Top 10 Josei Anime [Updated Recommendations]

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Josei anime, where do we start?! Think of this genre as a more mature sibling of shoujo. Instead of skirt flashing anime with a constant giggle, josei can be a little more serious and have some character development along the way. This genre aims for an audience of adult women, so it often comes with romance, sentimentality, personal growth, and minimal fighting. What these anime lack in arch-enemies and top bosses to beat, they more than compensate for with "the feels!" Without further delay, here are our top ten josei anime picks as of 2021!

10. Code:Realize - Sousei no Himegimi (Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 – December 2017

Alone in a mansion, Cardio Beckford looks like a living doll and is feared as a monster. One day, she is escorted from the house by the military and is taken away. Cardia is then kidnapped from her kidnappers! Led by the famous gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin, Cardia goes to a house full of kind (and handsome) men, hoping to keep Cardia out of the hands of the government. Why do they want her, though? This mystery unfolds. Cardia's fragmented memory and puzzles cause her to want to search for her father, and the reasons he gave her an eternally beating heart, but skin that poison all it touches.

Code:Realize is based on a popular otome game, but the animators have done a great job bringing this to light! There isn't much in the way of humor, but the sweet story of Cardia learning to live with others for the first time and learns that her wish is to touch someone without killing them. Set in steampunk Victorian England (seriously, just watch it for that), the locale and choice of characters are wonderfully entertaining. If you love a reverse harem and a female lead with a mysterious past, check out Code:Realize!


  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: July 2016 – September 2016

On Naho Takamiya's first day of high school, she received a mysterious note. It is from herself, ten years in the future! Though Naho is unsure whether or not to believe it, after a few things described in the letter happen, she is inclined to believe it. The rest of the note talks about the regret that future-Naho has and advises to have a watchful eye on a new transfer student. As Naho navigates this information, she looks to avoid mistakes and regret that she has in the future, and this involves saving the new student, who in the future has committed suicide.

This beautifully animated story has been a hit with fans since its release in 2016 and was granted a movie production to finish up the story. The manga that preceded the anime is also very popular and worth the read. Will Naho be able to change the future from her vantage point in the past? The best way to find out is to pick up this series!

8. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits)

  • Episodes: 26
  • Aired: April 2018 – September 2018

Next up is Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits. Aoi Tsubaki can see ayakashi, where others cannot. As a child, her grandfather taught her to get along with them and cook for them. Years later, Aoi's grandfather has passed away, and she is making her way through college alone. As an ayakashi passes by, Aoi gives them her food. Aoi is then transported to the Hidden Realm, where the passerby ayakashi was an ogre-god. Aoi learns that she has been promised to him as collateral in her grandfather's debt. Aoi decides to pay it off by opening a small place to eat in the Hidden Realm.

Aoi's heartfelt cooking has a great impact on all who visit her, as she learns slowly that her grandfather always requested food that was in line with an ayakashi's tastes. Aoi works through personal topics in the series as well. She has mysterious memories of an ayakashi who helped her in youth, and her time at Kakuriyo seems to be bringing this to light. This slice-of-life, josei romance takes a leisurely pace and grows on you. Plus, there are lots of cute ayakashi boys!

7. Hakuouki (Hakuoki ~Demon of the Fleeting Blossom~)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2010 – June 2010

Coming in at number five on this list is Hakuoki. After months of waiting at home, Chizuru father has not returned. Chizuru decides that she has waited long enough, and she leaves home, alone, to find him. In a strange turn of events, she is in trouble with ronin and then in danger from another monster entirely. The Shinsengumi step in, and Chizuru is saved, but she is a witness and is taken to their compound against her will. Her father, Koudou, is someone they are looking for as well, so it is decided that Chizuru will stay with them for the search.

This title is older, but who doesn't love an anime that takes place in Japan's Edo period? Chizuru goes from waking as a bound and gagged prisoner whose life could be viewed as a liability to a lone protected woman living deep in the Shinsengumi compound dressed as a man. The Shinsengumi members she is with are Japanese historical figures with very different personalities. A mysterious foe knows about Chizuru and her father from afar, and the Shinsengumi she comes to know seem to be keeping a lot to themselves.

6. Aggressive Retsuko (ONA) (Aggretsuko)

  • Episodes: 10
  • Aired: April 2018

Don't office politics just leave you ready to scream? Well, you can do just that with Retsuko in Aggressive Retsuko (Aggretsuko)! Unlike other selections in this list, this overworked office girl does not get whisked away to a magical world, unable to return. No, Retsuko gets her latent office aggression out by screaming her heart out to death metal at her favorite karaoke bar.

You will like this main character, Retsuko, as she tries to navigate life in an office environment while also considering sharing her karaoke world with a few other people. This series was initially released online, but it was so popular that Netflix picked it up. The characters in this show are animals, and Retsuko is a red panda. Rock out and use a little metal to soothe your soul with Retsuko in Aggrestuko!

5. Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu (The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2021 - June 2021

Sei is transported to another world, unlike her own entirely. This overworked desk jockey finds herself in a world with magic instead of technology. Even though she cannot go back to her old world, the nation she is in will sponsor her education and give her a comfortable life for the unfair nature of being summoned. Sei quickly learns that she too has magic in this new world and that she has talents in many areas of magic, as well!

The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent is the story of Sei learning to make something useful with her magic while slowly learning what it means to be omnipotent with her powers. Whether she is cooking, potion-making, or looking to protect a friend, Sei seems to put out more power than the next person without even trying. To watch a romance with plenty of self-discovery in a new world, watch The Saint's Magic Power is Omnipotent!

4. Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: October 2010 – December 2010

Tsukimi Kurashita lives with five other okatu women, all unemployed and a little recluse from society. One day, Tsukimi and another kind, more confident woman save a jellyfish from a pet store and become fast friends. This "more confident woman" is actually a college student whose cross-dressing skills are excellent! Tsumiki and her new friend quickly bond, and Tsumiki finds herself starting to come out of her shell and begin to take small steps towards a more social life.

Princess Jellyfish is a Cinderella story with an interesting setting that looks at a lesser-seen part of Japanese culture. Tsumiki's roommates are some NEET otaku, who don't get out much and do not encourage Tsumiki to do so either. Tsumiki starts to get out with the help of her new friend, though! For an adorable show with an awkward main character, who you will sincerely like, try Princess Jellyfish!

3. Chihayafuru

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: July 2011 – September 2011

Chihayafuru! The heavyweight champion of the josei genre earns a spot on this list. Chihayafuru is great, but it has been around for a while. Most josei fans have seen it by now, and that makes this title placed a long way off from the top. Chihaya Ayase falls in love with the card game, karuta, as a child playing with her friends. Though she has been separated from her friends in the years since she first learned, Chihaya has the dream and the drive to make a high school karuta team that can compete nationally!

Chihaya is the sort of character you are going to want to cheer on. You will also enjoy the animation and characters that Chihaya competes against! If you have not watched Chihayafuru, put this title on the list of things you KNOW you want to watch. It is a longtime favorite, and you're going to love it.

2. Usagi Drop (Bunny Drop)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: July 2011 – September 2011

At his grandfather's funeral, the thirty-year-old Daikichi Kawachi meets a girl who turns out to be the unknown child of his grandfather! Daikichi's family immediately ostracises the girl for being an illegitimate embarrassment. Daikichi won't listen to the hateful conversation and declares that he will be the one to take Rin in and raise her. Though he goes through with this plan, he has absolutely no experience with childcare.

This title warms the heart and puts a little faith back into humanity. Rin and Daikichi learn to live together, and their slice of life adventure is the story of them becoming a closer family. If you decide you like this title, a trove of the manga source material is waiting, too!

1. Fruits Basket

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2019 – September 2019

Tooru Honda is the picture of cheerfulness, so you would never guess that anything less than happy was happening in her life. One day, a classmate of Tooru's is walking home when he sees her returning home from work… to go sleep in a tent. The classmate and his older cousin step in and give Tooru a place to stay, but they have their own issues. The Souma family has, in actuality, been cursed. Though the curse manifests i

Josei anime tend to involve characters who are older than high school age. Still, several more mature issues are dealt with, such as loss, challenging hierarchical family situations, and a deep acceptance that the Souma family has never received. The feelings of drama and darkness lurking in the background keep you guessing, and the subtle bonding that happens in daily life causes significant relationships to form.

Final Thoughts

Whether you look for a protagonist who falls in love, one who doesn't need anyone else, or one who looks out for others, the josei genre has you covered. This list has been updated a few times now, and we took that into account, but keep scrolling for even more excellent recommendations, even though the production years are a little older. Have you seen these titles yet? Which are you staring next? Was there another title you wish we had included? Let us know in the comments!

Wallpaper-Chihayafuru-700x498 Top 10 Josei Anime [Updated Recommendations]


Author: Mool Basil

Hi! I'm Mool Basil! I'm just your everyday salarywoman, who spends her evenings reading and writing about anime, and playing in a blues band. I spend my off days at the K-Spa and catching up with the new week of Shounen Jump and my other favorite chapter releases. Thanks for reading, hive members!

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Original Article Below

Josei is the Japanese word meaning “woman”, and in the anime and manga universe, it defines all works aimed towards women in their late teens or into adulthood. Josei anime/manga are characterized by basic elements, such as the portrayal of a realistic romance, and a more mature storytelling method. That's why Josei series are different from shoujo ones. What's more, josei anime/manga are more explicit in all respects – even sexual ones – and we must add that the male characters are very compassionate towards each other, so much so, that part of the fandom manages to see hints of BL and bromance.

The josei genre is varied and multifaceted, as even though we can try to describe it, there's still room for a lot of changes, differences, themes, and so on. In this ranking we'll talk about ten josei anime, and prove you how each of these shows can be very different from the other. Stick with us until the end, and if you haven't had enough by the end of this article, scroll down and read our previous ones!

10. Gensoumaden Saiyuuki (Saiyuki)

  • Episodes: 50
  • Aired: April 2000 – March 2001

In a world where humans and demons lived in harmony, peace came to an end when due to some circumstances, demons started attacking humans. They planned to unleash Gyumao, an evil demon who was imprisoned many years prior. Genjou Sanzou, a priest, has to take matters into his own hand and team up with three demons, in order to stop Gyumao's resurrection. Their journey begins, and the four of them will have to face unthinkable hardships!

Saiyuki is a josei series which depicts the relationships among the four protagonists. A priest surrounded by three demons, with whom he must get along. Saiyuki is defined as a josei anime right because of the reasons we explained up above: the attitude that the male characters have with one another is very compassionate. Basically, it's the kind of attitude you will never find in a shounen anime. Although a josei anime, Gensoumaden Saiyuuki is only the first season of this amazing show; throughout the successive seasons the josei elements will pop up even more. The proof is in the pudding!

9. Code:Realize - Sousei no Himegimi (Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: October 2017 – December 2017

Cardia Beckford has only vague memories of her father, and her home, where she lived holed up alone, feared by the others. Cardia's father, Isaac, embedded in her chest the Horologium, an eternally beating heart wielding a huge power. The power of the Horologium is craved by many, including a terrorist organization, which is probably related to Cardia's father. Taken as a prisoner by the British military forces, Cardia is saved by a gentleman named Arsène Lupin. He and his companions will help Cardia discover the truth behind her existence...

Adapted from an otome game, Code:Realize is a reverse harem josei full of surprises. Firstly, our heroine is strong: she can come in handy for the rest of the team instead of waiting to be rescued. Secondly, it deals with serious topics like loneliness and fear of not being accepted. Basically, for its themes, and the way the romantic parts are treated, it turns out to be a wonderful josei anime that deserved a mention in our ranking!

8. Chihayafuru

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: October 2011 – March 2012

Chihaya Ayase is a girl who has always lived in the shadow of her older sister. Arata Wataya is a quiet transfer student who introduces her to the world of karuta – a card game involving physical and mental skills, inspired by the classic Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets. Chihaya falls in love with karuta; together with Arata and her friend Taichi, the three of them spend their childhood playing karuta, until they're split by some circumstances. Years after, in high school, Chihaya has one dream: to create a karuta team and aim for the Omi Jingu championship.

Chihayafuru is a wonderful, character-driven josei series. In fact, it revolves around Chihaya's growth, and Chihaya's passion toward karuta. The series perfectly describes the world of the card game, and it shows a big range of different characters to root for. Aside from that, in the background there's room for romance, what with a sort of love triangle. Chihayafuru is a real masterpiece of the josei genre, you can't miss it!

7. Servamp

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: July 2016 – September 2016

Mahiru Shirota's philosophy is to avoid troublesome stuff. Right because he would regret it later, and the situation would become troublesome, he picked up a stray cat on the road and brought it home. One day, coming home from school, he found a strange boy in his apartment. The shocking truth is suddenly revealed to Mahiru: the boy is actually Kuro, the stray cat he picked up. Kuro is a shut-in vampire, and one accident after the other lead Mahiru to form a contract with him! In spite wishing to avoid troubles, Mahiru finds himself dealing with a real mess!

Servamp is a wonderful story about friendship, and it can turn out to be very touching at times, as our protagonist is an orphan living on his own. It falls under the josei genre right because Mahiru, who is the protagonist, displays realistic human emotions, such as fear, loneliness, and anguish. Then, it's yet another character-driven show, so each character has a strong and defined personality. If you are not into romance anime, you can still pick a josei series like Servamp!

6. Karneval

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: April 2013 – June 2013

Gareki is a clever thief who, while robbing a luxurious house, meets Nai. The young boy is looking for his friend, but is now being held captive by a beautiful woman. Gareki decides to help Nai out of that dangerous situation, but things get even worse when the woman turns into a horrific monster. Gareki and Nai manage to escape, and right after they are found by the government defense agency, “Circus”. Eventually, each of them having their own reasons, they join the Circus and their new adventure begins!

Karneval is a josei show where bromance is the default. Actually, it wields well-hidden BL hints that an attentive fujoshi can easily discover. What's more, it's a series full of bishounen; a real feast for the eye. Aside from this, though, it's yet another character-driven show, facing serious topics such as the struggle for survival, loss, loneliness, and so on. It's a show to melt the viewer's heart, full of cute characters, and with an interesting plot!

5. 07-Ghost

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: April 2009 – September 2009

Teito Klein attends the elite Barsburg Academy, and being an orphan and a slave, he is a reject. What's more, he has no memories about his past. Mikage Celestine is the only friend Teito has; Mikage managed to befriend Teito in spite his being rude and bit anti-social. Some circumstances unveil the truth about the Empire, and the Seven Ghosts, and that's the moment when Teito's life becomes a mess. Running away from the academy, Teito meets Frau – a priest – and both their lives change for the better!

By the premise, 07-Ghost has all what it takes to be considered a shounen anime. However, watching this series proves how josei anime aren't always full of romance or cliched situations. 07-Ghost deals with serious topics like the loss of an important friend, the sadness of walking the world alone, and being wronged. Pick this show up if you want to watch a non-conventional josei anime overflowing with bromance!

4. Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: April 2012 – June 2012

Set in the summer of 1966, Sakamichi no Apollon revolves around Kaoru Nishimi, moving to Sasebo in Kyushu. As he moved from place to place since his childhood, he found it hard to make friends, and this led to him becoming an introvert as a result. The fated meeting with Sentarou Kawabuki, a notorious “delinquent” attending the same class as Kaoru, will change his life forever. Kawabuki introduces Kaoru to jazz music, and both of them will go through that tought teenage angst together!

Sakamichi no Apollon is a coming-of-age story, full of good music and overly good vibes. We follow the characters as they grow up and shed their shells, learning about love, life, and how to deal with hardships. Sakamichi no Apollon is rare gem of this multifaceted genre!

3. Natsuyuki Rendezvous

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: July 2012 – September 2012

Rokka Shimao is a floral shop's owner. Ryousuke Hazuki is younger than Rokka, but he has a serious crush on her, so he decided to get a part-time job at the shop, hoping to get closer to Rokka. There's a huge problem interposing between Rokka and Hazuki; three years prior, Atsushi Shimao – Rokka's husband – passed away. From that moment onward, he became a ghost dwelling in Rokka's apartment!

By the premise, this josei anime may even seem funny since there’s a love triangle with a ghost. Actually, it touches on very mature themes, such as loss, love, and the strength to move on after your beloved person's death. Even though Atsushi appears to be a mischievous ghost, the lingering feeling of loss is always there, leaving room to a deeper thought. Pick this show up if you want to watch a mature romance, but prepare tissues... you'll shed tears!

2. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (Showa and Genroku Era Lover's Suicide Through Rakugo)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: January 2016 – April 2016

Rakugo is a form of Japanese comedic storytelling. Yotaro spent his time in prison listening to Yakumo's performances of Rakugo. That's why, when he got out of prison, he started begging Yakumo Yuurakutei to become his apprentice. Seeing how Yotaro's pleas don't stop, Yakumo accepts him as his apprentice. Thanks to Yotaro, Yakumo will be able to revisit his past – a past full of memories of his rival and friend, Sukeroku Yuurakutei.

This josei show is a real masterpiece. Firstly, it has a solid plot and a very detailed portrayal of the Shouwa era. Second, it's full of bromance, as the two main characters – Yakumo and Sukeroku – grew up together, and kept helping each other through the years. What's more, it deals with mature themes, those you absolutely won't find in a shoujo, or a shounen show. If you enjoy drama and slice of life anime, Shouwa Genroku is the one for you!

1. Hachimitsu to Clover (Honey and Clover)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: April 2005 – September 2005

Shinobu, Yuuta, and Takumi share a little room without a bath, as they are poor college students. Hagumi is a doll-like talented artist who just enrolled college and Ayumi is a girl with a seemingly cheerful attitude, who lacks self-esteem. Spending time together, the lives of these five college students are bound to change, and even when their paths eventually divide, their bonds will stay unshakable.

We gave Hachimitsu to Clover our first position, as it is the epitome of the josei anime, equipped with all what you could expect from this genre. It has a solid plot, showing events or situations each person comes to face in their lives. It deals with serious topics, showing how life changes through the years and how things can't always stay the same. Throughout the show, we witness the characters' growth, and their ups and downs as they try to live their lives happily. Hachimitsu to Clover is a wonderful josei anime; it's touching, but even funny, and lighthearted at times. It totally deserved our first position!

Final Thoughts

Our list of josei anime came to an end, but we really hope you enjoyed the ride! As you can see, these ten anime differ greatly from one another, and yet each of them is a josei show. Unlike shoujo and seinen, josei works focus on the in-depth analysis of the characters, that's why these shows can become very touching, and relatable. Now, let us know what other show could have fit our ranking, and what your favorite josei anime is! Don't be shy, and leave a comment below. See you next time!

Wallpaper-Chihayafuru-700x498 Top 10 Josei Anime [Updated Recommendations]


Author: Mari Mari

An italian girl currently living the Japanese Dream. I'm an anime and manga enthusiast (I mean... very enthusiast. XD), and my other hobbies are writing, reading, playing volleyball, listening to good music and thinking about pointless things.

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Original Article Below

Josei, in Japanese, means “woman”. But for manga and anime lovers, it is a more complex word, as it refers to all stories of which the target audience are women in the late teens- adulthood age bracket. Does that sound vague? Well, it is. It doesn’t limit the stories to genre, but to readers, and given the kind of things women like to read, it basically means almost any “mature” story that can be enjoyed by female readers.

Within the vague limits of the category –as it is not really a genre- we have some masterpieces. Of course, first we need to be able to distinguish between the ones that are actually shounen –amazingly, a lot of Josei is confused with shounen-, the ones that are more for the yaoi-loving fandom, and the ones that are very mature shoujo.

But fortunately, we have more and more anime that is definitely Josei now, so it’s time to update an old recommendation list here.

10. Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi (Utakoi)

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Jul 2012 – Sept 2012

The Hyakunin Isshu is an anthology of 100 romantic poems, written by many poets and compiled during the Heian period. They’re considered some of the best poems of the era, and are very important to the Japanese culture –as we will see a bit ahead on this list. Uta Koi is, in the own words of the author, a “super liberal” interpretation of said poems.

If you enjoy romantic stories, Uta Koi is right up your alley. While the poems themselves are not connected to each other, Uta Koi manages to make a whole narrative connecting them, making the characters related to each other and thus creating a family history out of the poems, even managing to connect the Tale of Genji, another literary masterpiece, to them. In the end, 13 episodes seem to be too short. The animation is gorgeous, the colors are beautiful, and it’s a great way to start our list on the tenth place.

9. Natsuyuki Rendezvous (A Summer Snow Rendezvous)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Jul 2012 – Sept 2012

This starts like a known and well-loved story: Man falls in love with woman, decides to get a job at her store to be able to win her heart. So far, it’s a tale as old as time and nothing to write home about. But here, things change. Because while Hazuki –the man- does start working at the flower shop owned by Rokka to catch her attention, there’s also the small problem of Rokka’s dead husband, Atsushi, who has been haunting the place to make sure that Rokka doesn’t forget him. But unfortunately for both men, Hazuki can see Atsushi, so they both have to work together in order to help Rokka be happy.

As you can see, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a complicated love story built from an apparently simple love – triangle. Because it touches on the themes of love, loss, grief and, most importantly, being able to move on after a loved one’s passing, it is far more mature than most love stories we’ve seen in anime. Because of this, and the superb animation, it more than earns the ninth place on our list.

8. Ristorante Paradiso

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Apr 2009 – Jun 2009

Nicoletta has been raised by her grandparents after her parent’s divorce. Her biggest wish is to become a chef, and thus, she has started working as an apprentice at the Casetta dell’Orso, as the only female in the staff. Through her eyes we see the lives of the rest of the wait and cook staff, and the lives of the clients of the small restaurant in Rome. It’s a slice of life that has more than one main character, and can transport you to the beautiful Italian countryside.

Ristorante Paradiso is a perfect example of one of the best strengths of the Josei stories: It is not an epic, long adventure, nor a huge romance with a thousand twists. It is just a snapshot of real life, with real problems such as divorce, not knowing what to do with your life, secret families, and tough choices. Because of this, Ristorante Paradiso is definitely the eighth josei anime you need to watch.

7. Gokusen

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Jan 2004 – Mar 2004

When you are the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss, you have a very limited scope of choices for your future. Especially if you are the only one in line to inherit the family business. This is what happens to Kumiko Yamaguchi, who has been raised by her grandfather precisely to take over for him when he’s ready to retire. But her dream is to be a teacher, and to her surprise, her Grandfather agrees. It’s the rest of the family who wants her to quit and keep with the family tradition.

Gokusen follows a classic genre: The new teacher who can and will do anything in their power to inspire and help a group of students. It’s a story we know well, from “To Sir with Love” and all the way up to “Bad Teacher”, and it never fails to entertain us because deep down, we all know that a teacher that is not cut the same way as all the rest is what most kids need. And because of this, Gokusen climbs all the way up to the seventh place on our list.

6. 07 Ghost

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Apr 2009 – Sept 2009

Teito Klein is a young amnesic slave that has managed to climb through society’s ladder to end up studying at the prestigious Barsburg Empire’s military school. The day of his graduation exam, he uncovers a years-old conspiracy that has to do with his true origins and his father’s murderer. Due to this, he and his best friend end up in a quest for revenge, and the recovery of the old Empire that was destroyed by the Barsburg.

If this sounds like a shounen to you, we understand. 07 Ghost is an action packed fantasy, full of everything that makes a shounen adventure. But of course, this is due to stereotypical ideas we have about shounen, shoujo, and lack of knowledge about Josei and Seinen. Which makes it a perfect show to prove that not all Josei is romance or slice of life, and that is the reason why it’s the sixth place on our list.

5. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

  • Episodes: 13
  • Aired: Jan 2016 – Apr 2016

Once Yotarou left prison, he promised himself he’d never return: nor to jail, nor to the life of crime that made him end up there. His new goal is to become a Rakugo performer, and become a master of traditional Japanese storytelling. Soon, he manages to worm his way into becoming the apprentice of one of the best Rakugo performers in the area, Yakumo Yuurakutei (And the man who actually inspired him to take this path). Through his relationship with Yakumo’s protégée, a young woman named Konatsu, they both make Yakumo rekindle his passion for Rakugo.

With Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, we’re back to the period drama and slice of life that make most of our list. It has a lot to its credit, starting with the portrayal of the Shouwa era, as well as the Rakugo performances that are not a common subject in manga due to the nature of the performance, which is a very dark humor. If you are interested in a period piece that also deals with the dark side of grief and moving forward, our fifth choice is the series you need to watch.

4. Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Oct 2010 – Dec 2010

Amamizukan is an apartment building that doubles as a safe space for the tenants who live there, as it has a very simple rule: No male tenants are allowed. Thus, the women are free to be themselves and indulge in their various geeky passions. Tsukumi, who wishes to be an illustrator, loves jellyfish; Chieko, the manager, adores traditional Japanese clothes and dolls; Mayaya is obsessed with the Records of the Three Kingdoms; Bamba loves trains; and finally, Jiji loves men older than her. There’s also Juon, a yaoi manga writer, but she rarely leaves her room as she is a hikikomori. But when Tsukumi meets Kurako, a very stylish young woman, things start to change. Especially as she realizes that Kurako is not really a woman, but a man with a passion for cross-dressing.

Kuragehime is a very interesting series that challenges some gender stereotypes very common in Japan. It takes a very common scenario: The otaku meeting a more “normal” member of society, and turns it on its ear by changing the gender of the main characters. It also has a very interesting take on interpersonal relationships in modern times, as well as a refreshing view of women who are not interested in romance, but rather focus on other areas of their lives. For all these reasons, Kuragehime is the fourth choice of our list.

3. Nana

  • Episodes: 47
  • Aired: Apr 2006 – Mar 2007

Nana Komatsu is a naïve 20 year old who wants to leave the provincial life of her native hometown and travel to Tokyo following her boyfriend, Shouji Endo. Nana Osaki is a proud punk rock vocalist that also left her rural hometown for the streets. After abandoning her popular band to pursue a solo career, she boards the same train as Nana Komatsu in direction to Tokyo. That chance meeting is the beginning of a strange friendship, that leads them both to help and support the other in their search of happiness.

Based on the manga by Ai Yazawa, Nana is a very curious anime. The manga is not a Josei, despite its mature themes and the fact that Yazawa’s work is more popular among young adult women than teenagers, it is a shoujo. And yet, if one doesn’t know that Nana was originally published in the Cookie magazine, it would be easily mistaken for a Josei. This is appropriate for the story: It is a coming of age story, about leaving your teenage dreams behind and following your adult goals and resolutions with new strength and about ceasing to play around and becoming more responsible with our acts. Due to these reasons, we decided to add it to the list, as a gateway anime between shoujo, and more mature Josei in the third place.

2. Nodame Cantabile

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: Jan 2007 – Jun 2007

Opposites attract. That is possibly the best way to describe the relationship between aspiring composer Shinichi Chiaki and the skillful, but incredibly messy, piano student Noda “Nodame” Megumi. There’s almost nothing in common between them. Both are talented pianists, but Chaki is far more focused on the technique, while Nodame loves improvisation. Chiaki is organized and clean, Nodame at some point had mushrooms growing in her hair. There is literally nothing that Chiaki can say that he likes about Nodame… and yet, after a few months of studying together, he fell in love with her.

Nevertheless, Nodame is not a typical romantic comedy. There are no easy answers to the love Chiaki feels for her; or for the choice he has to make between his love for music, his passion for conducting, and his love for her. There are no rivals, no funny triangles to create hijinks. It’s all a very mature story where the real challenge to make their love work is communication between the couple: Just as in real life. And because of this mature take on the old tale, Nodame Cantabile is the second place on our list.

1. Chihayafuru

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct 2011 – Mar 2012

We began our list talking about the Hyakunin Isshu, and we will end it in the same note: the influence of this particular poem cycle in Japanese culture. As we said before, it is an anthology of 100 poems, all around the theme of love. And one of the most curious elements of Japanese culture is the game of Karuta, a game where the players have to match the first part of the poem read aloud with the second part, written on cards in front of them. Sounds complicated? It is, as it requires speed, reflexes, and a prodigious memory.

When she was younger, Chihaya Ayase used to think it was not fun. To add to her troubles, she had no real ambition of her own, and was content to be her sister’s cheerleader. But a chance meeting with a boy named Arata Wataya makes her change her world view as he impresses her with his passion for the game, and soon she decides that she wants to become the world’s best female karuta player. And so, Chihayafuru follows her through her quest, as well as introducing us to the fascinating world of professional Karuta, and to the amazing personalities of other players. A beautiful animation around gorgeous poems, Chihayafuru is still our number one suggestion for getting to know, and love, Josei anime.

Final Thoughts

Josei, unlike shoujo, shounen, and Seinen, tends to be more character-driven. Yes, we have epic adventures, but in the end, we are far more interested in the characters that live said adventures than in the stories themselves. The writers create wonderful worlds, both in ancient Japan and in modern times, but they’re not as intriguing as the people who live there.

So, which one is your favorite? Do you agree with our list? Did we miss your personal choice to introduce people to the wonderful world of Josei anime? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments.

Wallpaper-Chihayafuru-700x498 Top 10 Josei Anime [Updated Recommendations]


Author: Adalisa Zarate

The fan with the rainbow hair. Has been an anime fan all her life. Lives in Mexico City for the time being.

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Original Article Below

Strictly speaking, josei is not a genre. Rather, it refers to any animated/illustrated work aimed at Japanese women from ages 18-30 (or 18-40, depending on what source you're looking at). Most josei stories delve into the romance and slice-of-life genres, though you'll occasionally see fantasy, comedy and even horror.

If you exclude the manga-only works, the live-action movies/TV shows, and the yaoi (since they have overlapping demographics), you can count the number of josei anime on one hand. That's a shame, really, because many josei works are high quality. For example, you have:

10. Hachimitsu to Clover (Honey and Clover)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired: Apr 2005 – Sep 2005

Let's start this list with a classic josei piece. Honey and Clover follows Yuuta Takemoto, an art major without a clear sense of where he wants to go. Although he finds friendship with the quirky, fun-loving Shinobu Morita and the mature, no-nonsense Takumi Mayama, he doesn't really gain his footing until he meets Hagumi "Hagu" Hanamoto. Hagu's unique mix of innocence and maturity captures Takemoto's heart, and changes his worldview for the better.

Like most slice-of-life series, Honey and Clover doesn't have a discernible plot. But since the characters are well-rounded, you'll care about them when they experience rejection and heartbreak — which are recurring themes in this series. Shinobu, for example, may seem like a carefree guy on the surface, but he's actually fighting his own demons like everyone else. At the risk of spoiling this show further, I strongly suggest you watch it right this instant.

9. Pet Shop of Horrors

  • Episodes: 4
  • Aired: Mar 1999 – Mar 1999

"Horror" and "josei" may seem like an odd combination, but this series manages it. In this chilling tale, there's a strange pet shop in Chinatown, run by an equally strange man named Count D. He sells pets to people, who need some mystical way to make their hopes and dreams come true. But there's a catch: The pet owner must follow the terms of the sales contract to the letter — or else.

Apparently, no one is able to hold up their end of the bargain, because they invariably end up with horrible fates. This eventually catches the attention of Leon Orcot, a young homicide detective. Suspecting that Count D was behind everything, Leon begins his quest to uncover the truth behind the pet shop.

As with all good horror tales, Pet Shop of Horrors is more complex than it lets on. Sure, it has its fair share of gruesome scenes that'll make you squirm in your seat. But it also raises questions like "How far will you go for the things you want?" (Oh yeah, there's some homoerotic subtext between Count D and Leon, if you're into that sort of thing.) Overall, the show has a different take on what it means to be good, evil and human.

8. Omoide Poroporo (Only Yesterday)

  • Episodes: 1
  • Aired: Jul 1991

Everyone feels nostalgic about their childhood, and this Studio Ghibli film knows it. Omoide Poroporo revolves around 27-year-old Taeko Okajima, an OL (office lady) who retreats to a countryside village for her vacation. During her stay there, she helps out the farmers, reflects on her memories as a 10-year-old, and comes to terms with a budding romance.

As expected of a Ghibli work, this was a box office hit in Japan. Only Yesterday paints a tender yet realistic portrait of growing up: Taeko remembers both the good (her crush returned her feelings) and the bad (her frustration with fractions) of her days as a little girl. Although the film goes back and forth between the past and the present, the flashbacks never feel jarring. Also, GKIDS will release this movie in U.S. theaters come 2016, so watch out for it!

7. Shirokuma Café (Polar Bear Café)

  • Episodes: Episodes: 50
  • Aired: Aired: Apr 2012 – Mar 2013

At first glance, Shirokuma Café looks like a cutesy children's show. It has talking animals, pastel colors, and a wholesome, relaxing tone overall. Once you get into it, however, you'll realize there's more to it.

For one, it's different from most comedies that rely on randomness to work. Shirokuma fires off Japanese puns like a machine gun, while Penguin is just as proficient as a tsukkomi (straight man). As for the main character, Panda, I found him tolerable enough — though some of you may be put off by his constant whining. The voice cast includes heavyweights like Jun Fukuyama, Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroshi Kamiya, Daisuke Ono and Yuuichi Nakamura, so have fun guessing who's voicing who.

6. Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish)

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Oct 2010 – Dec 2010

In an apartment complex called Amamizukan, everyone is a geeky woman. For example, Tsukimi Kurashita knows anything and everything about jellyfish. Banba is into trains, Jiji is into old men and Mayaya is an expert on everything related to the Three Kingdoms. Even the apartment's manager, Chieko, is obsessed with Japanese clothes and Japanese dolls. They're all able to live quiet lives, because of their compliance with one condition: No guys are allowed in the Amamizukan.

Everything changed when a beautiful woman helps Tsukimi win an argument with a pet store owner. The woman follows Tsukimi to the Amamizukan, and spends the night with her. However, the next morning reveals that the "woman" is, in fact, a man named Kuranosuke Koibuchi! What will Tsukimi do if the others find out?

The unique plot isn't the only selling point of this anime. You'll bust your belly laughing at the girls' quirks and antics as NEETs (Not in Education, Employment, or Training). At the same time, Kuragehime is a heartwarming story about being yourself, in a society that pressures you to be like everyone else. Granted, the anime could've ended on a more satisfying note, but this doesn't detract much from its overall quality.

5. Paradise Kiss

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Aired: Oct 2005 – Dec 2005

Despite the premise, you don't have to watch/like "Project Runway" or "America's Next Top Model" to appreciate this show. If you want an earnest story about following your dreams, Paradise Kiss should be on your "Must-Watch" list.

At the show's center is Yukari Hayasaka, a high school girl who's uncertain about her future. She winds up with a fledgling clothier group called Paradise Kiss — comprised of the fashionable Isabella, the rocker Arashi, the cute Miwako and the magnetic George. With these friends, Yukari discovers more about herself, and falls in love with George along the way.

Everyone in this show is unusual and relatable at the same time. This makes it easy to root for them, despite the fact that they live and breathe the mystical world of fashion. The animators also displayed a mind-blowing attention to detail (just check out those clothes!), and somehow managed to get Franz Ferdinand to sing an ending song called "Do You Want To." Considering all the effort put into Paradise Kiss, is it any wonder it's one of the most well-known anime series?

4. Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: Apr 2012 – Jun 2012

This anime is set in the summer of 1966, when Kaoru Nishimi transfers to Sasebo on Kyushu Island. Because he constantly moves from one place to another, Kaoru has a hard time making friends, and becomes a withdrawn, introverted kid as a result. But when a local boy, Sentarou Kawabuki, befriends him and introduces him to jazz music, Kaoru learns more about love, friendship and personal identity.

If there's one word that sums up this anime, it's "unforgettable." The show will take you on a rollercoaster ride of laughs, tears and heartfelt moments. All the characters receive development: Kaoru gets out of his shell, Sentarou deals with his scars and Ritsuko learns to move on. And, as you've probably heard a million times before, you'll listen to the jazz music from this show long after you're done with it.

3. Usagi Drop

  • Episodes: 11
  • Aired: Jul 2011 – Sep 2011

While attending his grandfather's funeral, 30-year-old Daikichi Kawachi notices a strange little girl flitting about the house. For some reason, the rest of the relatives ignore her, so Daikichi investigates. He discovers that the girl's name is Rin Kaga, and that she's his grandfather's child out of wedlock.

Realizing that no one else wants to care for Rin, Daikichi takes her away, and resolves to raise her on his own. The problem is, he's a bachelor, so he has zero experience with child care. Fortunately, Rin is mature for her age, and they become closer throughout the series.

This is probably one of the most diabetes-inducing shows I've ever watched. Through Rin, Daikichi learns to be a more responsible adult, while Rin just grows more and more adorable with each episode. It was also fun to watch their interactions with the Nitanis, who were heavily hinted as their future love interests. Hopefully, if this show gets a second season, the animators will develop those relationships a little more. (Yes, I've read the manga, and… Well, let's just say I'm in denial about the events in the second half.)

2. Nodame Cantabile

  • Episodes: 23
  • Aired: Jan 2007 – Jun 2007

Shinichi Chiaki has it all: Good looks, a flair for piano-playing, and a lofty ambition to make music with the best-of-the-best of Europe. Unfortunately, his fear of flying, coupled with his perfectionist tendencies, don't make him the most pleasant person to be around. So when fellow university student Noda "Nodame" Megumi — a sloppy, aimless girl who's a skillful pianist in her own right — falls in love with Chiaki, all hell breaks loose.

On the surface, Nodame Cantabile seems like a typical romance story: Chiaki and Nodame meet, fight, love and try to achieve their ambitions all at the same time. However, the show avoids being cliché by centering the conflict around the couple's internal struggles, rather than third-party love interests. Of course, the classical music is arguably the highlight of this show — with many viewers signing up for lessons because of it!

1. Chihayafuru

  • Episodes: 25
  • Aired: Oct 2011 – Mar 2012

Chihayafuru is unusual in that it's both a sports and josei anime. And not just any sports, mind you: The show's about karuta, a card game that requires extensive knowledge of Japanese poetry and syllabary. Fortunately, you don't have to be a karuta expert to enjoy Chihayafuru.

At its core, this anime is about passion. Chihaya Ayase, the main character, didn't have any real ambition, until a boy named Arata Wataya introduces her to the aforementioned card game. Ever since, she's wanted to become the world's best karuta player.

Of course, it won't be easy for her. The other karuta players have their own reasons for succeeding too: Some play because they're naturally good at it; others play because of the challenge the game offers. Some play to win; others enjoy the game as it goes along —regardless of the end result. With this diverse cast of characters, you're bound to find at least one person to root for.

As you can see, many josei stories are character-driven. They treat otherwise mundane topics — like love, growing up, and finding yourself — with so much care and thoughtfulness, it's hard not to be engaged with them. If you're still unsure about what "josei" means, you can read our "What is Josei" article, or drop your questions/recommendations into the comments below!

Wallpaper-Chihayafuru-700x498 Top 10 Josei Anime [Updated Recommendations]


Author: Issa M.

Issa is a pen-wielding mercenary by day, and an anime fangirl by night. She might seem anti-social at first, but she's actually quite friendly once you get to know her. Also, she's learned to like Google+ after getting locked out of her own Twitter account for some mysterious reason, so say hello to her there!

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