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Sunday, April 9, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

TV Asahi's 'Shichinin no Onna Bengoshi,' TBS's "Bengoshi no Kuzu" and more

This Thursday at 9 p.m., TV Asahi presents episode 1 of "Shichinin Onna Bengoshi (Seven Women Lawyers)," which sounds like the "Seven Samurai" of the briefcase set.

Yumiko Shaku stars as Maki, a new recruit in an all-female law firm which has just won an unfair pay dispute case. The trial has attracted a great deal of media attention, and while a woman journalist is reporting the verdict live on the air, her producer is found stabbed nearby.

During their investigation, the police find the murder weapon in the locker of the producer's assistant, Yukie, and arrest her. Yukie, who went to school with Maki, asks her and her boss to represent her.

That same night, an attorney of a much different sort launches his own series. The title, "Bengoshi no Kuzu" (TBS; Thursday, 10 p.m.), has a double meaning. On the one hand, it could translate as "Attorney Kuzu," since the name of the main character is Motohito Kuzu. However, it could also translate as "The Lowest Lawyer," since kuzu can also mean "scum" or "rubbish."

Etsuji Toyokawa plays the title character, whose credo is that a lawyer should do anything possible to win his case.

In the first episode, his law firm assigns new employee Takeda (Hideaki Ito) to apprentice with him. Takeda is principled and idealistic, and thus the complete opposite of Kuzu. "My motto," Kuzu tells his new charge, "is that lawyers don't need to be fair. The purpose of the law is not to punish people, but to save them."

Takeda had hoped to become involved in human rights cases and his wish is granted right away. His first case with Kuzu is a sexual harassment suit, but he's in for much more than he bargained for.

NHK is also broadcasting a legal drama series. In anticipation of the lay judge system that goes into effect next year, NHK-G is presenting "Machiben" (Sat. 9 p.m.), which stars Makiko Esumi and Koji Yamamoto as Ryoko and Keigo, two lawyers who work together, but often find themselves at odds.

In Episode Two, which airs April 15, the pair is representing a high-school teacher named Suzuki who has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping.

He has no alibi, but Ryoko gets the feeling that Suzuki is hiding important information.

Later, she discovers that on the day the child in question went missing, Suzuki was in a store where one of his students had been caught shoplifting.

That day the teacher had tried to arbitrate on behalf of his student so that the shopkeeper wouldn't press charges. Later, he promised his student that he would never tell anybody about the incident.



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