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Sunday, July 19, 2009


Famous sports rivalries, cats' irresistible cuteness, and a handy locksmith

The annals of sports are filled with great rivalries, usually between athletes on opposing sides, but sometimes the competition is intramural. This week, a special two-hour edition of "Yume wo Katachi ni" ("Making Shapes of Dreams"; TBS, Mon., 9 p.m.) will look at famous rivalries in Japanese sports.

One is the monumental battle for high school baseball supremacy back in the 1990s that pitted pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, when he attended Yokohama Gakuen, against the legendary "PL nine" of PL Gakuen, probably the greatest baseball school in Japan. Another baseball rivalry discussed is the one between "elite" pitcher Suguru Egawa and the up-from-nowhere hurler Takashi Nishimoto, who both played for the Yomiuri Giants in the mid-'80s.

Then there's the rivalry between synchronized swimmers Mikako Kotani and Fumiko Okuno. As a rookie, Okuno idolized the older Kotani, but eventually they competed against each at the Barcelona Olympics.

Certain people are just suckers for cats, especially when they rub up against their legs or squint their eyes when rubbed under the chin. Most people believe that cats use their adorability to get what they want from humans, a theory that's put to the test on the science variety show "Suiensa" (NHK-E, Tues., 7:25 p.m.).

Members of the Akihabara-based girls idol collective AKB48, who absolutely love cats, carry out a "thorough investigation" into felines' "true feelings," and find that there is a "big misunderstanding" between cats and their human companions. The idea that cats act affectionately to "break down" human resistance is more or less a human prejudice, and, in fact, says more about the person than it does about the cat.

A new type of anti-hero debuts Thursday night in the first installment of the drama series "Saru Lock" (Nihon TV, 11:58 p.m.). Saru (Hayato Ichihara) is a master locksmith and a notorious ladies man to boot. He just can't keep his hands off the young girls, and his chosen profession turns out to be an advantage in this regard.

In this week's episode, Saru attends a retailers association meeting in the shopping area where he keeps his locksmith and key duplicating store. The association is all up in arms because a "dating club" has just opened for business in the area, and the members believe that such an unsavory sort of enterprise will attract undesirable types.

The association assigns Saru and his two associates to investigate the dating club. For this particular mission, Saru's locksmithing skills come in handy, but not as handy as his irrepressible urge to meet attractive young ladies.

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