Two weeks ago I have embarked upon a journey to ascertain the real difference between Shoujo and Josei manga. Shoujo is supposedly targeted at younger female audiences while Josei is intended for +18 female readers. I’ve read enough Shoujo mangas, and all I needed was several Josei titles. Looking through completed titles sorted by user ratings seemed a sure thing. Having no problems in differentiating Seinen and Shounen, I thought that with a large enough sample it would take only a bit of time.
Well, for starters, finding a readable Josei manga proved nearly impossible. Due to sheer idiocy of “plot”, stupid premise and lack of good art that might incite me to overlook said idiocy I’ve tried and failed at Hapi Mari, Gold, Aisuru Hito, Kimi no Sei (the list goes on but these are the titles I haven’t summarily executed). This lead me to a conclusion that Josei as a genre has some serious issues which in turn made me draw some conclusions I will not share here. I know a far-fetched idea once I start entertaining it (usually).
As I am stubborn and quite adamant at finishing what I’ve started, I have actually come to several other conclusions (full of those, yes) based on partially reading previously mentioned titles and seven titles I’ve actually read.
CONCLUSION: There are three main differences between Shoujo and Josei.
1. Josei often includes sex, as in sex plays a more important role in the story than love and friendship. This being said, it does not mean it’s more mature and serious. It often adds to the general silliness of the plot.
Example: Hapi Mari
2. Characters are as old as the targeted demographic, meaning they are mostly working women in their late twenties or university students.
Example: Midnight Secretary
3. Quality Josei is often about the maturation of the female character, something like a bilgundsroman. Whether it’s grappling with the transition into adulthood or simply handling changed life circumstances, one of the biggest differences between good Josei and good Shoujo manga.
Example: Delicious Relationship
Of course, dipping into a large enough pool does leave you with a few pearls which make it worth the while (one of which is the above mentioned Delicious Relationship). I will nutshell (150 words or less) a couple later on this week.
The important thing is…