Otaku USA Magazine
How (and Why) to Start Watching Chibi Maruko-chan

Let's all watch Chibi Maruko-chan!

Check out the anime rankings in Japan, and the shows you consider best of the season will likely weigh in at #4 max. Why? Because a trio of old reliable titles always takes the top three. Detective Conan, Sazae-san, and Chibi Maruko-chan will consistently outrank even One Piece — and that’s because, along with shows like Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan, those are the series that get mainstream viewership. And if you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is, it’s now easier than ever to find out!

As of this week, Crunchyroll has started streaming Chibi Maruko-chan, starting from the most recent episode. With more than 1400 episodes to backfill in the current run alone, it may seem daunting to jump on. But it’s easier than you think! Here’s a quick primer to get started.


The Origins of Maruko

Momoko Sakura's original manga

Chibi Maruko-chan began as a manga by Momoko Sakura, running from 1986 to Sakura’s death in 2018. In 2022, a final volume was drawn by Sakura’s assistants, adapting storylines she had written for the TV anime. All told, there are 18 volumes.

The nine-year-old protagonist, nicknamed Maruko, is modeled after Sakura in her childhood. Overall it’s a very chill little series, following the story of the Sakura family of six: Maruko herself, her big sister Sakiko, and their parents and grandparents. There are others in the mix, but the Sakura family forms the core of the story.


A Long Legacy

Chibi Maruko-chan circa 1990

There are actually two separate series of Chibi Maruko-chan. The first, which ran from 1990 to 1992, ran a respectable 142 episodes on Fuji TV. There were also two films during that time, and then the series rested for about three years.

1995 marked the beginning of the series we’re currently watching. That’s right: this series has been running almost ceaselessly for 29 years! The “almost” is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought many anime and manga marathons to a temporary halt. Since June 21 of 2020, though, it’s been back on its nonstop airing schedule, bringing adorable stories of family life to dedicated fans every week. It’s also worth noting that voice actress Tarako has been holding down the role of Maruko-chan for its entire run, alongside several other long-time cast members! (InuYasha fans will recognize Tarako as the voice of Kirara.)


Where to Watch

Maruko and friends

Being 1400 episodes behind may feel a little weird, but Chibi Maruko-chan is a very easy show to get into. Each episode is subdivided into a pair of self-contained stories. If you liked Azumanga Daioh, you’ll feel right at home here. It’s the same sort of conversational, low-stakes fun of series like that. For example, the most recent episode sees Maruko leaning into her dad’s daydream of moving to the countryside, to the point that her school friends begin to wonder what kind of adult their friend will grow into.

While this chill weekly series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth watching at least one episode to see what’s popular in Japan. And if you’re looking for a laid-back comfort show to kick off your week, this might be just the ticket. Head over to Crunchyroll to give it a shot!

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. Beyond the world of anime, she's a writer for Doctor Who expanded universe series including Iris Wildthyme and the City of the Saved, as well as an editor for the critically-acclaimed Black Archive series.