Tired of glassy eyes and abundant flowers? Looking for romance beyond high school? Should your protagonist at least be over 16? Not all the best is concentrated in the most feminine genre of anime, shoujo. There comes a time in the life of the adult otaku in which simple stories about teenage love are not enough, and for this, there is the josei.
The josei genre is the female equivalent of seinen for boys. Instead of focusing on the experiences of girls or young people, its protagonists are already adults (and they don’t always have to be women). In addition, they are not idealized, stereotypical and perfect romances, but rather touch on more serious topics such as heartbreak, pregnancy, raising a child or sincere friendship.
In this list we want to mention the best josei series that have been adapted into anime, so let’s get started!
Nana is a series about two girls who meet on a fateful train ride. Nana Osaki is a punk star from the underground music scene , trying to revive her band after she lost a bass player after he and Nana had a relationship gone wrong. Nana Komatsu is an innocent girl like a child, and she has a hard time dealing with reality. Upon meeting, they discover that they have the same name, which means 7 in Japanese.
After meeting many times, they decide that fate wants them together, and they move in together as roommates. From there, they lean on their new lives and Nana Osaki’s influence on Komatsu (affectionately called Hachi), makes her begin to see life differently and mature a little faster.
The story is about the Amamizu-kan, an apartment building in Tokyo, home to a group of female otaku where men are prohibited. The protagonist is Tsukimi Kurashita, a jellyfish lover who wants to become an illustrator but is shy, clumsy, and terrified of social interaction.
One day, Tsukimi meets Kuranosuke Koibuchi, the illegitimate son of a politician who dresses as a woman to avoid the obligations of the political class. Tsukimi keeps the secret of Kuranosuke’s true gender from her classmates, despite having her doubts as well.
The neighborhood and the Amamizu-kan building are under threat of redevelopment, and are in danger of being demolished. Tsukimi and the group of tenants, along with Kuranosuke will try by all means to protect the place.
Shinichi Chiaki is one of the best piano students at his university and an excellent violinist, but his true dream is to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Sebastiano Viera. He wants to become a conductor. After a dispute with his piano tutor, Chiaki is transferred to the “loser” class, where he meets Megumi Noda, also called Nodame.
Nodame is a somewhat extravagant girl who is in her second year at the same university. Together, they strike up an unconventional friendship. The story tells of Chiaki’s inner struggle as she seeks to carve out his professional future as a conductor while trying to deal with his biggest problem, which is that he has a phobia of flying.
When Daikichi, a 30-year-old man, returns home for his grandfather’s funeral, he meets Rin, his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter with an unknown woman.
The girl is an “embarrassment” for all the relatives and nobody intends to take care of her. Daikichi, upset by the attitude of his relatives, decides to stay with Rin, despite being single and having no experience with children. As Rin becomes a part of his life, Daikichi discovers how hard it is to raise a child on his own.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashī
Narumi, a young office worker, is starting from scratch at her new job. She has decided to hide the biggest hobby of hers: she is an inveterate fujoshi who writes doujinshi , since she cost her previous job from her. Hirotaka, for his part, is quiet and very capable, but he is obsessed with video games.
Both have known each other since they were children. After Narumi comments to Hirotaka that she has never had any luck in relationships because all of her boyfriends are “normal”, Hirotaka proposes that they start dating. She accepts, somewhat reluctantly, but once the relationship is established, they realize that there is a lot of chemistry between them,
Honey and Clover
Yuta Takemoto, Takumi Mayama and Shinobu Morita are three young people who live in the same building and study at the Tokyo art school. One day, they meet Hagumi Hanamoto, the cousin of an art teacher, who is also studying at the same art school.
Yuta and Shinobu fall in love with Hagumi, but Yuta hides his feelings and tries to be her friend; while Shinobu demonstrates her love for her in unconventional ways, such as insulting her. The story follows these characters as they go through the difficult change of college, finding work, finding love, and learning about themselves.
As we mentioned before, in the gender for the josei demography it is not strictly necessary that the protagonist be female. Many yaoi manga are josei , because they are made for women. Love Stage!! is an example of them.
Izumi Sena is an eighteen-year-old college student who dreams of becoming a mangaka . His whole family is in the entertainment business and therefore they think Izumi should too, but she has no interest in getting into that world.
However, ten years ago and due to certain special circumstances, he was part of the filming of a wedding announcement. In said commercial, Izumi played the role of a girl who had to catch the bride’s bouquet, whose child co-star was Ryōma Ichijō. The company behind that advertisement wants to recreate a new version with the girl and boy from back then, which means that Izumi will have to wear a wedding dress, being a man. The boy from that commercial, now turned into an idol, Ryōma, turns out to be in love with Izumi and even after discovering the fact that she is not a girl as she had believed, her feelings do not change.
Pet Shop of Horrors
Can a horror series be josei ? Let’s remember what we established in the article on anime genres, these “genres” do not directly mean types, but rather summarize the demographic they are aimed at. Pet Shop of Horrors is a hidden anime gem whose aesthetic and character design might turn out to be more appealing to women.
Count D is the mysterious owner of an exotic pet store in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. The animals that the Count sells come with a contract with three important clauses. These clauses change depending on the animal sold, and breaking this contract causes dire consequences for the buyer, for which the store does not accept any responsibility, although the intrinsic intention is to cause such events.
The episodes of Pet Shop of Horrors are based on these consequences, and are presented as independent stories, introducing one or more characters in each episode. In the miniseries, Detective Leon Orcot is the nexus that ties the chapters together in an ongoing plot, usually in the form of a subplot within each chapter. He initially suspects that Count D is a criminal who uses the pet shop as a front for drug trafficking; but as he progresses through the series, he learns more about the pet shop and Count D himself, beginning an unlikely friendship between them as he tries to uncover the truth.
Yukari Hasayaka is an 18-year-old girl on her way to her classes, when a group of garishly dressed people stop her and scare her into fainting.
When he wakes up he is in the Atelier, in the care of Miwako. People explain to him that they are looking for a model for a fashion show at the Yazawa Institute of the Arts, where they study. Yukari refuses at first, but eventually agrees, and discovers that these people are designers of the brand Paradise Kiss, created by themselves. George makes the designs, Isabella creates the patterns, and Miwako and Arashi sew. They also explain what the contest for which they want her as a model consists of. As she walks out dressed in a ParaKiss dress , as they affectionately call the brand, everyone is very impressed.
Yukari compares her life to that of the Paradise Kiss boys and begins to doubt the direction she’s taking, if she really wants what she thinks she wants, or if it’s something culturally instilled in her. Throughout the story, Yukari will be involved in a series of internal conflicts about her future, her character and her attitude, as well as her strange relationship with George. At the same time, she will get to know these characters more, their doubts, their fears and their pasts.
The story of Shirokuma Cafe takes place in a very peculiar cafe. Its owner is Shirokuma (which literally means white bear), who is charismatic and is an excellent host… but he is a polar bear. The café is located near the local zoo, and is a favorite place for animals and humans to hang out after a day’s work. Shirokuma is helpful and attentive, always conversing with his customers in a friendly manner.
The story is based on a group of animals that interact with humans in this curious cafe, a very simple series but infinitely entertaining and endearing due to its formula.
Have you seen any of these josei series ? What is your favorite?