Josei and shoujo, they target the same audience right? Not exactly. While both are targeted at the female population, what sets them apart is the age that it is being targeted to. Josei is targeted primarily towards more mature women, for example OLs. The style of writing is more of a realistic one than of a fantasy one. For example, in romance, josei light novels tend to depict romance in a more realistic manner rather than a 'love is perfect' scenario. This is also the reason why the josei genre has more mature themes. Do you like josei or still not sure what the genre is? Well, today we are counting down 10 josei light novels so stick with us to find out more!
10. Adventurer Lindy's Calamity
- Authors: Hazuki Kuroru
- Genres: Josei, Adult, Fantasy, Mature, Supernatural
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2014
What opens as a fantasy adventure story began to turn grim quickly. Lindy was tasked to search for the Seven-Coloured Jewel in order to save the world. Her search brought her to the Demon Forest which is known to be dangerous. There, she was captured by the beings in the forest. It was Sharozen, her guild member that appeared at this moment where he then realised his feelings towards her.
This is one of the more rare fusions in which josei meets Fantasy. Josei injects mature themes into this fantasy novel. In these kinds of fantasy light novels, however, you will soon realise that not everything goes according to plan. In this case, our heroine was assaulted by her guild member in the forest which entirely changes the layout of the story. It is not a surprise to find such occurrences as this is what josei is known for. We wouldn't spoil you much, try giving this one a go!
9. Dress na Boku ga Yangotonaki Katagata no Katei Kyoushi-sama na Kudan
- Authors: Nomura Mizuki
- Genres: Josei, Romance, Slice of Life, Comedy
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2012
Sherlock Doyle was an ordinary boy. One day, he was forced to be dressed in his twin sister's dress. After much confusion, he was told that he was going to be transferred to a small country called Ehren where he will remain as a tutor to the King of Eren's children. Seeing no way out of his dilemma, Sherlock resigned to his fate. It wasn't until much later that he found out what was the true reason behind his sudden departure and the disturbing truth about his sister.
This is another classic example of how the josei introduces mature elements into a typical genre. Take slice of life and comedy, for example, they are pretty common genres as itself. When you introduce the josei element to it, what you get is more explicit humour. All in all, the illustration and synopsis are dressed in innocence. However, as you begin to read on, you will soon realise that it is not a simple tale that you asked for.
8. Shinigamihime no Saikon
- Authors: Onogami Meiya
- Genres: Josei, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 2
- Published: 2007
Alicia Faitlin was born into a poor family. She was forced into an arranged marriage. On the wedding night, however, the groom was killed. It was from this incident that Alicia was labelled as the "princess of death". Despite the stigma, there is someone else pushing for a marriage with Alicia, a young noble known as Kashburn Licen who is notorious for being a tyrant.
This series is a little bit special. Although the novel has some mature themes in it and is technically more realistic, it does contain some idealistic parts as well. Perhaps this is the reason why this genre is classed under both shoujo and josei at the same time. Fundamentally, both genres are not that different from each other as they are targeted at the female demographic. This series sits in between the age groups so you will more or less be able to see what is the definitive factor between both genres.
7. Meshitaki Onna ni Yakuza no Ai wa Omosugiru
- Authors: Harinezumi
- Genres: Josei, Comedy, Smut
- Volumes: 105
- Published: 2017
Shindo Nanao lives in a dilapidated apartment in Tokyo. She offered a strange bunch of men some rice and soup one day. Unbeknownst to her, this group of men were actually yakuza and they soon got attached to her. Despite spraining her neck one day, Shindo still continued to offer them food. This was to change when she encountered a man in an expensive looking suit who seemed to be the head of the group...
While it may sound like your next door neighbour romance, we can assure you that it is not. So don't be surprised when the story takes an entirely different path. The romance painted in this series is one of obsession and lust. Here, we find our heroine in the company of intimidating men. If that wasn't bad enough, the head of the group comes along and became infatuated with her. What could go wrong here?
6. Hidden Marriage
- Authors: Jiong Jiong You Yao
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Josei, Romance
- Volumes: 2156
- Published: ???
Ning Xi is out for revenge against her sister. For five years, everything her sister had done had caused her trauma and anguish. Even now, she is set to fulfil her childhood dream of being an actress. Her sister is dead set as well to ruin her dream for her. After falling for one of her ploys once day, Ning Xi met a mute kid and helped him. This was how she found herself staying over at his house where the father of the kid starts falling in love with her.
This novel is extremely popular amongst women and it is not hard to see why. After reaching a certain age, we all need a different kind of fantasy to escape to. No longer can it be one that is full of ideals. Hidden Marriage has this sense of reality imbued into it but yet at the same time, it possesses the kind of ideal situation that the readers want to be in. It is the perfect balance between reality and fantasy - one that could actually be plausible. That to us should be the epitome of Josei.
5. Genius Doctor: Black Belly Miss
- Authors: North Night
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Josei, Fantasy
- Volumes: 3123
- Published: 2015
All she needed was a silver needle and this genius doctor can save just about anybody. Previously, she was someone that everyone treads upon and even her fiance found new love and bullied her. However, in the new world that she is in, she saved someone that can only be described as a pest. This cruel man is a stark contrast to his perfect features and aura. Our heroine now has to be careful of this potential and possibly dangerous suitor.
In this Chinese fantasy, we find our heroine in the hands of a bewitching and charming man whose charm is just as sinister as he is. This man is the reason behind the development of the female protagonist. It is a replication that love is not perfect. Asides from that, the readers can also expect to see just how far the heroine can develop personally from someone socially awkward and loathed at by society. It just feels as though as you can put yourself in the shoes of the heroine and live through this adventure together which makes it a worthwhile read!
- Authors: Suetsugu Yuki
- Genres: Josei, Drama, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 4
- Published: 2012
Chihaya Ayase is a girl who grew up in the shadow of her sister. From a young age, she has had no observable dream nor aspiration. Then came along Arata Wataya, a quiet transfer student with a keen interest in karuta. Together with Taichi, a common friend, the trio spend their days indulged in karuta until they are separated when they graduate. Now in high school, Ayase hoped to rekindle the friendship of the trio and reignite the passion that they once shared. Will karuta be the only thing that she ignites, however...
This series gives an accurate description of a coming of age teenager. Through a common hobby, the relationship between two individuals can develop. Chihayafuru is a series that is strongly reminiscent of our days back in school and it is no wonder that the series was adapted into an anime. The light novel as well is a prequel to all the events that happened thereafter which gives light to the heroine’s inherent love for the game and teases at future romances as well. This simple tale illustrates the down to earth nature of the josei genre that is not in any way exaggerated.
3. Akuyaku Tensei Dakedo Doushite Kou Natta.
- Authors: Yamashita Nanao
- Genres: Adventure, Psychological, Josei, Drama
- Volumes: 217
- Published: 2015
Eliza Kaldia was reborn as a noble girl but it fell short of her expectations. The world that she is reborn in is completely different from the image that she has of the nobility. Due to the unprecedented intervention of a neighbouring country, the youths of this world are forced to take up arms. As such, Eliza is forced to assume the life of a noblewoman in tumultuous times. This is the start of your atypical flowery otome fantasy game.
This is a deconstruction of the isekai trope. Unlike an all-powerful main character who exerts dominance over a realm, you get a powerless protagonist which is basically someone that is normal. Eliza was forced to live in a harsh reality in which the outlook for her future is at best, grim. Here, she is forced to assume responsibilities and deal with the shared hardships of the land as a member of the nobility. This series just reminds you of the adult life but set in a fantasy realm.
2. Marietta-hime no Konrei
- Authors: Hazuki Kuroru
- Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Josei,
- Volumes: 33
- Published: ???
Marietta was a princess of the kingdom of Stellaus. She was betrothed to a general of a militant country. Everyone felt sympathetic to the princess due to her youth and innocence especially after knowing of the notoriety and ferocity of the general. In truth, the general is actually a nice person whose only flaw is his unfriendly face. This is the tale the princess and her dreamy fiance.
This series retains some elements of idealism but at the same time, it fulfils every woman dreams. We all know that a knight in shining armour does not exist. However, there exist other candidates that can very well sweep you off your feet. In a way, these series portrays realistically that the right guy is a guy that simply treats you right. Perhaps that's why our heroine describes her fiance as someone that is dreamy, someone that is special to her. Now wouldn't that be a more realistic standard?
1. The Adonis Next Door: 100 Days of Forced Love
- Authors: Ye Fei Ye
- Genres: Josei, Drama, Romance, Tragedy
- Volumes: 1030
- Published: ???
When Liang Dou Kou was diagnosed with cancer, she managed to pay Qin Zhi Ai enough money to substitute her in a marriage with Gu Yu Sheng. This marriage was anything but lovely and Qin suffered from the constant abuse at Gu’s hand. Eventually, he managed to fall for her, but just as things were recovering, Liang returns causing much anguish to Gu and Qin. Is our heroine destined to find love or just tragically unlucky?
Words cannot describe just how much emotions is invoked through this series. This novel is a popular hit amongst women. It showcases a tragic heroine who, despite all that is happening to her, still wishes to remain with her lover. The adage, love is blind is interpreted in a distorted and wayward fashion here. People in abusive relationships ought to empathize better with this series but generally, it doesn't take someone with a special circumstance to understand the pain of another human. This series shows just how dark the josei genre can become and the mature qualities it has. It is almost as painful as just how good of a read it is.
So that's our list of top 10 josei light novels that you have to start reading today. Although josei tends to be mature which makes it darker, that doesn't mean that it represents the whole genre. In fact, some josei light novels tend to be light-hearted as shown by some of the selections above! So what are your thoughts on the choices? Have you read any josei light novels? What are some of your favourite josei novels? Leave a comment and we will see you next time!