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Sunday, July 4, 2004


Fuji TV's "Ningen no Shomei" and more

Next week, the Upper House elections will feature a lot of celebrity would-be politicians, most of whom seem to be professional wrestlers. One of the most famous celebrity politicians, comedian Kiyoshi Nishikawa, is retiring after 18 years in the Upper House.

Kiyoshi has managed to keep 60 percent of the promises he made to his Osaka constituents over the years. One of the questions local media is asking is whom Nishikawa's 1 million supporters will vote for on July 11.

On Monday, Nippon TV's documentary series, "Super TV" (9:54 p.m.), follows Nishikawa around during his last days in office. In Tokyo, Super TV's crew make a rare visit to the Diet dormitory where Nishikawa has lived for the better part of 18 years, and cover his last day on the job, which turned out to be inauspicious. As tradition has it, Nishikawa, an independent, was going to put his last question to the government, in this case a question about pension reform, but the ruling party rudely denied him his last moment in the sun by putting the matter to a vote before he was scheduled to come up.

Meanwhile, back in Osaka, Nishikawa's wife, Helen, takes care of four generations of Nishikawas, including her husband's parents and their daughter's children.

TV mysteries are usually all over in two hours, but Thursday at 10 p.m., Fuji TV starts a 10-part series that covers one murder case. Based on a novel by Seiichi Morimura, "Ningen no Shomei (Human Proof)" features the police combo of tall, handsome Detective Munesue (Yutaka Takenouchi) and his partner Detective Yokowatari (Ren Osugi).

The case involves a young black man who is found mortally wounded in the Odaiba waterfront district of Tokyo.

Munesue slowly uncovers the dead man's background and why he came from the United States to Japan. Along the way he discovers the man's connection to a prominent older woman writer who seems to have an intimate connection to the deceased.

This week's "NHK Special" (NHK-G, Saturday, 9 p.m.) looks at the famous Takarazuka musical theater company, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The gaudy all-female troupe was once part of a large entertainment complex run by the Kansai-based Hankyu Corp. that included a theme park, baseball stadium and hot spring.

Takarazuka was created as an alternative to kabuki, and since its founding has produced more than 4,000 actresses through its famous school. Until recently, almost every famous actress in Japan went through the school. The special looks at the history of the company and how it survived after Hankyu's other leisure businesses went bust. In fact, Takarazuka is more popular than ever, with a solid female fan base and a successful branch in Tokyo.

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