The Josei Alphabet: A

Welcome to the Josei Alphabet! For this installment, I’ve decided to focus on a small number of unlicensed titles, then try to list all of the titles that are available in English, along with Japanese magazines that start with that letter. As always, I hope you’ll mention your favorites that I’ve omitted, either licensed or not.

Some sites include yaoi titles in their josei listings. I’ve decided to exclude these for the simple reason that I may someday want to do a yaoi/boys’-love alphabet. So, while they’re often demographically targeted at adult women, I’ve decided to exclude them from this exercise. Now, without further ado…

“A” is for…

Abunazaka Hotel, written and illustrated by Moto Hagio, serialized in Shueisha’s You: A mysterious hotelier seems to specialize in guests in the midst of romantic transition or turmoil, challenging their current state of affairs. It’s by Hagio, so it’s instantly desirable, and it only ran for three volumes, so it seems within the realm of reasonable risk.

Ai wa Kassai ni Tsutsumarete, based on a novel by Metsy Hingle, adapted by Shin Kurokawa, published by Oozora Shuppan: It would be remiss of me to ignore the romance-novel end of the josei equation, particularly adaptations of popular Harlequin properties. This one is about a man trying to protect his brother from a fiancé he believes to be a gold-digger. My choices from this subcategory will probably be based on how much I like the covers, which I fully admit is lazy.

Akatsuki no Aria, written and illustrated by Michiyo Akaishi, serialized in Shogakukan’s flowers: This one’s about a beautiful young student pianist who may have supernatural connections. It’s ongoing and up to around the 11 volume point. Another of Akaishi’s josei titles, Amakusa 1637, ran for 12 volumes in Shogakukan’s flowers, and it’s about a high-school kendo champion who’s thrown back in time and uses her skills to protect persecuted Christians in Japan in the 1600s. No, seriously. It was published in French by Akiko.

Applause, written and illustrated by Kyoko Arisohi, serialized variously in Akita Shoten’s Princess, Margaret, and Elegance Eve. This classic yuri tale from the creator of Swan follows a Japanese transfer student from a Belgian boarding school to a career as an actress in New York City. Erica (Okazu) Friedman is on the case. The series ran for a total of seven volumes.

Aisuru Hito, written and illustrated by Yuki Yoshihara, serialized in Shogakukan’s Petit Comic. This smutty, four-volume comedy follows the dubious attempts of a broke college student to stay close to the professor she adores. This kind of story seems to be a specialty for Yoshihara, who also created Butterflies, Flowers (Viz).

Licensed josei:

  • All My Darling Daughters, written and illustrated by Fumi Yoshinaga, published by Viz, one volume, originally serialized in Hakusensha’s Melody.
  • Angel, written and illustrated by Erica Sakurazawa, published by Tokyopop, one volume, originally serialized by Shodensha. (I’m sure I’ll have occasion to mention this again, but Johanna Draper Carlson wrote a piece on Sakurazawa’s translated manga for The Comics Journal that she’s made available at Manga Worth Reading.)
  • Angel Nest, written and illustrated by Erica Sakurazawa, published by Tokyopop, one volume, originally serialized by Shodensha.
  • The Aromatic Bitters, written and illustrated by Erica Sakurazawa, published by Tokyopop, one volume, originally serialized by Shodensha.
  • Awabi, written and illustrated by Kan Takahama, is licensed for publication in English by Fanfare/Ponent Mon, but it’s on hold. These short stories originally ran in Yukagu Shorin’s Junkudo.

What starts with “A” in your Josei Alphabet?

Reader recommendations and reminders:

  • Anywhere But Here, written and illustrated by Moto Hagio, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s flowers, two volumes.
  • Ashita no Ousama, written and illustrated by Emiko Yachi, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Young You, 10 volumes.
  • Amatsuki, written and illustrated by Shinobu Takayama, currently serialized in Ichijinsha’s Comic Zero-Sum, 12 volumes at the time of this writing. due for publication in French by Kaze.
  • Amazoness no Matsue
  • Aru You de Nai Otoko, written and illustrated by Miho Obana, originally serialized in Shueisha’s Chorus, 1 volume.


  1. One title that is a part of “A Drunken Dream and Other Stories” from Moto Hagio is “Anywhere But Here,” which collects the “Willow Tree” story and another story not published in English, Yama e Iku (Going to the Mountains).

    Another title I would love to read is Ashita no Ousama, a manga about a country girl who learns to become a stage actor – it is notable because it is one of the earlier works by Nodame Cantible author Emiko Yachi. It was published in 1996 in Young You, and ran for 10 volumes.

  2. I was going to name Ashita no Ousama too, but I was under the impression that the protagonist wasn’t into acting but instead into directing, stage managing etc. That in itself would make it interesting. Unless I’m mistaken and it’s about acting after all.

    My primary addition is Amatsuki by Shinobu Takayama. But that depends on whether Zero-Sum is considered a josei magazine, I’ve seen it mentioned as both shoujo and josei so I guess it straddles the line. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy tale, with beautiful art and a complex plot.

    • It could very well be that she is into stage managing. That sounds even more fascinating.

      • She gets involved in theater because she’s interested in acting, but realizes that what she loves about theater is the story telling (and that she’s really bad actor) and becomes a director

        • David Welsh says:

          That sounds like a really fresh and interesting take on the “I want to be in showbiz” theme. I’d love for someone to publish this in English.

    • David Welsh says:

      Most of the references I’ve found describe Zero-Sum as josei, so it works for me. (Though the French publisher seems to be marketing that series as shounen, but weird things happen when licensing occurs.)

      • I didn’t know it was going to get a French release. More reasons for jealousy. I know a couple of people who’ll be happy about it though.

        It’s not the first time I’ve seen Amatsuki labeled as shounen. The same plot could serve as shounen or even seinen.

        • David Welsh says:

          Looking at Zero-Sum‘s list of titles, it does seem like they’re partial to genre fiction — fantasy, science fiction, mystery. That’s an awfully neat notion to me.

  3. yeah ashita no ousama is an amazing manga. and it’s indeed more about a girl who gets into directing via joining a theatre troupe first as a stagehand. also Yachi Emiko isn’t the mangaka of Nodame

  4. You have convinced me that I must read both of those Michiyo Akaishi titles. I now demand they be licensed here.

    • David Welsh says:

      I’m mesmerized by the possibilities of the second series. Time-traveling female kendo star as cross-dressing revolutionary.

      • It sounds seriously awesome. And exactly the type of story I would totally love. Shogakukan….
        Time to start pestering Viz.

  5. Here’s the rundown on Amakusa 1637. This story follows the members of a Student Council as they head out on a 3-hour boat cruise. The boat flips and they wake up in 1637 in the west of Japan, where the edicts cracking down on Christianity are being met with resistance and rebellion. Natsuki, the Student Council President, looks just like a leader of the rebels who has recently died. She is treated as a messenger from God – assisted by bits of modern technology and science. Her best friend Eri is a Historian, so she knows who all the big players are, and Seika, the “bad girl” of the group was rescued by Dutch traders and has become their mascot.

    The boys have a harder time of it – they wake up several years earlier than the girls. Natsuki’s boyfriend is a kendo master who becomes the (in)famous Miyamoto Musashi. Yatsuka becomes a young lord from an anti-Christian family – he appears to have genuinely lost his memory. And Eiji finds life and love in the past that’s worth fighting for.

    This story is memorable for several things, but the most standout quality is that Akaishi changes history for the story and thus, changes the future. In reality, in 1637, more than 30,000 men, women and children were killed to stop the spread of Christianity in Japan. This pogrom was incredibly effective – to this day, less than 1% of Japanese identify as Christian.

    It was a pretty great read for all 12 volumes and would be absolutely irrelevant to an American audience.

    • Irrelevant?! But it sounds so awesome! Probably because A. I am currently reading “Basara”, which is set in an apocalyptic future that may as well be the past and stars a female heroine/savior; B. I loved the subplot in the anime “Samurai Champloo” that dealt with Christians vs, Japanese; and C. I love historical fiction, shoujo action/adventure and kickbutt heroines in general!

      Does this title have any hope?

  6. I was thinking of a different “Anywhere But Here” when you mentioned the title:

  7. Safetygirl says:

    I wish Amasuka 1637 would come here, but that’s a long-shot. Serious shojo/josei about olden times is a hard sell.

    Unpublished, there’s Aru You De Nai Otoko, by Miho Obana (Kodocha). It ran in Chorus. I own it, but I have no idea what it’s about. :-/

  8. Would love for more josei to get licensed. Happy Marriage!? by Maki Enjouji is one I would love to see licensed. Another one is Clover by Toriko Chiya, though I am not sure if this one considered a josei or not.