Compared to shonen, shojo, and seinen, josei is vastly underrated. However, taking the backseat by no means makes josei inferior to the remaining three demographics. Constantly outshined by its peers, josei has a relatively shallow puddle of anime to choose from.
Even in the small pool, names like Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju and Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day stand out from the rest of the clan. Though many start as masterpieces, others are better than expected. Despite low expectations or actual triumphant performances, some josei unexpectedly win the hearts of many, surprising every audience member with an exquisite show regardless of first impressions.
10/10 Usagi Drop’s Anime-Only Ending Is The Best Decision The Creators Ever Made
Anime deviating from its original manga isn’t news, but rarely does it do the anime any favors. Along with the rest of the diamonds in the rough, Usagi Drop shines with a sterling reputation by abandoning its written material.
In the manga, Usagi Drop has the father and daughter figure come together as a romantic duo. Disregarding the disturbing ending, the anime chooses to shift its focus onto strong messages of parenting. The heartwarming anime makes a family out of a traumatized six-year-old and a bachelor struggling with forced parenthood. Knowing how perturbed the manga’s ending was, the standards for an Usagi Drop anime were on the ground.
9/10 Kids On The Slope Is Better Than Its Flaws
More often than not, the execution of a motion picture makes or breaks its success. Kid on the Slope diverts the audience’s attention from underdeveloped and/or unnecessary plot points by mesmerizing them with captivating music and animation.
The “opposites attract” friendship between Sentaro and Bon is a classic trope, but awe-inspiring nonetheless. Unfortunately, Kid on the Slope breaks everyone’s hearts by having the duo fall apart. Many argue that the awkward love triangle screen time could’ve been spent on Sentaro and Bon diving deeper into their friendship. Regardless, the musical anime is beautiful in visual and audio, bewitching enough that fans accept the heartbreak with open arms.
8/10 Chihayafuru Isn’t Just Another Sports Anime
There’s a clichéd format that sports anime are notoriously known to adapt: the dramatized shots, endless monologues, and over-the-top special effects. Chihayafuru isn’t exactly above the arguably-overused tone of voice, but they certainly add to its banality.
Chihayafuru digs deep into a journey of self-discovery. The characters are fleshed out and go through baby-steps growth with each match. For example, Chihaya’s obsessive fixation on Karuta often clouded her judgment initially, but over time, she opens herself up to the world around her. The struggles with self-worth are the sprinkles on the cake that make the anime so divinely relatable to those navigating through life, determined to make their mark.
7/10 Shirokuma Cafe Is Cuddly, Adorable & Not Just For Kids
Just like sports anime, fables in any branch of the entertainment industry struggle with stigmatization for being infantile and inherently for children of young ages, not full-blown adults. With this prejudice in mind, even longtime anime fans who have been exposed to a plethora of out-of-the-box premises avoid series like Shirokuma Cafe.
The cuddly iyashikei fable gives its audience a laugh in every episode. From bad puns to chaotic shenanigans, there’s never a dull moment in the lives of the wacky trio. Shirokuma Cafe proves to be a wholesome slice-of-life that promises nothing but calmness and laughter.
6/10 Paradise Kiss Is Far More Complex Than The Start Of A Modeling Career
In Paradise Kiss, innocent high school student Yukari stumbles upon the opportunity of a lifetime. Never rebelling her entire life, Yukari was apprehensive about accepting Parakiss’ offer. Sick of abiding by the rules, Yukari set her modeling career into motion, starting on her journey rife with romance, self-exploration, and jaw-dropping fashion.
At first glance, Paradise Kiss’ tedious josei tropes may turn viewers off from the series. In reality, the anime offers some immaculate character development swarming with teenage angst. Not only does it star each individual’s growth, but also how they foster healthy relationships albeit clashing values and ideologies. What was assumed to be Paradise Kiss’ downfall is what made the anime truly sing.
5/10 Petshop Of Horrors Challenges Calm Josei Tropes
Unlike seinen, josei doesn’t dive into dark, nitty-gritty storylines. So for Petshop of Horrors to be considered a josei is criminal — or at least, that’s what some die-hard fans believe. When going into a josei, viewers often expect a calm day-in-the-life of the layman in a modern and contemporary setting. Petshop of Horrors is anything but that.
Petshop of Horrors adds some flavor and diversity to the somewhat monotonous demographic. Curious Count D owns a pet store in LA’s Chinatown, selling inconspicuous supernatural animals to unsuspecting customers. Count D has patrons signing contracts that must be followed to a tee, selling to lost souls in dire need of some emotional stability. He never mentions the long history of fatality that comes with every signature.
4/10 A Destructive God Sits Next To Me Humanizes A Deity
The anime industry is no stranger to religious parodies. From Saint Young Men to The Devil is a Part-Timer!, A Destructive God Sits Next to Me isn’t the first anime to turn the religious premise into a wholesome slice-of-life. Harsh criticisms about the anime not doing enough with its fantastical premise float about the interwebs, but many believe that the mundane approach is the entire point.
With the expansive fantasy genre anime already has, A Destructive God Sits Next to Me dissects an inherently fantastical plot from a different angle. It provides a fresh approach to fantasy while adding some spice to a simple slice-of-life.
3/10 Ristorante Paradiso Is Wrongfully Accused Of Being Boring
Tranquility is often misinterpreted as dull. Although it may be true in some cases, it isn’t for Ristorante Paradiso. The lack of an overarching plot puts Ristorante Paradiso on the long list of perfect watches when wanting to wind down after a long day. Ristorante Paradiso is a light watch that requires no solid commitment, and viewers can easily binge it.
In a small restaurant in Rome, Nicoletta falls for Claudio almost immediately. Though the two never pursue a romantic relationship, the sweetness of their deep and unique bond has fans pining for more. Nicoletta and Claudio help each other heal, unpacking all their hangups, giving the series more depth and meaning than anticipated.
2/10 Michiko & Hatchin Lacks Much-Deserved Attention
Even in the unpopular josei demographic, Michiko & Hatchin is vastly underrated. Not conforming to unsaid josei norms, Michiko & Hatchin addresses heavy topics of conversation without pastel colors and pretty music to lighten the load.
Rescued from an abusive foster home, Hatchin trusts Michiko almost immediately. Slowly, they form a beautiful mother-daughter-esque bond while chasing down Hatchin’s dead-beat, estranged father. The anime presents a family not bound by blood without omitting the painfully raw emotions that come with it. Michiko & Hatchin is emotional, genuine, and authentic, and much better than anyone would have anticipated.
1/10 Princess Jellyfish Was Ahead Of Its Time
Princess Jellyfish stars a group of women and a crossdresser who have resorted to isolating themselves from the outside world in fear of judgment. Each character in Princess Jellyfish has a quirk society marginalizes for not fitting into any boxes.
In line with today’s standard of satiric dark humor, Princess Jellyfish speaks for queer communities without shying away from the public’s harsh criticisms. In trying to find their place in a society that doesn’t want them, they find themselves. It’s an honest look into overcoming heteronormative societal expectations as each character learns to be unapologetically themselves. With the rise in activism, a Season 2 should be in order — especially to rectify the disappointment of Season 1’s finale.
NEXT: 10 Best Josei Anime, Ranked