Initial Exploration into Josei

In an effort to find some more mature content for Omari’s Sister and Bakeneko’s Lair, I’ve been exploring josei manga.  By “mature” I don’t mean sexual and violent content. What I mean is content that revolves around women who are older than teenagers or stories that do not take place in high school or junior high.
It’s been a hard genre to research because so much it is what I’d consider pornographic, and apparently so does US Customs, because certain magazines will get caught in US Customs for DAYS. And then there’s the age difference manga that may get you in trouble with the law or, at the very least, on a law enforcement watch list. The josei waters are indeed scary waters to brave, so if you are going to blindly try stuff out like I am, proceed with an abundance of caution because the Japanese don’t label their porn/hentai or inappropriate age difference content.
Leaving that topic aside, once you cross the “smut” off your list, the list of magazines to look at becomes a lot more manageable. This is exactly what I did because smut is not my thing. I’m more into the suggestive drawing with sensual text for sexy time. I’m still exploring content, but here’s what I’ve discovered so far (my faves are highlighted in green):
Office romance and slice-of-life:
  • Kiss
  • Kiss Plus
  • Ane Lala
  • Cocohana
  • Feel Young
  • Aria (magazine is sold as shoujo but the tanks are sold as josei)
  • Itan
  • Haruca
  • Nextcomic F (specials)
  • Zerosum (Magazines are sold as shoujo)
  • Zerosum Ward  (Magazines are sold as shoujo)
  • Rinka


  • Petite Princess (sold as shoujo)
  • Princess Gold
  • Wings (sold as shoujo)
  • Avarus (feels very josei even though it’s sold as seinen)
  • Rinka

If you want to decrease your risk of running into smut when blindly choosing magazines watch out for these signs (applies to josei, ledicomi, and shoujo):

  • It’s on your local Japanese bookstore’s list of hentai
  • The title contains the word “Renai”
  • The cover image looks like something from a bad romance novel
  • The women on the cover is half naked and doesn’t seem to be enjoying it (“rapey” alert)
  • The man is holding the woman’s face as she’s trying to look away (another “rapey” alert)

Also, watch out, because at least on Amazon JP, a few of the smutty ledicomi are listed with the shoujo.  Use the rules of thumbs above and you should be safe. This is a prime example of a magazine I would not touch:

Since there seems to be a GAPING info gap with regards to non-smutty josei, it think it may be worth my time to do a more in-depth survey and spread some knowledge.  Perhaps armed with some knowledge we non-smut josei lovers may be able make better decision about what licensed and unlicensed content we read, as well as make more recommendations to US licensors than “Chihayafuru” and “Princess Jellyfish”.

If you read Japanese and would like to help with this, please let me know by contacting me at

Also, look out for our josei releases!

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