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Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010

CHANNEL SURF

Motivational sport stories, fishermen surviving in a declining industry, and CM of the week: Takefuji

It takes a special kind of determination to make it as a professional athlete, especially when personal problems get in the way. The stories told on "Athlete Kando Gekijo" (Athlete Emotional Theater; TV Tokyo, Wed., 9:54 p.m.) are of people who overcame adversity to excel at their chosen sports.

Figure skater Reina Inoue is famous because some years ago after a performance her partner proposed to her right there on the ice. However, Inoue's story is even more dramatic. Her father died of cancer when she was a little girl, and later she herself was diagnosed with the same form of cancer. She survived the disease, as well as an injury that threatened her career. She announced her retirement at the end of last year.

Major leaguer Hideki Matsui has had a charmed life, but one of the most famous incidents was the five consecutive intentional walks he received during the high school baseball championship at Koshien Stadium. Whatever happened to the pitcher in that game?

As everyone knows, the Japanese love to eat all species of fish, but that may be changing as shown in "Fuzuroi Sakana-tachi" (Irregular Fish; TBS, Thurs., 9:55 p.m.), which looks at the municipal fish market in Nagasaki, one of Japan's largest.

The market has recently seen sales decline as Japanese tastes in seafood become narrower. Fishmongers are looking to other markets, and the most promising right now is China, where, for instance, the consumption of tuna has skyrocketed in the last few years.

Some Japanese merchants have already set up permanent outlets in Shanghai, and the program shows how Chinese tastes in fish have become closer to those of the Japanese with regard to "freshness." The program also shows how Chinese chefs prepare fish.

CM of the week

Takefuji: A young man walks into a florist's and tells the salesperson that he wants to fill his girlfriend's apartment with flowers. The salesperson, played by former idol Yuki Uchida, smiles in a knowing manner and hands him a small bouquet in a basket. The young man looks puzzled, and Uchida explains that someone like him probably can't afford such an expensive demonstration of his love and that she's sure his girlfriend will appreciate this smaller token of his affection even more.

Takefuji is one of those consumer finance companies that made lots of money from high-interest, easy-to-secure salary loans and then went bankrupt after being sued by customers who said the interest rates were too high. Since then they've regrouped, mostly in cooperation with major banks, and started airing ads that put greater stress on moderation and "planning" one's finances. But their interest rates are still pretty high.



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