World’s longest-running cartoon switches to reruns due to COVID-19 disruption

The broadcaster of the world’s longest-running cartoon has said it will have to switch to reruns from next week due to disruption to production caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Sazae-san, an anime series that airs every Sunday night and has been shown since 1969, won’t get any new episodes in the near future; as of this Sunday, Fuji TV will start to broadcast two-year-old reruns.

Based on a manga series by Machiko Hasegawa, Sazae-san is one of the longest-running TV shows in history, with more than 2,500 episodes — each consisting of three separate stories. The plot, such as it is, revolves around the titular Japanese woman and her family going through the motions of life. With so many episodes, there’s space for the show to depict many traditional customs and events that take place in modern Japan, although it’s notable for not featuring advances in technology.

Sazae-san feels like an ever-present aspect of Japanese culture frozen in time, so for many the disruption to its production will be more surprising than with the average show. A Fuji TV spokesperson tells Reuters that this is the first time the broadcaster has had to resort to reruns since 1975, when Japan was dealing with the fallout from a global oil shock.

Sazae-san is, of course, not the only weekly Japanese TV show experiencing disruption due to COVID-19. Fuji TV and Netflix’s popular reality drama Terrace House, for instance, has been off the air for a month, though it’s returning today with just a single panelist in the studio to present the pre-recorded footage.