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Sunday, May 17, 2009


Lay-judge drama, exotic real estate, and Kimutaku's 'Mr. Brain'

The new lay judge system starts on May 21, so it's not surprising that somebody decided to make a two-hour suspense drama to mark the occasion. However, the subtitle of "Hotei Suspense" ("Trial Suspense"; TBS, Mon., 9 p.m.) sounds like this might not be the best way to promote the new system: "Do you think you can sentence a man to death?" Come to think of it, if you can't, then you're probably disqualified.

The case on trial involves the murder of an elderly senile woman. The person who discovered the body was the woman's son, Makita (Masahiko Nishimura). However, the police suspect the murder was committed by a homeless man named Mitajiri (Takashi Sasano), and they arrest him.

One of the lay judges is a boutique owner, Minako (Nene Otsuka), who has a strange feeling about Makita because she is having problems with her own senile mother. Come to think of it again, wouldn't such a circumstance disqualify her from this particular case?

The topics reviewed on the late night variety show "Ariehen Sekai" ("Unbelievable World"; TV Tokyo, Tues., 12:12 a.m.) are persons, places and things that are just too extraordinary to make sense. This week's show focuses on real estate that doesn't fit conventional concepts of housing.

Some of the properties include a beautiful vacation home that only costs ¥500,000; a luxury home where you can have your own giant hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party; an extremely small house about the size of a two-tatami-mat room; and the most expensive, lavish home you will ever see.

The show will also present "astonishing" TV commercials from overseas and world famous soccer players.

If it's May, it must be time for the latest annual drama series starring SMAP heartthrob Takuya Kimura. Since the man they call Kimutaku is special, his series don't have to start when all the others do — like last year's "Change," in which he played Japan's prime minister, this year's "Mr. Brain" (TBS, Sat., 7:56 p.m.) starts in the middle of the spring television season.

This time, Kimutaku plays a neurological scientist, but not just your run-of-the-mill neurological scientist. Ryusuke Tsukumo heads a science- investigation police institute, and he has long, beautiful hair.

In the first episode, however, Tsukumo himself is arrested for allegedly setting off an explosion. During his interrogation, he takes questions from the police and, with his keen intellect and talent for deductive reasoning, turns the questions back on his interrogators, setting up inferences that point to a more likely suspect who is bent on killing as many bureaucrats as he can.

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