This past Valentine’s Day, ExecutiveOtaku over at THAT Anime Blog offered a service for all of the single ladies and gentlemen who found themselves alone on February 14th, a “Harem Finder” that would allow you to enter into a Love Hina-esque setting, custom-tailored to your specific wants and passions. Though obviously a joke, the Harem Finder is not without historical precedent, at least in literary terms. In particular, the concept resembles the writings of utopian philosopher Charles Fourier.
Fourier (1772-1837) believed that the denial of passion was the most major problem with the world, and in his utopian writings he proposed a society where everybody would be able to indulge in their passions in a way that would benefit their society. For instance, a man predisposed to death and slaughter would find a job as a butcher. Fourier (somehow) calculated that there are 810 character and personality types to be satisfied. This of course includes sexual passions, so a sadist would be able to meet a masochist, same-sex relationships would be condoned, and so forth.
Priests and priestesses would gather everyone together and initiate extensive tests involving multiple meetings between potential partners, keeping in mind that “love at first sight” does not always happen. And for those dorks who worry about their physical attractiveness, Fourier has them covered too.
In Harmony sheer physical attractiveness will not have the colossal influence that it has in civilization where everyone is transfixed by the sight of a beautiful woman. Of course the Harmonians will not fail to appreciate physical beauty; in fact their judgment will be considerably more discerning than ours. But when it comes to the selection of sympathetic patners their choices will not be determined by physical charm. For their desire for sensual gratification will be satisfied in several different ways.
In a way, the concept of the “harem” in anime and manga is a form of utopia, acting as a very localized, almost self-functioning society where happiness is being surrounded by women (or men) and everything that happens in the world comes from that harem setting. The same idea could be extended to the most slicey slice-of-life shows, especially when you factor in their utility as a form of cathartic escape. These are, after all, “better worlds.”
In a different era, I think Charles Fourier could have very well been an otaku. He would spend every day after work focused on writing about his utopia, and his devotion to passion is well-represented in anime and manga. He also had a thing for lesbians, making it very possible that he’d be a big yuri advocate, and his obsession with precise calculations seemingly pulled out of nowhere (he determined that there are 26,400 men in the world who also enjoy lesbians) would not be that far off with numbers-obsessed mecha or idol fans.
He was also a life-long virgin, but I’ll leave those jokes to you.