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Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009

CHANNEL SURF

Blood-type drama week, smoking-cessation trials and an enka singer's road to success

Supposedly, you can tell a lot about a person by his or her blood type, and there is a cottage publishing industry in Japan dedicated to the subject. Certain blood types indicate particular personality traits, and some combinations of types are more romantically compatible than others.

Compatibility is the premise of four new dramas airing on consecutive nights this week titled, "Ketsuekigata-betsu Onna ga Kekkon suru Hoho" ("How Women of Certain Blood Types Marry") (Fuji, Mon-Thurs., 11 p.m.). On Monday night, Rosa Kato, as an A-type woman, and Naoki Okubo, as an O-type man, fall in love at their workplace. Yumiko Shaku represents B-type women on Tuesday night as a popular scriptwriter who has an affair with TV props man Hiroyuki Miyasaku, who's an AB. Then, on Wednesday, Yu Kashii, an O, plays a furniture store clerk who has to take care of a visiting designer from Taiwan with A-type blood played by Wilson Chen. And on Thursday, Asami Mizukawa is an engineering student with AB blood who gets a lesson in love from associate professor Shigeru Joshima.

This week, the medical variety show "Takeshi no Honto wa Kowai Katei no Igaku" ("Takeshi's Really Scary Home Medicine") (TV Asahi, Tues., 8 p.m.) talks about smoking. The guests include a group of celebrities who smoke but want to stop.

The main dramatization is about a sales manager for a major manufacturer who has smoked for more than 30 years. He finds that cigarettes help him concentrate when he's particularly busy, and when he tries to quit, his work suffers for it. In any case, he doesn't experience any health problems related to cigarettes, until one day he finds he can hardly draw breath.

It was about a year ago that the African-American singer named Jero made his debut as an enka (Japanese ballad) vocalist. By the end of the year he had fulfilled his dream, which was to appear on NHK's prestigious song contest, "Kohaku Uta Gassen." This week, NHK presents a documentary called "Umi wo Koeta Enka" ("Enka Over the Sea") (NHK-G, Fri., 10 p.m.), which charts Jero's rapid rise to the top.

Jero came to Japan in 2003 expressly to become an enka singer, having been influenced by his Japanese grandmother, a big enka fan who still managed to watch "Kohaku" every year in Pittsburgh. Cameras are there when Jero wins his first song contest in Japan, when he debuts his hit single, "Umi Yuki" ("Sea Snow"), and when he returns to Pittsburgh for a triumphant reunion with his family.

Along the way we learn that Jero likes ramen and mackerel, and doesn't do things he doesn't want to do, which is very unusual for a novice enka singer.



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