Sazae-San: Just Another Day

Sazae-san: from dangerous radical feminist TV to family viewing

Sometimes, longevity is a social and cultural force in its own right. This day in 1978, an anime series rarely seen in the West aired its 471st three-part episode. The series was Sazae-san. It started in 1969, and is still running more than 6,600 episodes later.

The manga that inspired it started its life as a yonkoma – a four-panel newspaper strip – in April 1946 and ran until its creator, Machiko Hasegawa, retired in 1974.  Considered controversial and progressive on its debut, it is now widely regarded as Showa-era nostalgia. Perhaps appropriately, Sazae-san was one of the last anime TV series to continue with cel animation, finally going over to digital opening credits in 2009, its 40th anniversary year.

Sazae-san has also been a radio drama and three live-action TV series, as well as a language teaching aid. There’s a TV drama series about its creator’s life. It even has its very own psychological syndrome. “Sazae-san syndrome” is the vague anxiety people feel as the show’s end credits roll every Sunday evening, signalling the end of the weekend and the approach of another week of work or school. Back to the daily grind – just like the longest-running cartoon series in the world.

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