World's longest-running cartoon to go digital in Japan

World's longest-running cartoon to go digital in Japan
People admire a large snow sculpture of cartoon characters of Japanese animation and comic Sazae-san at an annual snow festival in Sapporo, Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

TOKYO - The world's longest-running cartoon is to go fully digital, its Japanese broadcaster said Friday, abandoning hand-drawn celluloid-based animation after a run of 44 years.

Fuji Television Network said episodes of "Sazae-san" aired from October would be produced entirely digitally. The move will mean there are no hand-drawn cartoons left on Japanese television, according to the Association of Japanese Animations.

Until the 1990s many cartoons were created by artists working directly on celluloid, a painstaking process that meant characters had to be drawn in many different postures to give them impression of movement as the camera was repeatedly started and stopped.

Two decades ago, computer animations began to become widespread, slowly squeezing out the traditional method.

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

The 30-minute episodes, which can readily garner more than one-in-seven Sunday evening viewers, tend to focus on tiny incidents in the family's everyday life and are dotted with seasonal festivals.

"Doraemon", a Japanese cartoon about a robot cat from the future that has a following across Asia went entirely digital in 2002.

"Sazae-san", whose broadcast denotes the end of the weekend for many Japanese, began the switch in 2005.

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