Manga has an extensive readership in Japan and people of all demographics consume manga. Being no exception, josei (JOH-say) is a complex genre that incorporates a number of sub genres – each with it’s own narrative and aesthetic conventions. The scope of this project will address that diversity only passingly in order to focus on titles that have potential for public library collection development. This genre overview is limited to josei titles that have been translated by North American publishers specifically for that market and titles that have been translated by fans and posted online (fansubs).
It’s difficult to make a general statement about the narratives and characterizations in josei. Like much manga it is marketed to a diverse demographic and can encompass a wide range of topics and sensibilities. Perhaps the best way to describe josei is to establish that readers who consume it have – due to age, experience or taste – moved beyond the demographic catered to by the shojo (girl’s comics) and shonen (boys comics) genres and express a consumer appetite for narratives that address more adult complexities. This is not to say that is no overlap in the topics that shojo and josei address but that the author and audience of josei cast a more sophisticated and, sometimes, nuanced eye on the subject matter. Josei often tells stories of people starting college, striving in their careers and, generally, struggling with the
human condition. It addresses societal expectations, family dynamics and the search, in a complex world, for an ideal object of affection.
Image: character art from Tramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa