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Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012
The new Ennosuke; Kohei the assassin; CM of the week: Fuji-Q Highland
In June, the Omodakaya kabuki clan carried out its first succession ceremony in 49 years, when the head of the clan, Ichikawa Ennosuke, incapacitated by a stroke some years ago, passed his name to his nephew, Kamejiro. Ennosuke's own son did not undergo traditional kabuki training as a child because Ennosuke divorced his wife, actress Yuko Hama, when the boy was very young. That boy grew up to be popular film actor Teruyuki Kagawa, who finally received kabuki training as an adult and took the clan name Ichikawa Chusha.
On Thursday, NHK will present "Shin Ennosuke Tanjo" ("A New Ennosuke is Born"; NHK-G, 7:30 p.m.), which chronicles the 12 months leading up to Kamejiro's assuming of his uncle's legacy, one of the more unusual in kabuki since the former Ichikawa Ennosuke was instrumental in modernizing the theatrical art form with flashy production design called Super Kabuki.
'Kenkaku Shobai: Gorochu Ansatsu" (A Swordsman's Trade: Senior Lord Assassin"; Fuji TV,Fri., 9 p.m.) is based on a popular series of historical novels by the late Shotaro Ikenami that sold upward of 18 million copies. The hero is an assassin named Kohei (Kinya Kitaoji), who is older than the usual hired killer.
Kohei's son, Daijiro (Takumi Saito), has become a star at sword-fighting competitions carried out in the court of a local lord. He has so far beaten seven challengers. Daijiro works for his father in his swordsmanship school, and one day a man shows up and tells Daijiro he will pay him well if he cuts his arms. Daijiro refuses, but Kohei is intrigued by the man's request and starts looking into his background.
CM of the week
Fuji-Q Highland: It's a startling image: a montage showing different pairs of legs extending from a narrow hole in a cinder-block wall, all wriggling violently in attempts by their owners to free themselves. The gentle music on the soundtrack belies the desperation, but that turns out to be the point.
"Escape maniacs, assemble!" says the voice-over announcer unhelpfully. Even when it becomes clear that the ad is for amusement park Fuji-Q Highland's new attraction, Zetsubo Yosai (Hopeless Fortress), the viewer will probably still be confused, so you check the website: Patrons must escape from a fake maximum-security prison.