Are you not a fan of those Fantasy and unrealistic plots of the shoujo series? Looking for some more mature and down-to-earth genre? Then check out our list of best Josei romance manga, where you will be greeted with stories targeted toward older teenage girls and adult women.
Best Josei Romance Manga
30. You’re My Pet
Author: Yayoi Ogawa
Lwaya Sumire is a highly-educated, well respected, and young journalist at a major newspaper. A career woman in a society that does not appreciate successful women. Even with her social success, she couldn’t stop her boyfriend from dumping her even after five years of relationship with a less educated woman. Feeling angry, she returns home depressed, and most of all, lonely. However, when she finds an unconscious young man lying in a box out the front of her home. She takes him in since he looks like a puppy she had called Momo. In the end, she decides to keep him as her pet in exchange for a home to stay and food to live.
This manga won the 27th Kodansha manga Award for shoujo in 2003. Usually, in shoujo or josei manga/manhwas, the antagonist of the story comes off as very unreal, super-villainy, and straight-up psychopathic to drive the story along. But in this manga, the “antagonist” felt like an actual human being with their struggles and character development.
Author: Ishida Takumi
Aki Terada is a 24-year-old newly single who got cheated by her long-time boyfriend. She moved out of her apartment and began living in a sharehouse with her former classmate and her boyfriend, also her first love from junior high. Tomoya, he has his problems, for the last past two years, Tomoya has struggled with erectile dysfunction but finds himself “reacting” to Aki, and so, he asks for her help to cure him.
This manga is somewhat taboo in polite conversation but turns it into a funny, tender look at modern-day relationships, insecurities, and daily obstacles that young adults face. Aki is a relatable main character that tackled the same kinds of hurdles that many of us deal with every day, such as an unfulfilling job or feeling lost in life.
28. Koneko-Chan, Kocchi ni Oide
Author: Mihou Watabe
Yuuko is a graduated from junior college, and she ended up managing a clothing shop. Through her career is going well, she hasn’t had time to work on her love life. One day she went out to dring with her best friend, Mikan, hurt for not having a boyfriend for Christmas date. Suddenly she trips and hurts her leg. Mikan asks her younger brother Leo (an 18-year-old) to see Yuuko home safely. When they arrive at her apartment, Yuuko makes a move on him, and they end up sleeping together. The next morning, she realized that she not only slept with her best friend’s brother but also took his virginity. Leo isn’t satisfied with being a one night stand, and they end up starting a secret sexual relationship.
Author: Haruko Kumota
A young crook man has no name to call upon, but he knows well what he wants to do after he gets released from the prison- that is to train in the art of Rakugo, a productive form of Japanese storytelling. However, this ambition didn’t just awaken by itself. During his Prison days, he was fortunate enough to witness the unforgettable performance by one of the most famous masters of Rakugo art, Yakumo Yurakutei VIII. After that, it became his greatest desire to be able to learn this art from master Yakumo himself. Mater Yakumo eventually accepts him as an apprentice and gives him a name Yotaro-fool. But as Yotaro dives more into the world of Rakugo, he finds that it is much complex than he initially thought.
A manga that became the critic’s favorite and surprised many fans of josei manga. It correctly displays the historical heritage of Rakugo as the Rakugo Kyokai Association of Japan even supervises it. So, if you are one of those who is very keen on learning more about Japan, then this will be a pleasant read for you.
26. An Incurable Case of Love
Author: Enjoji Maki
Nanase, who witnessed a charming doctor save a stranger’s life, decides to become a nurse. And through her sheer efforts and will, she can realize her dream. As fate had it, she is assigned to work with her ‘prince’ charming doctor. But will her feelings change when the doctor’s true nature turned out to be nothing like she imagined him?
Published by Viz Media, ‘An incurable case of love’ is a mature and romance manga. You might have come across ‘Hapi Mari’ one of the popular romance manga by Enjoji Maki. So if you like Maki’s works, then I am sure you will definitely like this much-anticipated josei manga.
Author: Izumi Miyazono
Asuka is a hardworking woman who is very capable at her real estate work. Even though what she desires is not this employee’s life. But to marry and become a loving housewife so that she can experience the true happiness of a family like her parents. It was all going perfect until her boyfriend of five years who she thought was going to propose her soon breaks up with her suddenly. Subsequently, she meets Nanami, a very popular and handsome Telecaster, along with being a perfect gentleman. She thought he was perfect until he tells her that he does not believe in marriage. With such contrasting beliefs, will their relationship ever develop in something more in-depth?
The story might seem strange to you at first with Asuka desiring a married life instead of a successful work. But as you read through the manga, you will come to like this strange perk. With decent art and proper character development, this Josei romance manga is a good pick.
Author: Spindler Erica
The manga revolves around the life of Becky Lynn Lee. With an abusive father and a broken mother, her life was really in the drain though she was still somehow able to endure. But an ultimate betrayal broke that last thread. Getting a photographer’s assistant work in Hollywood after she escapes from that hell, Becky starts her life anew. There she discovers her talent of recognizing the beauty and capturing perfect shots. But when the camera eventually turns toward her, Becky is finally able to let go of her past anxieties. With that, she took her first step into the path of success and an independent woman who will fight back for what she wants.
It is a very captivating josei manga with showbiz element adapted from a novel ‘red’ by Spindler Erica and artwork by Hiromi Kobayashi. The author portrays the story excellently, and with Becky’s character developed in such an impressive way, you will surely come to love ‘Red.’
Author: Kozueko Morimoto
The manga depicts the romance comedy story between an employee Hirano who is always in her dream world and Koudai, who just transferred from a foreign branch. Hirano has mostly appeared to be aloof and not being able to talk appropriately with others. So when Jordan invites Hirano to have lunch with him, everyone got surprised. Little did Hirano know about the secret that Koudai was hiding and about his new interest in her.
A sweet romance manga with supernatural genre mixed in that will urge you to read until the end. You will come to adore Hirano, who is innocent and have such vivid imagination, which makes this josei romance manga very entertaining and fascinating.
Author: Chica Umino
The plot plays in an art University, and it revolves around the lives of a few students and their close surrounding experience. Takemoto is a student who lives alone in a shabby apartment where he always worries about not being able to eat meat and whether he will reach class on time. Takemoto and his crazy gang of friends set out on the journey to discover their true selves.
‘Honey and Clover’ is one of the best Josei manga out there. The artwork grows soft and relates entirely to the story and its beautiful characters. One moment you will laugh like crazy, and in the next chapter, you will bawl like a baby. That’s how this manga controls your emotions. The manga was aptly able to capture the moments of our student days, which will make you attached to ‘Honey and Clover.’
Author: Ohmi Tomu
The story revolves around the arranged marriage of two childhood friends. Hatanaka Seri is a daughter of a wealthy family but not with any significant ancestry, whereas; Furumidou Yuzuki is a son of a very prestigious ancestral family that has declined wealth-wise with time. Even if they were childhood friends, they have long grown apart and not becoming too much involved with each other.
Seri doesn’t want to agree to this engagement and thought that Yuzuki would also be having the same problem. But contrary to her belief, he seems to be at total ease with it. Little did Seri know about his deep and mysterious reason for consent to this marriage?
The art style is the major selling point 0f this manga. Seri is drawn beautifully with a strong personality and is no pushover, whereas Yuzuki is your typical handsome bishounen. If you are looking for a josei with average romance and with an exciting mystery story behind the plot, then this manga is for you.
Author: Nagae Tomomi
One year ago, Maiko had almost lost her life in an accident, if not for a donor saving her. Now she has to repeat as a college freshman after making a complete recovery. One day, as a new teacher comes to her college, she found herself continually dreaming about his younger self as well as many sinful moments, which was unlike her. Little did she know about another part of the soul that transfused into her. Follow Maiko in her story to discover about this weird mystery and trying to find her true self.
The manga will take your heart through many ranges of emotions, from being sad to love and finally joy. The plot is underlining a sub-theme that relates to destiny and change, which will make you think about life itself. The characters and art will further attract you deeper into the story. This josei romance is worth a read.
Authors: Takahashi Yuu, Ashika Nozomu, Koishikawa Funi, Saionji Michiru, Earithen
A collection of five short stories plotting the relationship between the protagonist and her sensei. A bad girl who seduces her sensei must be punished, shouldn’t she? Each story depicts a different sensei- A slightly changed sensei, a calm adult sensei, and an old yet cute sensei. Would the girl be able to resist teasing such sensei?
The romantic relationship between the narcissistic writer sensei and his assistant editor. A handsome ex-high school sensei whose wife died, but he opens up again to love another person- His ex-student. A Hot doctor and patient who were arranged to be married by their parents. The love between a student-teacher and a sport manly sensei. The relationship between Student and a cute sensei.
A josei smut manga with attractive sensei’s in the mix, get ready to indulge in the sinful moments of the manga.
Author: Yoshihara Yuki
The one Sakiko loves is already married and doesn’t accept her advances when confesses to him. But she doesn’t seem to move on from her feelings for her professor Takashou. One day, her mother decides to leave, and as Sakiko is unwilling to leave, she will now have to take care of all her expenses. But the problem is she doesn’t have the money or any job. After becoming genuinely desperate, she planned to sell herself to earn money. However, she ran into Natsuo, who is the brother of her crush. And because of him, she can get out of this situation. He offers her to stay with him and his brother. And also helps her get closer to what she desires the most.
The manga can be quite disturbing to read for those who don’t like the implied stories about the mature love triangle. The point I thought was decent was its art style and handsome men. But if you are curious and don’t mind such stuff, then you can give Aisuru Hito a try.
17. Darling Wa Namamono Ni Tsuki
Author: Yoshihara Yuki
Setsuko is the daughter of a transexual man who runs a cross-dressing host bar. She has trouble feeling aroused, but then she meets a doctor whose touch instantly awaken’s her sensual urges. They marry after he accepts her confession soon enough. Follow Setsuko and her handsome Dr. Tanabe as they live out their marriage and struggle to maintain their sex life and love each other.
If you are looking for something about a married couple’s sex life and are not against 18+ series, then you can give this josei romance manga a try. Although the art might not be up to your taste, the comedy, the marriage life of this couple will make you interested.
Narumi is a cute young woman who loves anything anime or manga related, and the BL genre makes her especially excited. Because of these tendencies, she has not been able to keep her relationships for long. Narumi changed her workplace as she got fed up for being ridiculed as an otaku. She thought that she would be able to have a quiet life here as her new colleagues did not know that she is an otaku. But a chance meeting with her childhood friend Hirotaka Nifuji who is an avid gaming otaku will make her follow her fujoshi heart. Follow Narumi and Nifuji as they begin dating and develop on their relationship.
A manga that is especially appealing to otaku. The story is with steady pacing, lots of reference to otaku life, cute romance coupled with humorous moments. Even the interaction and love between the supporting character portrays very nicely. Enjoy a slice of life series? Then you will surely like Wotakoi.
Author: Satoru Yamaguchi, Hidaka Nami
Eight years old Katarina Claes is a daughter of a Duke. When she came to visit her arranged fiance, the crown prince she accidentally fell and hit on her head by a rock. It was not that big of an injury due to this incident though Katarina was able to recover her past life memories. It is how she came to know that the world she is living in is similar to the otaku game from her previous life. And she turned out to be a villain who interferences with the heroine’s love captives. A villain with destruction flags no matter the Heroine gets a happy or bad end. Now the only thing that worries Katarina is that will she be able to avoid these flags and reach old age peacefully?
If you are an avid otaku who loves the reincarnation genre with the otaku context, then you will adore this manga. You will enjoy the comedy antics of our reincarnated protagonist as she tries to befriend everyone while working hard not to become a villain.
On Aiwei’s 17th birthday, her brother gives her a golden snake-shaped bracelet that belonged to the most beloved wife of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. Which made her very excited since she loved ancient things. But Aiwei isn’t happy because the brother for whom she has a strange feeling is going to get married soon. While feeling down, her tear fell on the bracelet, and suddenly, she is transported to the world of ancient Egypt. Now, masquerading as Nefertari from long ago, soon enough, she meets an exotic and flirtatious prince.
Just the title is enough to tell you about the central theme of this manga. Aside from that, if you love to read the time-traveling genre and a pro-protagonist who knows stuff about ancient times, then you should give this josei manga a try.
Author: Satoshi Morie
Ayano has become deeply fascinated with reading books. The books make her forget reality, and therefore, she always appears to have her head in the clouds. Hoping to make her more aware of the real world, Ayano’s mother sends her to be an assistant of a one-time author now working as a consulting detective, Noumi Takayuki. By being at his side, will she be able to draw a line between reality and fantasy? And will she be the help that Noumi needs to fight his inner sorrows?
Do you love reading books? Are you looking for mystery and josei genre manga? Then you should check out this manga. Even though the plot is a bit fast-paced, with decent artwork and a deep story, you will find the manga a good read.
”Inoue-san, you are my first boyfriend” says the 28 years old Yamamoto.
”I don’t have a lot of experience either, but we will work through it together,” answers the 32 years old Inoue.
Even though it is also his first time in a relationship, he couldn’t tell that to Yamamoto.
Follow them as they develop on their relationship while being clueless about dating. The adventure is filled with fluffy love-comedy and a straight couple, which will make us adore all their cute antics. Experience the moments of first love in this josei romance manga.
11. P.A. (Private Actress)
Author: Michiyo Akaishi
Shiho is a ‘private actress’ who works for a private company. She also takes personal assignments where she needs to take real-life acting roles, such as being a fake girlfriend or a pretend daughter. And as this episodic manga continues, we will also glimpse at Shiho’s past and how she can grow as a character.
The manga has a unique plot, which is enjoyable. The interrelated central theme with each chapter taking on different stories. With josei, mystery, romance, and supernatural element, ‘Private actress’ is worth a read.
Usemono Yado is plotted in an Inn where people can find lost things. The landlady that manages the Inn is cold toward the customers but always ends up helping them. However, the invisible items are not just tangible one that the guests are trying to find but also the deepest desire of their heart.
Each guest comes at the Inn with different tales of life. As the manga is quite a short one, the characters have less screentime, but each story displays a life-lesson in itself. The landlady’s woeful tales will make you go deeper into the nostalgia and melancholy aura of the manga. Accompanied by enchanting and precise artwork, you will feel connected with it. Usemono Yado, a real gem, deserves more readers.
Author: Ai Yazawa
NANA- is a story that revolves around two women who have the same age and shares the same sir name.
Nana Komatsu has endured through many hopeless cases of love at first sight and thus fallen into boyfriend problems. She moves to Tokyo to get her life straight and find true love in this big city.
Nana Osaki is a confident and focused girl who knows what she wants. Her dream is to become the Japanese top rock ‘n’ roll superstar. She doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone and is quite refreshing.
While being on the train to Tokyo, the two somehow were able to meet and become friends. They decided to share an apartment. From this moment forth, they go through the betrayals, relationships, breakups, parties, and sinful moments with their lives weaved in the wheel of fate.
The realistic take on the plot and characters depicted by Ai Yazawa is what makes this manga one of the best josei series out there. Youth is a period where we have to take various life-changing decisions. If you like to read more mature stuff and also glimpse at the precious time of youth, then NANA is for you.
08. The Full-Time Wife Escapist
Author: Tsunami Umino
Moriyama Mikuri is a single 25 years old lady. Even though Mikuri has an advanced degree, she is not able to find any permanent job. Afterward, she takes on the house cleaner work for the single salary Tsuzaki. But she longs to get job-related to her career. However, all of her attempts have been unsuccessful so far.
One day, her parents decide to move back to the country, and Mikuri is unwilling to go. So she comes up with a plan which involves her to marry Tsuzaki, though only in paper. And as Tsuzaki doesn’t want to let go of his housekeeper, he agrees to his arrangement. Follow Mikuri with her new, unusual life, as she looks to start her career as a professional and also as a ‘new wife.’
It is an adult manga with a take on married and work-related life. The art style is decent, and the author has given proper care toward details. So, if you are looking for a married relationship manga, then you can provide ‘The full-time wife escapist’ a try.
Author: Okazaki Mari
Minami Fuji is a 27 years old woman who works at an advertising agency. She is always focusing on her work and neglecting her personal life. And this ignorance led to a break up from her seven years long boyfriend. Due to this, she fell into depression and seriously reflect on her issues. First, though she tries to divulge in her work, however, life wounds are never easily forgotten. Therefore, she decided to become more social and hang out with her colleagues in her free time. But she has long forgotten how to interact properly while being socially active.
Suppli is about how we can properly manage our work and personal life. One needs to also give some time to themselves, their family, and friends. Realistic take, beautiful scenes, and life issues addressed with romance and drama genre makes this josei manga interesting.
Author: Amemiya Yuki
The manga is set in a fantasy world with the story revolving around an orphan slave boy, Teito Klein. After passing an exam, he was able to become the top student in the Military Academy of the Barsburg Empire. Teito, like other students of the Academy who are enrolled in a special course, can freely utilize an ability called Zaiphon to fight. However, after some unexpected turn of events, he was forced to flee from the Empire. With the military now after him, Teito found refuge in the church at District 7, land protected by the 7 Ghosts. Where the military can’t touch him due to District 7’s Law of the sanctuary. As the plot develops, many secrets and past vengeance will eventually come to light with Teito in the midst of all it.
07-Ghost is a tale about the kingdom wars and, most of all, about how one can overcome the bad things in life with strong vigor. An epic supernatural story with a complex plot and gorgeous men.
05. Paradise Kiss
Author: Ai Yazawa
Yukari has never known anything besides studying all her life. So when a fashion student asks her to model for the next fashion show, although she is hesitant at first, but eventually agrees. Yukari eventually becomes immersed in the fashion world and her new love for George, the leading designer, will she be able to keep up with her academics? Or will she end up following her new passion?
Paradise Kiss is a josei manga by the mangaka of the famous ‘NANA.’ With a relatable art, detailed fashion sense, maturity, and comedy to make it more enjoyable, the manga can intrigue us all. I would recommend this manga to those who like to read a mature and realistic series.
Author: Tomoko Ninomiya
Shinichi Chiaki is a musical genius and perfectionist who aspires to be able to play among the elites in Europe. Although he has requisite credentials and exceptional skills, the only thing that’s stopping Chiaki from leaving for Europe is his fear of flying.
As fate would have it, Chiaki happens to meet with a very eccentric girl called Noda Megumi, aka. Nodame. When Chiaki first saw her, he thought she is just an airhead and didn’t have any direction in life. But one day, when he hears her playing the piano, he was left feeling in awe by her talent in music. However, he is still dismayed to discover that she is his neighbor and always like to hang around him. Follow the musical story of this cute couple as they fall in love and develop their relationship while also working hard to make their dreams come true.
Nodame Cantabile is a very popular musical josei manga. You will love the adorable relationship between our two main protagonists. The plot and characters are good, but what makes this series amazing is the passion it shows, which makes it enjoyable. So if you love the musical genre, then this manga is highly recommended.
Author: Akiko Higashimura
Amamizu-kan is an old apartment with a ‘no men allowed rule.’ Tsukimi, a geeky young girl, has been a massive fan of jellyfish since her childhood. She found Amamizu-kan to live-in after she moves to Tokyo to become an illustrator. The Amamizu-kan is entirely occupied by a weird otaku bunch of NEET women who are not interested in fashion or being social. One day, Tsukimi was trying to save a jellyfish in a pet store and a stylish ‘cross-dressing’ woman, Kuranosuke came to help her. Little did Tsukimi know this encounter will lead to forever changing her life. Follow the story of Tsukimi, Kuranosuke, and the other geeky women in Amamizu-kan as they learn to love and become more confident in their selves.
Even though the manga is full of humorous moments, but the deep theme emphasized here is what makes it more precious and amazing. One should love their self, and we are all unique with a unique mind and appearance. Always follow your desires and don’t focus only on other people’s views. A manga, which is worth a read.
Author: Kozueko Morimoto
The Kuroda family is one of the most powerful and feared Yakuza clans in Tokyo. And yet, who is the heir of this terrible and family? A woman named Yamaguchi Kumiko. And what is her occupation? A rookie math teacher in a Shirokin Gakuen Senior High, a school where the delinquent’s dropouts are enrolled. The students wanted to make her life miserable, but with Kumiko’s perseverance and aggression, she can win the respect of these wild bunch. She tried to keep her background a secret, but Sawada Shin, the smartest guy of her class, discovered it. So you see ‘Yankumi’ as her students like to call her, is in a little bit of trouble.
If you are looking for a light read with good humor and a unique set of characters, then you have found it! Don’t be discouraged by its simple art, and you will be blown away by its addicting plot, which will make you keep on reading until it ends.
Author: Yuki Suetsugu
Chihayafuru tells the story of a high school girl named Ayase Chihaya, who aspires to become the Karuta Queen because of her fateful encounter with her childhood friend, Wataya Arata. Arata was a shy kid in class who Chihaya eventually befriends, and she was able to discover the fantastic talent of Arata in Karuta, which made her deeply mesmerized. Karuta is a traditional Japanese card game. Although she is gorgeous, she never really focused on her beauty. Moreover, what makes her passionate is her love for Karuta. With her friend Taichi and Arata, follow Chihaya as she strives hard to achieve her dream.
Chihayafuru is a story about friendship, passion, and dreams of the youths as they follow their hearts and work hard to achieve their dreams. With the extra enthusiasm of Karuta in the manga and its beautiful artwork coupled with cute romance, this josei manga is a rare and perfect combination between Shoujo and shounen.
With that, I conclude the list. So, which among the list of best josei romance manga, you would like to read? Which one is your favorite? Do tell me in the comments.