Josei Manga Recommendation — Romance Manga

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Welcome to my post on romance manga for the josei demographic.

As mentioned in my previous post on ‘What is Josei Manga?’, romance in josei manga is often realistic and can be pretty emotional to read.

Related post: What is Josei Manga?

A lot of adult women read josei at times because the events that take place relate to them at a personal level. It’s a really good wake-up-call to some of the fuffy innocent shoujo manga that adult women also happen to read.

I often find the romance in josei manga a lot more thrilling in a sense because it is so dramatic. Shoujo romance does have drama too but I find that dramatic moments in a shoujo romance are a little childish in comparison. Topics like infidelity are brought up in a josei manga which does add to the thrill of continuing as the reader will have a ‘what’s gonna happen?’ kind of anticipation that builds up until the next chapter comes out.

As of late, I have been reading more josei romances as I am of the josei demographic due to my age. The manga have been wonderful so far and right now, I do want to share with the rest of you what I would recommend in terms of josei romance manga.

So, without further ado, here is my 5 josei manga romances in no order of rank.

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku

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(Otaku – Someone who is obsessed with Japanese anime, manga, and its merchandise)

(Fujoshi — Someone who is obsessed with BL anime, manga, and its merchandise. BL is ‘boys love’ aka. romance between men)

This title is a literal shoutout to my fellow adult manga/anime fans.

Office worker Momose Narumi is a fujoshi otaku who hides her hobbies. She is dating her co-worker and otaku friend Nifuji Hirotaka who is a gaming otaku and doesn’t care if people find out he is an otaku. This romantic comedy is packed with very relatable scenarios when you are an otaku in the adult world. Enjoy the fun times that occur ٩̋(๑˃́ꇴ˂̀๑)

If you’re an adult and still love your games and cartoons, don’t believe the rumours that you won’t find your significant other or that you won’t get a legitimate job — this title proves that both are possible as long as you are honest with yourself. Narumi is struggling with her identity while Hirotaka is perfectly fine with showing his hobbies. Narumi is worried about her co-worker’s perceptions of her and so can’t be herself so in this manga, she learns to be more honest and expressive about her desires.

Although not as dramatic as some josei romances, I think this is a great one to start especially if you’re transitioning from shoujo to josei.

Please Love the Useless Me

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*Never published outside Japan
Source: (Only translated in French as of yet)

I read this title on a free-distributing site a few years ago, please try not to do this and support the original mangaka by buying the physical copies.

Funny enough, there’s also a drama based on this series so if you’re curious, you can look for it. It’s under the same title.

Maintaining a romantic relationship is a two-way contribution. If you’re just giving and never receiving, the relationship becomes unhealthy and you’ll never be happy.

Shibata Michiko is an unemployed woman who wastes all her money on keeping her young lover happy. She truly believes that by buying him whatever he wants, she’ll keep him. However, that is not the case as she was dumped mercilessly. Broke and still unemployed, Michiko now has to find a job to survive. After a series of unsuccessful jon interviews, she bumps into Kurosawa, an intimidating former boss of hers and forms a deep connection with him.

Some of you may sympathise with Michiko while others might scoff at her stupidity because of course, how could you have a functional relationship if all you’re doing is giving. However, the point is not about making dumb choices in love, it’s about learning from those mistakes and finding a person who is also willing to work on the relationship as much as you’re willing to give.

Please Love the Useless Me is a lesson on communication in romantic relationships because there will be such people that will take advantage of the ‘givers’ in a relationship.

The Lion and the Bride

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Even young people can face such problems in relationships, it’s not just adults.

Yua is only a second-year high school student and she has experienced much tragedy in her life. With her parents dead by the time she was in junior high and her grandmother being her own family left, she dreams of a happy family that she wants to create with her special someone. However, tragedy strikes once again and her grandmother passes. With no one left to care for her, Yua’s teacher proposes marriage and she accepts, having loved him for a while. Her dream seems to be coming true until her teacher reveals he already has a son — the mean boy sitting next to her.

Ok, I’m getting weird stares from some of you. This manga is also categorised under shoujo so the teacher-student romance thing is present. Even though the plot is a little unrealistic, the romantic dynamics are. Yua learns what it’s like being a stepmother. It’s a little amusing but it’s eye-opening because it’s hard to connect with someone who has so much hostility towards you. She questions her feelings and her choices upon seeing that not every marriage is a straightforward one, starting with her own.

Perfect World

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How do you maintain a romantic relationship with someone that has a disability? Many challenges await but if the two are committed, they can overcome anything.

Kawana Tsugumi is an interior designer working at a design company. She goes to a drinking party one evening and meets her first love, Ayukawa. He is still as wonderful as ever and the two hit it off instantly but something seems different throughout the conversation. It’s not until he is leaving then she realises what has changed: Ayukawa is in a wheelchair.

This is the first manga I’ve read that talks about people with disabilities and their struggles in relationships, especially with able-bodied people. Tsugumi comes to realise that she is not only Ayukawa’s girlfriend but also his caretaker, ensuring that he is safe and that places are accessible to him. This ambiguous role of caretaker-girlfriend confuses her at times because people don’t see them as a couple but a disabled person and his caretaker. Other challenges that come with being a girlfriend to a disabled person are also highlighted, making this a realistic read that will definitely tug at your heartstrings.

Gozen 3-ji no Muchouchitai (3am Dangerous Zone)

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*Never published outside Japan (Can’t find physical copies online as of yet)



I read this title on a free-distributing site a few years ago, please try not to do this and support the original mangaka by buying the physical copies.

This is another series that has a drama under the same title so if you’re interested, you can take a look.

Momoko is an illustrator that finds herself works for a company that does pachinko designs. The work is long requiring a lot of all-nighters and her co-workers are anything but normal to her. Her workaholic life strains her relationship with her boyfriend and Momoko finds herself thinking, “What am I even doing here?!”. Will she be able to survive her job and fix her relationship at the same time? Or will she move on to find someone else?

(Pachinko — a game machine in Japan mainly used for gambling)

I’m sure many of us have felt the need to sacrifice the people we care about in order to chase our dreams or provide for the family. But what happens if the work isn’t to your liking? Sure, you may be getting what you want but at what cost? This manga tackles the idea of the choices we make that can affect the way we interact with others and while it is heartbreaking to see a couple slowly drift apart, we know that it was bound to happen anyway. Realistic and introspective, this title will surely give you something to think about.


Although romance is the name of the game, a lot of factors contribute to a successful relationship — communication, the willingness to receive as well as give, etc. These titles talk about a different issue that we readers will definitely relate to.

Although these manga are meant for the josei demographic, I often recommend these to older teens (16 and up) as I find that teens these days are more entertained by emotionally wrenching stories that talk about real-life issues with love and friendship.

Regardless of the audience, josei manga can teach a thing or two about romance and what it takes to make it work. Perfect World is particularly painful because the struggles in working on a relationship when your partner is disabled are so real (not that I’m disabled or been a relationship where my partner is disabled but the sympathy is there if you get what I mean).

As always, if you have anything to say about my recommendations, feel free to comment down below, I’d love to hear it 🙂


  1.        I must admit to not being a romantic novel reader. Having said that, I was impressed with your article, both by your knowledge of your subject, and by the fact that I could relate to certain aspects in the books you described. To be honest I was not aware of the various types of romantic novels. You certainly seem to have a feel for your subject and it comes across, I for one, have been enlightened somewhat.


  2. I have never been very interested in anime. My daughters have always enjoyed it. They have tried for years to get me to watch anime and have tried to get me to read the books but I never have. 

    I love to read and I love romance novels. Reading this post has gotten me interested in at least giving one of the books a try and see how I like them.

  3. Dear Violet,

    Seems like manga stories are quite interesting indeed! And they all seem to always have a huge twist everytime things seem to be going well for the main characters. But that’s why they keep thrilled, right? Like that Lion and the Bride one. An orphan loses her only guardian to death and when she finds a refuge them a huge twist.

    And in the practical world these twists are still happening. I can attest to this since I attend couples seminars (for instance, just yesterday) and people are going through. For us who do a bit of counseling, we find some cases quite complex. 


    Boniface from AndroidBix 

    1. Thats pretty interesting. I’m a little lacking in the couples aspect so I didn’t know such twists actually happen in real life. I guess you never know until you step outside 😊

  4. Oh such an interesting article ! My favorite anime of all time is My Neighbor Totoro. I have watched it over and over, and can’t wait for the theme park to open. Anyways, I haven’t read too many mangas though. All my friends are big manga fans, I’m open to start reading, haven’t found anyones that I like. Please Love the Useless Me seems interesting.

    1. Oooh I know that theme park. I’m also waiting for it to open haha. “please love the useless me” is interesting. It’s worth reading ☺️

  5. You have colorful pictures that goes well with you content. The narration flows smoothly and it is easy to read.

    It has also make me interested to know about how the story will end.

    Is there a movie version?

    Overall a good page with good content as you have put in effort to create it. 

    1. No none of these have anime adaptations or movies. Two of these have drama adaptations (live adaptations) which you can watch if you’re interested. 

  6. Dear Violet,

    I really enjoyed reading your article, it is well written and interesting. 

    I have never read manga novels before, but I am such as sucker for romantic novels. Once I start reading, I am simply unable to stop! Romance is just one of the genres that I enjoy, but definitely one of my favorites.

    ‘Please love useless me’ sounds like an interesting book. I am a massive believer in women, and I feel that a lot of women tend to put themselves down and do not reach their full potential. Especially in relationships. A lot of women tend to feel that they need to be a doormat for a man, while they actually don’t get respected when they act that way.

    I will look into reading that, and would like to investigate the manga genre further.

    Thank you for the article and all the best.


    1. “Please love the useless me” is a lovely place to start. There’s a drama too if you’re interested but reading it is way more worth it. I hope to hear how you like it 😊

  7. This life is about give and take. I used to believe that gift usually strengthen relationship until I discovered that it only happens when the love in the relationship is not one sided. 

    Can we call it a cruel love or life is not at yua side? After suffering so much in her life, she still ended up getting betrayed by are teacher that turned out to be her love. I learnt that no matter the circumstances, we should try and learn how to accept faith. Thing usually happy for a purpose. It means her new family is expanding little by little, lols.
    Relationship with disabled lover is a little bit challenging. It take strong love to keep the relationship moving without stumbling.
    All these manga are amazing and I can’t wait to get my own copy.

    1. Well josei manga is all about facing all kinds of tricky things in love and life. This genre can be a little heavy but it’s amazing once you see how the story unfolds. I’m glad you enjoyed my selections 😊

  8. I’ve just recently started reading mangas though I’ve been an anime fan for years.

    I’m impressed with your knowledge of the subject. Mangas, in general, is a whole different experience.

    Not only how they present the overall story but the subject it speaks of as well.

    It entraps you from the first moment to the last. Thank you very much for the article I will definitely check it out.

  9. Interesting article with full details. Though I am not a big fan of anime but when you have kids and a wife who loves them a lot, you do not have a choice than to give in to their pressure most times to watch it. The one I could still remember well to be my favorite is My neighbour Totoro. But then, I have developed great love for manga and I am open to read as many as possible and besides, I cannot seem to pinpoint the one I like most for now.

    1. My Neighbour Totoro is great, I watched it when I was young too 🙂 It’s ok, we all are spoiled for choice when it comes to manga so take your time.

  10. I dont usually read romantic books, I prefer watching the whole thing but this josei manga looks really god and I thnk i need to read one of them. While reading through your review, I fell in love with the perfect world overview. To be honest, I love romantic tragedy and I think its a good pick for me. I like that they are realistic too. Thanks for the review

    1. Perfect World is more of a realistic view on relationships where your partner needs extra help due to a disability or something similar. I wouldn’t say it is a tragedy but it does have its angsty moments that will make your heart clench. Thanks for the compliment, I hope you enjoy it 🙂

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