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Sunday, Jan. 22, 2006
Fuji TV's 'Saiyuki,' TV Asahi's 'Truly Frightening Home Medicine' and more
Monday nights at 9 p.m. usually belong to Fuji TV, which always parks its highest-profile romantic drama series in the slot. The network has now opted for something different, a fantasy series based on a well-known Chinese folk tale. "Saiyuki" is about the journey of a Buddhist priest from China to India in the company of a monkey, a pig and that mythical water creature the Japanese call kappa.
Each weekly installment is a self-contained adventure and features a high-profile guest star.
In the third episode, which airs Jan. 23, the group comes upon a temple where dreams supposedly come true. The travelers are welcomed by the temple's priest and fed. They sleep more soundly than ever -- except for Songoku (Katori Shingo), the monkey, who is restless. The next day, things go awry.
Overweight comedians get a lot of work on Japanese TV, so it literally pays for them to keep eating. This week's installment of "Truly Frightening Home Medicine" (Asahi; Tuesday, 8 p.m.) will assemble some of the more famous chubby tarento in the studio and show them just what their eating habits might lead to.
Belching may be funny under certain conditions, but it can also indicate something deadly.
The case of a 41-year-old man who weighs 90 kg is dramatized. He tends to belch a lot while he's eating, and suffers from heartburn regularly. One day, he's having lunch with a woman who might be a prospective bride, and when the woman says she loves men who love to eat, he digs into his food with more relish than usual and tragedy strikes.
The most talked-about drama series this season is "Rondo," which features Korean actress Choi Ji Woo, who became a superstar in Japan playing opposite heartthrob and fellow Korean Bae Yong Joon in the TV series "Winter Sonata."
A violinist named Ju-na (Choi) comes to Tokyo with her sister to locate her missing father, who may be involved in a pan-Asian crime organization headed by the dreaded godfather Don Ryuichiro (Naoki Sugiura).
"Rondo" (TBS, Sunday, 9 p.m.) is a rip-off of the popular Hong Kong movie "Infernal Affairs" in that its main plot device is a pair of moles.
Yutaka Takeuchi plays Sho, an undercover Tokyo police detective who has infiltrated the crime organization. In episode three, which airs Jan. 29, he learns that the organization itself has a mole in the police department and urges his contact there to flush him out. He also learns that the organization is planning a terrorist attack.