In general, I don't like harem shows or manga. Let me elaborate, I find pieces of media that involve harems are often full of fan service. While I do dislike how most fan service is used for various reasons, what I dislike the most is when the harem members are fighting over the center of the harem for no reason. When this does happen, it feels like everybody in the harem is a hallow shell who try to act human, but fails and if the piece of media has fan service in it feels like the whole purpose of the show/manga is to titillate the audience. Although I dislike harem shows/manga in general, I do find some of them to be good because they focus on who the people in the harem are instead of being a harem for harem's sake. By focusing on the goals and struggles of the people in the harem, it's easy to get invested in the characters of the story and it makes it feel like the harem is more of a framework to get to know a large variety of people. This week's manga, Ore ga Heroine o Tasukesuigite Sekai ga Little Mokushiroku (or Heroine), likes to play with the framework of harem type media in a comedic spirit.
Heroine follows Namidare Rekka an average high school student commonly seen in anime/manga. Though Rekka is a tad generic, his fate is not because every male in his bloodline is destined to be a hero that fills in for other heroes upon their 16th birthday. Rekka is pulled into many different story lines (a defining moment in the world/lives of one of the heroines he encounters) at the time where he must act as the hero and save the day, while winning the heart of the story's respective heroine. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there, as Rekka must also deal with the consequences of his actions.
The comedy is fantastic because it melds the different genres that Rekka encounters in his travels and smashes them together to great affect. Due to the premise of the story, Rekka is forced to act as the hero in different girls' lives and often these stories occur at the same time. So Rekka ends up using elements from each of the stories he's in to complete each story. For example, when Rekka goes from a sci fi story to a high fantasy one, he uses sci fi tech he got from the previous storyline to cheat his way through the high fantasy story. It's fun to see Rekka improvise on the spot because often times his solutions are often ridiculous or silly in the context he uses them, but they often times work out.
Also, there are harem elements in the manga as well, but almost all the time these elements work at the expense of Rekka. Specifically, the constant fighting over whom will become Rekka's girlfriend drains Rekka's energy because each one of the heroines is constantly vying for Rekka's attention. It gets so bad that eventually a galaxy wide war gets started and R, a time traveler from the future, tries to make Rekka chose a heroine before the situation gets out of hand. Speaking of R, I love her roll in the manga because she's basically there to be an audience proxy that mocks and eggs Rekka on to chose a girl friend already. This constant mocking of the Rekka is just so funny because it takes the assumption of having a harem of being completely enjoyable and turns it on it's head. The shear amount of improvising and mocking of the harem genre easily makes Heroine enjoyable.
As I mentioned above, Rekka does go through multiple storylines in a small space of time, but each storyline is given enough information to make the trip through each storyline fun. The manga is paced well enough that the amount of concepts and characters in the manga doesn't get confusing. This is because the manga spends at least a chapter explaining what's going on in each story and it uses visual clues to help immerse the reader just enough into each storyline. Heroine has an incredibly quick pace, but it takes just enough time so the reader can absorb what's happening without getting confused.
Each character in Heroine is an archetypal character, but each one of them has their own quirk that makes their interactions feel unique. Rekka is your standard high school protagonist. He's kind hearted, kind of dense, and will help someone who needs help, but unlike other protagonists, Rekka dislikes participating in the fantastical stories he's forced into and having to deal with the repercussions of his involvement. By contrasting Rekka's complaints with his actions, Rekka feels human because it shows the reader a bit Rekka's moral code is and his desires.
The heroines in the manga have a similar dynamic to how Rekka is characterized. In the heroine's case, act the way their character archetype is designed, but what makes them feel unique is how they act while interacting with Rekka or the other heroines in the series. It's interesting to see how each heroine competes with each other because it shows the reader how these character archetypes would bounce off each other and how each of these characters would act around the man of their interest. Each character in this series fits snugly in a character archetype, but the interactions between these characters makes them feel unique.
Despite having a fun with its characters and concepts, Heroine still has elements of an ecchi harem that detracts from the flow of the manga. For example, each heroine in this series are only interested in hooking up with Rekka, which is immersion breaking because it makes the heroines feel like they have no other goal in life than to be Rekka's girlfriend. Also, there is the obligatory fan service elements in this manga like accidental boob grab or times where the girl falls on the guy and they end up in some kind of sexual pose. These elements are tired and cliché, but most of the time, Heroine manages to poke fun at these kinds of elements, but it can still be off putting to see these kinds of scenes. Heroine has ecchi elements that are common to its genre, but it has a habit of making fun of those elements as well.
Heroine loves to play the tropes commonly scene in ecchi, high school, fantasy mangas/animes to great affect because it adds a dash of realism to the genre, while going completely nuts with the genre as well. The main premise of this manga is pure comedy gold because it forces the main character into multiple generic story lines at the same time. The reader gets to see the main character effectively bullshit his way through multiple scenarios because he has no other option but to wing it. although this manga is juggling multiple stories at once, it still takes the time to flesh each story out enough to get the reader immersed in the story before continuing. Also, The characters are just plain fun to be around because the interactions between them are just like smashing the different genres together. Heroine likes to play with its tropes, but sometimes it plays the tropes it uses straight and that can be boring at times since the tropes it's using have been done hundreds of times before. Overall, Heroine was like throwing each conceivable genre trope used in young adult fiction into a blender to good results.
All of these images were taken from mangahere.co except for the cover, which was take from mangareader.net. I do not own any of these images.
You can read Heroine here.
If you like this review or my writing style, you can find all of my articles on my blog.