Otaku USA Magazine
Japan’s Most Popular Anime (That You Probably Aren’t Watching)

Have you seen Japan's most popular anime?

When you think of “popular anime,” where does your mind go? Possibly to titles like One Piece, BORUTO, or the soon-to-end Attack on Titan. And while all of those are pretty big names in the world of anime, none of them is in Japan’s standard Top Three Titles! In fact, the shows that claim those spots are, while possibly not unknown to attentive fans, most certainly more obscure and harder to get your hands on.

Here’s the triple threat that rules the weekly anime rankings in Japan. How many have you seen?




If you’ve seen any show on this list, there are good odds it’s Doraemon. One of the world’s most popular anime, the long-running series has annual films as well as its televised anime. It’s also got a fan following in countries all over the world… even if it’s had somewhat less exposure in the U.S. If nothing else, you may be aware of its tear-jerker CG adaptation, Stand By Me Doraemon.

Based on the 1969 manga by Fujiko F. Fujio, Doraemon stars an earless robot cat from the future who’s come to fix the life of slacker nerd Nobita. Doraemon has an endless supply of futuristic gadgets for every problem. But mainly Nobita just wants to use them to avoid doing homework.




Not only is Sazae-san one of Japan’s most popular anime from week to week, it holds a Guinness world record for longest-running animated series. The show broke its 45-year streak for one month last year due to COVID-19 complications, but bounced back and is once again running strong.

81-year-old Midori Katō has voiced protagonist Sazae Fuguta since the show’s premiere in 1969. The series, about a modern woman living with her family and salaryman husband, is a perennial favorite. In particular, viewers look to it for a touch of nostalgia every week.


Chibi Maruko-chan

Chibi Maruko-chan

Momoko Sakura’s semi-autobiographical manga became this long-running popular anime. Like Sazae-san, it’s a constant presence, and may be less known to fans outside Japan. The series consists of incident’s in Maruko’s daily life, as presented by Maruko herself with the help of a narrator. Until last month, veteran voice actor Keaton Yamada maintained the role of the narrator.

Chibi Maruko-chan has had two series: one from 1990-1992, and one that’s been running (save for one COVID-19 delay) since 1995. Notably, Sakura herself either wrote or oversaw the series, right up to her passing in 2018.

Will you be hunting down any of these series for a watch?

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.