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Harem anime's target audiences are mainly males while reverse harem anime's target audiences are mainly females. So, it makes sense for the producers to make as many reverse harem anime as harem anime, since the number of females roughly equals that of males. However, there are a lot more harem anime than reverse harem anime.

I know that some females also enjoy some harem anime, like Detective Conan and Inuyasha, just to name a few. Yet this kind of harem anime attracting females are rare, so this can't be the main reason for that phenomenon.

Besides, it's said that in Japan, many females are housewives, which allows them more time to watch anime, and that males often need to work day and night. That said, it seems that there should be more reverse harem anime than harem anime; in fact, the reverse is true.

The above being said, it's natural for one to wonder:

Why are there more harem anime than reverse harem anime?

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    "Harem anime, like Detective Conan", huh, what???
    – Aki Tanaka
    Oct 24, 2022 at 2:51
  • @AkiTanaka Members of Shinichi/Conan's harem: Haibara Ai, Mouri Ran, Yoshida Ayumi and other girls/women that get to know him in the cases.
    – Michael
    Oct 24, 2022 at 2:58
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    Reverse harems are a subgenre of shoujo that doesn't seem to be that popular. Anime are mostly adapting manga and they cannot adapt what doesn't exist. Then there's the thing where women will happily watch shounen anime like One Piece, but the reverse is not true.
    – Ocean
    Oct 29, 2022 at 13:40

3 Answers 3

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You are missing the fact that the market for shonen/shoujo comic are very unsymmetric. That is, there are much fewer girls who read comics in the first place, accordingly fewer female anime consumers.

Just to give an idea, in the list ordered by the number of copies sold, the most selling shojo comic Hana yori Dango is ranked the 33rd. Also this is a similar list exclusively shojo. You can see how smaller the shojo comic market is.


From this questionnaire, below suggests that the difference is less drastic than comic sales, but female anime watchers are consistently less.

Do you watch anime often? The manually underlined columns are for women.

watch anime?

Do you like anime movies better than those with human actors? (The pink-ish bar indicates human actor movie; the blue for aime)

like anime better?

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    Curious about the stats for TL (Teens' love) works which sometimes is about reverse harem though, compared to shoujo. But I guess they are much lower...
    – Aki Tanaka
    Oct 24, 2022 at 5:55
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    @AkiTanaka I don't think anything is practically comparable to shonen. By googling a bit, this says the best selling comic magazine for women 20Q3 was BE LOVE (maybe not TL, but anyway) and the sales was 52K copies. Shonen Jump sold 1.5 million copies (source) in the same period.
    – sundowner
    Oct 24, 2022 at 6:08
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    Then why are there much fewer girls who read comics? Is it because they were not originally the targets of the industry?
    – Michael
    Oct 25, 2022 at 3:18
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    @Michael I think basically yes. One thing may be that in early days comics were considered to be inappropriate for girls.
    – sundowner
    Oct 25, 2022 at 8:18
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    Why was it considered to be inappropriate for girls?
    – Michael
    Oct 25, 2022 at 10:06
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As @Ocean aptly said that Reverse harem as a subgenre of shoujo doesn't seem to be that popular and that women does watch shounen anime but the vice versa is not true. Because of this viewership difference, it is much more difficult for the industry to make profit out of them. @sundowner provided some statistics on Japan viewership and this is more or less similar when extended globally.

A 2020 survey conducted in the United States found that anime movies were generally more popular among men than women, with 13 percent of male respondents reporting that they found anime to be very favorable, compared to nine percent of women who said the same. Women were also less likely to have heard of anime in general or to have any particular opinion on the genre.

enter image description here

If we consider country wise, this skew towards male viewership is far more pronounced in English-speaking markets like the US, the UK, and Australia. Only some markets like Vietnam, Russia, and France see female majorities and in countries like Korea, China and India, the statistics is even.

enter image description here

References

  1. Frequency of watching anime among high school students in Japan in 2021, by gender (According to a survey conducted in Japan in from October to November 2021, 57 percent of male high school students watch anime at least once per week or more, compared to 50 percent of female high school students. The share of respondents who stated not to watch anime at all was slightly higher among girls than among boys)
  2. Attitudes to anime movies among adults the United States as of January 2020, by gender
  3. https://project-anime.org/tag/demographics/
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tldr;

Q: Why are there more animes focused on harem in comparison to reverse harem?

A: Because of how much difficult it would be for the industry to profit from making reverse harems.


I like how @sundower answers the question with numbers that bring light to the comparatively low number of female anime consumers (and even lower number of female anime consumers that watch reverse harems). Profit companies must try to cater to the bigger audience groups, and anime studios are also companies.

That said, I would like to try to provide some of the reasons behind the numbers with the following two points:

Response to visual stimuli

(...) men still had higher ratings than women even for women-selected films. Together, these data demonstrated that men responded more to visual sexual stimuli than did women, and this sex differences was strengthened if the stimuli were chosen by a male. [1]

This shows two sides of the same coin:

  1. Male interest is an easier target to capture through visual media (harems).
  2. Female audience will be harder to please with visuals.

Culture focused in catering to male audience

Culture is another factor that contributes to the situation. This wikipedia entry shows a fairly complete list of harems and reverse harems in existence; 272 vs 35 as of 11/2022. This implies that anime studio employees and directors are at least 7 times more familiar, experienced and confident making and selling harem content than doing it with its counterpart. Going against a deep-rooted culture is hard.

Given this culture (or inertia) mostly pushes towards the creation of more harem animes, there is less interest, talent and funding for making reverse harems.



[1](https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739403) Rupp HA, Wallen K. Sex differences in response to visual sexual stimuli: a review. doi: 10.1007/s10508-007-9217-9. Epub 2007 Aug 1. PMID: 17668311; PMCID: PMC2739403.

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