Manga for Adult Women
August 10, 2018 11:49 PM   Subscribe

I found The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, at the library today and it was a delightfully fun, relatable read! Please help me find more manga to enjoy.

Even though I recognize this was essentially a self-help book, I was pleasantly surprised how engaging the format is and I’d like to dive into more manga with some of the following qualities:
  • Takes the perspective of an adult female protagonist;
  • The protagonist has agency and takes initiative in order to make life better for herself and others;
  • The scenarios are set against the backdrop of regular life;
  • Light in tone but not totally saccharine;
  • The illustration and writing are entertaining and well-done
Please suggest more manga to dive into next!
posted by Goblin Barbarian to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
It’s not manga in art style, but Poorcraft is a really engaging guide to frugal living. It assumes you’re starting from a position of zero financial literacy, so it starts quite basic, but I got a lot out of it.
posted by Happy Dave at 12:15 AM on August 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pretty much anything by Erica Sakurazawa would probably suit your needs perfectly.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 1:55 AM on August 11, 2018

Azumanga Daioh has some of those traits— it’s all about high school students, and the adult women are a secondary characters.
But I’ll recommend it any chance I get, because it is so funny and fun! The anime is good too.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:23 AM on August 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Here are a few. If you're OK with stuff with a younger cast, I can make recommendations. I read a lot of manga. A lot of manga. A whole lot of manga. And as always, support the original creators and buy the physical copies when they are available in your language. I'm linking to stuff online here, but I own three bookshelves full of physical manga and try to buy copies of whatever I've read and enjoyed online.

All links to manga point to MangaDex. Everything I've linked to is maybe PG-13 at worst, but many things on MangaDex are very NSFW.

On preview: SaltySalticid's recommendation of Azumanga Daioh is spot on. The manga is amazing, the anime is next-level. The mangaka's other series, Yotsuba &!, is an absolute treasure and should be read by everyone.

Hakumei to Mikochi - one of my recent favorites. There is also an anime available. This is a fantasy setting that follows the day to day lives of two tiny women living in the forest.

Ani no Yome to Kurashite Imasu - this is a bit darker in premise: a high-school girl living with her brother's widow, but is fairly light-hearted about how they go about their lives.

Shinmai Shimai no Futari Gohan - the protagonists are two high-school girls who are now sisters (I think the title translates as "Unrelated Sisters Eating Together"). One of the sisters is a great cook but introverted, the other is bubbly and extroverted, and the manga is about how they help each other grow. This is probably my favorite cooking manga right now. And yes, cooking manga is a thing (some of those might be NSFW).

Dakara Miyoko desu - again, one with a slightly darker premise: a woman goes to live with her in-laws after her husband (their son) dies. The manga is very funny and light-hearted and even handles the inevitable ending quite well.

ARIA - a young woman travels to 24th century terraformed Mars (now called Aqua) to become an Undine (a gondola tour guide) in a city that is a replica of Venice. ARIA is by far my absolute favorite manga. There are also three seasons of an anime available.

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (Yokohama Shopping Log) - a robot named Alpha runs a cafe in a world after some kind of apocalyptic event has taken place. This ranks right up with ARIA in my list of all-time favorite manga.

Wakako-Zake - OL (office lady) Wakako likes to go out after work and eat good food and drink good alcohol, usually on her own. There is an anime and a live-action drama available.

Pippira Note - a woman finds a lost budgie named Pippira and begins to take care of it.

I'm going to go off-topic here and make two recommendations by Kouno Fumiyo, who is the mangaka for Pippira Note, because they are just that good.

Kono Sekai no Katasumini (In This Corner of the World) - follows the life of a woman living near Hiroshima during and immediately after WWII. The way the bombing of Hiroshima was handled (as in, the actual moment the atomic bomb exploded) was so subtle that I didn't catch it for about two pages, and then when I realized what had happened and went back and re-read the panel where it occurred it was like a gut punch. Absolutely amazing work. An anime movie was made of this manga, which I haven't seen yet.

Yuunagi no Machi Sakura no Kuni (Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms) - set 10 years and 50 years after the bombing of Hiroshima. Again, absolutely amazing work.
posted by ralan at 7:04 AM on August 11, 2018 [22 favorites]

Kakukaku Shikajika is a semiautobiographical manga about the artist (the same writer as Princess Jellyfish) growing up and learning to draw. This is a crying manga, though.
Tokyo Tarareba Girls is also another manga from the same author about adult women living in Tokyo (I haven't read it yet).

Gokusen is about the granddaughter of a yakuza family who wants to be a great teacher even if she's sent to a school full of delinquents. It's very funny and Yankumi manages to better the lives of her students.
posted by sukeban at 9:04 AM on August 12, 2018

I would add, if it's helpful, that the search term you want here is josei, manga for adult women (usually about/by women). Josei is often darker/more complex than shojo, which is targeted at adolescent girls (but is often still very very good!) "Slice of life" is the subgenre you are looking for.

Nthing Princess Jellyfish, and I have read some of Tokyo Tareraba Girls and am enjoying it.

Orange is set partially in high school, and partially in adulthood, but might scratch the same itch. It's a little magical, though.

I enjoyed She and Her Cat, even though it's not written by a woman.

Complex Age is a nice series about a woman coming to terms with adulthood and feeling too old for the hobbies of her youth (cosplay).

I LOVED My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness, and the author just released a second book. Maybe not lighthearted, but a fulfilling read.

Solanin was also not lighthearted, but is a beautiful slice of life book.

Finally, they aren't focused on women, but they are great slice of life series that deal with being gay in Japan: What Did You Eat Yesterday is about a middle-aged gay couple and the things they cook and eat together (including instructions!), and My Brother's Husband is about a single father connecting with his estranged brother's Canadian widower. Both deal with potentially heavy content (loss, discrimination, aging), but aren't depressing.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Kusuriya no Hitorigoto: The story is set in pre-Maoist China in an unstated kingdom during an unstated era. There are no magic, elves, dragons, or such. MaoMao is the daughter of a pharmacist and she intends to inherit his practice one day, but is kidnapped and pressed into servitude in the imperial harem as a food taster (which is, obviously, a role reserved for disposable people). What follows are a series of mysteries in which she is faced with poisonings or other deaths of various kinds, and sometimes is tasked with determining whodunnit while trying to make herself valuable enough to others to ensure her own safety. She uses what she's learned as a pharmacist, and her observations of human nature, to solve crimes, help people, and try to make sense of the new world she'd been involuntarily inserted into.

It sounds like the setup for a cheezy adventure, but it isn't. And it sounds heavy but it isn't. Much of each episode is MaoMao's observing the people around her, and of her thinking through problems. She never resorts to passivity nor waits for rescue, but this is a world where the social hierarchy is ossified, and the author makes good narrative use of that in the sense that MaoMao frequently has to deal with being unable to directly address a problem due to her low rank within the palace and the pretty harsh consequences that can come with breaking rank. Her strength of character also comes through in how well she can negotiate these social difficulties.

Even though this doesn't meet all your criteria, it struck me as something that at least parallels the spirit of them. There are some isekai stories I can find which have similar flavors, if you're interested.
posted by ardgedee at 7:13 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

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