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Sunday, April 6, 2008
Documentary on education, romantic comedy, female family drama
It is estimated that about 127,000 children throughout Japan have stopped attending school because they simply don't want to. It is a problem that seems to be getting worse despite the attention it has attracted.
The documentary "Manami-san ga Kyoshitsu Modotta (Manami Returns to Class)" (NHK-G, Monday, 10 p.m.) looks at the issue in Osaka, where some 10,000 children have stopped attending classes, the most of any prefecture in Japan. Three years ago, the local government launched a system in which specialized teachers worked full-time on the problem by visiting the homes of nonattending children and finding out why they have given up on school. As a result, 719 did return for the 2006 school year.
The program focuses on one girl, Manami, a second-yearjunior- high-school student, and her difficulties in trying to readjust to academic life. The documentary also looks at the social situation behind this problem.
Many women still complain that there aren't any good men out there anymore, if, in fact, there ever were. The new drama series, "Zettai Kareshi (He's Absolutely My Boyfriend)" (Fuji, Tuesday, 9 p.m.) takes this idea to its inevitable, queasy conclusion.
Namikiri (Kuronosuke Sasaki) is an engineer for a company called Kronos Heaven, and his big project is to create a perfect robot boyfriend, meaning a machine with all the attributes that women desire in a boyfriend and without all those attributes they hate.
Kronos solicits women to test the new prototype, a tall, handsome robot (Mokomichi Hayami) whose only function is to please women. Riko (Saki Aibu), a part-time worker for a confectionery, signs on as a "monitor" and becomes quite perplexed over her robot's lover-boy qualities.
R omance of a more conventional sort is the subject of another new drama series, "Around 40" (TBS, Friday, 10 p.m.), whose subtitle states its case more succinctly: "Chumon no Oi Onnatachi (Women Who Demand a Lot)."
Satoko (Yuki Amami) is a 39-year-old clinical psychologist who hasn't been involved in a romantic relationship for five years and prefers it that way. She loves the single life and hanging out with her friend Nao (Nene Otsuka).
In the first episode, Satoko attends a reunion of junior-high-school and high-school classmates. There she meets her former best friend, Mizuho (Yuki Matsushita), a housewife.
Shocked that Satoko is still single, Mizuho tells her that if she ever wants to have a child, she'd better start thinking about getting married right away.
The comment plants a seed in Satoko's brain.