There are tons of animes that have women jockeying for the time and affection of one guy, which is called harem anime. But well-done animes that do the opposite, a.k.a. reverse harem anime, are a rare breed. There’s something satisfying about a story with a woman (or girl) with humor, compassion, or wild antics that makes the other characters (and us) fall for her. So, to celebrate them, here are some of the best reverse harem anime series.
After her mother’s passing, Tohru Honda lives in a tent. When the landowners, the Soma family, discover her, they offer to let her reside in their home, but there’s a secret in the Soma family. They transform into animals from the Chinese zodiac during times of stress or when the opposite sex hugs them. There are many hilarious moments, and it’s easy to see why everyone gravitates toward kind and caring Tohru. It’ll make you laugh and sob equally and at unlikely moments.
Where to Watch: Free on Funimation and Crunchyroll
Forget tsundere. This lady is beyond the tough girl hiding a good heart. Sunako Nakahara is a homicidal nightmare with a penchant for melting wicked witch style in the face of unfathomable beauty. She meets her match in the form of four gorgeous boys who live in her wealthy aunt’s house. Sunako’s aunt gives them an ultimatum: pay rent or transform Yukiko into a beautiful lady. Yes, terrifying goth girls can be surrounded by handsome boys, even if they sob as she chats with her skull pals.
Where to Watch: Hulu and Funimation (premium subscription)
Ouran High School Host Club
This gender-bender reverse harem anime is one of the most flamboyant anime ever. Haruhi Fujioka attends the elite Ouran High School despite a lack of wealth. After smashing a vase, she works off her debt by being a host to the girls in the school. Haruhi is comical, challenging, yet calm, and a perfect counter for the overly dramatic Host Club president, Tamaki. The series delivers range with occasional fourth-wall breaks while playing firmly and assuredly in its rom-com genre.
Where to Watch: Tubi, Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll
Kiss Him, Not Me
A side-splitting reverse harem anime that shows love to BL (boy’s love) fans, it’s funny despite its problematic premise. Kae Serinuma is a big girl with a BL obsession. She remains in bed the whole week after her favorite character dies. When she returns to school, she’s lost weight, and the popular boys circle her. It traverses love based on character over physical characteristics, all while wrapping it in a delightfully comedic lens of anime/manga fandoms, hooking you before you realize it. Worth a view for the shipping wars argument alone because Serinuma is a fanatic.
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
Vampire Knight is a spicy drama and mystery that follows Yuki Cross. She attends Cross Academy and acts as a guardian keeping the peace between the humans in Day Class and the vampires in Night Class. You can’t go wrong with vampires. Everyone is stunning, and seeing the vampires’ different abilities makes you want to delve into and revel in this world. Yuki may be a typical anime girl, but that’s part of the appeal, especially as the mystery froths to the surface.
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Peacock, and The Roku Channel
Hana Yori Dango
The oldest series on the list follows Makino Tsukushi, a poor commoner who attends an elite school and wants to graduate unnoticed. That changes when she defends a friend against the F4, a group of the wealthiest and most powerful teenage boys, and becomes their target. Determined not to lose, the group inevitably takes an interest in her, and a love triangle forms between her and two of the boys. Not all the parts age well. But at its center, Makino Tsukushi stands out as an altruistic character, and there are unforgettable moments of laughter and love.
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
The newest series on the list, Romantic Killer revels in its absurdity. A strange wizard creature, Riri, appears to Anzu Hoshino and transforms her life into an otome game. To ensure she has Hoshino’s full attention of all the gorgeous boys who will soon line up, Riri confiscates Hoshino’s games, chocolate, and cat. But Hoshino’s not the average heroine, and with so much on the line, she’s determined to chase these gorgeous boys off. If that means grotesque faces or dressing like a fashion victim, so be it. Similar to series like Lovely Complex or His and Her Circumstances, anime fans will adore this series. The heroine is not poised, sweet and innocent, but loud, dangerous—for Riri at least—and obsessed with games. What’s not to love?
Where to Watch: Netflix
Touted as a show that hides surprising depth and shoujo elements in a genre usually built around comedy, Hakuoki still lives in the reverse harem realm. Disguised as a boy, Yukimura Chizuru heads to Kyoto in search of her father. After the Shinsengumi rescue her and learn she’s the daughter of the doctor they are also searching for, they aid her in her quest. Fan of reverse harems with more action will love its bountiful fighting and mysteries.
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom
Beware of the flags of doom! In this ludicrous reverse harem rom-com isekai, the heroine, Caterina Claes, recalls her previous life after sustaining a head injury. She died and somehow wound up reborn as the villainess in an otome game, Fortune Lover. In the game, her character faces exile or, at worst, death. To avoid this, she befriends boys and girls, becoming the object everyone seeks. One of the highlights in the series is the multiple versions of Caterina holding meetings in her mind to discuss the best ways to avoid death flags. Each time she unintentionally plays the role of one of the guys in the game, you realize what she hasn’t caught onto—that everyone is crushing on her.