Chibi Maruko-chan is one of Japan's premier Shōjo manga, and the source of one of their longest-running children's programming anime. The original manga, written and illustrated by Momoko Sakura, ran from 1986 to 2022 in Ribon with 18 volumes, becoming its longest-running title there as well.
The story is about a 9-year-old girl, Momoko Sakura (named after the author's pen name) or otherwise Maruko/Maru-chan. She lives with her family of 6, including her big sister, father, mother, and paternal grandfather and grandmother, in old Shimizu-shi, today part of Shizuoka-shi.
The manga has two anime adaptations; the first anime aired from 1990 to 1992 for 142 episodes, and the second began airing in 1995 and is still ongoing. In Japan, the second anime is broadcast weekly on Sundays at 6:00PM on Fuji TV. In the United States and Canada, starting January 8, 2012, it is broadcast weekly (in Japanese) on Sundays at 6:45PM Eastern Time on NHK's international feed, TV Japan.
Since 2018, a modern English dub can be found on the official channel on YouTube, which would soon spinoff into its own channel. The English dub is very faithful to the original Japanese version and changes almost no names or cultural aspects. Episodes of Nickelodeon India's dub can also be found on the channel.
Chibi Maruko-chan provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Migawa, towards Hanawa. It depends which episode if the anti-attraction is reciprocated, politely ignored or not. The sames goes with Fuyuta towards Ono-kun.
- Adorably Precocious Child: Maruko.
- Acquaintance Denial: In episode 297, Maruko does the Potty Dance while she's going up on stage to claim her reward during an assembly. A girl asks Sakiko if that's her sister, and Sakiko awkwardly denies this.
- Author Avatar: Maruko-chan = Momoko Sakura.
- Borrowing the Beatles: In My Favorite Song, Hamaji, Sekiuchi and Butaro imagine themselves playing to a packed stadium as "The Beakues", filling in the roles (and instruments) of John, Paul and George, and Nagasawa as Ringo. It also doubles as a Shout-Out to when The Beatles played at Budokan in 1966.
- Break the Cutie: Maruko started crying in some episodes.
- Camera Fiend: Tama-chan's dad, who carries a camera around him everywhere, much to her annoyance. In some episodes, he's invited to take pictures, but most of the time, it's a nuisance. There's even an episode where he quits his day job to go pro!
- Cloud Cuckoolander:
- Tomozou, Maruko's doting grandfather. He can sometimes do weird things that nobody understands, like imitate Maruko or write "Work hard Japan!" on the flag Maruko has for the white team for her school's sports day. When Maruko's sister says she doesn't use her head in class, Tomozou says that when he puts on a "hachimaki" (Japanese bandana), he uses his head.
- Maruko has this to a lesser extent than her grandfather, with her strong tendency to daydream or even go into a daze. There's even one episode about how Maruko can be absent-minded and how she doesn't know what she thinks about when she goes into a daze.
- Her Cloud Cuckoo tendencies also show up when she gets older when Hiraoka, a former classmate turned writer for Fuji TV, reconnects with her and the narrator points how she hasn't changed. Truth in Television from her and others' admission, as when Eiichiro Oda first met her, he knew she created "Chibi Maruko-chan" from her personality alone.
- The Sakura's aren't the only ones with a Cloud Cuckoolander streak. Maruko's friend Noguchi and her grandfather are ones as well. While she shows it by stalking Maruko's adventures from the figurative bushes, her grandfather is, by contrast, cheery. They both share the "kekekeke" laugh, though.
- Cool Big Sis: Sakiko, Maruko's sister, when she chooses to be nice to Maruko.
- The Cutie: Maruko and her sister Sakiko.
- Fat Bitch: Borderline example with Migiwa. She's the female class representative who doesn't like Maruko because Hanawa likes hanging out with her more, but aside from that, she and Maruko get along okay.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Maruko. She's lazy and a bit insensitive, but she cares a lot about the people she likes. For example, when the grandson of one of her grandpa's friends ruins the dinner by fliping the table (and being an ungrateful Jerkass the whole time), Maruko calls him out on it, even while he tries to attack her.
- The Illegible: Hanawa (the rich boy) and Yamada (the ADHD boy) in Maruko's class both have pretty bad handwriting.
- Imagine Spot:
- Grandpa Tomozo, when something good or bad happens to him, "writes" poems of the mind about said events, either as haikus or tankas.
- Tamae, when something bad happens Maru-chan, becomes Tammy, girl of the alpines a la Heidi, yelling her emotions out.
- In-Series Nickname: Momoko Sakura is called Maruko, meaning "round child". This name is used pretty much to the exclusion of her actual given name.
- Lemony Narrator: Keaton Yamada for the win. He frequently expresses his opinions about the characters' actions and goes on diversions about stuff. He especially targets Maruko and her doting grandfather for his asides, criticizing them for foolish behavior and thoughts. He makes a cameo in one episode in the original anime series where he actually speaks to the characters face to face, keeping up with his comments; the main characters also fire back.
- Ma'am Shock: A variation plays in the chapter/episode when Maru-chan meets her sister's tutor. She firsts introduces herself by explaining how she got her nickname, to which the tutor calls her Maruko-san/Ms. Maruko. She's taken aback by it.
- The Movie:
- Ono-kun and Sugiyama-kun (1990), about 2 boisterous classmates of Maruko who love to play sports.
- My Favorite Songs (1992), about a young woman artist with quite a few music videos. She serves as a role model for Maruko.
- The Boy From Italy (2015), about a boy from Italy who does homestay at Maruko's house and develops a crush on Maruko.
- Mysterious Watcher: Downplayed with Noguchi, a girl in Maruko's class. She is often seen watching whatever happens to Maruko and her friends throughout an episode, not for anything malicious, but for the entertainment value. One moment in the live-action special going down a slide, spying on her with a pair of binoculars.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Maruko (red) and her friend Tamae (blue). Maruko is laid-back and gets into trouble a lot while Tamae is proper and a stickler for the rules. This is even color-coded for your convenience as Maruko often wears a lot of red and Tamae a lot of blue.
- Maruko (red) and her sister Sakiko (blue). Maruko is lazy and messy while Sakiko is a hard worker who's often frustrated by her sister not doing what she's supposed to when it affects her.
- Sick Episode: In episode 1085, Maruko and Sakiko are worried about their mother when she comes down with a cold. They're forced to do work around the house that would normally be taken care of by their mother as a result. Later, Maruko wonders if she's been overworking her.
- Stoic Spectacles:
- Maruko's smart classmate Nagayama wears glasses, but he's well-liked by Maruko and the others. He calmly explains various phenomena of the natural world, ranging from rainbows to the asteroid that crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula.
- Inverted with Maruo, another of Maruko's classmates. He's the neurotic, obsessive class government council member with swirls in his glasses.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Maruko is the tomboy, and her best friend Tamae is the girly girl. Maruko is lazy, talks in a more gender-neutral manner, sometimes hangs out with just the boys doing stuff, and does not do a lot to maintain her appearance most of the time. Tamae is proper, punctual, and feminine in her speech and mannerisms. Nevertheless, they are both social people who can be assertive when they need to be.
- Vocal Dissonance: Nagasawa, the onion shaped boy in Maruko's class, is voiced by Chafurin. Of course, this is averted in the live-action adaptions.
- Young Future Famous People:
- In one chapter/episode, Noguchi gets an autograph from a no-name comedian named Takeshi Kitano. Later at home, she sees his signature, thinking that his eyes has ultra class brilliance.
- Kenta, a boy in Maruko's class, is a soccer player and future professional player Kenta Hasegawa as a child. Truth in Television as they went to the same primary school as children.