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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]


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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

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









Harper Collins Japan

Akita Shoten


Ohzora Publishing



Kasakura Publishing


Asahi Shimbun

Shōnen Gahōsha



NTT Solmare


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


  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 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