Sazae-san Anime Resumes New Episodes After COVID-19 Delay
posted on by Egan Loo
The official website for Sazae-san, the world's longest-running animated television series, announced on Sunday that new episodes will resume airing on June 21. The series had suspended new episodes on May 17 due to the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The June 21 episode will include the three short stories "Neesan no Megaphone" (Big Sister's Megaphone), "Namihei, Chichi no Hi Sotsugyō" (Namihei, Father's Day Graduation), and "O-Sawagase Ikka de Sumimasen" (Apologies on Behalf of My Troublesome Family).
The current delay of new episodes is the first time since 1975, 45 years ago, that the family anime had to resort to rerunning old episodes because it had no more new episodes in production. The anime's staff had decided that it had become untenable to continue production of the anime.
Voice actress Midori Kato had stated on Radio Nikkei's "Chūō Keiba Jikkyō Chūkei" program on April 4 that the Sazae-san anime has halted voice recording sessions indefinitely due to concerns over COVID-19. Kato voices the titular Sazae Fuguta on the show. Kato stated on the radio program that currently she is doing fine.
The anime adaptation of Machiko Hasegawa's family life manga Sazae-san began airing in October 1969. The anime is usually the highest ranked animated series in Japan each week. In 2013, the show was awarded the Guinness World Record for longest-running animated television series, an award it extended last year.
The last time Sazae-san had to stop production was for one month in 1975, when the first "oil shock" led to a rise in production costs. Chibi Maruko-chan also stopped airing new episodes since last month. Chibi Maruko-chan is almost consistently the #3 rated television anime series after Sazae-san and Detective Conan. (Chibi Maruko-chan airs on Fuji TV on Sundays at 6:00 p.m., right before Sazae-san at 6:30 p.m.)
Hiroshi Masuoka, the voice actor of Sazae-san's husband Masuo, passed away due to cancer on March 21. Hideyuki Tanaka had succeeded Masuoka as Masuo's voice actor in 2019. The Sazae-san anime began airing a new opening sequence for the first time in 10 years in April. Since January 1974, the openings have shown the titular Sazae character traveling to different places in Japan. The new opening marks the second time the opening has been set in Tokyo, since the opening that aired from April 2010 to March 2011. The new opening features locations such as Tokyo Station, Sensōji, Mt. Takao, Rainbow Bridge, and Toyosu Market.