What Is the Longest-Running Anime Series?

When talking about the longest-running anime, a lot of fans might assume it's a series like One Piece or Pokémon. After all, each of them boasts more than 1,000 episodes, which puts even The Simpsons to shame. However, a far lesser-known anime holds the title; in fact, it's not even close.

The longest-running anime is actually Sazae-san, which has likely escaped the attention of most North American fans, despite the series airing for more than five decades, and counting.

The Longest-Running Anime Series Is Sazae-san

Sazae-san began in April 1946 as a four-panel comic strip (yonkoma) by pioneering female mangaka Machiko Hasegawa. It debuted in her local newspaper, Fukunichi Shinbun, before being picked up three years later by Asahi Shinbun, where it continued to until 1974. The yonkoma ran for about 6,500 strips.

The series was adapted as an anime series beginning in 1969, and has been running on Japanese television ever since. The anime airs three eight-minute episodes each week, which contributes to its staggering episode count. Currently, Sazae-san clocks in at a whopping 7,881 episodes, but that number continues to increase.

Not only is Sazae-san the longest-running anime, but it's also the longest-running animated series of all time. Period. That's an accomplishment acknowledged in 2013 by Guinness World Records. It's an achievement that scripted television probably won't surpass any time soon.

What Is Sazae-san About?


Sazae-san follows the daily life of Sazae Fugata, a mid-twenties homemaker, and her loving family: her husband, her parents, her son, her younger siblings and a pet cat.

Sazae-san was meant to embody what Hasegawa-sensei hoped the traditional Japanese family become following World War II. To that end, Sazae herself was more interested in horseback riding than doing what was expected for women of the era to attract a husband. When she finally did get married, she tended to boss her husband around, which the neighbors found as unorthodox.

Sazae-san is also known for never aging its characters; even as years go by in the series, the characters remain unchanged. Other animated series do this, too, but for as long as Sazae-san has been on the air, it's a little more noticeable. The trope, the logic and the anime are all often referenced in Gintama to explain why its own characters never age under similar circumstances.

Sazae-san is a simple slice-of-life comedy, but its depiction of Japanese life from its time period has triggered nostalgia, and garnered praise, from Japanese audiences. It represents an antiquated-yet-progressive viewpoint from a bygone era, before the social changes brought about by modern technology. As such, it has remained a high-rated program.

What Is the Second-Longest Running Anime?

Nintama Rantarou

The second-longest running anime is Nintama Rantarō. Airing since 1993, the series boasts an impressive 2,321 episodes, and counting. That is also leagues ahead of One Piece and Pokémon, but far behind Sazae-san's nigh-insurmountable 7,881 episodes.

The series follows the daily lives of Rantarō and his classmates as they learn to become ninjas. If Naruto had put more focus on the titular character's Ninja Academy days, it might have looked something like this. Of course, Nintama Rantarō is aimed at little kids, so the series will never go as dark as Naruto does.

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