Josei Anime Subgenre

What is Josei Anime?

As young girls grow into young women, their interests change from magical girl anime to something a bit more adult. And for this, the wide world of josei is available to them. Another loanword used to denote a demographic, josei refers to anime that targets older women. Series that fall under the josei category have the same general interest in all things relationships, but with an added interest in parenthood, career struggles and gay men.


Just as shounen becomes seinen, bringing more mature approaches to predominately action/adventure shows, josei has a more adult outlook on shoujo content. The focus on romance moves from idealistic to realistic, and it's not uncommon to see relationships play out to be more bittersweet. Between romantic shows, though, josei regularly includes more kinds of stories, ranging from unique adult problems to series about guys

Josei Characteristics

Mature relationships. While shoujo deals with idealistic first loves and happily ever after romance (for the most part), josei focuses on all kinds of relationships... including some that just don't end well. It's not all bad news and abusive lovers, but it doesn't shy away from how some people really can be.


Gay subtext. It's no secret that much of the boy's love fanbase is made of girls of all ages. You can't exactly market the forbidden fruit of gay love to children, but you most certainly can to older women. The subtlety part is just taste.


Adult problems. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows once you enter the wide world. Josei's preference for stories about modern life means series in the subgenre show the ups and downs of careers, life and love unique to adult life.


It's on noitaminA. While every anime has a deal with their own TV stations, and there are a lot of TV stations, josei is the only subgenre to have an airing block on one station dedicated entirely to anime that appeals to older women. If it says it's airing on noitaminA, it's likely josei.

Related Anime Sub-Genres

Drama. Adult life is fraught with adult problems, giving rise to adult drama. Or, better put, giving us a window into everyday adult life lets certain anime show the stresses and emotional obstacles that we face growing up.


Romance. Josei can't ignore its shoujo routes, and the subgenre still focuses a lot on romance. It's not as predominant as it is with other subgenres, and some series can have very little romantic plot, but you can't ignore that it's still present across a large number of series.


Yaoi. (Also known as boy's love). The beautiful rose that blossoms between two men who have found love. More often than not a whole bunch of subtext and scenes brushed off as fanservice, josei nonetheless loves its men who love men.


Slice of Life. A subgenre that pops up fairly often in josei anime, but doesn't always signify that it's for older women. Depicting everyday life is part of what josei does, though, along with presenting stories in episodic format.

You won't like Josei if you…

  • Just want a cute, sweet love story.
  • Aren't that into guys who are into guys.
  • Don't want to deal with drama that might not have a happy ending.
  • Want to see a variety of anime under this subgenre each season.
  • Don't like anime that's predominately longer than 12 episodes.



    Here's our top 10 'best Josei recommendations'

    1. Michiko and Hatchin – Michiko Malandro has escaped from jail, and her first order of business is to find her former lover. With the help of Hatchin, the daughter of this man, the two set off on a journey across the South American landscape. A vibrant and fun anime with a refreshing change in setting.


    2. Nana – Two girls named Nana share an apartment in Tokyo, but while both are chasing their dreams, they're both headed in different directions. A lengthy slice of life series about women supporting each other through life.


    3. Paradise Kiss – Yukari Hayasaka has her life planned out for her. But her boring world is turned upside down when she's picked up as a model and meets a group of fashion design students who rock her world. A romance anime with a heavy dose of real life drama.


    4. Bunny Drop – Thirty-year-old Daikichi doesn't expect to become a father when he attends his grandfather's funeral, but the sight of helpless Rin orphaned by the death is too sad to bear. He adopts her, only later realizing he's never done the responsible adult thing before. A moving anime about being a parent that is best left to the eleven episodes that there are.


    5. Princess Jellyfish – Tsukimi is an absolute nerd about jellyfish, so it's only natural that she lives with a whole bunch of other nerds with weird obsessions. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman who turns out to be a man turns her world upside down as she struggles with her nerdy side and her hidden beauty. A comedic slice of life series with plenty of touching moments.  


    6. Nodame Cantabile – Chiaki is a musical genius held back by his fears; Noda is an eccentric free spirit whose approach to music is much different. When they become neighbours, Noda falls in love, but Chiaki isn't the kind to just go with the flow. A romcom slice of life series with strong focus on music.


    7. Honey and Clover – Three art students share a simple life of penny pinching. When eighteen-year-old Hagumi joins the group, her presence changes them slightly, bringing in the possibility of romance. A cute, character-focused slice of life series with a touch of romance and drama.


    8. Chihayafuru – After being introduced to the Japanese game of karuta in her childhood, Chihaya grows up with dreams of becoming the best karuta player in the world. It's with this in mind that she starts a karuta club in school and comes close to meeting her dear friend once more. A sports anime with a strong focus on the drama of the game over romantic relationships.


    9. Kids on the Slope – Kaoru is a meek kid who moves to a new town and is quickly acquainted with the class delinquent. Except this delinquent has a deep love of jazz, and the two develop a bond over their shared love of music. A jazz-centric anime with some focus on drama and romance.


    10. Shirokuma Café – Shirokuma is a polar bear that runs a café next to the local zoo. His customers range from animals to humans, but his days are filled with lighthearted fun just as much as they are filled with eccentric customers. A long, calming series with plenty of comedic moments.

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