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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Channel surf

The ratings for "Change," the drama series starring Takuya Kimura as a young prime minister, weren't so hot, so Fuji TV has higher hopes for its followup in the important Monday night 9 p.m. slot. "Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu (The Classroom of the Sun and the Sea)" stars Yuji Oda, the only actor who can hold a candle to Kimura in terms of popularity.

Oda's character is introduced in an appropriately spectacular fashion. Two teenagers, Hiroki and Riku, are walking along a beach in Shonan when they encounter an old woman who is screaming. Her two grandchildren have wandered into the surf. Hiroki rushes in to save them, but it isn't necessary. An older man dressed in a suit walks out of the sea with the two children under his arms.

He is Sakutaro (Oda), who also happens to be Hiroki's and Riku's new homeroom teacher at their high school, an institution that prepares students for elite universities. On the first day of class, Sakutaro distinguishes himself from the other teachers by asking his students not which college they want to attend, but what their dreams are.

A different high-school atmosphere is explored on another new series, "Gakko ja Oshierarenai (You Can't Teach This in School)" (Nihon TV, Tuesday, 10 p.m.), which is about a traditional girls-only high school that accepts male students for the first time.

The five lucky boys are under the care of buxom teacher Mai Aida (Kyoko Fukada), who, meeting in last week's episode, asked them if they wanted to join an after-school club where they will have the chance to "hold girls' hands and even hug them."

The boys can't wait, but the club turns out to be different from what they expected.

In this week's episode, girl student Hitomi has a crush on boy student Kazuki who in turn has a crush on Kanao who thinks that Hitomi and Kazuki are an item. More romantic intrigue is provided by Eiru, who thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her and so follows him wherever he goes.

Yoshihiro and Kumiko Takashima have been deaf since they were born. They married in the early 1990s and Kumiko gave birth to a boy, Reo, in 1995. The Takashimas have been covered many times in the media. A theatrical movie was once made about them and their success as triathlon athletes. The two-hour special "Kaze no Uta ga Kikitai (I Want to Hear the Song of the Wind)" (TBS, Wednesday, 6:55 p.m.) traces their relationship for the past 16 years and updates their story.

Things are apparently not going well. Reo, who acts as the couple's "bridge with the world of sound," recently turned 13, but his parents have hit a wall.

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