10 Josei Anime That Were Ahead Of Their Time


There’s endless creativity on display in the anime industry and it remains one of the most ambitious mediums of storytelling. Every year brings forward hundreds of new anime series that push boundaries. One way anime stands out among other animation mediums is through the wealth of specific genres that cater towards niche interests and audiences.



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One of anime’s more prominent genres is josei, which are stories that are geared towards female audiences who are in their late teens up to their early thirties. Many distinct josei series have come out, some of which are not just popular, but also ahead of their time.

10 Nana Accurately Depicts The Perils Of Navigating Through One’s Twenties

Ai Yazawas nana has always been recognized for its raw brilliance, but it’s emerged out of its cult classic status in recent years as newer audiences discover this emotional gem. nana is a 47-episode josei series that compares and contrasts the lives of two young women in their early twenties – both named Nana – as they embark into adulthood on their own.

nana makes its mark through its realistic description of toxic relationships, addiction, and how frightening someone’s twenties can be, all while set to the backdrop of the punk music scene. The subject matter that it tackles in the early 2000s is the type of melodrama that’s much prevalent in modern anime.

9 Paradise Kiss Details The Life-Changing Power Of Passion And Community

Paradise Kiss is a 2005 anime that’s easy to mistake for a shojo series since it’s set in a high school, but the themes that it explores are considerably more adult than its characters. Paradise Kiss details an overworked student finally finding her purpose in life when she embraces fashion and accepts a life as a model.

The stakes in Paradise Kiss are all personal in nature and the anime is an excellent example of how important it is for everyone to find their passion. The life lessons that Paradise Kiss unpacks have become the mantra of many modern anime, such as Kids on the Slope.

8 Petshop Of Horrors Is Thought-Provoking Anthology Storytelling With An Edge

Anthology storytelling has only grown in popularity during the past decade, but Petshop of Horrors tackles the trend way back in the late ’90s with this off-kilter take on The Twilight Zone. This anime anthology focuses on a supernatural petshop where the mysterious Count D gleefully sets customers up with new animal companions.

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Each episode of Petshop of Horrors looks at a different unsuspecting customer whose lives are made worse after they make contact with Count D. At only four episodes, there’s not a lot of petshop of horrors, but each of its macabre morality tales are satisfying.

7 no. 6 Has Two Courageous Outcasts Fight The Future

There is no shortage of anime series that dwell on future dystopias, but no. 6 reframes this despondency through the lens of a thriving utopia that’s full of sinister secrets. Shion and Nezumi are two displaced outcasts who find themselves in a unique position to take down the false paradise of No. 6.

At only 11 episodes, no. 6 doesn’t waste any time and it’s able to do remarkable character work for these two lost souls and the affinity that they find in each other. The heartwarming relationship that’s formed between Nezumi and Shion becomes the best part of no. 6 and where it beats other refugee stories.

6 Princess Jellyfish Has A Passion For Fashion As It Celebrates Society’s Outcasts

Anime can tell unbelievable stories about people with superpowers, but some of the medium’s most moving narratives are the ones that accurately explore mundane misfits who have been rejected by society. Princess Jellyfish is a touching tale where a group of introverts in their late-teens and early-twenties are able to collectively come out of their shells as they find a sense of community in each other.

A sweet coming-of-age story transpires after Tsukimi, the central character, has her eyes opened by a fabulous princess. Princess Jellyfish properly balances real-life woes with fantastical undertones and celebrates the differences that make everyone unique.

5 Chihayafuru Uses A Competitive Card Game To Empower It Protagonist

There are an endless variety of sports anime in existence and Chihayafuru is a fascinating series that plays by its own rules by taking elements from both josei and sports series. Karuta is a classical Japanese card game in which the anime’s heroine, Chihaya, happens to be a prodigy.

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Chihayafuru is suspenseful when it comes to the competitive karuta theatrics that Chihaya finds herself in, but it’s just as satisfying with its character development and how Chihaya slowly learns to put herself first in life.

4 Only Yesterday Returns To The Past To Find Clarity In The Present

Studio Ghibli is one of the most beloved anime studios in the industry. Ghibli films are sometimes reduced to the fantastical adventures that Hayao Miyazaki tends to prioritize, but Isao Takahata is another essential voice at Ghibli who brings forward much more gloomy stories.

Only Yesterday doesn’t goes all in with its plot and it finds comfort in the humble idea of ​​a grown woman who takes some time to look back on her childhood and lost years with the benefit of hindsight. Only Yesterday came out in 1991 and helps set the mold for challenging retrospective dramas.

3 Michiko & Hatchin Turns Two Brave Outlaws On The Loose

Michiko & Hatchin is a 22-episode breath of fresh air that neatly fits into the josei genre, but with a passionate enthusiasm for fast-paced action and adventure. Michiko is an escaped convict on the run who befriends an abused orphan named Hatchin.

Individually, they’re overwhelmed, but as a team Michiko and Hatchin are able to help each other avoid capture and reach the answers that they’ve been after for years. Michiko & Hatchin is proof that successful josei series can be full of girls and guns, yet still have time for mature character development.

2 Honey And Clover Is An Emotional Pressure Cooker For Its Young Adult Roommates

A great way to build drama is by putting a bunch of disparate people together. Honey and Clovera 24-episode josei anime from 2005, feels a little like a reality series once three college students move into an apartment together, attempt to make ends meet, and become productive members of society.

The relationships and number of people that occupy this cramped space grow more cumbersome across the anime’s two-dozen episodes. Honey and Clover features many familiar character types, but at no point does the series feel predictable or clichéd. The characters in Honey and Clover act like real people, not contrivances of an anime series.

1 Yuri!!! On Ice Soars Through The Air With Style And An Open Heart

Yuri!!! On Ice is one of the breakout josei series of the past decade and it’s found tremendous success by keying into the arena of male figure skating with a tone that’s deeply indulgent in satisfying fan service for the josei demographic.

The broader framework of Yuri!!! On Ice is interested in disgraced figure skater Yuri Katsuki getting his groove back and returning to glory. However, it’s the earnest male relationships that help Yuri!!! stand out. The josei series doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable topics that would make other series blush.

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