Harem manga — the genre in which a helpless young man is surrounded by hot, hot girls who keep getting naked and climbing in bed with him, despite his strong wishes that they not do so — is totally passé, according to manga-ka Ken Akamatsu, who created two of the most popular examples, Love Hina and Negima. Over at Robot 6, Brigid Alverson examines this Akamatsu blog post translation which gives the reasons for the declines of harem manga and moe:
Certainly, the moe boom is finished, and from last year on I think we’re seeing the following phenomena:
1. Male protagonists are absent
Many anime are now nothing but girls, and the role of the “male character being excited by female characters for viewers to empathise with” has disappeared.
2. Male buying power has reduced
Now women buyers of both anime and manga are predominant. Oricon comic rankings show most of the top titles are women-oriented.
3. Male viewers can now empathise with female characters
The number of male fans who simply don’t view female characters as objects of sexual desire at all is increasing, even in titles like “K-ON!”. No more are they just thinking “I want to be part of that circle,” now they are getting into the characters themselves.
In the comments at Alverson’s post, WebComic Overlook’s El Santo comments:
As a fan of this stuff since Tenchi Muyo and especially as a big fan Love Hina, I’d say that Ken Akamatsu is right. It may not be for the reasons he’s listing, though. I’d say that part of it has been the steady degeneration of the male lead from a normal everyday guy with a heart of gold into a creepy little weirdo with few redeemable attributes beyond, “Hey, he’s an ugly nerd like us!”
Like Brigid, we can’t imagine the concept of a male viewer surrogate surrounded by wiling and able women suddenly going away completely. But it is a reminder, that when female shopping patterns begin to dominate any industry, for some people, it’s just no fun any more.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.