…spinal cord naturally. But if you’re anything like the stereotypical harem lead/ otaku, you’ll be classified as an invertebrate. A staple diet of rom(antic)-com(edy) anime series in the late 90’s and early 00’s (I wonder how historians define that era…) would affirm with the casual viewer that spineless lead=instant harem.
Quick analysis of “spineless” anime leads
Why is this particular mindset popular with anime viewers, in particular, the otaku? As with all forms of entertainment, anime provides the viewer with an alternate reality. After all, if your real life isn’t moving along as expected, what better way than to indulge in the lives of others. (Thus, the bane of reality TV. But that’s not anime related, so I won’t bother) The most popular of spineless characters would be Shinji (Evangelion), Keitaro (Love Hina), Takayuki(KGNE) and what’s his face (Densha Otoko).
The ever popular theme of underdogs thriumping in the face of overwhelming odds always warms viewers
loins hearts. (But I don’t think Shinji won anything of note) Catering to the most vocal of the lot, (online, of course)the quiet, unassuming viewer, these types of shows garner a lot of atttention and money from merchandise. (Well, what else would they spend on? Merchandising, the necessary evil. Another post for another time)
Having a character that the viewer can relate to is essential in any form of media. One thing unique about anime is the fact that it banks on a demographic group that is considered upwardly mobile. In this case, the ones with most moolah to dispose.
In the case of western live action drama, it is mostly catered to jocks and studs. Eventhough there are some breakout series, like ” Freak and Geeks”, there are relatively few titles that celebrate “losers” and “outcasts”.On the other hand, anime has ‘em by the bucketload. Anime reality it seems, is a god send to these types of people. By holding onto the shread of hope that love will eventually fall into their passive lap, this notion may seem laughable to others. I mean, beautiful ladies throwing themselves at a spineless, nerdy lead for no concrete reason? (Besides a childhood promise, mistaken identity or whatnot)
But such comforting thoughts will only last for so long. Series like Love Hina, Ah! My Goddess!, and other forgettable harem series clones (mostly ero to anime conversions)bank in on the quick buck to be made. Along the way, such repetition proved too much to stomache, even for the hardcore viewers.
Pick a girl, any girl.
Over the years however, a revolution of sorts has occured within the anime community. While harem rom-com still exists, the leads have since grown some backbone. Some characters even go all out in persuing their harems. Albeit in an indesireable manner. (Inukami and Tonagura come to mind) So, is this the end of the passive harem lead? Hopefully not. After all, pacifists need love too.