I’m desperately trying to get caught up with the current anime season since the return of summer anime and comic conventions took up most of my time this month. One show I’ve been enjoying is Isekai Meikyu de Harem wo, or Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World. It’s an attempt to tell a “morally fuzzy” story that asks hard questions about what getting trapped in a video game world might really be like.
A Morally Questionable Isekai Harem?
First the good news. Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World is a fun-to-watch isekai story about a young man from our world who gets trapped inside a video game world and can use his knowledge of how games work to succeed in battle. It comes in two versions: a heavily censored broadcast version and an uncensored one with nudity and sex.
The best thing about Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World, I would say, is the nuanced main character Michio, the way he’s very far from the super boring superman hero who can accomplish any goal with ease (like Kirito), or who creates a perfectly balanced and moral society (like Rimuru-sama) just because he’s all-powerful. Michio offers the best, shall we say, “moral complexity” this side of Paul from Mushoku Tensei, which begins the moment he realizes the video game he’s trapped in now is a reality for him, and the “NPCs” he killed were, in this place, real humans spewing real blood.
Things get even more morally questionable when he gets the chance to buy a cute slave girl with fluffy ears named
Raphtalia Roxanne. He pauses to consider whether buying a slave is morally okay but quickly rationalizes that if he doesn’t buy her, some other brutish man will. Before long, he’s killing people and cutting off their hands so he can use their Intelligence Cards (which store the stats and information for that person) to collect the cash bounties on them, something that’s presented as being ruthless inside the story. Soon he’s doing all kinds of sexy things with his cute wolfgirl slave, like this…
Yes, this is a show that explores the sexual relationship between an enslaved wolfgirl and her new master… basically, everything fans want to see whenever they pick up a Shield Hero doujinshi. Don’t watch the show you’re not okay with these themes.
Still a Better Isekai Love Story Than…
Although it’s not the perfect show, I can say that Isekai Meikyuu Harem is definitely better than a lot of similar shows, including:
- The truly awful Full Dive: The Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life, in which the main character escaping torture by pissing himself is a major plot point
- The fanservice-heavy Hidden Dungeon that Only I Can Enter, which was fun if you like eye candy, but not such a great show for more serious fans
- The Fruit of Evolution, which was so bad I had to put a disclaimer on my review
- I find it’s better than Redo of Healer, an anime about a guy who had an amazing ability to heal people yet manages to do zero good with this power, even accidentally.
What Shall We Do With “Problematic” Anime?
What are your thoughts on “problematic” anime, which push the boundaries of sexual imagery and where it brings the story’s characters out of some people’s comfort zones? Often these people form Internet “rage bandwagons” to try to get us to not watch such shows.
Personally, I got into anime precisely because I loved that it had the freedom to tell “problematic” stories (the the 70s and 80s), which included such adult themes of a boy and a girl falling in love and kissing, mentor characters dying in dramatic ways forcing other characters to grow stronger, the destiny of whole planets being on the line, or showing a girl in her underwear. I don’t expect 100% of the anime stories I enjoy to be entirely in line with my own personal morality all the time, and I’m okay if a particular show entertainingly explores some new fictional topic.
Some Bad News: Ridiculous Censorship
I’m happy that anime has grown into a massive industry with fans watching from all corners of the world enjoying it despite the many differences in the countries we live in. I love the fact that I could travel to Brazil or Iran, or China and potentially be able to connect with young anime fans even if I couldn’t speak a word of their language.
Unfortunately, the desire for creators and anime studios to tell a grown-up story with grown-up ideas must contend with the realities of China (streaming companies like Bilibili are so terrified of government crackdowns they black out whole scenes). The censored version of Isekai Meikyuu Harem is pretty bad, blocking out any nudity, and even things like kisses, because we can’t have any physical touching in human society. The series even beeps out lines like “sex” and “virgin,” making it hard to follow the story initially.
The good news is that the uncensored version is available through “various means,” though this shouldn’t be necessary. Why can’t anime studios make three versions: uncensored, lightly censored (no nudity only), then make a special version for the most sexually repressed countries to enjoy? Is it so much to ask…?
Thanks for reading this post about the Isekai Meikyuu de Harem wo anime. What do you think of the sexual aspect of this show? Is it just trying to be extra edgy, or is there a good story that it wants to tell? Post your thoughts below or on Twitter!
J-List’s staff has been busy all week, adding tons of amazingly cute figures to the site for you. Whether you love the sexy catgirls of Nekopara or sexy dragon maids, we’ve got all the best figures for you. Browse them all here!