In a moment of forgetfulness I looked for SFW pics in Sagubooru under the harem tag…
I don’t watch harem shows. I think the reason should be obvious to anyone who doesn’t like fanservice and/or strongly stereotypical characters. Most harem shows are simpy badly produced (e.g. Futakoi), and together with the shallow, stereotyped characters and yawn inducing ‘comedy’, I find no reason to waste my time with any shows that bear the harem badge.
So what about ‘KeyAni’, as Kurogane put it?
I see nothing wrong with KeyAni because, to my mind, Kanon is not a harem show. It might have some of the features of a harem – lone male protagonist surrounded by sultry female, say – but when I watched Kanon it doesn’t feel like a harem show. It might have an H-game origin like many other harem shows, but it doesn’t place any emphasis on pleasing the fan through putting the characters in compromising and embarassing situations. Additionally, Yuuichi doesn’t have a harem – technically speaking, he moves from one character to the next, almost always interacting with only a single ‘harem member’, instead of having them all surround him at the same time like in a typical harem show.
What this does is take away one major component of a harem series – the jealous/embarassing interaction between the harem members. Take Love Hina for example – if you never see Naru and Shinobu on screen at the same time, you’ll never have Shinobu stumbling onto Keitaro and Naru accidentally doing something pervy, resulting in Shinobu running away crying and Keitaro blasting off again. This is pretty much the only scenario for any sort of humour in Love Hina – any change comes from replacing Naru and Shinobu with any other members of Keitaro’s harem, and changing the accidentally embarassing/pervy situations Keitaro gets into.
And that’s the thing about Kanon by KyoAni, or maybe just Kanon itself – it ISN’T a harem show. I haven’t watched the original Kanon or AIR, but from what I’ve read about them I get the feeling that they aren’t harem shows either. A more fitting genre for them would be drama/romance, and surely a good drama/romance series will need the directorial prowess of KyoAni, and the beautiful production will only aid in the enjoyment of a beautiful story. No matter how strong the original material is, if you don’t have a good director leading the production an anime will only ever be mediocre. Compare GONZO Full Metal Panic to KyoAni Full Metal Panic and the difference (apart from the production value) should be apparent.
And as Jeff Lawson so succintly notes , Kanon is more like a bunch of short stories glued together anyway. In the game each storyline takes place as if in some parallel universes, and it only seems like a harem in the anime because of production constraints requiring continuity. Anyone who says ‘It’s a harem because he’s got seven girls trying to get him to jammu it in needs to reconsider their argument. Only AyuNayu’s stories are related and each arc can easily be taken and appreciated on its own (like in the Kanon novels).
(That’s the one fault I find in Kanon 2006 – with the exception of Nayu and Ayu, every other girl very conviniently disappears when the time comes for the next girl to take the spotlight, but I don’t count it very strongly against the show since I can’t think of any other way to do it.)
Harem shows like Magikano, on the other hand, can get no budget and be made by twenty naked Chinese teenagers chained to lightboxes in a basement in Seoul for all I care.