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Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008
Coming of age mini-series, cop-thriller-drama, Kazakhstan documentary
Owing presumably to TV viewers' dwindling attention spans, drama series are becoming shorter. This week, Fuji TV presents a four-part dramatization of an award-winning novel over the course of four consecutive nights rather than four consecutive weeks.
"Isshun no Kaze ni Nare (Become the Wind in a Moment)" (Monday to Thursday, 11 p.m.) won the 2007 Bookstore Association's Grand Prize as well as the 28th Annual Eiji Yoshikawa Cultural Prize for New Writers. Idol singer Hiroki Uchi plays Shinji, whose older brother is a star high-school soccer player and Shinji's hero. However, when Shinji himself enters high school, he decides to follow a different path, and joins the track-and-field team. He becomes particularly obsessed with the 400-meter relay race.
Uchi's participation has already attracted interest in the series because it is his first acting job following a lengthy suspension by his management company after he was caught drinking as a minor more than a year ago.
NHK goes the traditional weekly installment route for its new four-part drama, "Keiji no Genba (Scene of the Crime)" (NHK-G, Saturday, 9:15 p.m.), a detective series about a rookie investigator and his older partner.
Keigo Kato (Mirai Moriyama) has just graduated from the police academy and been given an assignment in a town in Aichi Prefecture. He works with the veteran detective Shoichi Isesaki (Akira Terao), who is about to retire.
Their first case together is the murder of a woman who was found beaten to death on a public street. The woman was employed at a factory that prepares box lunches. The president of the company gives the police information that leads them to suspect a Japanese-Brazilian named Carlos Hiroki of having something to do with the murder, and the two detectives go to a public-housing complex where many Brazilian migrant workers live.
The satirical American movie "Borat" may have given many people the wrong impression of the nation of Kazakhstan, not to mention its media. The occasional NHK documentary series, "Next" (BS-1; March 2, 9:10 p.m.), attempts to set the record straight with a look at some of the TV shows that are broadcast in the country.
Kazakhstan became independent following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but 30 percent of its TV programming is still in the Russian language. In fact, Russian shows have higher ratings than those in the Kazakh language.
The national policy is to encourage more native language usage, and the government is trying to do it through television. In one of the programs profiled, two young people with opposing views on a topic have a debate.