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Coronavirus interrupts world’s longest-running cartoon

/ 06:23 PM May 14, 2020
cartoon

An image from the “Sazae-san” TV cartoon series with the character Sazae-san (2nd L) and her family in front of their house. Image: Courtesy of Hasegawa Michiko Art Museum via AFP

Production of the world’s longest-running cartoon and a mainstay of the Japanese weekend has been interrupted by the coronavirus, forcing the broadcast of re-runs for the first time in decades.

“Sazae-san”, which first aired in 1969, revolves around the life of Mrs. Sazae, a cheerful but klutzy full-time housewife who lives with her parents, husband, son, brother and sister.

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The 30-minute episodes aired Sunday nights are very popular, and for many in Japan have come to denote the end of the weekend.

But the cartoon, recognized as the longest-running animated TV series by Guinness World Records, has been hampered by the outbreak of the virus, with animation dubbing halted to keep staff safe, broadcaster Fuji Television Network said.

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“We will halt broadcast of new episodes of ‘Sazae-san’ for the time being from May 17 and instead air re-runs,” it announced on Sunday.

The network said upcoming broadcasts would be episodes from two years ago, adding it would announce a date for the resumption of new episodes as soon as possible.

It is the first time the network has been forced to air re-runs since 1975, when the economic effects of an earlier oil crisis lingered.

Japan has seen a comparatively small coronavirus outbreak with nearly 15,800 infections and 621 deaths.

The country is under a state of emergency that was extended last week until the end of May, though the government is considering lifting the measures early in parts of the country. RGA

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TAGS: Cartoons, coronavirus, covid-19, Guinness World Records, Japan
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