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See also: Shounen ai, Yaoi, Shoujo, Shounen, Seinen
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Josei (女性 meaning woman) is a category of manga marketed to women, typically 18-30 years old. (Josei manga series are rarely adapted, so there isn't really a category of josei anime.) It is one of the four main categories of manga/anime along with shounen (for boys), seinen (for men), and shoujo (for girls).

One of the very few josei manga ever commercially translated into English is Nodame Cantabile.

Japanese vs. English

In Japan, the term 'josei' denotes manga serialized in magazines with a target demographic of adult women. This type of classification is defined by the publisher and doesn't always correspond perfectly with who actually reads the magazine or what kind of content it contains.[1]

English speakers with limited exposure to this Japanese usage often use 'josei' for manga series that seem especially mature in content. Wikipedia, which nominally follows Japanese usage, often has revert wars over this subject. In practice, many Japanese readers call all shoujo and josei "shoujo", while academics and people in the industry often use "josei" or "josei-muke" to distinguish between these and shoujo intended for younger audiences.[1] (In contrast, most Japanese people, whether readers or academics, draw the same distinctions between shounen and seinen.)

Loveless and Nana are examples of series that are often called josei by Western fans but which would be considered shoujo in Japan.

Josei as a "Genre"

Josei magazines usually do not include furigana (pronunciation guides on the kanji). They also often feature art that is more realistic than the most mainstream, stereotypical shoujo art. Beyond that, josei series are usually quite hard to distinguish from the more mature shoujo series. However, some themes are more common in one or the other.

Josei magazines (in the Japanese sense) often feature realistic romance, especially between post-college adults. Stories of single parents or of juggling family and career are also common. Some series may contain some BL (a.k.a. yaoi or shounen ai) content, but this seems to be less prevalent than in shoujo. Extremely explicit sex scenes are the norm in some josei magazines. It is also more common for adaptations of literature, including foreign works by authors like P.G. Wodehouse or Agatha Christie, to run in josei magazines. Oneshots seem to be more common in josei than in other demographics.

Some comics aimed at adult Japanese women don't actually run in all-manga magazines of the type shoujo, shounen, and seinen series normally run in.

Ladies' Comics

Some of the earliest manga for adult women were referred to as "Ladies' Comics". These developed a reputation for being porn with little artistic merit.[1] The term 'josei' was created to distance women's comics from this reputation.

Artists from this period are unknown in English with the possible exception of Asako Shiomi, whose manga Bodaiju no shita, kimi wo aisu (I fell in love with you under the Bodhi tree) was available for translation on the now defunct site MangaNovel.



  1. ^ a b c Shoujo manga researcher Matt Thorn What Shôjo Manga Are and Are Not. (Accessed August 27, 2010.)