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Top 10 Best Harem Anime of All Time

These are the ten best must-see anime titles for anyone who enjoys romantic comedy harem stories.

One of the most defining genres of manga and anime is the harem romantic comedy. This list covers the top 10 best harem anime that started the genre and evolved it. Get ready for a wide selection of anime from the 80s to the 2000s that are sure to satisfy any fan of romantic comedies.

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The central concept behind a harem anime centers on a male lead who finds himself in a situation where multiple females are vying for his affection. These girls want to be his girlfriend, marry him, or just complicate his life in general. Because of these aspects, harem anime is full of quirky characters, comedic situations, and drama.

Hayate the Combat Butler

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Image Source: Crunchyroll

Hayate the Combat Butler is a comedic anime that makes numerous references to plenty of other popular anime and Japanese television shows. The plot itself is straightforward; Hayate the main character is a normal, hard-working teenager who finds out he’s forced to inherit his parents’ financial debt to the yakuza.

He tries to kidnap and ransom a rich teenage girl named Nagi to get a bunch of money ASAP. During his scheme, Hayate accidentally ends up saving her from the yakuza. To repay him, Nagi hires him to be her personal butler. If you’re someone that has viewed an extensive amount of anime over the years, you’ll appreciate the silliness (and borderline parody) that this story brings to the screen. 

Nisekoi

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Image Source: Hulu

Released in 2014, Nisekoi is a harem anime that chooses not to push the genre into needless fan service or extremely ridiculous territories. Instead, it recreates the basis of what makes a harem anime in its simplest and purest form.

This anime does play on the Yakuza concept by having the two main characters, Raku Ichijo and Chitoge Kirisake come from two different crime families. When they meet, they’re forced to fake a romantic relationship and their story takes off from there.

All of the cliches and tropes you’d expect are here, and many things are predictable. From childhood promises to stereotypical character personalities, there’s nothing that’s left out. This might seem negative, but it’s the best reason to watch this anime. If you’re in the mood for a straight harem anime that’s purely focused on the characters and a love story, you’ll find this anime charming and easy to enjoy.

Ai Yori Aoshi

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Image Source: Tubi

Ai Yori Aoshi is another harem anime that emerged at the beginning of the 2000s. Instead of convoluting the story with multiple sub-genres or fantastical plot elements, it focuses on the sweet aspects of romantic love and the dramatic developments of the seemingly generic characters.

The male lead is a college student named Kaoru who meets a girl named Aoi at the Tokyo Station, and they realize they’re childhood sweethearts. Kaoru moves into a house with several girls who begin to like him, and he has to keep the secret that Aoi has confessed her desire to marry him. This setup leads to plenty of silly moments, but things stay mostly reserved, even with a small amount of fan service.

Ai Yori Aoshi is the perfect formula for anyone who wants to watch a light-hearted anime that goes straight to the core of romantic love. It’s the type of story that lets you relish in how these young adults navigate through their college romance.

Kimagure Orange Road

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Image Source: Crunchyroll

Kimagure Orange Road is another series that emerged from the golden era of anime between the 80s and 90s. Belonging to the first generation harem stories, this show captures the spirit of its era with a touch of fantasy. The anime adaptation is good in its own right but has been changed significantly from the original manga. The anime narrows in on the love story between the two main characters, while the manga has more female characters that lead to a harem situation with a couple of male rivals.

The anime focuses on Kasuga Kyosuke, a young teen in a new city. He quickly meets a young girl named Ayukawa Madoka and decides to fall instantly in love with her. However, she doesn’t clearly return the same feelings, and soon another young girl, Hiyama Hikaru witnesses Kyosuke perform a near-superhuman basketball shot and falls in love with him.

Kyosuke comes from a family of Espers who have various powers of the mind. This series turns into a slice-of-life anime that shows various comedic and romantic situations between Kyosuke and the girls. For most of the series, he remains indecisive as he flip-flops between both girls until he’s forced to decision on the movie.

This anime brings a coming-of-age story about teen life that appears to be influenced by both Japanese and American culture. It’s the perfect series for nostalgia and creates a whimsical romantic comedy in a style that only anime can provide.

Martian Successor Nadesico

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Image Source: Crunchyroll via Twinfinite

In the series Martian Successor Nadesico, a crew on the spaceship Nadesico travels the galaxy to defeat an alien race known as the Jovian Lizards. These aliens want to eradicate humanity from the universe. This anime is one of the first on combine romantic comedy and harem elements with outer-space, sci-fi, and mecha.

The story’s protagonist Akito finds himself on the Nadesico and is a childhood sweetheart of the female captain Yurika. Akito is forced to become the Aestivalis robot’s pilot, joining their cause. Soon, Akito finds himself the victim of Yurika’s romantic advances and also of almost every other female member on the spaceship.

One of the best reasons to watch this anime is the fact that it develops every supporting character. Nadesico doesn’t rely on the perverted fan service that the majority of modern harem anime has transformed into, even though its plot is ripe for it. Instead, you’re granted a classic perspective on harem with a sci-fi mecha twist.

Ah! Megami-sama! / Oh! My Goddess!

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Image Source: Funimation via Twinfinite

Ah! Megami-sama! went from one of the best-selling manga of all time to an OVA, and eventually a television series. Keiichi is a college sophomore and a lonely guy who one day dials a wrong number and reaches a supernatural agency hotline.

A beautiful woman named Belldandy shows up and says he gets to make one wish, but Keiichi believes it’s a prank, so he wishes for the most outlandish thing; to have Belldandy be with him forever. The next thing he knows, his wish actually comes true.

Although this is not a pure harem with multiple women who want to be with Keiichi, it’s a love story that does challenge Keiichi when Belldandy’s sisters arrive. He still must cope with having three females living with him that complicate his relationship with Belldandy, with whom he truly wants to be with.

The overarching plot has a powerful and climactic ending that’s sure to leave audiences astounded. Combined with gorgeous art and a sweet story, this is a must-watch anime.

Marmalade Boy

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Image Source: Crunchyroll via Twinfinite

If there were such a thing as a soap opera anime, Marmalade Boy would define it. The premise has the main character, Mishi Koishikawa, a high school girl, finding herself moving into a new home after her parents switch spouses with another couple. In her new home, the other couple has a son, Yuu, who is also a teenager. Mishi and Yuu begin a romantic relationship that brings multiple exes back into the picture.

The main strength of this series is the endless emotional twists and turns that sometimes seem unbelievable. However, these young characters are still maturing and acting out based on their emotions. Many of them are going through their first loves, which is why they act irrationally often. Marmalade Boy is hard to beat for anyone who wants to see an unpredictable romantic drama.

Love Hina

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Image Source: Crunchyroll via Twinfinite

Love Hina is the perfect blend of a story that would work well in both anime and live-action forms. The world and characters are pretty standard, and the plot revolves around a high schooler named Keitaro making a childhood promise to his crush that he’d get into Tokyo University so he could see her again.

However, there are two problems. Keitaro doesn’t remember the girl’s name, and he’s already failed the Tokyo University entrance exam twice. His parents stop supporting him since they don’t think he’ll ever get into that school. To make ends meet, he moves in with his grandma in her Hinata house.

Keitaro discovers his grandma’s place been converted into an all-girl dormitory. Keitaro meets a girl his age named Naru, who is also studying to get into Tokyo University and scored the highest on the practice entry exams.

Soon, Keitaro has Naru agree to help him study, and he also ends up reading a part of her diary that leads him to believe she might be the girl from his childhood promise. As he tries to pursue her, the other girls at the dormitory complicate matters in many different ways.

This anime is full of the ridiculous humor and fan service (without taking it too far) that anime is known for, along with many of the tropes that also define romantic comedy anime. If you enjoy this style, Love Hina will be among your favorite series after you finish it.

Tenchi Muyo!

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Image Source: Crunchyroll via Twinfinite

Perhaps the most well-known harem anime, many newer anime fans think that Tenchi Muyo is the first harem anime. Even though it isn’t, it certainly did help bring more mainstream awareness to the genre. The original series is the best by far and has evolved with spin-offs.

The main character, high school student Tenchi, lives and works at his grandfather’s shrine and soon finds himself involved with women from supernatural and intergalactic origins. The significant part about the Tenchi anime is how the two main women interested in Tenchi have equally viable reasons to be with him due to their unique stories.

The way their stories are handled will have you guessing who Tenchi might end up with. It’s also a rare treat to experience a harem anime that blends sci-fi and Japanese pseudo-horror elements. With all these things in play, the series brings a fantastic world to explore and a cast of characters that reveal unique background stories. It all adds up to an unforgettable anime.

Ranma 1/2

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Image Source: VUDU via Twinfinite

As the first ever true harem anime, Ranma 1/2 set a precedent for the romantic comedy genre and added a martial arts action twist. Created by Rumiko Takahashi, Ranma Saotome is a teenage Japanese boy training to be the best martial artist with help from his father Genma.

Without Ranma’s knowledge, Genma secretly made a deal with an old friend Soun, resulting in an arranged marriage between Ranma and Soun’s daughter, Akane Tendo, which will have them both inherit the Tendo Dojo.

Right before that’s revealed, Ranma trains with his father at an ancient Chinese site and falls into a cursed spring. This causes Ranma to turn into a girl anytime he’s splashed with cold water and turn back into a boy when he’s splashed with boiling water. This complicates things to the nth degree. Clearly, this anime was ahead of its time for many reasons.

What makes Ranma 1/2 standout is the colorful cast of characters, possibly the most diverse of any anime ever. There’s a sheer number of female characters that vie for Ranma’s affections that might still be unmatched by any other harem anime. Nearly every single female character is committed to marrying Ranma for various entertaining reasons or are complicating his romantic life. As a result, this creates a host of male rivals that want to defeat Ranma and win the girls’ hearts instead.

All of the characters have a detailed backstory with prominent personalities. The central relationship between Ranma and Akane plays out beautifully in its own tense way with plenty of humorous and heartfelt moments. With multiple seasons, OVAs, and movies, there are more than enough fun adventures and martial arts duels to entertain everyone. Ranma 1/2 is a historic anime that every anime fan needs to watch.

Harem anime is being produced more than before, and the genre has evolved into different styles. If you enjoy harem romantic comedies, then you owe it to yourself to get a better understanding and appreciation of the pioneers of the genre. Watch all of these anime and let us know which ones are your favorites. If you’re up for some of the best romantic anime you can also check out that list.


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Author
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Dennis Limmer
Dennis is a freelance writer for Twinfinite covering all things video games and anime since August 2023. A storyteller and artist who enjoys partaking in the art created by others and promoting culture.