I've always had a soft spot for harem stories, starting when I was a youngling and watching anime, progressing to japanese light novels and eventually chinese web novels, and lastly western written stories.
I find it both interesting and frustrating that the vast majority of harem stories follow, if not stereotypes, then a red thread, but this red thread is different for each of japanese, chinese and western stories.
In the japanese ones we have the usual MC dense as a rock, surrounded by ~4 girls that are trying to get his attention, but the MC seldom actually enters in a relationship with the girls. More often than not he ends up with 'the main girl' and the other girls are there for banter and comedy relief.
In the chinese ones, the women is in great numbers, often 10+, and it's not rare for the harem to be adressed as a single entity i.e 'the women' or 'the wives' and lose alot of individuality. The MC and his love interest/s often get seperated for a long time, some times for hundreds of chapters. It's happened that he leaves a girl behind to go do something, and then when the girl shows up 500 chapters later, I'd have to go back to find out who the hell she is, since she's been all but forgotten. And we can't forget the arranged marriages. It's next to guaranteed that atleast one girl in the harem will either have an arranged marriage planned by her family, or the girls status is too high for the MC, either way it plays out the same with MC having to prove himself and beat the crap out of some arrogant fiancé.
The western ones I've read are fairly diverse, and while the one common thing I've found that sticks out have been 100% true for all the western harems I've read, the sample size for me is way smaller for the western ones compared to the japanese and chinese, and I'm sure there are exceptions to this, just as there are exception within the jp/cn harems.
Anyhow, the thing I've found all the western harems I've read have in common is bisexuality. I can't recall a single western harem I've read which didn't feature bisexual women. Sometimes there's a girl or two within the harem that stays straight, but there's always some bisexual women. What I find interesting with this is that while all the western harems feature bisexuality, I can't recall a single japanese one, and just one chinese one that had bisexuality. I'm sure there exists more that I haven't read, but from my experience this is the most glaring contrast between western and asian harems. Why do you all think this is? Is it because most western harems I've read are from this site and people want to read about hot lesbian sex and threesomes? Maybe, but I'd like to think that isn't the case, since bisexuality is present in stories with minimal and no sex aswell as stories from other sources than SOL. Why do you think the asian ones so seldom have the harem girls be bisexual? At first I thought that maybe it's because they are conservative and not accepting of bisexuality, but I don't think that's the case atleast with Japan since they have a big 'Yaoi' (gay) and 'Yuri' (lesbian) culture, atleast when it comes to manga and light novels.
Do asian men just not like their girls being together? Or do westerners have an unhealthy fixation of girl-on-girl action?
Does anyone know of more things western harem stories have in common? The only other thing I've found that kind of stood out is how the main characters take on different lovers that doesn't end up in the harem. They will be lovers for a little while and then the MC will play matchmaker and set the girl up with someone else, or he will just be happy to see her go and be happy with someone else. I find that in the asian harems, when a girl is into the MC, she stays with the MC and seldom 'moves on' from him. But to be honest, this might be more of a Joe J and John Wales kind of thing than a western thing. I don't mind really mind it, and I've liked most of their stories I've read, but I remember thinking while reading their stories that this is a really different approach from the asian harems!