After a night’s sleep, I realized that I had some more to say, seeing how I tried to stuff 4 anime together into my last post.
The Tenchi Muyo OVA was the most harem-y of the anime that watched, although it’s still not really that harem-y. All the ladies might like him but at the same time the show would go off and be about spaceships or filling in the big universe. Tenchi in Tokyo became un-harem-y in an interesting way.
In Tenchi in Tokyo, Tenchi leaves most of the gang and heads to Tokyo to go to school so that he can take over his family shrine. He gets paired up pretty quickly with a new character Sakuya and eventually “picks” her. That’s not really anything too special, as lots of harem setups end with the guy choosing a girl. The difference is that it’s not the climax of the series, like it might be in say, an eroge adaptation. It happens about halfway in, and even before that Tenchi is spending most of his screen time exclusively with Sakuya so he basically has for all intents and purposes “chosen” her.
Occasionally the gang do pop up, and Tenchi usually tries to hide from them or keep Sakuya from noticing. Fortunately, this doesn’t cause Sakuya to fly off into a rage when she notices them. The important realization here is that all of the standard harem antics that happen all the time are kind of antithetical to any kind of development in the main couple’s relationship. Yes, you can create some jokes if you have some side characters show up in disguises or something to spy while they’re at a restaurant, but at the same time that’s going to derail whatever mood the two were trying to establish. How are you supposed to have some alone time when everyone bursts in going “HAY GUYZ WATS GOING ON IN HERE?”
And eventually, it does piss Tenchi off and he tells them all to go away. Now, this was a plot device as well to make the “real” plot start moving, but even outside of that I’ve kind of always wished that someone would say that. It also exemplified the annoyances that I have with the second season of Clannad. With all the KER-RAZY hijinks going on and all the emphasis on characters that aren’t Nagisa, how am I supposed to believe that she and Tomoya were making babies? Meanwhile, I could totally picture Tenchi and Sakuya humping.