We know you’re probably here mainly for the anime list, but wait because an important premise must be made.
Anime can’t be Josei, just as they can’t be Shonen or Shojo either.
And after this necessary but somewhat tedious premise to avoid misunderstandings, here is our list of the best anime based on Josei manga.
And for those who are not familiar, Josei refers to manga aimed at an adult, female audience, so you can consider it as a counterpart to the Seinen target audience.
Table of Contents
07-Ghost is an action anime adapted from a Josei manga, first released in 2009 and comprising 25 episodes.
The story follows Teito Klein, a young boy who has lost all memories of his past, that possesses a special power that allows him to wield Zaiphon, a unique magic utilizing words as weapons.
Teito enrolls in the military academy of the Kingdom of Barsburg, where he befriends Mikage, his loyal ally.
However, their journey soon becomes entangled in a dense web of mysteries.
07-Ghost skillfully blends mystery and action, creating a captivating and distinctive anime experience that will keep you entertained from start to finish.
If you seek an anime with a classic fighting-oriented feel, this series will undoubtedly meet your expectations and leave you satisfied.
Loveless is a fantasy anime with a boys-love story that premiered in 2005, consisting of 12 episodes.
The story revolves around Ritsuka, a boy still coping with the recent disappearance of his older brother at the hands of the fearsome Septimal Moon organization.
One day, he encounters Agutsuma Sobi, who reveals himself to be his brother’s former fighting partner in a unique technique involving a fighter and a so-called sacrifice.
But as their bond strengthens, complexities arise over time.
Loveless is an anime that tends to polarize opinions: you’ll either love it or dislike it, leaving little room for a middle ground. Its plot is peculiar, with strange narrative choices and character development.
As a result, we recommend watching it with your own eyes to ultimately form your own judgment.
18. Bibliophile Princess
Bibliophile Princess is a recent fantasy romance anime released in 2022, released in 12 tender episodes.
The story centers around Eliana, a young girl from a noble family who adores spending her days immersed in books. She is betrothed to Prince Christopher, but one day, she discovers that he had feelings for another girl in the past, which sparks jealousy within her.
Bibliophile Princess” is a charming, innocent, and lighthearted anime with a historical backdrop, perfect for fans of sweet and straightforward romance tales.
If you’re seeking a simple and delightful love story, this anime is definitely worth considering.
Karneval is a captivating 13-episode anime released in 2013, blending adventure, action, fantasy, and mystery, that it is unjustly overlooked.
The story follows Nai, who is on a quest to find the man who raised him. His search leads him to a mysterious bracelet bearing a symbol connected to the country’s most powerful organization, the Phantom Circus.
Through a series of events, he becomes entwined with Gareki, a young thief. But is this encounter merely a chance meeting, or is it the start of an extraordinary adventure?
For those seeking an action-packed anime with a fast pace, intriguing mysteries, and thrilling action scenes, Karneval is the top choice on this list.
16. Hatenkou Yugi
Hatenkou Yugi is a distinctive anime from 2008 that weaves together elements of magic, romance, and fantasy.
The story revolves around Rahzel, a young girl who is abruptly expelled from her home by her father, setting her on a journey of exploration in the world.
Initially traveling alone, she soon encounters Alzeid, a boy seeking revenge for his father’s death.
Their relationship is marked by a mix of love and animosity as they journey together to different cities, aiding those in need and striving to find their purpose in the world.
Hatenkou Yugi is a more intricate anime than it may initially appear.
It delves not only into adventurous scenarios but also emphasizes the characters’ personal growth and development, and their constantly growing love story.
Servamp is a 2016 anime adaptation based on a popular 12-episode josei manga, offering a thrilling blend of action, comedy, and supernatural themes.
The story follows Mahiru Shirota, a first-year high school student, who unexpectedly encounters Kuro, a peculiar black cat.
Little does Mahiru know that from this moment onward, his life will be forever changed, as he becomes entangled in an ancient conflict between vampires and humans.
Servamp boasts great and vibrant animations, well-crafted character design, and a compelling narrative filled with humor and gripping action that goes beyond the ordinary.
If these aspects resonate with you, this anime is a worthy addition to your list.
Princess Jellyfish is another unique anime released in 2010, comprising 11 episodes that encompass comedy, slice of life, and romance.
The protagonist is Tsukimi Kurashita, an enthusiast of jellyfish, whose dream is to become a professional designer. To pursue her aspiration, she relocates to Tokyo and settles in an all-female apartment building.
One day, Tsukimi encounters a girl who rescues an endangered jellyfish, and a unique bond forms between them. However, everything takes a surprising turn when Tsukimi discovers that the girl is, in fact, a boy.
There is little need for elaboration, as you may have already realized that the best word to describe this anime is simply: quirky.
So if you seek an anime that is enjoyable and refreshingly different from the norm, this is a definite must-watch.
13. Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Natsuyuki Rendezvous is a good romance anime with psychological elements, released in 2012 with only 11 episodes.
Hazuki falls in love at first sight with an older woman who works as a flower girl. Her name is Rokka, and to get closer to her, he decides to get hired as a part-time employee in her store.
However, the woman is by no means ready to enter into a relationship, as she is still suffering from the recent loss of her husband.
Moreover, still conditioned by the grief over the loss, the woman can see the ghost of the man, preventing her from moving on.
If you are a fan of romance anime with profound themes and limited space for comedy and lighthearted moments, this series is undoubtedly a worthwhile choice.
12. Ristorante Paradiso
Ristorante Paradiso is a unique anime released in 2009 in 11 episodes, which blends romance and cooking.
This story is set in Italy and is about Nicoletta, a girl who has lived since her childhood with her grandmother.
Her mother Olga, years before, had left her in the care of her grandmother so she could live with Lorenzo, a man who doesn’t want to have relationships with women with children.
Nicoletta, now grown up, decides to take revenge by showing up at Lorenzo’s restaurant, called Ristorante Paradiso, to expose her mother’s lie, but she is unexpectedly captivated by the stunning beauty of the restaurant.
That’s when she decides to pretend to be a friend of Olga’s and not her daughter so that she can be hired at the beautiful place where Claudio, a waiter with who she falls in love, works.
Ristorante Paradiso is a small animation gem with a unique atmosphere, set in a beautiful, unique, and lively Italian setting.
Its story is also unique and interesting, with some great 2000s animation vibes, so be sure not to miss it.
11. Polar Bear Cafe
Polar Bear Cafe is an anime that premiered in 2012, spanning 50 episodes adapted from a josei manga that offers a lighthearted and amusing story.
The anime follows the daily adventures of a polar bear who manages a cafe, along with his diverse colleagues and customers, who happen to be all sorts of animals.
As the plot suggests, Polar Bear Cafe is a straightforward and unpretentious anime, perfect for those seeking pure enjoyment without the need to follow complex storylines.
If you’re looking to unwind and have a good time, it’s an excellent choice to brighten your day.
Gokusen, based on a Josei manga, was released in 2014 and is undeniably one of the best choices on this list if you’re seeking a wacky and incredibly funny series.
The story revolves around Kumiko Yamaguchi, a bright young woman who starts working as a math teacher at Shirokin Academy, an all-boys high school filled with troublesome students.
However, unknown to everyone, Kumiko is also the head of a major yakuza clan, and she must keep her criminal identity a secret, despite the constant hassle from her students.
The vice-principal becomes suspicious of her and attempts to get her fired on multiple occasions, making it a challenge for Kumiko to maintain her double life.
As some of you might have already guessed, Gokusen can be seen as a female version of GTO, an iconic series to say the least.
So if you’re in the mood for laughter and an anime that doesn’t take itself seriously, adding it to your watchlist is an absolute must.
9. Paradise Kiss
Paradise Kiss is a captivating series released in 2015, blending a quirky atmosphere with elements of comedy, slice of life, and romance.
The story revolves around Yukari Hayasaka, a high school senior who one day catches the attention of Arashi, a boy who suggests she models a production dress for his work group at the school festival, due to her beauty.
Initially hesitant, Yukari eventually changes her mind after encountering George, a fellow student of Arashi’s, which leads to a transformative experience in her life.
Paradise Kiss is a fun and highly entertaining slice-of-life anime. Its standout feature lies in its exquisite character design, with each character exuding charm and unique style in their clothing.
If the premise has intrigued you, we wholeheartedly recommend not missing out on this series. It’s bound to leave you captivated and entertained.
8. Only Yesterday
Only Yesterday is a beautifully crafted movie released in 1991, which is still more than enjoyable even today, over 30 years after its release.
This movie is a true representation of the slice-of-life genre and follows the story of Taeko, a young woman in her 30s who has always lived in the city.
While vacationing in the countryside with relatives, she begins to reminisce about her past and the events that took place 20 years earlier, when she was just 10 years old.
The movie alternates between these two realities, creating a captivating and interwoven story. It tells a complete story of a lifetime in just two hours and manages to be both poignant and entertaining at the same time.
As Taeko grows up and faces the challenges of adulthood, we also see her fall in love and navigate the complexities of relationships and life.
Only Yesterday manages in its nearly 2 hours to tell a story that is as intricate as it is incredibly straightforward and tender that will remain in your heart.
7. Descending Stories
Descending Stories is a unique 2016 anime based on a Josei manga and adapted in 13 episodes.
The anime revolves around the Rakugo, a traditional Japanese drama genre where a performer tells captivating and humorous stories in a long monologue.
After witnessing a Rakugo performance, a prisoner becomes deeply inspired by it and decides to pursue this art form.
He seeks out a renowned Rakugo master, leading to a compelling and intricate flashback that unfolds, filled with artistic brilliance and unexpected twists.
Descending Stories is not an anime for everyone, and we understand that. Its pacing is deliberately slow, as the story revolves around the intricacies of this particular art form rather than relying solely on its narrative.
If you are a fan of anime that possesses such caliber and depth, we wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try.
6. Honey and Clover
Honey and Clover is another underrated romance anime that presents a deeply psychological story within its 24 episodes, released in 2005.
The narrative takes place in a fine arts academy and follows the lives of five students, three girls and two boys, as they navigate love and the challenges of life.
Honey and Clover tells a deep story that is about the complexities of the transition from adolescence to adulthood and the obstacles that come with it related to different themes, including love.
All with unique animation and character design typical of Chika Umino, the same author of March Comes in Like a Lion.
Wotakoi is a fantastic short romance anime that takes place in a well-crafted workplace setting that only counts 11 episodes adapted from a Josei manga.
The series follows Narumi Momose, a young woman who is determined to keep her otaku interests a secret at her new job.
However, her plans unravel when she unexpectedly reunites with her old friend Hirotaka Nifuji, who not only shares her otaku hobbies but also knows about them.
As their relationship grows, they make a pact to support each other’s interests and team up in Monster Hunter.
Wotakoi is undoubtedly one of the best romance anime featuring otaku MCs, if not probably the best ever.
The characters are well-developed, the plot is entertaining, and the love story is cute and tender, making it one of the best picks in this list for romance lovers.
4. Bunny Drop
Usagi Drop, adapted in 2011 from the homonymous slice-of-life comedy Josei manga, is an outstanding anime that we consider one of the best when it comes to depicting the theme of childcare.
When 30-year-old Daikichi returns home for his grandfather’s funeral, he discovers that the elderly man had a daughter from a recent affair with a much younger woman.
The rest of the family has already made up their minds to have no involvement with the quiet little Rin.
Driven by a surge of pride, Daikichi decides to take care of her, only to realize that raising a child is far from simple.
This captivating slice-of-life series beautifully chronicles the evolution of their relationship from complete strangers to developing a genuine and tender bond.
Bunny Drop is a heartwarming and wholesome anime that we highly recommend to fans of heart-touching and uplifting tales that are sure to bring a smile to your face.
3. Kids on the Slope
Kids on the Slope is a great anime from 2012 that immerses you in the adventures and daily lives of its main characters.
The story revolves around Kaoru Nishimi, an honor student who is forced to move to his relatives’ home due to his father’s financial difficulties.
It is in this new town that he meets Sentaro Kawabuchi, a rebellious youth with a deep passion for jazz music, and Ritsuko, the owner of a family-run record shop who becomes Kaoru’s love interest.
Kids on the Slope offers a unique portrayal of a group of friends who share a common passion, grow together, and experience the ups and downs of life and love.
So if you want to feel part of their events and lives, add it to your watchlist as soon as possible.
Chihayafuru is a criminally underrated anime that blends romance with sports, comedy, and slice of life, released in 2011 with 25 episodes.
The story follows Chihaya, an average girl with a dream of seeing her younger sister live a happy life.
However, the arrival of Arata changes everything when he tells her she’s making a mistake by dedicating her life to others. Arata is a renowned player of the Japanese card game Karuta, and he soon gets Chihaya hooked on it too.
This starts her journey to become the number one player in the sport.
Chihayafuru is an excellent anime that seamlessly weaves together various themes and elements, keeping the viewers engaged without ever feeling dull or unbalanced.
If you’re also a fan of love triangles, we highly recommend this anime, as it presents an excellent one.
1. Nodame Cantabile
Nodame Cantabile is a great romance anime that intertwines a great trauma-solving love story with a music-centered plot.
The story follows Shinichi Chiaki, a gifted pianist who spent his childhood in Europe but had to return to Japan due to his parents’ divorce. Shinichi harbors a dream of returning to Europe to pursue his musical aspirations, but he has a paralyzing fear of flying.
But his life takes a turn when he encounters Megumi Noda, a fellow pianist with a carefree and easygoing personality.
Their meeting sets off a series of events that will forever change their lives.
Nodame Cantabile presents a predominantly comedic atmosphere, skillfully intertwined with psychological moments that should not be overlooked.
The anime also features a cast of excellent and charismatic characters, which further enhances the overall experience.