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Josei (女性漫画?, lit. comics for women) also known as "ladies" (レディース redīsu) or "ladies' comics" (レディコミ redikomi, lit. "LadyComi") is a type of manga created mostly by women for late teenage and adult female audiences. Readers range from 15 to 44. In Japanese, the word josei means simply "woman", "female", "feminine", "womanhood" and has no manga-related connotations at all.
The stories tend to be about everyday experiences of women living in Japan. Though there are some that cover high school, most cover the lives of adult women. The style also tends to be a more restrained, realistic version of shōjo manga, keeping some of the wispy features and getting rid of the very large sparkly eyes. There are exceptions in the style described above, but what defines josei is some degree of stylistic continuity of comics within this particular demographic (the same is true with different demographics that have different stylistic tendencies).
Josei comics can portray realistic romance, as opposed to the mostly idealized romance of shōjo manga, but it does not always have to be. Josei tends to be both more sexually explicit and contain more mature storytelling, although that is not always true either. It is also not unusual for themes such as infidelity and rape to occur in josei manga target specifically towards more mature audiences. Popular josei series include Yun Kouga's Loveless, Ai Yazawa's Paradise Kiss, Chica Umino's Honey and Clover, and the award-winning works of Erica Sakurazawa.
Josei manga (then called "Ladies Comics", or Redikomi) began to appear in the 1980's, during a boom period in manga, when the girls who had read shōjo manga in the 1950's and 60's wanted manga for adult women. The first ladies comic magazine, Be Love, was printed in 1980. At the end of 1980 there were only two "ladies comics" magazines, at the end of 1989 there were over fifty. Early ladies comics were sexually free, but the comics became more and more sexually extreme towards the early 1990's. Manga branded as "Ladies' Comics" has acquired a reputation for being low-brow, and "dirty", and the term josei was created to move away from that image.
- Main article: List of josei magazines in Japan