The main character is a mother named Sazae-san. She lives in a house with her husband, her kids and her parents. The show is the ultimate family program and tends to follow traditional themes. Think of this show as the Japanese equivalent to "The Partridge Family" and you'll get a good feel for this show's atmosphere. Don't expect to see things like violence, swearing, kung-fu action or magical girls. The plots are more like "Today, Sazae-san goes to the new mall and gets lost". Such "boring" plotlines and the simplistic art are often a turn-off to non-Japanese audiences, but most Japanese find the show incredibly good. As a result, it continues to be one of the top ratings grabbers on TV and is one of the few anime that is considered "acceptable" by adults.
In the evening of October 5, 1969 I remembered tuning in to watch a show that had caught my attention. Its opening seemed funny and relaxing, similar to the shows of that time back when I used to live in Japan. I was about 12 at that time, my siblings and I would fight for what to watch (funny considering the limited options we had). After the 1st episode had concluded my siblings and I had some funny stupid looks in our faces. The show had become pretty close to us due to its relevance in our lives and its funny stories. We would tune
in every single Sunday just to watch it. I will always remember the day our mother began to watch Sazae-san with us, she found it quite funny while our father had found it "stupid". This show was the perfect way to end a stressful Sunday evening, all of our family sitting in front watching Sazae-san. All of us knew that this unity would not last for ever. Our older sibling became tired of watching the same "repetable" stories and would deny to join us. He eventually moved out of the house and started a family of his own. The same happened for me and our younger brother. I had moved to the U.S. with the help of some friends in 1982. Traveling to Japan had become expensive for me, so I stopped visiting them during important holidays. After a lengthy time I had decided to finally visit my family. I was in tears after seeing my parents and siblings three days before shogatsu. After shogatsu I had found out that Sazae-san was still airing. An immense amount of nostalgia came to me as I was watching this old show along with my family and my kids. The feeling of unity had become stronger than ever, the laughs we had, the cheers we houled, and the tears we shared. This show will always hold a special place in the heart of my family.
Why is a long-running show that is this popular in Japan, ranked 5919 ?
I mean, most, if not all of the Japanese population knows Sazae-san, and likes it. (the same goes for Doraemon, Chibimaruko-chan, etc.)
The answer is simple: this is a slice of life-comedy show made for Japanese people, not for Americans, or French people.
In a sense, it is the Japanese version of the Simpsons. But the genre of comedy is different, and unlike the Simpsons, it needs Japanese cultural knowledge to understand, and it isn't oversaturated at all.
Note: Sazae-san first started as a crappy show, much like all other 1970's animes.
Conclusion: Don't watch Sazae-san
if you're not Japanese, and either way watch the newer episodes.
Story: 8/10 This is a show with no or little coninuity... but all the anecdotes are quite fun to watch, as a Japanese person.
Character: Most of the characters are 1970's Japanese stereotypes, that have been commically amplified, but only a little. They aren't that unique, but their characteristics are well executed.
Art: 7/10 The newer Sazae-san episodes' art isn't bad, it's unique, and it does what it needs to do. Before, it kind of looked crappy.
Enjoyment: This really depends on whether you get "it" or not. If you do, you'll be pleased by this show, if not... well you won't enjoy it. I gave it a 9/10, but that's as a Japanese person.