Unless you're a die-hard anime fan or you live in Japan, you may not have even heard of Sazae-san, the longest running show in the history of animation. In production since 1969 with 2500+ episodes to its name, it's noteworthy of its sheer length alone. But the series is worth paying attention to for more reasons than just its length. In fact, there are plenty of things you didn't know about Sazae-san that are worth taking the time to learn.
Though virtually unknown in the USA, Sazae-san is one of the most popular series in Japan. It follows a spunky young woman and her family as they navigate life in post-war Japan. The series is based on a manga by Machiko Hasegawa, one of the first successful female manga artists in history. By turns funny and emotionally resonant, this show is an important part of any anime fan's knowledge bank.
It Holds The Guiness World Record For Longest Running Animated SeriesPhoto: Eiken
Sazae-san first began airing in October of 1969. As of 2019, new episodes are still coming out. At 50 years and counting, it's the longest-running animated series in history. In 2013 this accomplishment was acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records.
It's A Show About Family LifePhoto: Eiken
Sazae-san is a show about family life. The protagonist, 24-year-old Sazae Fuguta, lives with her parents, her 11 and nine-year-old siblings, her husband, their three-year-old son, and their cat. Their extended family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, also make frequent appearances. Most of the story is about the everyday interactions between these different characters, with plots that range from heart-warming to humourous.
The Characters Never AgePhoto: Eiken
Much like in The Simpsons of Western fame, the characters featured in Sazae-san don't age. Sazae herself is the 24-year-old mother of a three-year-old boy, and she will remain that way for the duration of the show. For this reason, the show is free to be episodic, only engaging in continuity when desired.
Its Feminist Messages Were Initially ControversialPhoto: Eiken
Sazae-san may not seem like a particularly progressive show - in fact, it's been criticized for not addressing modern Japanese social issues and ignoring politics. But when the show was first created, its feminist themes stirred up controversy.
Unlike many fictional women of the time, Sazae Fuguta isn't a meek housewife who lets her husband run the show. Instead, she's frequently depicted making decisions for the family herself, or bossing her husband around. She even joins a women's liberation group and endorses feminist beliefs.