The Phenomenon of Sazae-San: A Sunday Tradition for Japanese Families
Sazae-san is an anime that has captured the hearts of viewers in Japan for over 50 years. It holds the world record for being the longest anime series, surpassing popular titles like Naruto and One Piece in terms of episode count. The anime is based on a comic-strip format manga of the same name and focuses on the daily life of the Isono family in Tokyo. It explores various themes, from post-war challenges to student movements of the 1960s. Each episode consists of three short stories that entertain and make the audience think. Sazae-san has become a Sunday ritual for many Japanese people, earning the nickname “Sazae-San syndrome” to describe the weekend blues in Japan. According to a 2020 study, 97% of Japanese people recognize this series, reflecting its unparalleled influence on popular culture in Japan. The success of Sazae-san has also contributed to the rise of female mangaka in Japan, as the manga’s artist is Machiko Hasegawa.
A Unique and Unparalleled Success
Sazae-san holds the Guinness World Record for being the longest-running anime series, with over 2,640 episodes to date. Unlike other series, Sazae-san has never been interrupted except for two occasions: in 1975 due to the oil crisis and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This uninterrupted broadcasting for over 50 years makes Sazae-san a truly unique and unbeatable phenomenon.
A Series Frozen in Time and Criticized for Being Outdated
Despite its iconic status, Sazae-san has faced criticism for depicting a Japan that seems outdated compared to the present. The anime unfolds in the present, yet it portrays a Japan from the last century without smartphones or modern grocery stores. Additionally, Sazae-san was one of the last anime series to be animated using celluloid, a traditional animation method. Although it eventually switched to digital animation in 2013, Sazae-san remains a cherished pillar of Japanese popular culture, captivating both older and newer generations.
In other anime news, the live-action version of One Piece is now available to stream on Netflix, with eight episodes already released.