Japanese rating

I have been doing analyses on anime rating and popularity for over a year now, using information from various blogs and websites that are primarily English-based. This begs the question on whether they really captures what an average Japanese audience really finds popular or worth watching. This is when I managed to come across this website which gives data on viewership rating of animes, Sentai and Kamen shows from most Japanese networks, covering the last 11 years from 2000-2010. This is exactly the type of information that will let me find out once and for all the actual popularity of each anime series on TV in Japan. I have listed below the top 10 shows based on average daily rating over the last 11 years.

In this post, I will make extended mentions of the ‘rating’. According to the Video Research explanation of their numbers, these ratings refers to  to average percentage of households in which any TV is on and tuned to a particular channel during a particular show. Numbers are based on meters installed in sample households. Meters register every minute, and the results are averaged over the length of a show. [EDIT: As kransom mentioned in the comment section, the Video Research data that I used for this analysis on comes from the Kanto region, which makes up about a third of the total Japanese population. It is a shame the data does not represent the whole of Japan as I originally thought but it should also give a good proxy for the whole country]


1). Sazae-San (サザエさん)

No. Episodes: 5400+ [528 in 2000s]

Showing time: Sunday 18:30

Network: Fuji TV (CX)

Vintage: 05-Oct-1969 to present

Average rating: 19.4% (~7.89MM people in Kanto area watching) [Have changed the value to reflect only the population from the Kanto region where the data comes from. A rough estimate for the number of people watching for the whole of Japan would be three times this number]

Note:  “Sazae-san” is a national pasttime anime that has been on air since 1969. It started as a local newspaper comic just right after the war in 1946, by the late Hasegawa Machiko. The anime has been showing for 35 years, with over 5,400 episodes already being produced (the anime is a 30 minute program with three episodes each). The gap between this anime and the next best one over the last decade is quite staggering and I would not bet against it losing that spot any time soon.

2). Kindaichi (金田一少年の事件簿)

No. Episodes: 148 [27 in 2000s]

Showing time: Monday 19:00

Network: Nihon TV (NTV)

Vintage: 07-Apr-1997 to 15-Sep-2000

Average rating: 13.7% (~5.58MM)

Note: Adapted from a manga, Kindaichi presents a detective story that grabs the national attention with its intricate murder mysteries and detective routine of the prodigious protagonist. It does not hurt that the series is shown on one of the golden slot in Japanese anime! The manga, with began serializing in 1992, is one of the earliest works in the mystery manga genre and no doubt lay groundwork for the likes of Detective Conan later on.

3). Kochira Katsushika-ku Kamearikouen-mae Hashutsujo (こちら葛飾区亀有公園前派出所)

No. Episodes: 367 [188 in 2000s]

Showing time: Sunday 19:00

Network: Fuji TV

Vintage: 16-Jun-1996 to 19-Dec-2004

Average rating: 13.7% (~5.57MM)

Note: Another very long running series that comes in the top spot. The manga has been continuously serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump since Sep-1976. Accordingly to Wikipedia, it is the longest-running manga series in the history with over 1,600 chapters published (Golgo 13 and Doraemon began publishing earlier but neither has been in continuous serialization). The animation adaptation lasted 8 years, ending in in 2004 and had a brief rerun on the Sunday morning slots in 2007-9.

4). Chibi Maruko-chan (ちびまる子ちゃん)

No. Episodes: 757 [528 in 2000s]

Showing time: Sunday 18:00

Network: Fuji TV

Vintage: 07-Jan-1990 to 27-Sep-1992 & 08-Jan-1995 to present

Average rating: 13.3% (~5.42MM)

Note: This is also a famous national iconic anime which started its airing in 1990. It is based on the manga by Sakura Momoko, serialized on Ribon Magazine. The anime is a satirical portrayal of the author’s life as an elementary school student in the 1960s. This anime became very popular for both adults and children alike as the series immerse them into a Japanese world during the 1960s. It also gives a reminder what has been lost due to rampant over-development (i.e. kids used to play outside until dark and local parks and open spaces. Now they stay at home partly to play computer games and go on internet, but partly also due to the fact that there are no more parks and open areas due to over-development).  Currently there are over 757 episodes available.

When the series was aired in Oct-1990, it attained a TV viewer rating of 39.9%, which is still the highest rating ever attained by an animated TV series in Japan! Interestingly, Masaaki Yuasa (of Mind Game fame) also animated the first season back in 1990s

5). Detective Conan (名探偵コナン)

No. Episodes: 621 [450 in 2000s]

Showing time: Monday 19:30; Saturday 18:00

Network: Nihon TV

Vintage: 08-Jan-1996 to present

Average rating: 12.8% (~5.20MM)

Note: Another manga adaptation (5 out of top 5!), the anime series has been well received and ranked often in the top ten of Japanese TV anime rating. Taking one step back,  I always wonder how anyone in their right mind would want to get near this guy. Conan and his friends are like a murder magnet!

6). Inuyasha (犬夜叉)

No. Episodes: 167 [162 in 2000s]

Showing time: Monday 19:00

Network: Nihon TV

Vintage: 16-Oct-2000 to 13-Sep-2004

Average rating: 12.7% (~5.16MM)

7). Ghost Stories (学校の怪談)

No. Episodes: 20 [20 in 2000s]

Showing time: Sunday 19:30

Network: Fuji TV

Vintage: 22-Oct-2000 to 25-Mar-2001

Average rating: 12.2% (~4.75MM)

Note: To me, this one is the most surprising inclusion into the top 10. It is neither a long-running slice of life series nor is it a shounen adventure. Interestingly, its rerun in 2002 at a 16:00 timeslot only garners ~2.5% rating. That goes to show the amazing power of releasing a show in a good slot!

8). Atashin’chi (あたしンち)

No. Episodes: 330 [117 in 2000s]

Showing time: Friday 19:30; Saturday 11:20

Network: TV Asahi (EX)

Vintage: 19-Apr-2002 to 19-Sep-2009

Average rating: 11.4% (~4.63MM)

Note: This series is directed by Akitaro Daichi, off the heels of Fruits Basket and Animation Runner Kuromi [EDIT: It does not seem like Daichi lasted long directing this series. Thanks, Lin for the info!]

9). Doraemon (ドラえもん)

No. Episodes: [458 in 2000s]

Showing time: Friday 19:00

Network: ANB/TV Asahi

Vintage: 2-Apr-1979 to 25-Mar-2005 (initial 26-episode run in 1973)

Average rating: 11.3% (~4.58MM)

Note: Another favourite pastime anime from Japan. The titular character even attains the position of the cultural ambassador of Japan. This anime also starts its life as a manga published in 1969 by the late Fujiko F. Fujio before Shinei Animation began animating it in 1979. The simple story of a robotic cat travelling back in time to aid the great great grandfather (who was a schoolboy in the past) of its original owner shows the imagination and heart that has captivated the both Japanese and foreigners alike. I still believe that if there is one song an oriental person in their 20s and 30s would unanimously recognize, it is the opening theme of Doraemon. I am actually slightly surprised that it does not rank a little higher on this list.

10). Ojamajo Doremi# (おジャ魔女どれみ#)

No. Episodes:  [ in 2000s]

Showing time: Sunday 8:30

Network: EX

Vintage: 06-Feb-2000 to 28-Jan-2001

Average rating: 11.3% (~4.58MM)

Note: This is the only show in the top 10 that garners such high rating despite being in a morning slot

11).  ONE PIECE (11.2%)

12). Digimon Adventure 2 (11.2%)

13). Crayon Shin Chan (11.0%)

14). Great Teacher Onitsuka (10.8%)

15). Mo~tto! Ojamajo Doremi (10.7%)

16). Pokemon (10.6%)

17). Digimon Tamers (10.0%)

18). Black Jack (9.9%)

19). Dragon Ball Kai (9.4%)

20). Hikaru no Go (9.2%)


– To put these numbers in perspective, the 2 shows that probably have the highest popularity in the West are Naruto and Fullmetal Alchemist and these shows only score the rating of 6.5 and 6.1 respectively.

– The golden slots in the anime circuits based on these datas are listed below. These two time slots combine to account for 7 of the top 11 most popular anime in Japan

– Sunday 18:00 (Chibi Maruko-chan), 18:30 (Sazae-san) and 19:00 (Kochikame /ONE PIECE) slots on Fuji TV

– Monday 19:00 (Kindaichi/Inuyasha/Black Jack) and 19:30 (Detective Conan) slots on Nihon TV

There really seems to be four clear types of anime an average Japanese tv audience tune in to watch:

1). The family-friendly, slice-of-life anime that everyone can gather around to watch (Sazae-san, Chibi Maruko-chan, Atashin’Chi, Kochikame, Crayon Shin Chan, Doraemon);

2). The drama/mystery type (Kindaichi, Detective Conan, Ghost Stories, Black Jack, GTO, Hikaru no Go)

3). The popular franchise series for kids (Ojamajo Doremi, Digimon, Dragon Ball Kai)

4). The adventure series (Inuyasha, ONE PIECE)

– 8 out of the top 10 (and 14 of top 20) are manga adaptations. The exceptions are Ghost Stories (books) and Ojamajo Doremi # (original franchise). This goes to show that manga is without doubt a big influence to provide exposure to general audience

– All series in the top 10, with the exception of Kindaichi, are categorized in Anime News Network as comedy (and 15 of the top 20).  Admittedly comedy is the most common genre for a series to be categorized but it is still amazing to see the complete domination and preference of a Japanese audience for these types of show. The next most common category (at 5 from 10) is drama

– This makes me wonder any popular series pre-2000 (Dragon Ball Z comes to mind) ever comes close to touching the height seemingly maintained by Sazae-san over any period

On the other otaku, non-anime department, Kamen Rider Agito scores the highest rating (11.7%) back in 2001. The highest sentai show on the list is Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger at 8.9 again back in 2001. I may do another side-post on the popularity of Kamen and Sentai shows over the year in the future


For the Japanese audience, series with the highest viewer rating tend to be a slice-of-lift, long-running, adapted-from-manga series that run either Sunday evening on Fuji TV or Monday evening on Nihon TV. In the 2000s, Sazae-san is also the undisputed leader of the pack with an insurmountable viewer rating others could only dream of. In the next post, I will run this list of top 10/20 series with the highest viewer rating against some of the Western rating websites to compare the makeup and preferences of each fanbases


– Rating is based on avarage daily rating between 01-Jan-2000 to 31-Dec-2010

– Reruns of the series at later dates are excluded from the analysis

– The analysis cover all the 6 nationwide networks plus a few additionals. These are:

Fuji TV (CX) – Nationwide commercial network

NHK [Nippon Kousou Kyoukai]- Nationwide Public network

NHK Educational TV (ETV) – Part of NHK

Nihon TV (NTV)- Nationwide commercial network

TV Asahi (EX)- Nationwide commercial network

Asahi National broadcasting (ANB) – Former name of TV Asahi

TBS [Tokyo Broadcasting System]- Nationwide commercial network

MBS [Mainichi Broadcasting System] – Broadcasting station in Osaka; affiliated with TBS

TV Tokyo (TX) – Nationwide commercial network

12 Comments on “Japanese rating”

  1. Taka says:

    Where did you go to get your ratings? I’m curious to see how Sazae-san stacks up against non-animated programming. I mean is that 19% (24mil) every week or is that the added up amount of 1 year averaged over a decade? That’d be insane and near unheard of in western TV. Per week it might be closer to like late-night Letterman/Leno.

    Also, lately since the advent of the internet, Nielsen style ratings (idk what they call them in Japan) are increasingly being called into question. For one the ratings is based on audience share, implying there is inherent competition between time slots interestingly it seems there is little competition among the top 10 anime. I’d be interested to see what is airing on Nihon TV Sunday’s from 18:00 – 19:00. More and more people are recording to watch later or finding (legal) digital streams so that they can watch any time. That’s why recently a lot of people have been looking at 7-day playback ratings from DVR devices.

    Also very important is the key demographics. I don’t know what the key demographic is in Japan but over here in the US it’s 18 to 49. The big to-do with Conan and Leno has created a lot of questions about the current rating system, however the ratings may be more accurate in Japan.

    • I got it from a website (http://www.geocities.jp/animesityouritu/) that has all the data by day from 2000 to 2010. The data itself comes from Video Research, I think, who only publicly post top 10 viewer rating each data and the person posting it probably has paid access to the full information. The 24MM is just a very crude interpretation of the percentage rating number. It is actually a daily average, e.g. 19% of the TVs being sampled tune in to Sazae-san at that time slot every day the show is on during the decade. Upon reflection, I was being a bit over-zealous with that number considering not everyone in Japan would have the tv at a give point in time so I imagine that that 19% is probably closer to say 8MM (assuming a third of the population are watching TV) people estimated than 24MM.

      As for your question on what other shows is airing at that same sunday evening timeslot, it is not an anime. Based on my data, there is no other anime being shown on Sunday evening at all to compete with Fuji TV. It just seems like apart from Sazae-san, Chibi Maruko-chan and ONE PIECE, no other anime is good enough to run in that time slot. The data itself only contains anime, sentai and kamen shows. I will have to dig around a bit more for other data. And yes, the fact that people probably record a lot of late night animes to watch it later will mean that most of the animes on at that slot will have a depressed number of figures and not reflect the actual viewer rating. I would love to get my hand on the dvd sales and cross-analyze this data with that!

  2. kransom says:

    Great job! Just a comment about the “people watching” statistic you have up — Video Research’s numbers are only for the Kanto area of Japan, so it might not be fair to extrapolate to the entire population of Japan, especially considering that time slots for some shows may differ depending on where they’re aired. Elsewhere on Video Research’s website, they state that a 1% household rating in Kanto is equivalent to 177,250 homes, and 1% of viewers over 4 in the area is equivalent to 406,610 individuals.

    • Thank you for letting me know about the errors! I will go ahead and correct that in my post. I just assumed that when Video Research referred to the 6 nationwide networks, the rating represented the whole of Japan. At least the population in Kanto represented about a third of the whole Japan so it is at least a good proxy for the popularity of the whole country, since I do not have anything better!

      Is there any other service that gives a more comprehensive viwer rating figures than Video Research?

      • kransom says:

        I believe that Video Research does research viewership numbers for other regions, but those, for whatever reason, aren’t posted as often on messageboards or on the Geocities site you linked.

      • Then I guess I will have to extrapolate my results based on only this data pool:) may not be ideal but I still feel it gives a good enough reflection that other western database does not show. Do you believe there is regional differences in the shows popularity? I still would like to imagine the too ten shows not be too far off even if we have access to the full data or am I far off with that?

      • kransom says:

        I doubt much would change in terms of the relative rankings of each series, especially for major programs like the top ten. More than anything, I just wanted to point out that the extrapolated audience number might be a little misleading.

      • And I thank you for that! I will go back and adjust the number so at least it will be a lot more accurate than what I have written right now:)

  3. Lin says:

    About Atashin’chi

    Akitaro Daichi leave the team after ep 5, I think there are some problem between Akitaro Daichi and top brass.

    IMO It’s still a very good show, and OP song is very well done and popular in my country

    • Thanks for the pointer here! Both Anime News Network and Wikipedia list names of two directors, Daichi Akitaro and Yasumi Tetsuo. I just did not realize that Daichi left so soon after the the series was aired! I imagine Yasumi is the one that actually directed most of the show in that case and will adjust my post and worksheet accordingly. I have never actually seen the series or have heard of it prior to doing this analysis.

  4. Danny Choo says:

    Nice write up!

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