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Sunday, June 1, 2003

CHANNEL SURF

A cut above

After 15 years as one of the most successful and popular rikishi in the history of sumo, Takanohana called it quits Jan. 20. In his usual unflappable manner, the yokozuna (grand champion) commented at the press conference that he felt "it was a good time to retire," and though a lot of his peers have had longer careers, none have been as illustrious. Takanohana won 22 tournaments, four of them with perfect 15-0 records.

On June 1, Takanohana's intai danpatsu shiki(retirement hair-cutting ceremony) will take place at the Ryogoku Kokugikan. During the ceremony, the yokozuna will have his topknot cut off and he will receive his post-rikishi name as an oyakata (sumo elder), though it appears that his new name will be the same as his wrestling name. As befits a man who commanded the attention of pretty much the entire nation for the last 15-plus years, the ceremony will be broadcast live on Fuji TV, starting at 1 p.m.

Then, later, at 7 p.m., Fuji will cover the post-ceremony party at the Imperial Hotel, also live. There will surely be hundreds of celebrities all singing the praises of the retired yokozuna in speeches and comments to reporters. During the two-hour broadcast, Fuji will also air highlights from Takanohana's career, both on the dohyo and off it. Dare we expect a comment from the yokozuna's old flame Rie Miyazawa?


Former idol Nagisa Kitahira is now known as the "queen of the two-hour TV drama," owing to the inordinate amount of work she gets on one-shot mystery specials. Obviously, she's done a lot of them, but according to TBS, when she read the script of "Card G-Men: Akane Kohayakawa #6" (TBS, Mon., 9 p.m.), she felt it was "very different from past scripts of the series, and I wanted to play the part even more than usual." As the title makes clear, this is the sixth installment of the adventures of Akane Kohayakawa, an operative for a security company that specializes in credit-card fraud and abuse.

Akane's company is hired by a credit company whose computers have been hacked. The hacker, who calls himself the Red Crow, has created fake accounts and counterfeit credit cards, with which he has managed to withdraw more than 100 million yen from the company's accounts. The company has not called the police because the annual stockholders' meeting will be held in two weeks. They want the case solved before then, or else their stock price will plunge. In fact, within her company, only Akane, who is given the case, and her supervisor know about it. All the other investigators are kept in the dark.

With less than two weeks to crack the case, Akane has to move fast, but she uncovers so many threads that it's difficult to know which one will lead her to the culprit quickly. She finds a factory that manufactures bogus credit cards, rival credit companies who play dirty, crooked politicians and, most significantly, a prestigious preparatory school that boosts entrance test scores for the right price.


During the Tokugawa Shogunate, all the women promised to the shoguns, be they wives or mistresses, were quartered in a section of Edo Castle called the Ooku along with their servants. The shogun, in fact, was the only male who could enter this "inner palace," which contained just as much, if not more, intrigue than the greater palace itself. Women fought over their position in the pecking order, which was usually determined through childbirth. A mistress who produced a male child might have an advantage even over the shogun's wife. Naturally, factions formed and sometimes the battles became quite lethal. All of this was lorded over by the tsubone, a lady-in-waiting who, because she was in contact with powerful men outside of the Ooku, had incredible power inside it.

This week, "Super Jidaigeki" (Super Historical Drama; Fuji, Wed., 7:59 p.m.) starts an 11-part drama series, "Ooku," set during the time of the 13th shogun, Tokugawa Iesada. Miho Kanno plays Tokuko, who is spotted by the shogun and installed as a concubine in the inner palace against her will, since she is betrothed to another. Though she attempted suicide before entering the inner palace, once she is there she becomes caught up in its power struggles. Her fiance says he will someday "rescue" her, but once she becomes pregnant he sends her a charm so that she will have "a healthy boy." Believing herself to be abandoned, she endeavors to become a high-ranking mistress, but the reigning tsubone has other plans . . .



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