If you’re in here, you probably know enough about manga and how it works that you can consider yourself to be an expert. However, it can also be the case that you’re a minority, you’re new, and you want to learn more about this world. Don’t worry! We’re here to help you. We’ll start with its definition. Then, we can talk about the best josei manga out there.
What is Manga?
Manga is the Japanese word for “comic book” or “comic strip.” Most people use different words to define manga genres. Instead of what happens with movies or books, where everything is comedy, drama, or romance, manga also has other types of classifications. Manga can be classified according to the target audience. And, of course, Japanese terms are used for this purpose.
- Shōjo is one of the types of manga. Specifically, the one aimed at teenage girls. The plot is usually cute and innocent, including stories of romance. Some of them even have fantasy and science fiction on them. In the last few years, shōjo manga with girls who have to save the world is getting more common. Sailor Moon is an example of this.
- Manga aimed at teenage boys is called shōnen. The friendship between members of a collective or a combat team stands out. There are lots of fighting scenes and large doses of action, in which there are often humorous situations. Naruto is an example of this.
Those are the genres dedicated to teenagers, but anyone can read them. Then, there are genres for adults.
- Adult comics for men are called seinen. Some frequent themes in seinen are violence and politics. On the other hand, the plot can range from edgy to erotic to dramatic. Death Note and Tokyo Ghoul are examples of this.
What is Josei Manga?
The female equivalent of seinen is josei. In Japanese, the term means “female.” It appeared in the 1980s when girls reading shōjo manga were looking for more mature and realistic content. These comics feature adult women, and what stands out more in the Josei genre is the genuine romance stories. There’s also drama, but this is more focused on complex situations.
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What Are the Best Josei Manga?
When we’re talking about the “best” anything, we have to accept that what is the best for us might not be the best for someone else. This is present in everything, from movies to shows and even books. However, sometimes most people agree that a piece of work is good. Maybe one critic said it, or the show got a lot of recognition. It doesn’t matter.
Today, we will bring you a josei manga list. That way, you will be able to pick which one you think you’ll like more.
Shin Pet Shop of Horrors (1995)
Just by the title, they won a new reader (me!).
Pet Shop Horrors shows individual stories about different customers who go to the pet store of Count D. Now, who is Count D, you might ask? Well, Count D is the cryptic head of an exotic pet store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. He sells animals, but sometimes he trades the pets for candy or gives them away just because. But this is a horror manga, so of course, there’s a catch. Count D always shows them the right pet for them, but they come with a mysterious contract. At the same time, the contract comes with three clauses, and the clauses change depending on the animal. If a buyer breaks it, this induces horrendous results for them. Most of the time, the outcomes are always related to conflicts and problems in the buyer’s life.
Even if the title might persuade you to read it if you don’t like horror stuff, there are stories of dreams and love. But don’t forget. After all, it is a horror manga.
Now you ask: Is this history about Count D and how he tricks people into buying his pets just because he’s sadistic? Yes, but no.
When certain events seem to connect the store with traumatic deaths, the young detective Leon Orcot promises to imprison Count D. It will not be easy. But Leon will gradually get closer, varying their relationship between love and hate.
Hapi Mari: Happy Marriage!? (2009)
Hapi Mari tells us the story of Takanashi Chiwa, a girl who is not interested in romance and men. This attitude is quite criticized by her coworkers, but Chiwa doesn’t mind. She knows how complicated men are thanks to the experience she has had handling her father’s problems. In fact, Chiwa works part-time jobs to pay off the debt of her main problem: her father. So, her coworkers really have no idea how problematic men are.
However, there’s a dilemma. Chiwa is overwhelmed by the need to find another part-time job to pay the debt. She doesn’t know what to do until she is called by her boss Mamiya Hokuto.
He offers her money and pays her debts in exchange for marriage. It might look generous, but this is all to please Hokuto’s grandfather. The grandfather knew Chiwa’s grandmother, and he owes her his fortune, and he always wanted to mate his descendants with hers.
The marriage is out of interest, and they have a cold relationship, but soon the relationship will begin to develop.
This might look like a cliché, but it’s actually one of the top josei manga out there. The story is not the most original on the face of the earth. The theme of arranged marriages is common, and finding a good story that unfolds in this type of trope is difficult. However, it is that story that entertains, and that’s why we listed it here. It has comedy and drama, and sometimes that’s enough.
To conclude, if you like this genre, or if you want to try it, this manga can be an attractive choice.
Romance stories don’t always start with a comic conflict between the protagonists. Sometimes josei is more dramatic and realistic.
This is the moment when our story starts, and Aoki Kaoru appears. She is a nurse who has problems treating people and doesn’t usually have many friends. Our protagonist’s personality stems from trauma with her family. Terrible enough, her father died in a fire, but the feeling of guilt has weighed her down ever since.
Kaoru is 26 years old. She is firm and even cold. Despite her job, she does not know how to understand her own emotions, and it’s hard for her to feel empathy for others. She can’t even touch other people because of the memory of her father.
As a nurse, she works at the hospital. There are doctors and nurses, but there’s a specific someone who the history also revolves around. Kouga Yagai is 46 years old. He is a famous surgeon who is often rude and cold to the other doctors and nurses. Kouga also keeps very mysterious secrets, and because of that, his relationship with women is not good. However, Kaoru feels really attracted to Kouga’s hands. It’s kind of weird if you think about it, but she has a reason. When she touches him, she does not feel anxiety.
As the story progresses, the tension increases between Kaoru and Kouga. Both have sad pasts and traumas, so they do not know what to do when they are together. Besides, they are not used to assimilate love. Maybe they want to love each other, but they don’t know how to love.
Kaoru thinks that maybe that is love, but Kouga denies it and admits that it is only sexual attraction.
We included this one in the list because of different reasons. First, not many people know about this manga, and we always like to hype up the less known ones. Second, it’s original how the manga leaves all clichés by the side and gives us two main characters that do not want to love. We are used to the boy lead being cold and distant, but when the main female protagonist also feels that way, it gets interesting.
If you like that kind of tropes used, you can give this manga a shot.
We are fascinated by how Japan works.
They have many arts and sports that many of us have never heard of. It’s normal, as they are in the East and their traditions and culture are very different from the West.
One of these sports is Karuta. It’s a Japanese game or sport in which you have to memorize 100 poems. That is to win the highest number of cards in the shortest time. It sounds a bit confusing, and it may seem dull for some people, but Chihaya is a girl with a goal. But it wasn’t always that way.
Since she’s twelve, her dream was focused on her older sister becoming a famous model. But this anime isn’t about models, so of course, her goal changes. One day her friend Arata teaches her that a dream should be much more ambitious than wishing for someone else’s success. He also teaches her that Karuta can be fun and that she must be the one to live and fulfill one’s own dreams. So Chihaya focuses on Karuta and develops a great passion for the game. Chihaya’s only even more splendid wish is to have fun and play Karuta with her friends.
What differentiates a sports anime from others is not the sport per se. The difference lies in the characters and development, and in this, it’s where Chihayafuru shines.
The series is fresh and has many situations that will make you laugh and cry. You won’t be able to stop reading.
Another magnificent aspect of the series is its development. The author communicates her love for Karuta, explaining its rules and even the various meanings of the poems without boring descriptions. If you like light-hearted manga, you could try this one.
Sakamichi no Apollon (2007)
As we have seen, the Josei genre is not only about showing love dramas. Sometimes a josei will be about the passion of the characters and the importance of friendship. Some examples include Sakamichi no Apollon.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a manga that develops the characters starting with their love for music. This manga is set in Japan in the 1960s, in addition to seeing an urban context of this time, shows us a musical genre still not so well known in Japan: jazz. The main character of this story is Kaoru.
Kaoru is a smart and lonely boy who knows how to play the piano. He is used to changing schools because of his father’s job, so he doesn’t try to integrate with his new classmates. Unexpectedly, he befriends Ritsuko Mukae, the class president, and Sentarou Kawabuchi, a troubled boy. What Kaoru does not know is that his new friends will introduce him to the world of jazz.
What we liked about this manga is that it’s realistic. It doesn’t fall in the “cute” stereotype some other music anime are fond of.
It is a story that entertains, amuses, and makes you think. It reflects the most beautiful and hardest time of life, adolescence. We see Kaoru experience the first friend, the first love, and the choice of a goal to dedicate all your strength. We get to watch Kaoru having the most valuable experiences of human existence, and that’s lovely.
It also has an anime adaptation that didn’t have that much relevance at the time, but the studio knew how to condensate the story in twelve chapters. If you are looking for a music manga with characters going through adolescence, this could be a good option.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii (2014)
We could say that an otaku is someone who is very obsessed with anime, computers, or other pop culture phenomena in Japan. However, that term does not inspire respect. The world and especially in Japan sees otakus in a negative light. This josei manga takes advantage of the ideas around this concept to tell a rather original love story.
Can two otakus fall in love with each other? This is the premise that begins our story with Narumi and Hirotaka. Narumi is an otaku determined to hide her obsession with yaoi manga. But on the first day of her new job, she meets Hirotaka, a childhood friend (and otaku gamer) who knows all about her hobby. Hirotaka agrees with Narumi never to reveal his secret in public. But because this is a romance manga, Hirotaka begins to fall in love. Unfortunately for him, Narumi does not like otakus.
Neither of them has a partner. Since they are both otakus, best friends, and they don’t have a partner, they come up with the idea of being a couple since it would make their social life easier.
This manga tells us about the life of two adult otakus who don’t have great experience in love start a relationship. There are parodies and references to anime, manga, and video games that make the scenes hilarious.
If you want a josei manga with a comedy tone and you like to spot references when watching a new show, this could be the one for you.
This manga perfectly describes the meaning of a Josei manga. It is realistic, and it has scenes of drama and sex. The content is more mature, the romance it’s unlike the shojo. Above all that, it has lots of uncomfortable and desperate situations that make you connect with the characters.
On a train ride to Tokyo, we meet our two main characters: Nana Osaki, a girl with a punk appearance. She is mature and with fixed goals: to leave her home to achieve her dreams, so her music band gains success; on the other hand, we have Nana Komatsu, a naive and romantic girl who thinks she will find the right man to marry him. The only thing these girls have in common is their name.
After having a chat along the way, their paths separate only for a while, and they meet again when they decide to rent the same apartment. Now, both roommates will get to know each other better. They will share laughs and dreams. But they will also both will live challenging and cruel moments, in which they have disappointments and get their hearts broken.
The truth is that both are two fascinating protagonists, and the contrast between their personalities makes the story even more fun to watch! We get to see that two people with very different goals become such good friends, and that’s worth a place on this list.
As you could see, there are lots of josei mangas out there. You just have to know where to find them, but we already made that easy for you. We hope this article has been helpful in your way to finding the best josei manga according to your liking!