Let’s not beat around the bush: most harem shows suck. There are the factors that I see as the biggest reasons why:
- The male protagonist is an indecisive loser with no redeeming features.
- Every female he meets inexplicably falls in love with him.
- Said female characters are usually taken straight out of the book with a single defining feature. As a few examples, take the imouto, the nee-san, the loli, the childhood friend, the tsundere, and the swordswoman.
- Nothing happens. The characters hang around the place they live all day (usually the same building), and the male trips on top of the females and walks in on them in the shower. He always likes all of the females equally.
- The show is boring.
Obviously, number five has the highest weight. Only a few harems manage to rise above the pack. One is Love Hina, which gets a pass from me by virtue of being the first harem I watched. Plus the main character is a loser, but not indecisive, and progress is actually made. Another is Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?!, where #3 does not apply, and humor goes a long way in preventing boredom. The last decent harem I’ll mention (this list is non-exhaustive) is Ichiban Ushiro no Daimao, which avoids most of the problems by having a badass protagonist, an over the top story and more unique fanservice.
So how does Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari fit in? For item (1), our lead character, Kenshi, is certainly indecisive when it comes to girls. But this feels more like he isn’t interested in girls at all than indecisiveness, as he can be quite forceful in other matters. It’s unclear whether our hero has even reached puberty yet. No redeeming features? Not really, he’s ridiculously talented at everything he does to the point of absurdity.
Every female he meets (and every female he doesn’t meet) falls in love with him, so (2) certainly applies. Half the show is about Kenshi running away from hordes of girls. I would say that because the show fulfills this criteria to such an extent, it approaches parody. So it fulfills it, but not in the typical sense.
For (3), I thought that the female characters were actually fairly interesting. They may have one overriding trait (e.g., Lashara as a money grubber and Wahan as a mad scientist), but at least these aren’t the usual traits, and the characters have an existence outside of them.
Item (4) definitely does not apply to this show, as we actually have quite an interesting, albeit typical, fantasy story. The setting is creative and well-fleshed out, we have a great set of villains and allies, and a focused narrative. There are mecha, floating fortresses, armored trains and spider robots. It’s not the most original story, but the execution is solid, especially because of the extra length episodes.
As for (5), I didn’t find it boring at all, largely because of the fantasy / adventure story which made this more than just a harem. My overall feeling is, harems are fine, as long as they have more than just a harem. (Maybe that means they aren’t fine? Whatever.) Ichiban Ushiro no Daiamao and Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka have comedy to keep them afloat, and Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari has its fantasy story.
- Plot / Script – A – A fantasy story that could stand on its own (although not as strongly) without the fanservice and harem elements.
- Characters – B – Kenshi’s entertaining because he’s so good at everything and also so dumb. Lashara has a contagious evil laugh (I am quite partial to evil laughs).
- Production – B – Solid, although a bit underwhelming for a show of this format.
- Overall – B+
Recommendations – Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?!, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimao