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Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011

CHANNEL SURF

Nine nights of AKB48 dramas; Tamori's stroll through Tokyo; CM of the week: InterFM

Members of the idol collective AKB48 are now participating in a serial drama that runs nine consecutive nights on Nihon TV. "Sakura Kara no Tegami" ("Letter From a Cherry Tree"; nightly through Mar. 6, 11:58 p.m.) contains 17 intertwined story lines built upon the theme of graduation. Each night, threads of three or four of the stories are presented.

Monday is night No. 3, and introduces a story line titled "Mayu no Kiken no Yujo" ("Mayu's Dangerous Friendship"). High school students Mayu (Mayu Watanabe) and Sae (Sae Miyazawa) are best friends forever. They do everything together, and have no interest in boys, or at least that is what they say until Sae falls in love with a fellow fourth-year student and declares him her boyfriend. Ayu can't understand why Sae is avoiding her now.

Tokyo is built on landfill. Before people started living in the areas west of what is now called Tokyo Bay, the topography of those areas was highland promontories interlaced with marshy valleys. When population centers materialized during the Edo Period (1603-1868), people lived on higher pieces of land and threw their refuse into the lowlands. The city basically expanded on garbage.

This week, on the Tokyo exploration show "Buratamori" ("Tamori's Stroll"; NHK-G, Thurs., 10 p.m.), comedian Tamori looks for traces of what he calls gomi-zaka, or "trash hills." Using old maps, he discovers that Kagurazaka is essentially a mountain of refuse. He then draws a line from Edo's disposal methods to those of modern Tokyo, and visits a municipal incinerator that utilizes the most advanced burning technology in the world.

CM of the week: InterFM

A young man, his features obscured by shadow, sits on a bed in a hotel room facing a desk with a guitar case leaning against it. On the soundtrack, the late singer-songwriter Yutaka Ozaki's popular ballad "I Love You" is playing. However, a caption indicates that the singer is not Yutaka Ozaki, but Hiroya Ozaki, the singer's son, who was only 2 years old when Yutaka died mysteriously in a Tokyo alley in 1992. The vocal resemblance is uncanny.

The spot is for the Tokyo radio station InterFM. In October, the bilingual Hiroya (he and his mother moved to America when he was 5) became a regular DJ on the station, but the ad presents him as a singer following in his father's footsteps, and is actually a sequel to another TV commercial for American Express, which is more explicit. In that commercial, the same ballad plays in the background as we watch airplanes taking off, and a message on the screen says, "Turning 21, he goes overseas for his first job." We then hear Hiroya say, "Father, look at me."



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