Not all mangas are action and shounen. Here are some of the best Josei mangas ever made.
Not all mangas are action and shounen. Here are some of the best Josei mangas ever made. (Picture Credit: IMDb)

Anime and manga are incredibly diverse when it comes to their genres. Most are mixed and matched to form the most fun amalgams of pure entertainment. There are, however, some distinctive genres that are uniquely Japanese and exclusive even within these mediums.

They are primarily defined and named after the demographic they target and are known as shojo, shounen, josei, and seinen. Most of us are familiar with Shojo and Shounen, considering their absolute domination in the current anime/manga scene. However, josei and seinen may be new terms for some of us.

Josei mangas are a genre of Japanese comic books tailored specifically for young adult women. They delve into themes and subjects that resonate with this demographic, often focusing on romance, melodrama, and even slice-of-life narratives centered around relatable female protagonists. Here are some of the best Josei mangas you can read to familiarize yourself with the genre.

Black Sesame Salt And Custard Pudding

(Picture Credit: Anime Planet)

“Black Sesame Salt And Custard Pudding” is a 2018 comedy romance josei manga completed in 2020. It was written and drawn by Suzuki Yufuko, also known for their other relatively less-known work, “Candy.”

“Black Sesame Salt And Custard Pudding” is a warm, wholesome, and utterly swoon-worthy romance between two people with a significant age gap. The best part is that no one is underage! The main female lead is Haruhi, who is living her best life in Tokyo, doing what she loves — operating heavy machinery. Things go down for her when her father demands that she leave her job and return home to help the family with their business. Frustrated and unsure, Haruhi spends the night drinking her worries away. She wakes up to find that one of her drunken adventures was filling in a marriage contract with a stranger — who also happened to be a very handsome middle-aged man.

Nodame Cantabile

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

“Nodame Cantabile” is one of the OG Josei/ adult mangas adapted into an anime. It was first released in 2001 and came to an end in 2010. The manga became so popular that it was adapted into an award-winning J-drama, followed by two of the highest-grossing domestic films in 2010.

The story’s theme, while revolving around romance, needs to be fully indulged in. It follows a musical prodigy, Shinichi Chiaki, who has everything going on for him — wealthy family, good looks, and stellar talents — except that his fear of planes makes him unable to showcase his talent internationally. He comes across an odd, over-the-top, larger-than-life woman, Noda Megumi, a very talented pianist. The two navigate through their feelings for each other and classical music’s unforgiving world.

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

“Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku” is another completed adult romance manga on this list that essentially gives off sit-com vibes with minimal characters and settings. It was released in 2015 and came to an end in 2021.

The manga mainly focuses on Narumi Momose — a closeted otaku with multiple heartbreaks because of her questionable interests. Her latest breakup forces her to quit her job and start anew somewhere else. However, she discovers that her childhood friend, Hirotaka Nifuji, another otaku, works in the same company. Suddenly, concealing her true self becomes even more challenging, as Nifuji is already familiar with her quirks. However, when she thought things couldn’t get more complicated, Nifuji proposed that the two should start dating.

My Happy Marriage

(Picture Credit: IMDb)

With three comedy Josei entries on the list, we ended it with a bang, a dramatic, tragic, yet just as wholesome light-novel turned manga that recently garnered much attention because of its newest anime adaptation.

It follows the story of a mistreated woman, Miyo, trapped in a cycle of abuse inflicted upon her by her own family only because of her dead mother’s arranged marriage with her father. Miyo’s stepmother and sister are a cruel duo that finds twisted pleasure in making her life a living hell. Things become worse when she is forced to get married to a prominent military captain, Kiyoka, known throughout the empire for his barbarity. However, Miyo soon realizes that those rumors are completely baseless.

Despite their appearance, these Josei mangas tackle severe topics and impart valuable life lessons, making them deserving of the label ‘manga that targets young adult women.’

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