Does anyone know of anywhere I could find a list of fantasy LN’s/ manga aimed at female readers (or just of any suggestions for these type of LN’s/ manga)? Or just these kinds of books where female characters are actually developed to be more than just their chest size.
I’m more looking for content that doesn’t have female characters overly sexualised or seen as the dimwitted bimbo used purely for eye candy for the male audience.
I’m not fussed about the romance side, it’s more story and character development I’m looking for but stuff that isn’t aimed at young kids (tween/teen level stuff is fine though).
Just wondering if this stuff exists somewhere out there for me to read. Also, it doesn’t have to have a female MC.
Off-the-top-of-my-head old-school rec: maybe look at バサラ ? 1990s shojo fantasy manga, 27 volumes. Ran in Bessatsu Shōjo so aimed at tween-to-teenagers I think. Has a romance subplot but is far from exclusively about that. Female MC (who spends most of the time disguised as a man for plot reasons). Depends if you want a 27-volume epic or something a bit shorter I guess
We once read 獣の奏者 in a book club here in the forums:
It’s a fantasy novel aimed at girls, and it has a strong female character. There is a short summary in the home thread I linked above. As a bonus you can use the existing reading threads to find answers to your questions, or to ask new questions if the need arises.
If you look up 女性向け you might find some stuff that interests you, although it could potentially be more otome type games. I generally read VNs over manga/LN’s so I don’t have too much to recommend there but Chihayafuru is really good. The MC is a badass, worth checking it out if you like sports manga type stuff Chihayafuru | Manga - MyAnimeList.net
Wait, it is? That sounds so strange.
That being said, it does fit the requirements of this thread.
For light novels, on top of the method mentioned by @Belthazar, I also go to the 女性向け (for women) light novel section of sites like Bookwalker or Booklive and look at popular books. Quality has been very random, though.
Still, I found stuff like 虫かぶり姫 that way, which I really like.
That was also my impression. Now, Japanese books (especially light novels) have been known to be pointlessly gendered (e.g. 本好き, 薬屋のひとりごと, and キノの旅 from the list @Belthazar mentioned are all sold in the 男性向け section for some reason), so I wouldn’t be surprised if they randomly put other books in arbitrary boxes.
Well, to be fair(?), light novels do not have a “gender neutral” section, so I think they just default to putting those in the men section.
Edit: at least, the manga adaptation of 獣の奏者 was put in the 少年 category, which goes with my idea that “gender neutral → 男性” in the publication world.
I didn’t know of that one but the short summary has me very intrigued. Will definitely be adding that to the list. Thanks
Awesome, the book club link will be perfect for checking any questions I have about it too.
Idk how demographics work when it comes to LN but 私の幸せな結婚 I’ve read one volume of (currently reading second one) and it’s a really solid story especially character wise, I love the main pair. There is romance though.
I like 暁のヨナ (manga) and 彩雲国物語 (light novel and manga). They’re both stories for a female audience, set in a fictional Asian country, with a strong heroine who develops through her own efforts. 暁のヨナ has some magic in the form of attractive male dragon warriors with powers from ancient times, and the fanservice scenes are female gaze directed at the male characters. 彩雲国物語 is more focused on the heroine’s efforts as the first female court official. And they’re both more traditional fantasy-style stories, not game isekais.
I read the first volume of the manga version of 薬屋のひとりごと and my impression is that this is definitely made for the male gaze but has some crossover appeal if you don’t mind looking at gratuitous cleavage and thighs. The heroine is smart and not sexualized. However, nearly every other female character is shown spilling out of her clothes for no reason. This version, at least, is definitely not gender-neutral.
Well, one of the manga versions. This one is in the shojo category, so the “male gaze” is toned down a bit. However, the other version is seinen and it felt definitely more present. OP should be careful not to pick the wrong version
I would highly recommend the manga Twin Spica! It’s about 5 teenagers (3 girls, 2 boys) who are training to become astronauts. There is zero fanservice, and the characters and their relationships with one another are well-developed. Father and child relationships are explored as well, which is a nice change, since what often happens when there’s a teenage protagonist is that the parents get pushed to the sidelines so they won’t get in the way of whatever hijinks the characters get up to. This is likely because it’s a seinen manga (as an aside, while seinen manga can lean heavily into fanservice content, there’s also a decent number of series that don’t, so completely avoiding manga with that demographic might make you miss out on some good ones like this one.) Overall, it’s a nice blend of Drama, Slice of Life, Sci-Fi, and Supernatural elements.
Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa is another fanservice-free manga with a great female protagonist. It’s a complex fantasy story with a lot going on in it (it’s been a while since I last read it, so unfortunately that’s the best description I can come up with for now). I don’t know whether you’re looking for books to read in Japanese or just in general, but so you know, this would be a difficult read since it can get quite philosophical at times.
I’d also recommend Yotsuba&! which you might have heard about since there’s a book club in the community for it. There’s no fanservice and it’s an absolutely hilarious story about a lively, five-year-old girl named Yotsuba moving into a new house, getting to know her neighbours, and taking on life in an incredibly amusing way. There are several female characters in it, and they all have clearly different personalities from each other. I know you said you weren’t interested in stories aimed at young children, and looking at the cover you might get that impression, but I really think that Yotsuba&! is one of those rare stories that are actually for all ages–it’s not just appropriate for young children to read but is also very entertaining for adults as well. There are even some chapters where Yotsuba figures in very little or not at all, with the older characters receiving more of the spotlight.
There’s also the manga Yakusoku no Neverland which is definitely not for younger audiences and also has no fanservice. It’s more plot-driven than character-driven, which isn’t usually my cup of tea but I found the story really engaging. The 3 main characters (1 girl and 2 boys) are developed well.
I know that the sheer number of fanservice-heavy series with poorly depicted female characters sometimes make it feel like there aren’t any without, but they’re definitely out there, it just takes some looking to find them.
As, I love that one. Re-read it multiple times in English, though I’ve never gotten around to reading it in Japanese…
And also the language itself is apparently quite difficult. I’ve nominated it for the Advanced Book Club here, but even a lot of the experienced readers here are noping right out of that one, which is a little sad.