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Sunday, June 27, 2010


Exploring man's 'role' in nature; idol Koike Teppei's big acting break; CM of the week: Nissin Cup Noodle

Popular culture, movies in particular, has given us so many glimpses of the apocalypse that we may think we know exactly what it will look like. The special two-hour program "Jinrui Zero no Mirai" ("A Future of Zero Humanity"; Nihon TV, Mon., 7:56 p.m.) gives us several more, only this time without any people getting in the way.

The premise of the program is a world where human beings have vanished suddenly and completely. The reasons for this extinction is not the show's concern, only its impact on the planet. Based on extensive scientific research, it offers computer generated scenarios of what the Earth would be like one day after people are gone, as well as one year, 100 years, several centuries, and even 1 million years later.

The purpose is to figure out what exactly man's "role" is in relation to nature. Do humans "coexist" with the Earth, or are they simply parasites?

Singer Koike Teppei, one half of the idol duo WaT, gets his big acting break in the ambitious five-part NHK drama series "Tetsu no Hone" ("Bones of Iron"; NHK-G, Sat., 9 p.m.).

Koike plays Heita, a young, loyal and hard working employee of Ichitani-gumi Construction. After three years of positive achievements in the company, he is promoted to the Civil Engineering Sales Department.

His first assignment is helping his supervisor secure jobs from a major general contractor that is building by-passes for national roads, and to his dismay he learns that a good portion of his work will be participating in bid-rigging schemes. Prior to his promotion, he was not aware that Ichitani-gumi was involved in bid-rigging, but apparently it's a common practice he can't avoid. As the negotiations continue, he starts to feel guilty, and then an anonymous open letter is circulated threatening to expose the illegal process.

CM of the week

Nissin Cup Noodle: Jay Kay, the furry-hatted lead singer of British lite-funk group Jamiroquai slithers and slides around a brightly lit room, singing an upbeat song about his favorite instant ramen as furniture moves by itself.

To people of a certain age it might look very familiar, since the commercial is basically the famous music video, directed by Jonathan Glazer, of Jamiroquai's 1996 hit "Virtual Insanity," except with dubbed Japanese lyrics celebrating Jay's unconditional love for Cup Noodle. "I'm hungry, I'm hungry," he croons, "I could eat five, and nothing else will do." Hardly Leonard Cohen — or Stevie Wonder, for that matter — but the important thing is that Jay sounds as if he's into it.

But is he? Bloggers in Japan and elsewhere seem to doubt that it's actually Jay singing in Japanese.

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