Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recommendation On Josei Manga

As people get older, they tend to have a shift of taste. I am no exception. In my younger days, I love Shoujo manga. Well, I still am, but these days I found myself more and more addicted to its older sister: Josei manga.

To begin with, Josei is a manga genre that aims at female adult (or late teens). It is the female counterpart of Seinen, just like the respective words literally means; Josei means Woman, and Seinen means Young Man. Unlike the bubbly Shoujo with its school setting and cliché story, Josei have a more mature story and sometimes more sexual (it is targeted for adults, after all). But just like Shoujo, it mostly revolves around romance, drama, and slice of life.

What makes me fell in love is Josei's more realistic outlook on life, from a perspective of a young woman which of course, quite aligns with the current me. So yeah, I want to share my favorite Josei manga so far. They might not be the best, but I assure you, they are good to read.

Koiiji by Shimura Takako
"The story follows a girl named Mame, whose family runs a public bath. She has held on to feelings of unrequited love for her childhood friend for ten years."
You may have heard of Shimura Takako from its progressive manga about gender identity and puberty, Hourou Musuko. But for you who aims more at a conventional love story, try Koiiji. Koiiji is a tale of heartbreak, longing, and unrequited love, wrapped nicely in a humble family setting. The art style is cute and the story is relatively tame (as in not too heart-wrenching or complex), so it can be your first leap from Shoujo manga.

Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu by Fujimura Mari
"Aoishi Hanae is a 33-year-old woman who has a job, but no boyfriend. In fact, she's also still a virgin. It's not that she never had a chance to lose her virginity, but she let the chance pass by. At a drinking party with her colleagues, Hanae ends up confiding in Tanokura Yuto, a handsome young 21-year-old part timer at her company who also attends college, and who has recently broken up with his girlfriend. The next morning, she wakes up in a hotel next to him, and learns that they apparently agreed to start dating and then had sex that night. She has only hazy memories, and has no idea how to deal with the situation. Yuto is shocked that she doesn't remember, but hopes that they can still date. How will Hanae, who is older but much less experienced in romance, handle her surprising new relationship with the younger and more experienced Yuto?"
..Well, the description really sums it up. It might come off a bit cliche and the most shoujo-like of all the other titles in this list, but if you're into older female-younger male dynamic and office romance, then this manga is for you.

Sakamichi no Apollon by Kodama Yuki
"Nishimi Kaoru has moved from city to city and school to school because of his father’s job. So the first day at his new school was just routine for him. Being intellectual and the new transfer student, he has always been seen as an outcast and all Kaoru had to do was bare it until the next time he moved. But things were slightly different this time. First, he started to get close to the class president, Mukae Ritsuko, and, secondly, unlikely as it seemed, grew closer to Kawabuchi Sentaro. Sentaro was infamous for getting into fights, skipping class and was an overall bad boy. Strangely enough, the three of them find common ground in music, namely jazz, and Kaoru finds himself actually enjoying the new town."
This series is probably different from the rest of the list, and the reason being 1) It was told from a male's point of view, 2) It took place in Japan on 1966 with prominent school setting, and 3) It heavily emphasizes on Jazz music and friendship. That's why, despite its "Josei" tag, Sakamichi no Apollon is suitable for both female and male readers, be it a sucker for romance like me, or merely a fan of Jazz.

Anata no Koto wa Sorehodo by Ikuemi Ryou
"A fortuneteller once told her, "Marry the second man you fall in love with." Medical clerk Miyoshi did just that. However, upon leaving a drinking party, she bumps into her first love, Arishima. Feelings reignite between the two, yet Arishima is married and Miyoshi already has an amicable husband."
If I was asked who my favorite Josei author is, the answer's gotta be Ikuemi Ryou. She knows well how to toy with the reader's emotion and moral standing regarding relationship, just like she did in this manga. This manga depicts relationship in a more complex scenario since the main theme is affair, which is not everyone's cup of tea.

Natsuyuki Rendezvous by Kawachi Haruka
"A young man with poor eyesight named Hazuki works part-time in a flower shop and falls hard for the shop-owner Rokka. But what happens when he discovers that residing in her apartment is the spirit of the man she can never forget?"
In the mood for some feel train? Read Natsuyuki Rendezvous. It is a riveting, heartwrenching love story about loving someone and letting go. The manga is also well drawn, I love how the manga draws flowers in detail.

Honey & Clover by Umino Chica
"Takemoto lives in a run-down student apartment, where his greatest worry is when he'll next be able to afford to eat meat and whether he'll get to class on time. Although he's away from home and living on his own, Takemoto is far from finished growing up. Along with his crazy cast of friends, Morita, Mayama, Yamada, and Hagumi, Takemoto sets out to discover life and his true self."
Yet another Josei manga with a male lead and was told from his perspective. Honey & Clover is refreshing, full of relatable and/or lovable characters, and will bring this nostalgic feelings from your college days.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu by Kumota Haruko
"When a certain man is released from prison, he knows exactly where he's heading first. After falling in love with a traditional comic storyteller's rendition of the story called "Shinigami," he is determined to become his apprentice. The performer, Yakumo, has never taken an apprentice before, but to everyone's surprise, he accepts the eager ex-prisoner, nicknaming him "Yotaro." As Yotaro happily begins his new life, he meets others in Yakumo's life, including Yakumo's ward Konatsu. Konatsu was the daughter of a famous storyteller, and Yakumo took her in after her father's tragic death. Konatsu loved her father's storytelling, and would love to become a performer in her own right--but that path is not available for women."
Again, we steered a bit from the run-of-the-mill Josei manga. Shouwa Genroku basically revolves around Rakugo, or the art of Japanese traditional storytelling, with a bit of romance, drama, and tragedy. Compared to the rest, this manga is more elaborated in the 'career' side than the love story, but even non Japanese still can enjoy it (I didn't know "Rakugo" exists until this series, but I'm immersed in the story anyway).

14 Sai no Koi by Mizutani Fuka

"A story about two unusually mature young people. They are both smart, very together and they are in love. But, as grown-up as they act, they are still just 14 and their feelings for each other are captured with tenderness and lack of nostalgia, but very cutely."
Looking at the premise, one would easily mistake this manga for shoujo. But nope, it's actually a sugary sweet love story of some 14 years old kids, told in a rather mature way, sometimes even with sexual undertones. For example, one of the kids is secretly interested in girls, poking at the yuri genre. Other times it emphasizes heavily on the age gap trope. If you're into diabetic manga, well, here's your daily dose.

For now, that's all I recommend. If there's anything worthy to add, I will update it or make a new post. Some of the most popular titles like Chihayafuru, Nodame Cantabile, or Kuragehime, for example, don't make it to this list because I haven't read them yet and I prefer to give exposure to the less popular ones.

Well. Hope they can be a good companion in tackling your adulthood and slow days :-D

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