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Sunday, Nov. 20, 2005

CHANNEL SURF

Nihon TV's "Futatsu no Sokoku," Fuji TV's original dramas and more

Japan and South Korea move a little closer together on this week's "Drama Complex" (Nihon TV, Monday, 9:30 p.m.), a "full-scale detective thriller" entitled "Futatsu no Sokoku: Ai to Kanashimi no Kizuna (Two Homelands: The Bonds of Love and Sadness)."

A police detective named Eguchi is found murdered in Yokohama harbor. His partner, Nakahara (Kippei Shiina), looked up to Eguchi as he would a father, and is determined to find his killer. Nakahara determines that a man found burned to death in a car not far from the murder site was the culprit.

A young Korean woman named Myon Sung helps Nakahara by identifying the burned man as her father. Later, the detective starts to look deeper into the case and makes a shocking discovery: 31 years ago, the burned man and Eguchi were both involved in a robbery-murder case.

The detective travels to Seoul to track down Myon Sung in the hope that she will be able to shed more light on the mystery.

This week, Fuji TV will present three original drama programs about three famous Japanese women whose lives were defined by passion and a devotion to their respective crafts.

On Nov. 24 at 9:03 p.m., Rie Miyazawa plays Harumi Setouchi, who ran away from a husband and child for a string of lovers and a life of sensation, which she turned into a series of best-selling novels.

Later in life, Setouchi abandoned materialism and became a Buddhist nun, changing her name to Jakucho. However, her fame only increased, and she became a dispenser of worldly and spiritual advice, renowned for her uplifting lectures. Recently, she retired from her position at a temple in Iwate at the age of 83.

Singer Fubuki Koshiji is the subject of Friday night's drama, which also begins at 9:03 p.m. Koshiji was one of the most popular male-role specialists in the history of the all-female musical theater company Takarazuka, and after she retired she enjoyed even greater fame as a pop singer. Though she died in 1980 at the age of 56, her records still sell well today.

However, her backstage life was filled with tribulations, mostly health-related. She was supported by a loving husband and a female manager, Tokiko Iwatani, who was one of the most respected lyricists in Japanese show business. Koshiji is played by Yuki Amami, who is also a Takarazuka veteran.

On Nov. 26 at the same time, Ryoko Yonekura tackles Haruko Sugiura, Japan's most influential stage actress who died in 1997 at the age of 91. Sugiura was mainly famous for having played Blanche Dubois in thousands of performances of "A Streetcar Named Desire," but she also appeared on TV and in movies. She was a favorite of film director Yasujiro Ozu, but she was also a notoriously tough woman.



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