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Josei manga (女性漫画, lit. women's comics, pronounced [dʑoseː]) are Japanese comics aimed at older teenage girls and adult women who are able to read kanji without the aid of furigana. Josei manga should not be confused with "shōjo manga" (少女漫画) for younger teenage girls or "ladies comics" (レディースコミックス, redīsu komikkusu) or "LadyComi" (レディコミ, redikomi), which tend to contain erotic content and only takes up a portion of josei rather than its entirety.[1] Readers can range in age from 18 to 45.[2] "Josei" is the Japanese word for "woman".[3][4]

Josei manga often portray realistic romance, as opposed to the mostly idealized romance of shōjo manga, but this is not always the case. They tend to be both more sexually explicit and contain more mature storytelling than shōjo manga, although this is not always the case either. It is also not unusual for themes such as infidelity and rape to be present in josei manga. Examples of well-known josei manga include Yun Kouga's Loveless, Ai Yazawa's Paradise Kiss, and the award-winning works of Erica Sakurazawa.

Some of the most popular josei manga have featured male protagonists and/or an almost entirely male main cast,[5] and the male characters are often quite compassionate toward other men. 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.[6]

Josei manga adapted into anime are often noted for their tendency to feature homoerotic themes.

The western approach to josei has all but ignored some of its more recent trends, such as an increase in shonen-influenced series. Although there are housewife, family and young mother-themed josei manga published in Japan, very few non-yaoi josei series are licensed for Western publication.[7]

The shōjo and josei manga magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum features plenty of popular josei series. These include Makai Ōji: Devils and Realist, 07-Ghost, Loveless, Karneval, Are You Alice?, and +C: Sword and Cornett, all of which are leading examples of josei's unique characteristics.


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, here are the circulations for the top-selling magazines in other categories for 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[8])


Josei manga (then called Ladies Comics, or Redikomi) 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 manga for adult women.[9] The first ladies comic magazine, Be-Love, was printed in 1980. At the end of 1980 there were two ladies comics magazines, at the end of 1989 there were over fifty.[10] 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" has acquired a reputation for being low-brow, and "dirty", and the term josei was created to move away from that image.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Frederik Schodt. 1996. Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Stone Bridge Press. p. 124
  2. ^ a b Ito, Kinko (2003). "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. ^ Jim Breen's online Japanese-English dictionary entry for josei. Accessed 21 September 2012.
  4. ^ Tangorin online Japanese-English dictionary entry for josei. Accessed 21 September 2012.
  5. ^ - see rank #18 and #22
  6. ^ - in reference to genre elements of Josei
  7. ^ "Josei - Anime News Network".
  8. ^ Japan Magazine Publishers Association Magazine Data 2007 Archived 2012-03-15 at the Wayback Machine. The publication, which relies on information provided by publishers, categorizes the magazine Cookie (with a reported circulation of 200,000) as josei, but Shueisha's "S-MANGA.NET" site clearly categorizes that magazine as shōjo, and it is therefore not included here.
  9. ^ Ito, Kinko (2003). "Japanese Ladies' Comics as agents of socialization: The lessons they teach". International Journal of Comic Art, 5(2):425–436.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Matt Thorn What Shôjo Manga Are and Are Not

Further readingEdit

  • 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.

External linksEdit