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Sunday, July 8, 2007

CHANNEL SURF

Separated siblings family drama, young romantic comedy, melodrama of women competing for the same man

This summer's crop of drama series is dominated by young female leads as opposed to the usual bunch of cute boys. In its most crucial time slot, Monday at 9 p.m., Fuji TV is offering up "First Kiss," which is about a pair of siblings who were separated as small children when their parents divorced.

Mio (Mao Inoue) has grown up in Los Angeles with her mother, a career woman who has remained in Southern California because she believes it offers better medical care for her daughter, who suffers from a heart disorder. Mio requires a risky operation, and after she turns 20 she decides to visit her older brother, Kazuki (Hideaki Ito), who lives in Japan, because it may be the last time she will have a chance to reunite with him. She is also going to seek romance, as if there weren't enough eligible young men in Los Angeles.

'Hotaru no Hikari" (Nihon TV, Wednesday, 10 p.m.) can be translated as "Firefly's Light," but in the case of this new comedy Hotaru is the name of the female protagonist played by Haruka Ayase.

Hotaru works for a famous interior design company. It's a glamorous job but Hotaru's private life is totally the opposite of glamorous. She lives alone, and when she isn't working she's mostly lazing about her rented house in training wear. She's not interested in men. In fact, she isn't interested in anything. "I'd rather lay around than fool around," is her motto.

Her landlord is a bar owner, and one day his son, who has just separated from his wife, comes to inspect the rental property, not knowing that someone is living there. He is shocked at the mess, but not as shocked as Hotaru. He turns out to be her boss, Takano.

'Katagoshi no Koibito" (Lovers Over the Shoulder) (TBS, Thursday, 10 p.m.) features two female leads who bring to this romantic comedy series some scandalous subtext. Actresses Ryoko Yonekura and Saki Kataoka were once thought to be rivals for the affections of Kabuki superstar Ichikawa Ebizo.

The rivalry is mimicked in the series. Moe (Yonekura) is an employee of an importing company. In the first episode, which aired last week, she attended the wedding of her childhood friend Ruriko (Kataoka), who is getting married for the third time. Before the ceremony, however, Ruriko gets cold feet, and the groom asks Moe to convince her friend to go through with the ceremony. Moe has mixed feelings, since the groom happens to be an ex-boyfriend.

In this week's episode, circumstances at work conspire to force Moe to offer a male part-time colleague a place to sleep for the night. Moe thinks the young man is a college student, but once he's in her apartment she discovers he's still in high school. At that moment, Ruriko decides to drop by.



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