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Josei manga (女性漫画, lit. comics for women, pronounced [dʑoseː]) are Japanese comics aimed at women in their late teens on into adulthood. Josei manga are distinguished from "shōjo manga" (少女漫画) for younger girls on the one hand, and "ladies comics" (レディースコミックス redīsu komikkusu) or "LadyComi" (レディコミ redikomi), which tend to have erotic content on the other. Readers can range in age from 15 to 44. In Japanese, the word josei means simply "woman", "female", "feminine", "womanhood", and has no manga-related connotations at all.

Josei comics can portray realistic romance, as opposed to the mostly idealized romance of shōjo manga, but it does not always have to be. Josei tends to be both more sexually explicit and contain more mature storytelling, although that is not always true either. It is also not unusual for themes such as infidelity and rape to occur in josei manga targeted specifically more towards mature audiences. Some other famously popular josei series include Yun Kouga's Loveless, Ai Yazawa's Paradise Kiss, and the award-winning works of Erica Sakurazawa.

Josei, being targeted to older audience, often differs in style and tone from shōjo manga, which is aimed at younger girls. For example, in recent years, the most popular josei series have featured male protagonists and a main cast of nearly all men and the male characters of a josei series are often quite compassionate toward other men. Although some josei manga can feature plots and characters influenced by shōjo, others feature action-packed stories, and lack the romantic and slice of life elements typical of shōjo.

The josei series that become anime are often noted (and criticized) for their tendency to feature homoerotic themes, often because of a large misinterpretation of the demographic origin. Josei has come to a point where it is often mistaken for shōnen when adapted to an anime. Series such as 07-Ghost, Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East, or (most recently) Karneval are josei series that seem to attract a large amount of discussion from audience members that are unaware of the meaning of a josei status.

The westernized approach to josei has all but eclipsed its most recent evolution toward shōnen manga: subdued yaoi hybrid insinuations. Yaoi, as a genre geared toward the same audience as josei, is the sole homosexually oriented manga represented in the west. As such, the blanket conception of yaoi as a singularly outlying interest for the "strange" josei audience remains to be a popular assumption, when in fact, most mainstream josei is neither akin to shojo, nor akin to graphic yaoi.

The very celebrated josei comic magazine Monthly Comic Zero Sum features the most popular series that are readily attributed to the status of a josei work. These include Makai Ōji: Devils and Realist, 07-Ghost, Loveless, Karneval, Are You Alice?, and +C: Sword and Cornett, three of which have been turned into anime, all of which are leading examples of josei's notably unique characteristics.


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