Most Japanese newspapers carry comic strips in the four-frame format. The content of the comics can range from political satire to reflections on everyday life, and are enjoyed by millions of Japanese readers daily. The most classic newspaper comic is Hasegawa Machiko's "Sazae-san." It appeared in a series in the Asahi newspaper between 1949 and 1974. At that time, it was interesting caricature which described post-war life. In 1969, it began to be broadcast on television. In addition, it was also made into movies and TV dramas. The stories where centered on the fictional wife, Sazae-san, and it relates the problems of the average three-generation Japanese household. The endearing aspects of this comic that maintained its popularity is the happy, good-natured if wishy-washy personality of its main character. After Sazae-san's long run in the paper its popularity continued on television. "Sazae-san," with its social commentary and observations of current fads made it a narrative of its times.
If one compares "Sazae-san," with the American comic "Blondie," which focuses on the relationship between the wife and the husband, one will find that "Sazae-san" focuses on the entire family and is more concerned with Sazae-san's relationship with her brother, sister and mother. This difference is indicative of the differences between Japan and North America. However, Japan has been moving towards the nuclear family since W.W.II, so in a sense Sazae-san may be a reflection of the extended family of the past.
The interesting thing is that all characters in Sazae-san are named after marine products. When the author was evacuated to rural regions during W.W.II, she thought of characters taking a walk along the coast. For example, Sazae is a turban shell, her husband is Masuo and masu is trout, her brother Katsuo is a bonito and her sister Wakame is seaweed.
In the late 1980s, another cartoon series "Chibi maruko-chan (Little Maruko)" dominated. It depicts the daily life of school girl Mauko and her family in the 1970s.
There are bilingual comics of "The Wonderful World of Sazae-san" available.