If you’re into anime, then you’ve no doubt come across plenty of words that just don’t exist in English. This will tend to happen even when you’re watching it in English dubs!
One of those words that you’ll run into often is the Japanese word josei, spelled in kanji as 女性. Just what does josei mean in anime? And how about in the Japanese language for that matter?
It’s time to learn some anime-speak!
The Meaning of Josei
The word josei literally means woman or female in Japanese, but when it comes to anime it isn’t talking about the sex of the characters, but rather it is talking about the genre of the story.
I talked before about the anime genre shojo, which is primarily focused on young girls as the audience and the sorts of stories that they tend to prefer – that is, stories that center around the interpersonal relationships of the characters, and the emotional aspects that go along with them.
Well, josei anime is basically the same thing, but for girls and women who are no longer in high school. The typical reader of josei manga (or josei anime) is a woman who is somewhere between her late teens and early forties.
One of the main aspects that distinguish it from shojo is that josei will typically portray a realistic romance, with all the struggles and problems that come with one, as opposed to the more idealistic romances that are usually found in josei.
But that one thing certainly isn’t a requirement for it to be considered josei.
Unfortunately, josei isn’t really a genre that has gained much popularity in Western audiences, and so most of them tend to remain untranslated and only in the original Japanese.
So a short summery (if you really wanted to simplify it) is that you could say josei is either:
Still… these generalizations tend to miss out of the unique parts of the josei genre. Things such as family issues, being a female in the male-dominated work environment, and complicated relationships.
If you’re a female and you’re not looking for an escape from reality, but instead looking for life from another woman’s point of view, then josei might be exactly what you want.
But I’m sure guys can enjoy it as well. I myself haven’t delved too deeply into these kinds of anime, so if you know of a good one, let me know in the comments.
How Often is the Word Used in Japanese?
When it comes to learning Japanese, you can greatly accelerate the speed at which you attain fluency by focusing on learning words that are used in normal conversation, each and every day.
That means learning words like “I enjoy pizza” first, and not learning words like “the pancreas secretes enzymes” until much later on… if ever.
So how often does the Japanese word 女性 get used? What would you guess its rank is in the top 3,000 Japanese words?
I’ll give you a hint: it’s pretty dang common!
This is according to the Japanese frequency dictionary that I happen to have, and considering how low that number is, you will definitely want to learn it if you are studying Japanese.
But learning a new word in isolation can be a little hard since you memory doesn’t have a lot of context to help remember it with. So let me give you some real life examples of how it might be used to assist you in learning it.
She is a wonderful woman.
I don’t know that woman at all.
Who is the woman at the door?
There are seven men and four women in my section.
So, just remember that while 女性 means woman or female in Japanese, it also brings with it the connotation of that “late teens to early forties” age with it. The word “young woman” might be a good way of thinking about it.
Why So Many Words?
It’s pretty interesting that Japanese is such a precise language in that it has a word specifically for young girls, and a different one for that next age group above it (女性).
You could go still higher than that, as the Japanese word for “old woman” is おばさん (obasan). This is also the word for “aunt” in Japanese.
Wow, how would you like to be called that by your nieces and nephews every time?!
Some people find it tiring to have to keep learning new words in Japanese like this, since in English we typically keep the noun the same and then just tack on a different adjective, but I think that this aspect of the Japanese language is one of the things that makes it really cool to learn.
What do you think?
Do you like the precision of the Japanese language? What about the josei genre? Do you have a favorite anime or manga in this category?
Let me know with a comment below!