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Sunday, Sep. 2, 2012

CHANNEL SURF

Dark dorm desires; "Lose to win"; CM of the week: Chintai

ManaKana, twins Mana and Kana Mikura, are television staples, frequently appearing together on variety shows and in the occasional drama as sisters who are always cheerful. This week, Mana steps away from her twin in the new daytime soap opera "Akai Ito no Onna" ("Red Thread Woman"; Fuji TV, Monday-Friday, 1:30 p.m.).

Mana plays against type as Yumi, a university student "who struggles with her darker desires." Yumi shares a dormitory room with Seria (Kae Okumura), who is from a well-to-do Tokyo family. Seria is not only the campus beauty, but kind and thoughtful, and Yumi is envious. Then, a third roommate (Natsuhi Ueno) enters the picture who is also beautiful. Yumi thinks they may have attended the same high school together, but the woman used to look different. In fact, she was bullied because of her appearance.

Ken Watanabe plays the late Japanese Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida in a five-part dramatization of Yoshida's postwar career in "Makete Katsu" ("Lose to Win"; NHK-G, Saturday, 9 p.m.).

After Gen. Douglas MacArthur (David Morse) arrives at the Atsugi air base to take charge of the U.S. occupation, Yoshida becomes foreign minister. The Americans accept him because he was imprisoned near the end of the war for "antiwar sentiments" despite his unwavering support for the Imperial system. Unlike most of the other Japanese leaders at the time, Yoshida was not intimidated by MacArthur. In fact, he demanded to be treated as an equal.

In the first episode, another deceased prime minister, Fumimaro Konoe, is hounded by the Americans as a war criminal.

CM of the week

Chintai: SMAP leader Masahiro Nakai continues his work as the smiling, dancing mascot for the rental housing service Chintai. In the latest 15-second spot, Nakai is dressed in purple and fronting a chorus line of young men in blue training wear, as well as the company's other more traditional mascot, the Chin-tiger, who has blue stripes and, in a cutaway, is seen holding a laptop open to Chintai's website. The purpose of the CM is to publicize Chintai's online apartment-search service, though, given his glass-eyed expression, Nakai's personal aim seems to be to get through the dance without making a mistake.



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