Pseudo Harem – Episode 1

By: Cy Catwell July 5, 20240 Comments
Eiji surrounded by all of Rin's personas.

Content Warning: Mild fan service

What’s it about? Kitahama Eiji dreams of having a harem, just like in a manga. That’s why he ends up in the drama club: it’s to jumpstart his unique dream. Enter Nanakura Rin, an underclassman with a serious crush on Eiji. Only she can never be herself in front of him: literally.

First I hit you with not being a fan of sibling relationships: now I’m going to tell you I don’t like harem stories.

Polyamory? Yes. Harems? Hard no. I feel the same about love triangles because they’re rarely true triangles: it’s just two fantasy girls/dudes thirsting over the same person. Give me an actual triad!

With that in mind, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing Pseudo Harem, right? Well, I think I’m the person to tackle this harem anime and also, it’s the stick I drew. But I’m determined to explore what this anime is all about, even if it’s not my thing. 

So let’s get into it!

Rin meets Eiji while trying to find the drama club.

Episode 1 opens with Eiji and Rin meeting whilst the latter is trying to find the drama club. Eiji claims that he’s the only club member, but that quickly gets revealed as a joke on Rin. In fact, the entire club is kind of a lighthearted group of kids, which easily invites Rin in as a new member with actual acting chops.

But that’s not really what this story is about, is it? It is called Pseudo Harem, and post-opening, the plot quickly returns to Eiji’s desire for a harem. Rin, who’s already clearly got a crush on Eiji, immediately starts playing out different personas, all to mask the fact that she’s got some serious puppy love. Crush aside, they actually become genuine friends pretty quickly while the pseudo harem plot develops into Rin continuing to “act” different persons, sometimes at Eiji’s whim, because she likes him.

And that’s kind of it.

Rin displaying her genuine acting skills.

Okay, so I’ll admit, this show kind of charmed me on the lowest level. It’s got a cute premise that is actually more than what it seems based on the title, and I can see the potential for a relationship between Eiji and Rin. Beneath that, there’s smart comedic timing employed here, enough that I did genuinely chuckle a few times. It’s not necessarily enough to make me want to see romance between Eiji and Rin, but it makes them good friends.

My biggest concern is: how long can this gag of Rin being Eiji’s entire harem go on for? There’s got to be more to this show than this central gag. Plus, I’ll admit, wanting a harem is an incredibly weird thing to declare to your classmate: it’s character-defining, sure, but it’s also deeply strange and the most off-putting thing about Eiji. I’ll also tack on that is is strange that Rin kind of leans into this desire, though I think you can chalk that up to her wanting to impress Eiji and flirt at the same time. I think there’s enough space to rationalize things.

Still, if this is going to put the “romance” in “romantic comedy,” it’s got to have–pardon the pun–more acting chops than just what gets presented in the premiere. If it can, I think there might actually be something here. If it stays the course, then I think this will be perfectly fine. Definitely not some sort of feminist wonder, but perfectly fine in the most benign way.

Rin drops part of her lunch when Eiji asks her to wear cat ears and gloves.

Ultimately, I found myself thinking, “This is just okay.” It’s not revolutionary, but there’s something rustically charming here. My biggest hope is that Rin grows into her own and doesn’t have to keep pretending to be multiple girl tropes for Eiji. It’s clear that she’s not confident at this point, but I hope that she becomes more than the sum of this show’s parts. I also hope that Eiji starts to grow past his very immature desire to have a harem and actually shows some character growth. I think he’s a decent guy at heart: the show just needs to give space for that.

Ultimately, this might prove to be a more pleasant experience than say, Miss Nagatoro or Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible. The dynamic here isn’t really about bullying; instead, there’s a sense of playfulness between our two characters that never crosses into sleaze. It just kind of feels like two teenage actors pushing each other in a mutually consensual way. It’s strangely refreshing, even if I’m not sure that I’ll stick with this long-term. For now, I’m interested enough to see if this show grows its gags over the next few episodes.

About the Author : Cy Catwell

Cy Catwell is a Queer Blerd journalist and JP-EN translation & localization editor with a passion for idols, citypop, visual novels, and the iyashikei/healing anime genre.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, get snapshots of their out of office life on Instagram at @pixelatedrhapsody, and follow them on their Twitter at @pixelatedlenses.

Read more articles from Cy Catwell

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