Not as sought after as other commercially successful genres like shoujowhich can literally be translated as “young girls”. Joseiwhich means “woman” or “female”, is a genre of anime that is slowly gaining popularity, not only for its focus on female audiences ranging from late teens to adults.
Contrary to shoujo anime that tends to paint a rosy picture of romances, Josei productions prefer not to put away their dirty laundry, illustrating both the good and bad effects of romantic relationships. Sick of idealistic seduction gimmicks in shoujo lively? Why not give these Josei animates with a realistic touch a shot.
What happens when two girls with the same name but totally opposite personalities meet on a train to Tokyo? No, they don’t make sardonic remarks and hate each other whenever they lay eyes on each other, as you’d expect in most mainstream movies.
Associated with a euphonic musical soundtrack rich in emotions, girl (2006) answers the aforementioned question by gradually revealing the complexity of the female psyche. The coming of age series indicates that feeling lonely is a deeply ingrained feeling that everyone shares despite any discernible differences, and treasured friendships can be the answer to getting through life’s setbacks. There’s even a live-action adaptation of the same name that’s worth checking out.
Paradise Kiss (2005)
From the same author of girl – manga artist Ai Yazawa, Paradise Kiss (2005) instead focuses on the fashion and modeling industry. The series begins when model student Yukari Hayasaka gets noticed by a group of art school students who want her to be the model for their fashion project.
Never considering modeling an adequate source of income, Yukari soon finds herself having fun working with eccentric designers, especially head designer George Koizumi who she finds irresistible and unpredictable. In a tale of unlikely friendships and whirlwind romances, the series’ impeccable East-Meets-West fashion inspirations also make it a must-see for fashion enthusiasts.
Dealing with a boy’s high school crowded with delinquents is no stumbling block when you’re a skillful descendant of the yakuza clan.
Gokusen (2004) is a light-hearted high school comedy about Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a yakuza boss who finally realizes her dream of becoming a teacher. Her strengths and experiences in the crime syndicate make her a capable partner for her male students, resulting in countless comedic situations. Simultaneously, his unorthodox teaching method guides the troublemaking men not only academically, but also in their outlook on life itself.
Nodame Cantabile (2007-2010)
With a Japanese live-action drama equally entertaining series, Nodame Cantabile (2007) sees the journey of two gifted aspiring musicians, Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda. While Shinichi strives to become an accomplished conductor, Megumi or better known as Nodame struggles to develop her natural yet uninhibited talents at playing the piano.
Classical music fans should try watching this romantic drama that not only offers insight into the harsh complications of becoming a successful musician. The series is also popular for the undeniably hilarious and charming relationship dynamic that the two main characters share.
Michiko and Hatchin (2008)
While the anime features various depictions of various cultures, underrated gems like Michiko and Hatchin (2008) proves unique as it is one of the few shows that casts its main character as a darker-skinned badass woman.
Hana Morenos is a young girl trapped in an abusive foster home who dreams of one day being rescued by her Prince Charming. his legitimate daughter. Together, they drift through the heated lands of the fictional South American-inspired country Diamandra in hopes of realizing their respective dreams and restoring past regrets.
Honey & Clover (2005-2006)
A heartwarming story of warm friendships, bittersweet love and self-discovery, Honey & Clover (2005) and its sequel (2006) depict the intertwined lives of a group of art school students, each with their skeletons in the closet while maintaining their unique joie de vivre.
The slice-of-life series differs from other coming-of-age stories because it’s not afraid to show the soul-searching background. From facing countless failures in achieving his goals to the harsh realities of a best friend’s unrequited love.
Restaurant Paradiso (2009)
Abandoned by her mother as a child, the great Nicoletta decides to leave the countryside and go to Rome to ruin her mother’s remarried life. When she finally reunites with her mother at a restaurant called Casetta dell’Orso, Nicoletta is immediately drawn to the peculiar place surrounded by delicious food and an all-gentleman staff.
Her knowledge from cooking school allowed Nicoletta to become an apprentice at this dream restaurant, making her the only female employee. Nicoletta slowly discovers that there is more to life than getting revenge on her mother, falling in love with the Italian lifestyle, and developing a crush on one of the male staff members.
Emma: A Victorian Romance (2005)
For period drama fanatics, Emma: A Victorian Romance (2005) is set in 19th century London, centering on a hardworking and affable housekeeper named Emma. Her beauty and kindness have attracted many suitors, but none strike a chord with her quite like the dashing high-society gentleman, William Jones.
However, William’s family and conservative English society resent their relationship as it is a violation of tradition. Will Emma finally break through class barriers with her strong persistence and fervent love to find William?
Jump Beat! (2008)
Everyone loves an independent woman who works hard to control her life. In the case of Kyouko Mogami, the road to becoming a self-made woman is long and winding.
Upon discovering that her longtime crush and childhood friend Shoutaro Fuwa has taken advantage of her naivety and hard-earned salary to support her rising career as a pop idol, Kyouko swears to become even more successful than Shoutaro. She enters the convoluted world of the entertainment industry as a rookie star, slowly realizing the importance of self-love as she meets people from diverse backgrounds and personalities.
Bokura Ga Ita (2006)
First-year high school student Nanami Takahashi is eager to make new friends, but the person who caught her eye is none other than Yano Motoharu, whom she gradually falls in love with. Beneath Yano’s popularity and good looks lie his insecurities about love, the result of his first girlfriend dying in a car accident with one of her ex-lovers.
In the midst of all possible misunderstandings, heartbreaks and other love interests. Nanami and Yano’s willful relationship keeps audiences hooked despite their obvious love for each other.
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