Josei manga

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Josei manga (女性漫画, lit. "women's comics", pronounced [dʑoseː]) are Japanese comics catered specifically to women's interests, and marketed towards older teenage girls and adult women demographics who are able to read kanji without the aid of furigana. Subgenres of josei manga include "ladies' comics" (レディースコミックス, redīsu komikkusu) or "lady-comi" (レディコミ, redikomi).[1] Readers can range in age from 18 to 45.[2]

Unlike shōjo manga, which is aimed at young teen girls, josei manga often portray realistic romance, as opposed to the mostly idealized romance of shōjo manga. They tend to be both more sexually explicit and contain more mature storytelling than shōjo manga, although this is not always the case either.

Some of the most popular josei manga have featured female protagonists and/or mostly female main cast,[3] and the female characters are often quite compassionate toward other women. Although some josei manga can contain plots and characters influenced by shōjo manga, others tell action-packed stories and lack the romantic and slice of life elements associated with shōjo.[4]

The Western approach to josei has all but ignored some of its more recent trends, such as an increase in shōnen-influenced series. Although there are housewife-, family-, and young mother-themed josei manga published in Japan, very few josei series are licensed for Western publication.[5] Anthony Gramuglia, a reviewer for CBR, argued that josei is the most underserved demographic of anime and manga, stating that since they are "targeted at mature women," they are often overlooked by those in "mainstream anime fandom," and pointed to successful titles within the genre, like Paradise Kiss, Princess Jellyfish, Usagi Drop, Eden of the East, Chihayafuru, and My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, along with anime like Aggretsuko.[6]


Josei manga (then called "ladies' comics" or "lady-comi") began to appear in the 1980s, during a boom period in manga, when the women who grew up reading shōjo manga in the 1950s and '60s wanted to read works aimed at adult women.[7] The first ladies' comics magazine, Be Love, was printed in 1980. There were only two ladies' comics magazines being published in Japan by the end of 1980; however, there were over fifty by the end of 1989.[8] Early ladies' comics were free of sexual content, and the comics became more and more sexually extreme until the early 1990s.[2] Manga branded as ladies' comics have acquired a reputation for being low-brow, and "dirty", and the term josei was created to move away from that image.[9]

Josei magazines in Japan[edit]

In a strict sense, the term "josei manga" refers to a manga serialized in a josei manga magazine. The list below contains past and current Japanese josei manga magazines, grouped according to their publishers. Such magazines can appear on a variety of schedules, including monthly (You), bi-monthly (Melody), and quarterly.

Libre Publishing[edit]

  • Chocolove (TL)
  • Vanillove (TL)
  • Kurofune
  • Comic Yuri Hime (GL)
  • Magazine Be × Boy (BL)
  • B-boy Cube (BL, web magazine)
  • B-boy Cube Bessatsu (BL, web magazine)
  • B-boy Omegaverse phase2 (BL, web magazine)


  • You
    • Office YOU
    • Young YOU
  • Cocohana (originally published as Chorus)
  • BLink (BL)


  • Kiss
    • Hatsu Kiss
  • Be Love
  • Dessert (also publishes shōjo manga)
  • Ane Friend (web magazine)
  • Comic tint (web magazine)
  • Honey Milk (web magazine)




  • Melody
  • Silky
    • Love Silky (web magazine)
    • Love Silky Zōkan (web magazine)
  • Ane LaLa (web magazine)
  • Hanamaru (BL)




  • Mystery Sara (formerly Sakura Mystery)
  • Mystery Blanc

Harper Collins Japan[edit]

  • Harlequin (adapts Harlequin Enterprises novels to manga, 2009-)
    • Bessatsu Harlequin (2009-)
    • Zōkan Harlequin (2010-)
  • Harlequin Original
  • Otome Dolce (2017-)

Akita Shoten[edit]

  • Elegance Eve (1984-)
    • Ren'ai Love MAX (1999-)
    • Ren'ai Cherry Pink (2006-)
  • For Mrs. (1986-)
    • One Coin For Mrs. (releases in odd months)
    • For Mrs. Special


  • JOUR: Suteki na Shufutachi (1985-, formerly Jour)
    • Mystery Jour Special (1986-)
  • Jour Sister (web magazine)
  • Doku Ringo Comic (web magazine)

Ohzora Publishing[edit]

  • Ren'ai Hakusho Pastel (1985-)
  • Harmony Romance
    • Harmony Romance Zōkan
    • Harmony Romance DX
    • Harmony Rose
    • Harmony Prince
  • Young Love Comic aya (2004-)
    • Ane aya (2015-)
    • Le Noel (2017-)


  • Sakura: Ai no Monogatari (1989-2007)
  • 15 no Aijou Monogatari (2003-2007)
  • 15 no Aijou Monogatari Special
    • Nazotoki Mystery
    • Manatsu no Kaidan
  • Sakura Mystery Deluxe (2007-)
    • Bessatsu Sakura Mystery Deluxe
  • 50dai kara no Watashitachi


  • Kyoufu no Kairaku (1995-)
  • Manga Grim Douwa (2005-)
    • Onna no Fukou Jinsei (2011-)
  • Hontou ni Kowai Douwa (2000-)
    • Gokinjou no Kowai Uwasa (2003-)
  • Harabanjou no Onnatachi (2001-)
  • Katei Mystery (2001-)
  • Hontou ni Nakeru Hanashi (2001-)
  • Hontou ni Atta Onna no Jinsei Drama (2003-)
  • Hontou ni Atta Shufu no Taiken (2004-)
  • Mutenki Ren'ai S*girl (2004-)
  • Anata ga Taiken Shita Kowai Hanashi
  • Mangaka no Mystery ga Omoshiroi!
  • Kindan Lovers (web magazine)
    • Kindan Lovers Romantica (web magazine)
  • Mitsukoi Tiara (web magazine)
  • Mitsukoi Tiara Mania (web magazine)
  • Story na Onnatachi (web magazine)
  • Mutenki Ren'ai S*girl Anette (web magazine)

Kasakura Publishing[edit]

  • Zettai Ren'ai Sweet (2001-)
  • Bessatsu Katei Suspense


  • Ren'ai Paradise

Asahi Shimbun[edit]

  • Nemuki+

Shōnen Gahōsha[edit]

  • Neko Punch


  • B'S LOG COMIC (web magazine)
  • Ciel (web magazine, BL)
  • Emerald (BL)


  • Love Proclamation Pinky (恋愛宣言PINKY, Ren'ai sengen pinkī) (2010-)[10]
  • Mobile Ren'ai Sengen (web magazine)
  • petit Rose (with Daitosha)
  • Romance Unico (web magazine)

NTT Solmare[edit]

  • Koisuru Soiree (web magazine)


The reported average circulations for some of the top-selling josei manga magazines in 2007 are as follows:

Magazine title Reported circulation
You 194,791
Be Love 194,333
Kiss 167,600
Cocohana 162,916
Elegance Eve 150,000
For Mrs. 150,000
Romance White Paper Pastel 150,000
Dessert 149,333
The Dessert 141,664
Office You 117,916

For comparison, below are the circulations for the top-selling magazines in other categories in 2007:

Category Magazine title Reported circulation
Top-selling shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump 2,778,750
Top-selling seinen manga magazine Weekly Young Magazine 981,229
Top-selling shōjo manga magazine Ciao 982,834
Top-selling non-manga magazine Monthly The Television 1,018,919

(Source for all circulation figures: Japan Magazine Publishers Association[11])

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schodt, Frederik L. (1996). Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-880656-23-5.
  2. ^ a b Ito, Kinko (2002). "The World of Japanese Ladies' Comics: From Romantic Fantasy to Lustful Perversion". The Journal of Popular Culture. 36 (1): 68–85. doi:10.1111/1540-5931.00031.
  3. ^ Hodgkins, Crystalyn (January 8, 2013). "Japanese Comic Ranking, December 24–30". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Everything You Need to Know About the Josei Genre". Archived from the original on December 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Josei – Lexicon". Anime News Network. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  6. ^ Gramuglia, Anthony (January 10, 2021). "Josei Is Anime & Manga's Most Underserved Demographic". CBR. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  7. ^ Ito, Kinko (2003). "Japanese Ladies' Comics as Agents of Socialization: The Lessons They Teach". International Journal of Comic Art. 5 (2): 425–436.
  8. ^ King, Emerald (2011). "Mazohizumu no mon: Masochistic and Sadistic Representations of Women in Japanese Exploitation Films and Reidissu komikku". Image & Narrative. Open Humanities Press. 12 (1).
  9. ^ Thorn, Rachel (2004). "What Shôjo Manga Are and Are Not: A Quick Guide for the Confused". Archived from the original on November 18, 2015.
  10. ^ Clements, Jonathan (June 2017). Cox, Gemma (ed.). "Manga Snapshot: Love Proclamation Pinky". NEO. United Kingdom: Uncooked Media (164): 40, 41, 42, 43. ISSN 1744-9596.
  11. ^ 「マガジンデータ2007」発行のご案内 [Information for Magazine Data 2007] (in Japanese). Japan Magazine Publishers Association. Archived from the original on June 21, 2008. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help) Note: The publication, which relies on information provided by publishers, categorizes the magazine Cookie (with a reported circulation of 200,000) as josei; however, Shueisha's website clearly categorizes that magazine as shōjo, and it is therefore not included here.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fusami Ogi, 2003: "Female Subjectivity and Shoujo (Girls) Manga (Japanese Comics): Shoujo in Ladies' Comics and Young Ladies' Comics". The Journal of Popular Culture, Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 780–803. doi:10.1111/1540-5931.00045.
  • Gretchen Jones, 2003: "'Ladies' Comics': Japan's Not-So-Underground Market in Pornography for Women", US-Japan Women's Journal English Supplement, Volume 22, pages 3–30.
  • Deborah Shamoon, "Office Sluts and Rebel Flowers: The Pleasures of Japanese Pornographic Comics for Women", in: Porn Studies, ed. Linda Williams, 2004.
  • Gretchen Jones, "Bad Girls Like to Watch: Writing and Reading Ladies' Comics", in: Bad Girls of Japan, ed. Laura Miller and Jan Bardsley, 2005.
  • Jonathan Clements, "Living Happily Never After in Women's Manga", in Manga & Philosophy, ed. Josef Steiff and Adam Barkman, 2010.