Harems are a dime a dozen in the world of anime and manga, portrayed as the ultimate male fantasy and often played for laughs, it’s a trope that is riddled with issues while not portraying polygamy with any real accuracy beyond gratuitous sex. For some, polygamy is an alternative lifestyle that can be fulfilling and painful for others.
Polygamy has been a vehicle for numerous abuses all over the world, and it is generally misunderstood by many that see it as free reign to cheat on partners. The truth is, there are committed polygamous relationships, but rules are set by those within the relationship in the same way that they are set by those in monogamous relationships.
“The Hare Kon will continue to push you to your limits and bring you agony. And as long as you continue to love me, I will continue to destroy you and will protect you forever. This is the form of my love to you.”
This series is pretty large, spanning nineteen volumes, the reader follows the ups and downs of a hare-kon family. In response to Japan’s declining birth rate and low marriages, a pioneering town decides to make polygamous marriages legal. With this, the readers are introduced to a marriage between a man and three completely different women, each one representing some favored romance tropes. Despite this, Hare-Kon faces the question of polygamous relationships head-on, showing the absolute worst sides of this kind of family set-up along with the joys and kinship that is possible with a large family.
To say that this series is frustrating is an understatement, there are many issues with the way that the story is presented spearheaded by a husband that is unabashedly detestable at times. Ryuunoske could be charming and funny, but he is also extremely selfish and manipulative. Koharu “falling in love” was also extremely weak, she goes overnight from hating that she feels forced into a sham marriage to suddenly deciding that her unhappiness must mean that she’s jealous and in love.
Understandably, reactions to this series have varied wildly with many people swinging from hating characters to loving them. Honestly, what made me keep coming back was the gorgeous artwork and a genuine interest in seeing if the series actually goes anywhere. It starts off extremely weak, but the middle volumes become stronger and even enjoyable with some genuinely heartfelt moments. Despite the issues, many of the characters are engaging whether they are likable or not, and the author did a marvelous job in stirring up conversation about harems in the medium that glorifies them the most, an achievement in and of itself.
Warnings: sex, gaslighting