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Sunday, March 14, 2010

CHANNEL SURF

Beauty transformation, documentary on working poor; CM of the week: Kirin's Sekai no High Ball

The makeover variety show "Kasupe! Beauty Colosseum" was a weekly series up until a few years ago, and its return to Fuji TV this Tuesday at 7 p.m. is for a 2-hour " kiseki no daigekihen " (miracle super change) special.

The guest is a woman who is overweight and describes her features as being "simian and masculine-looking." All through her school days she was cruelly teased by classmates. After graduating she got a full-time job and managed to lose weight, but as a consequence her "poor bone structure" was emphasized and she became a shut-in, afraid to interact with other people.

The producers assemble a top-notch team of hairdressers, makeup artists, dietitians, and plastic surgeons to give the woman a new look and a new life. The result, as the subtitle promises, is a "miracle."

It's a well-known fact that Japan would not have enjoyed its huge postwar economic growth without those people at the bottom of the job pyramid who helped construct buildings and infrastructure. A substantial number of these workers were day laborers, meaning men who were hired for a day at a time and paid at the end of each shift.

This week, the documentary program "Rekishi wa Nemuranai" (History Doesn't Sleep; NHK-E, Tues., 10:25 p.m.) goes to Sanya, the neighborhood in the shitamachi (low city) area of Tokyo that has traditionally been the home of Tokyo's day-laborer community, in order to shine a light on the real situation of Japan's working poor, who remain for the most part invisible in the shadow of the country's towering economy.

CM of the week

Kirin's Sekai no High Ball: Takashi Okamura of the comedy duo Ninety-Nine, dressed in 19th-century attire complete with top hat, stands on a clipper ship looking through a telescope when he suddenly bursts into the familiar strains of "Heigh-Ho," the famous work song sung by the seven dwarfs in "Snow White," except instead of "heigh-ho" Okamura's vocal double is singing "high ball!"

Okamura is a "globe-trotting merchant" looking for liquors to bring back to Japan, and now he's got two new canned high-ball concoctions, one a blend of soda and "Kentucky whiskey" and the other a blend of soda and "Andalusian sherry." He rolls a barrel on to the poop deck and his crew of bearded Europeans toasts him with giant tumblers of alcohol that they gulp like beer.

Suntory's recent whiskey commercials have been credited with reviving the popularity of high balls, so Kirin is just adding an international twist. At the end of the spot the narrator says one word, " kaikin ," which means "lifting an embargo." Embargo on what? Using Disney songs in booze advertisements?



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