new recruit, means being very aware of the vast number of harem shows out there. And I don’t mean just the all girl ones, but also the reverse kind found in many shoujo shows. But something that I’ve come to wonder as these kinds of shows have become more popular across the Pacific is whether or not the stereotypes they often contain effect the mindset of their viewers.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I’ve very aware that these shows are for entertainment purposes and little more. Many don’t even attempt having any deeper meaning. However, when you surround yourself with one thing, it will effect you over time. Surround yourself with people who talk slowly and eventually your own speech pattern will become sluggish. So what happens when people are constantly surrounded by shows with overly submissive females or ever attentive males? Thankfully, not too much here in America as many fans tend to mix and match the shows they watch. But the occasional oddball news report from Japan or China about men “marrying” their virtual gaming crushes makes it clear that it’s not quite so harmless as one might like to believe.
But putting extreme cases aside, what bad side effects could harem shows possibly have? After all, stereotypes occur in nearly every genre, right? Well, yes. But there are a few shows that have a heavy concentration of these oversimplified characters and harem shows are the top offenders. And like all oversimplifications in media, they can teach audience members to expect some very unrealistic relationship elements. Women are not always demure. Nor are they always looking out for everyone but themselves. We’re human and, though we may try to be as loving as kind as possible, we have faults. As for men, they are not nearly as responsive to a girl’s emotions and moods as many shoujo titles would have one believe. In a way, these oversimplified models of the ideal partner are quite demeaning really. They boil men and women down to mere shadows of themselves, reflecting only one or two elements of a personality.
Even so, at the end of the day, a show is just entertainment and really shouldn’t be taken as anything near real life. Human beings are complex, not simplified. So long as one remembers that, they should be just fine. Oh and going outside and talking to real people helps out too.
Well, usually…. ;)