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Sazae-san: the most popular ‘anime’ in Japan

Everyone knows or at least has heard in their lives of Neon Genesis Evangelion, dragonball, one piece, Naruto either demon slayer. Just a small sample of the most popular ‘manga’ and ‘anime’ works from Japan, which have taken over the world for decades. Now things in the far east are a little different than we would imagine. The most popular ‘anime’ in Japan isn’t even one of these.

Although the culture of ‘manga’ and ‘anime’ forms an important aspect in the country of the rising sun, not everything that surrounds them is purely ‘manga’ and ‘anime’. In the same way, none of the series mentioned –or many others that a Westerner would believe– are considered the most popular in Japan. Without this, it does not mean that they accumulate millionaire income from related merchandise, Blu-ray discs, figures and ‘manga’ compilations, among others.


Going back to the head of this article:

What is the most popular ‘anime’ in Japan?

The answer is: sazae-san.

Sazae-san popular anime Japan

What is sazae-san?

sazae-san is a ‘manga’ created by the late artist Machiko Hasegawa in 1946. Their respective ‘anime’ holds the Guinness World Record for the most airtime animated series. The ‘anime’ series began airing on October 5, 1969, which means that it has been uninterrupted for more than 53 years. With the exception of a week during the pandemic that we can ignore.

TO sazae-san a syndrome under the same name is even attributed to it in Japan. This refers to a depression on Sunday night, after a new episode has finished on television. Reminding the public that the weekend and rest has come to an end.


What is it about sazae-san?

sazae-san follows the stories of Sazae and her family in their everyday everyday lives. Its success with the Japanese public is that it presents a traditional family, nothing outlandish like the other popular ‘anime’. The main character is the young mother Sazaewho lives in a house with her husband Masuohis little son taraoHis little sister Wakamehis little brother Katsuohis mother Funehis father Namihei and the michi tama. As the definitive family program, its themes are classic and always latent.

Sazae-san popular anime Japan
The most popular ‘anime’ in Japan is from a traditional family.

While the United States had so many family series over the next seventy years, with themes that sought to leave a message or moral, Japan has always had sazae-san. That and five decades of hers have made her popular enough, even if you don’t count on the fighting, violence, magic, fantasy, monsters, and convoluted plots of her animated peers. Many of us in the West were unaware of this truth.

The simple episodes, such as “Sazae gets lost in the new mall,” are not entirely for Western audiences. Many could even call them boring. But, is the american boring Seinfeld Why is it a comedy about nothing? Not at all! That makes it unique. More Japanese adults catalog sazae-san as appropriate for everyone. They will know enough that they are inundated by hundreds and thousands of ‘anime’ – between old and new – every year.

slice of life

This definition is coined to the stories (movies, series, games, etc) that show the innate wonders of ordinary life. Usually in a town surrounded by green fields and beautiful landscapes. It is a genre that sazae-san also appeals. Other long-lived productions such as Crayon Shinchan either Doraemon may fall into the same category. Of course, the latter with their due eccentricities. In addition, they have games like Shin chan: My summer with the teacher – The infinite week and Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdomwhich exemplify the concept even better.


In terms of games, Kaz Ayabe and his franchise Boku no Natsuyasumi (My Summer Vacation) are among the most recognized. Who incidentally also developed the aforementioned game of Shin Chan. Another of his titles, Attack of the Friday Monsters! To Tokyo Talefollows the same patterns to the letter and feels closer to sazae-san. Even with his subplot of ‘kaiju‘ and ‘tokusatsu‘.

Having this clear, how is it that there is no game of sazae-san?


The wish of its creator

Machiko Hasegawa –one of the first ‘manga’ artists– did not want sazae-san fell into the cycle of all the ‘manganime’. That is, overloading with products and merchandise to saturate the public and lower their quality in the stories. During his lifetime he never licensed intellectual property to marketing or toy stores. After his death in 1992, his wish has been respected.

While it’s understandable that Machiko wouldn’t want to see Sazae’s family turned into probably trivial figures or decorations, this also applies to the ‘anime’ episodes. Because of this, it can be very difficult if not impossible to find some of its 7,000+ old episodes, much less DVD or Blu-ray disc collections. It’s one of those cases where if you didn’t see it on Japanese TV, you missed it.

Sazae-san popular anime Japan
statues of sazae-san at the exit of Sakura-shinmachi Station on the Tōkyū Den-en-toshi Line.

You can find episode lists posted on the internet and if you know Japanese you are in luck. But not knowing the language is a big barrier. Interestingly, if you are in the process of learning Japanese, this is the ‘anime’ to watch for support. It is possible that the ‘anime’ of sazae-san be known by every inhabitant of Japan. Like what would be for us any of the ‘anime’ that are popular in these parts. dragonball in South America, to say the least.

Similarly, it is the ‘anime’ that presents a more realistic idea of ​​Japan from half a century ago and is just one of many reasons for being the country’s favorite. 🇯🇵