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Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012

CHANNEL SURF

'Stepfather Step'; 'Kiruto no Ie'; CM of the week: Nichii Gakkan

Replacing the historical drama "Mito Komon" in its Monday evening slot is a much different type of series, a "humorous mystery" called "Stepfather Step" (TBS, 8 p.m.), based on a novel by Miyuki Miyabe.

A professional thief (Takaya Kamikawa) steals only from people who have come by their wealth unethically. While breaking into a house he gets into a difficult situation and is saved by a pair of elementary school-age twins who live next door. The brothers, it turns out, live alone, their parents having just run off with their respective lovers, and they talk the thief into pretending to be their stepfather.

In episode four, the twins' teacher, Reiko (Manami Konishi), figures out the thief is not their stepfather, and he decides to go back to his old life. When the twins find a stray dog on their way home from school, they locate the thief at the lawyer's office where he usually sleeps and ask him for permission to keep the dog.

The March 11 disaster is incorporated into the two-part drama "Kiruto no Ie" ("Quilt House"; NHK-G, Sat., 9 p.m.), about a young couple, Sora (Takahiro Miura) and Remon (Anne), who move into a public housing complex inhabited only by elderly people.

After they move in, they meet a strange old man named Katsuya (Tsutomu Yamazaki), who introduces them to a group of residents calling themselves the Quilt House, because each one is independent and without strong family ties. In part two, Sora quits his new factory job and spends almost all his time with Quilt House. Remon finds this strange and the two have a quarrel. Katsuya reprimands Sora, and learns that before moving in, the couple were in the Tohoku region on March 11, and that Remon fears for her unborn child.

CM of the week

Nichii Gakkan: A humanoid robot hoists an old man out of his wheelchair and lays him on his bed. The man is clearly uncomfortable. The voice-over narrator says cheerily, "The important thing isn't the technology, but the smiling face," and then we see the same scene repeated, but instead of a robot helper, the old man is being assisted by a smiling young woman — and he is smiling, too.

Nichii Gakkan made its reputation as a juku (study school), and has since branched out into training and dispatching home helpers. Unsmiling robots need not apply.



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