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Enka queen sings jazz; documentary on dementia; CM of the week: g.u.

Aki Yashiro is known as the Queen of Enka, or “Japanese ballads,” according to the standard translation. However, Yashiro started out singing jazz in hostess clubs and didn’t make her enka debut until 1971, when she was 21 years old. Last year she finally released an album of jazz standards.

NHK followed Yashiro to New York, considered “the world’s jazz mecca,” where she performed at the famed Blue Note club. In “Enka no Joo Jazz wo Utau” (“The Queen of Enka Sings Jazz”; NHK-G, Mon., 10 p.m.), we see her rehearsing with local musicians and working with Grammy-winning arranger Kurt Elling, who also reconfigures a few of her enka hits for jazz ensemble. To top it all off, the great jazz singer Helen Merrill joins Yashiro on stage during her New York debut.

Dementia is a condition that can affect anyone, but it’s usually women who take care of the afflicted person, either a wife or a daughter. In the documentary “Te wo Hanasanai” (“Don’t Let Go of My Hand”; TV Asahi, Tues., 3:10 a.m.), the helper is the husband of a woman with dementia, who was diagnosed six years ago.

The couple, 70-year-old Makoto and 69-year-old Hiroko, live in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture. Makoto does all the cleaning, cooking and washing. He even applies Hiroko’s makeup when they go out, which is often. And when they do go out, they are always hand-in-hand, not so much out of a feeling of connubial affection but so that Hiroko doesn’t wander off and get lost. In the last year her condition has worsened more rapidly. Though the documentary shows the physical burden of taking care of a senile individual it also brings up the importance of maintaining “a human connection.”

CM of the week: g.u.

The discount clothing retailer g.u. (or jiyu which means “freedom”) has again snagged ultra-kawaii idol singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as the mascot for its latest ad campaign, “Oshare Invader” (“Fashion Invader”). Kyary started out as a fashion blogger before becoming a pop star, and the commercials portray her in stereotypical “space alien” mode, which essentially means giving her pointy ears. She swoops down on a foreign scene — a street in Paris or a beach in Santa Monica — and transforms the natives into aliens like her, so in addition to pointy ears they now sport g.u. apparel. Does such a marketing strategy fall under the TPP negotiations?