Josei Anime deals with mature relationships, real romances, family problems, and work routines. It is aimed at female audiences aged 18 to 40. This genre deals with topic themes targeted at young adult women. Overall, the difference between Shoujo and Josie is the complexity of the dilemmas facing the characters. It typically uses a more realistic art style than Shoujo.
In the josei genre, the writers focus on a mature romance set in the harsh reality of adulthood, but also occasionally set in a high school environment. Some of the best josei anime on this list brings dramatic depth and slice-of-life vibes.
25/25. Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth (Sousei no Himegimi)
Set in the Victorian era in London, where different scientists invented various revolutionary machines. The josei anime follows the story of a lonely young girl considered a monster by society. Cardia Beckford is a gorgeous girl living alone in a big mansion. Her father planted his ultimate invention called Horologium in her chest, making her a monster in the process. The royal army captures her for research. However, a man named Arsene Lupin barges in to save her from the army. He takes her to a safe place and swears to take her heart. Their unusual encounter might lead to more mysteries hidden in London. Cardia will soon learn more about her existence while gradually falling in love with this gentleman thief. Sousei no Himegimi is a well-written josei with unique characters.
While the series starts off slow, it gets more interesting from the second episode.
24/25. Ristorante Paradiso
Rome is famous for its marvelous buildings and mementos that are considered a perfect place for a cute couple. This anime follows the story of a girl who decides to move to Rome to destroy the life of her mother, who left her without a second thought. Nicoletta is a kind young girl living with her grandparents as her mother left her to marry her boyfriend in Rome. She is a quick learner and adapts to different things very fast. She ends up visiting Casetta dell Orso, a restaurant in Rome, to get her revenge against her mother. However, upon witnessing the gentlemen and soothing environment of the restaurant, she begins to have second thoughts about her objective. Nicoletta ends up working in the restaurant while planning her future life.
If you are looking for a good josei anime with a slow pace to it, then you will enjoy it. The characters get more interesting as the story continues, and through multiple plots, a bigger story is created.
23/25. No. 6
For ages, War has brought nothing but endless despair to the people. This josei focuses on the life of two boys living in different worlds and their struggle to expose the gruesome truth about their homeland. Shion is a smart guy living in the No. 6 state of a city known for providing a prosperous lifestyle to the people. Despite living a peaceful life, he always doubted the entire system of the 6 city-states. He saves a young guy named Nezumi from the police. Nezumi tells Shion about his hometown situated behind these walls where people suffer from famine and every possible danger. Shion gets banished from this city along with his mother because of giving shelter to a refugee. Years later, he meets again with Nezumi, and they both decide to change the way this city works by exposing the dark side of the city to the whole world.
NO. 6 is A captivating anime. Although the character design is not the best I’ve seen, it does a very good animation job.
22/25. Paradise Kiss
It is an undeniable fact that artists are quite eccentric and strange in many cases. This anime features a group of prodigy designers working under the name of Paradise Kiss. Yukari Hayasaka is a beautiful young girl studying in high school. Despite having a lovely appearance, she has a hard time living under a strict upbringing by her mother. She caught the attention of Paradise Kiss, a group of fashion designers at Yazawa Art Academy. Isabella Yamamoto is a senior member of Paradise Kiss. She forces Yukari to become their model for an upcoming project. She fails to reject her and ends up joining the crew of these designers. Her fateful encounter with the members of Paradise Kiss may change her life for better or worse. This is a portrayal of a serious and mature character.
It is a complex fantasy romance anime with relationships between a model and a designer. If this josei has never been on your radar, then you might want to check it out.
21/25. Michiko & Hatchin (Michiko to Hatchin)
Set in a fictional city called Dimandra that resembles the actual cities of Brazil and South America. The josei follows the strange encounter between a black female criminal and a young girl that leads to their wild adventure. Michiko Malandro is a woman in her thirties. She gets arrested for various crimes. Despite being locked in a heavily guarded cell, Michiko escapes for the 4th time in search of his love. She meets with Hana Morenos, a young girl living with her ruthless foster dad and siblings. She saves her because Hana turns out to be the child of his beloved one. Together, they embark on a journey to find the whereabouts of Hana’s father. They end up forming a close bond with each other despite having different personalities and temperaments.
20/25. Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku (Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii)
A normal romance doesn’t exist in the life of an Otaku as relationships between an Otaku and non-Otaku always fail. However, things might change when two Otaku end up going out. Narumi Momose is a lovely pink hair woman who ends up losing a job because of various reasons. She loves Otaku culture, especially BL anime, but refuses to show it off because most guys don’t like Fujoshi girls. She lands a job in another company and meets his childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji, a guy with a gloomy attitude. While walking home together, Hirotaka proposes to Narumi in an Otaku way which she surprisingly accepts. Thus, a unique relationship between two fellow Otaku starts. They must deal with coming problems together to enjoy their relationship to the fullest.
A good High school rom-com josei anime series. The main characters are best described as exceptional. They’re all relatable without being boring.
19/25. Yuri!!! On Ice
This anime focuses on individuals having a passion for Ice Skating. Contestants must play each competition with their entire career on the line to survive in the world of Ice Skating. Yuuri Katsuki is a young man with a passion for Ice Skating. After training for years, he gets a chance to compete in the World Championship. However, he experiences a crushing defeat because of his habit of taking stress over things. He struggles to take a new career for his future life. During his difficult times, God blesses Yuuri with new hope in the form of Victor Nikiforov, a beautiful silver-white long hair guy, known as the champion of Ice Skating. Victor promises to help him in regaining the spotlight on the ice. However, Yuuri’s comeback on the ice might not be easy as another prodigy skater is bent on defeating him once and for all. The relationship between Yuri and Viktor couldn’t be any more beautiful.
18/25. Polar Bear Cafe (Shirokuma Cafe)
A josei features a world where animals and humans share the same abilities and intelligence. The anime follows the story of a Bear, Penguin, and Panda and their wild adventures together. Shirokuma is a big white polar bear who runs the famous Shirokuma Cafe. Humans and animals enjoy the relaxing environment and hygienic food of this cafe. Shirokuma is known for teasing his customers in a friendly manner. His regular customers are Penguin and Panda. Penguin always asks for romantic advice from him as he is in love with a female Penguin. Panda is known for his lazy behavior and clumsy actions. With these kinds of regular customers, Shirokuma experiences some wild and humorous adventures at none other than Shirokuma Cafe.
Funny and heartwarming Josie, yet a bit violent. It’s one of those animes where you ask how this will ever work. Shirokuma Cafe revolves has a different pace which draws you from the very first episode.
17/25. Kaleido Star
Circuses are famous for entertaining people with various tricks and wonders. This anime follows the story of a young girl aspiring to become a performer on the most famous Kaleido Stage. Sora Naegino is a beautiful girl and he’s an orphan living in Japan. To pursue her dream, she travels from Japan to California for an audition. However, due to certain mishaps, she gets late for it. Fortunately, the manager gives her a chance to perform on the stage, and she ends up joining the crew of Kaleido Stage. Fool, a mysterious spirit, took a liking to Sora and began to help her. Soon, Sora learns that merely joining the crew is not going to help her as she has to bear the criticism of other members and must work hard to create her place in the crew.
Sometimes funny and sometimes sad. The romance isn’t developed to its full potential, but you will enjoy every episode.
16/25. Mr. Osomatsu (Osomatsu-san)
This anime features six brothers with similar facial features living in the same house. Despite having the same appearance, their personalities are entirely different from each other. The anime follows the hectic and funny daily life of these brothers. The Matsuno household is famous for housing six identical brothers with different personalities. Osomatsu Matsuno is considered older among the six siblings. He has a good command of martial arts. Karamatsu Matsuno is another member of the Matsuno household. He likes to dress and behave in a cool manner, although he is quite stupid. Choromatsu Matsuno is known to be the most sensible among the six brothers. He is obsessed with girls, especially idols. Ichimatsu Matsuno is the comedy guy among the six brothers. Juushimatsu Matsuno is a social guy, unlike the other Matsuno brothers. Todomatsuo Matsuno is known for his twisted personality among the six brothers. Things tend to go wrong whenever a Matsuno Sibling is involved.
A slice of life and a josei. The humor is not afraid to be absurd or sometimes cringe yet still funny. You’ll probably be hooked by voice actors alone.
15/25. Honey and Clover (Hachimitsu to Clover)
This series features the life of five students who end up influencing each other’s lives through a series of events. The importance of youth, romance, and career are some of the main focus points of this Josie. Yuuta Takemoto is a teenager studying in an arts college. He has a mellow personality. Yuuta lives with Shinobu Morita and Takumi Mayama who are his seniors in the college. Despite being senior, Morita doesn’t behave maturely and ends up causing trouble for Yuuta. On the other hand, Takumi is quite mature which helps him as a true senior. Yuuta ends up falling in love with Hagumi Hanamoto, a shy girl, in his college. However, he is afraid to confess his feelings to her. Only time can tell the future of these students experiencing their prime youth.
This josei anime aims toward the adult demographic. Great cast of characters that draws you in. A mix of heartwarming moments, humor, bitterness, and sweetness.
14/25. Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona)
The Kingdom of Kouka is famous for providing prosperous and peaceful life to the people. However, in reality, the peace and prosperity of the kingdom are deteriorating rapidly with time. In such a harsh situation, a man named Su-won kills the king of the kingdom to claim the throne for himself. Yona is a young princess of the Kouka Kingdom. After the murder of her father, she escapes with Hak Son, the general of the king’s army. Upon leaving the kingdom, Yona witnesses the dire condition of the people living in the kingdom. She decided to take back the throne to restore the kingdom to its former glory. She must find the five warriors born from the blood of a legendary ancient king.
A high-quality colorful production. An optimistic anime that will keep you on the edge of your seat. A Josei hat has a strong-willed female character but the romance doesn’t take away from the action.
13/25. Kamisama Kiss
Set in a world where Gods of various shrines work together with powerful familiars to maintain the balance of the world. The anime follows the story of a girl who ends up becoming a God through some unfortunate events. Nanami Momozono is a kind teenage girl struggling in High School because of her poor financial background. Her dad is a gambler who lost everything in foolish gambles, leaving her only daughter homeless. She saves a man, who in return allows her to live in his abandoned shrine. She meets the series OP main character who hides his powers Tomoe. Nanami discovers that she has turned into a God, and she must form a contract with Tomoe to fulfill her duties as a God. However, forming a contract with cunning Tomoe might be her most difficult trial as a God.
Tomoe and Nanami shine through, and you can feel their connection. One of the best Josei anime on this list.
12/25. Princess Tutu
The power of Op Mc falling in love is quite strange as it can even interfere with the laws of nature. This josei follows the story of a duck who turns into a human girl to bring back the emotion of his long-loved prince. Ahiru Arima is a young female with a powerful pendant that transforms her into a lovely princess known as Tutu Princess. In reality, she is actually a duck, but a man named Drosselmeyer turned her into a human girl by using magic. She decides to use the power of the pendant to bring back the emotion of Myuuto, a kind prince who lost his emotion in a deadly fight against a monster. The kind-hearted Ahiru dedicates her life to saving the prince despite knowing that she might die or return to her duck form in the process.
Not your usual magical girl show. It’s a dark take on classic fairytales with a twist of tragic and sadistic moments.
11/25. Princess Jellyfish (Kuragehime)
This josei anime adaptation of the josei manga features the encounter of an otaku girl with a modern girl and the change in their individual life brought about by this fateful encounter. Tsukimi Kurashita is a young girl living in Tokyo. She aspires to become an illustrator but struggles to do so because of her introverted personality and financial problems. She has been an Otaku obsessed with Jelly Fish since childhood. Tsukimi meets Kuranosuke Koibuchi, a cross-dressing male who loves to wear fashionable female clothes. He helps her in saving a Jellyfish in a Pet Shop. Through a series of events, she ends up visiting his house every day with her other otaku friends. Their interaction with Kuranosuke will bring a huge change in their individual life for better or worse.
A quirky and unique josei anime. It’s made for a female audience, but the guys can enjoy it as well.
10/25. Revolutionary Girl Utena (Shoujo Kakumei Utena)
The josei focuses on romance and fantasy genres. The story revolves around a girl studying in an academy where mysterious duels take place. Utena Tenjou is a kind and intelligent girl studying at Ohtori Academy. She likes to dress in a male uniform because she is obsessed with a lovely red hair prince that once saved her in childhood. The prince gives her a magical ring with a rose emblem. A year later, Utena discovers that this ring allows her to participate in secret duels happening in the Academy. Upon playing a duel, miraculously, she ends up winning. As a reward, she became the fiance of Anthy Himemiya, a shy girl with the power to change the world. With this ultimate power in hand, What will be Utena’s course of action?
The lesbian anime series does an excellent job of blurring the gender lines. What makes Shoujo Kakumei Utena stand among the best josei anime out there in the dark twists of the shoujo genre?
Karuta is a classical Japanese card game inspired by traditional Japanese Poets. Chihaya Ayase is a teenage tomboy drawn into the world of Karuta. Upon entering school, Chihaya is quite unsure about her future goals as she doesn’t have any personal favorite thing to pursue. She meets Arata Wataya, a transfer student who introduces her to the world of Karuta. Upon playing a game, Chihaye ends up falling in love with the game. Years later, Chihaya is now a high school student determined to create a club for Karuta players. However, she must overcome all the hardships to achieve glory in Karuta.
I have no idea what magic the director Morio Asaka pulled, but he did get me into nail-biting during tournaments that consist 90% of the time of people sitting on the floor staring at cards like a nervous Rottweiler – but that’s the beauty of this Josie. Chihayafuru’s power lies in its characters, a bunch of people I’m not sure who I love anymore. Do not judge the series before you try.
8/25. Whisper of the Heart (Mimi wo Sumaseba)
High school life is the prime time in the lives of youngsters. The choices made in High School life turn out to play an important role in the individual lives of people. Shizuku Tsukishima is an avid book reader living in a small town on the outskirts of Tokyo. She has a passion for writing. Despite having a talent for writing, she is not sure whether to pursue it as a career. Through a series of events, she meets Seiji Amasawa, a boy expert in violin crafting. They end up becoming friends because of their mutual love for literature. Shizuku is troubled to realize that she hasn’t decided on a career, while Seiji has a definite goal of pursuing crafting as a career. This fateful encounter might help them overcome their problems in life.
The combination of Japanese modern fantasy, schoolgirl life, and coming-of-age romance make it a particularly good josei for women looking for a slice-of-life shoujo.
7/25. Nodame Cantabile
Two young individuals are drawn to each other because of their mutual love for music. Shinichi Chiaki is a handsome man known as the prodigy of music. He wishes to hone his skills in a European country, but his fear of airplanes is not helping him reach his glorious future in the music hall of Europe. He is currently studying at Momogaoka Music Academy. Shinichi meets Megumi Noda, a clumsy girl with a brilliant talent for the piano. Through a series of events, she ends up falling in love with him. With this situation in hand, What will be Shinichi’s course of action?
You will fall in love with Nodame Cantabile. The music, the story, and everything about this series make it one of the best josei anime. The soundtrack is out of this world! A lot of musical elements that make it captivating. If you love musicals or classical music, you’ll also love the Japanese rom-com drama adaptation as well.See also: 16 Anime Like Say I Love You (Sukitte Ii na yo)
6/25. Bunny Drop (Usagi Drop)
Parents have a grave responsibility to take care of their children. Although caretaking seems easy, it is quite challenging in reality, especially for single dads. This anime follows the story of a single dad who ends up adopting the illegitimate child of his grandfather. Daikichi Kawachi is a man in his thirties working as a bachelor. Despite having a proper job, he is quite unsure about his future. At the funeral of his grandfather, he meets Rin Kaga, a young girl with a mature personality. Daikichi discovers that Rin is the illegitimate child of his grandfather and none of the family members is willing to take her in. He adopts her after witnessing the cold attitude of her family members. However, raising a child might be difficult for a lonely and inexperienced dad.
Bunny Drop is a funny laid-back Josei with child/adult relationships, where adults can learn from the children about the joys of life.
5/25. Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon)
Three high school students are drawn to each other because of their mutual love for Jazz music. Kaoru Nishimi is a bright student who moves to Kyushu, a popular big island in Japan, for high school studies. He has developed an introverted personality because of moving from one city to another because of his parents’ employment. Upon entering high school, Kaoru imagines another lonely year of life, but his sudden encounter with Sentarou Kawabuchi, a man expert in playing drums, proves him wrong. Together, they begin performing jazz sessions in the basement cafe of Ritsuko Mukae, a fellow student. Their fateful encounter might change their outlook on High School life
A great combination of Jazz music, romance, growing pains, and dark emotional depressing moments. Kids on the Slope has a mature approach to romance and relationships.
4/25. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai)
Regrets are merely unfilled wishes and desires, but they can even turn a dead person into a living ghost. This josei follows the story of a guy and his reunion with Menma, his dead childhood friend as a ghost. Jinta Yadomi is a guy living a gloomy life as a shut-in gamer. He decides to ignore his high school life over some games. In the past, he made an ugly comment about Meiko Honma (his childhood friend). However, after that day, she died in an accident, leaving Jinta in enormous grief. Years later, Meiko appears as a ghost in front of him. Jinta must find his other childhood friends to find a solution to this strange situation. However, facing the regrets of the past might not be a pleasant journey for Jinta and his fellows.
The series manages to toss your emotions around while filling many episodes up with dry tears. Full emotional elements, it might be a little bit depressing.
3/25. Violet Evergarden
In an imaginary European country about a hundred years ago, a young girl named Violet – trained as a formidable war machine – seeks herself out in the new era after that war and enters the world of letter writing. Violet joins a company that employs girls who will travel far to the ends of the earth for a wide variety of jobs: be it writing wills, love letters, and diplomatic telegrams.
The latest tear-jerker josei from Kyoto Animation, which means one thing you already know: it looks great. Every frame here is an eye massage. As for the plot, well, it seems like the main function of the anime is to make you cry, and I mean a good and soothing cry, the kind that makes you feel refreshed.
This josei focuses on the encounter of two young girls with the same name and their gradual progress in forming an unbreakable bond between themselves. Nana Komatsu is a naive girl living in a small town outside of Tokyo. She tends to fall in love here and there. Despite wishing to pursue something real, She ends up chasing her boyfriend to Tokyo. She meets Nana Osaki, a young girl dressed in flashy clothes. Unlike Komatsu, she belongs to a not-so-bright background. She drops out of school because of some false accusations. Both of them ended up boarding the same train for Tokyo and found themselves drawn to each other. The threads of fate might connect them more than they ever imagined.
What makes Nana one of the best Josei Animes is that she doesn’t shy away from showing imperfect relationships. It’s a realistic romance that tackles universal cliches about love and relationships. I love when I can see these realities being shown in animes.
1. Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
This is a sequel to the Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. This josei continues the story of Yotarou, Yakumo, and Konatsu as they continue to struggle with their life as Rakugo performers. After years of hard training, Yotaru achieves the title of Shinichi. Despite performing well in front of a huge crowd, He is suffering from internal conflict. He struggles to discover his style of performing Rakugo. On the other hand, Rakugo is losing popularity among people with time, and Yakumo tries to keep it going with marvelous performances, but his old age is not helping him continue Rakugo. Yotaru ends up marrying Konatsu and they have a child named Kyouki. However, the complexity of things doesn’t stop here as Konatsu has another child named Shinnosuke. She refuses to talk about the biological father of Shinnosuke, much to everyone’s dismay.
A masterpiece josei touches on real-life subjects, such as depression, aging, betrayal, regret, and death. It’s a near-perfect piece of art with amazing direction and editing by Studio Deen. Nostalgic feelings about our lost ones and the understanding we can’t do anything to bring them back is what drives this heartbreaking anime. Each episode brings meaningful moments and manages to captivate even when the most exciting thing is a narrator who sits and tells a story to an audience.
More Josei Anime Worth Mentioning
One of the best josei anime is about a new teacher named Kumiko Yamaguchi and her impossible class. Shirokin High School is an all-boys school known for being full of delinquents. Fortunately, she can handle the young things because she is also the granddaughter of a Yakuza boss. Kumiko wins over her troubled students and helps them improve their grades while providing comedic situations.
Fruits Basket is a remake adaptation of the josei manga series. For those unfamiliar, the josei anime follows Tooru Honda, an orphaned girl who lives in a tent but maintains a cheerful spirit. Her life changes when the young woman meets the Soma tribe – guys who should be behind bars but for some reason move around freely. Each of them by the way (“by the way”, as if it were marginal) is capable of becoming a different animal from the Chinese zodiac.
Only Yesterday (Omoide Poroporo)
An anime film with an interesting and not very common female perspective, with a brilliant visual direction and lots of amusing anecdotes about contemporary life.
The young single girl, Taeko Okajima, takes time away from the noise of Tokyo and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. The josei anime film is set in 1982 and it takes the protagonist down memory lane where she was a 10-year-old girl longing for the excitement of getting out of town. During her trip, she gets close to Toshio, a serious young man who loves his farm lifestyle. However, Taeko remembers and relives vivid moments from her childhood, such as discovering that a child likes her, dealing with a mother she could not see beyond her academic failures, and the time her father beat her.