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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Daisuke Naito and Yu Ako biopics on the box

Triumphant underdog stories are irresistable, especially when they're about boxers. This week, TBS presents a two-hour dramatization of the life of Daisuke Naito, the current WBC flyweight champion, in "Naito Daisuke Monogatari: Ijimerarekko no Champion Belt (The Daisuke Naito Story: Champion Belt for a Bullied Child)" (Monday, 9 p.m.).

Naito (Atsushi Ito) grew up in Hokkaido, where he was bullied all through school. Bitter and lonely, he sits around the house after graduation, refusing to look for a job. His mother (Kayako Kishino) tires of this attitude and kicks him out. With no place to go Naito makes his way to Tokyo and moves in with his older brother.

He tries to pull his life together, and one day he runs into Naoya, one of the boys who tormented him back in Hokkaido. He realizes he will never be able to move past that trauma until he first confronts it head-on, so he starts hanging out at the Miyata Gym.

Veterinarians are the subject of the two-part drama series "Wild Life: Kokkyo Naki Juishidan R.E.D. (Wild Life: Veterinarian Team Without Borders R.E.D.)" (NHK-G, Thursday and Friday, 7:30 p.m.). Hayato Ichihara plays Tessho Iwashiro, an intern for the R.E.D. veterinarian team, which sends members to foreign countries. Iwashiro's medical skills are still developing, but he's a passionate doctor and possesses a special ability to distinguish and identify sounds.

In Part 1, he is assigned to Laos, where wild elephants have been attacking villagers ever since their habitat was destroyed by a dam project. In Part 2, he goes to the Szechuan region of China, famous for its panda conservation programs. One day, he joins a tour that goes into the mountains to research the behavior of wild pandas and hears something strange: a panda that is definitely calling for help.

Yu Aku, who died last year, is considered the central figure of Japan's golden age of pop music. He wrote the lyrics to some 5,000 songs, many of which went to No. 1. As part of its 55th anniversary celebration, Nihon TV is presenting Aku's life in dramatic form this week with "Hitmaker: Aku Yu Monogatari (Hitmaker: The Yu Aku Story)" (Friday, 9:03 p.m.).

Aku (Seiichi Tanabe) was born on the island of Awaji. After university, he was hired by an advertising company. As part of his work, he went to TV studios, and later become a scriptwriter. Eventually he turned his talents to song lyrics, becoming one of the most influential men in both pop music and TV. He created the first song audition show, "Star Tanjo," and launched the careers of superstars Momoe Yamaguchi and Pink Lady.

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