Fuji TV pretty much has the Monday night, 9 p.m. time slot all to itself. Traditionally, the network has saved its hottest “trendy” dramas for this time period, and whenever it has a series starring perennial heartthrob Takuya Kimura, who recently topped a magazine’s annual poll for the “celebrity you most want to sleep with” for the 12th year in a row, it gets the “getsukyu (Monday-nine)” treatment.
This week, Fuji fills the slot with the premiere of Kimutaku’s latest series, “Engine.” The SMAP star plays Jiro, a professional racing driver who has spent five years in Europe on the Formula 3000 circuit. As with all Kimura characters, Jiro has a short fuse, and after getting into a fight with his teammates he’s fired.
He decides to return to Japan to see if he can get a racing gig there, and goes to see Inchinose (Shigeru Izumi), the leader of his old racing team. While waiting for an answer he hangs out at home, which happens to be an orphanage run by his father. At the moment 12 kids with various problems are living in the orphanage, and Jiro can’t help but get involved.
On Wednesday at 9 p.m., TBS will present a special two-hour dramatization of former Diet politician Joji Yamamoto’s nonfiction book “Gokusoki (Prison Diary).” Yamamoto spent a year in prison after being convicted of illegally claiming money for a personal secretary.
While in jail, Yamamoto, whose name is changed to Kawanaka in the drama and is played by Toshiro Yanagiba, became aware of how poorly prisoners are treated. Having entered politics to reform Japan’s welfare situation, he was particularly distressed to see that disabled prisoners were treated extra harshly. He volunteered to be an orderly so that he could help these prisoners directly. His prison activities not only allowed him to redeem himself, but also gave him a new purpose in life. Since his release, Yamamoto has given up politics for social activism on behalf of disabled prisoners.
Former boy idol Hiromi Go, one of the original stars of the Johnny’s Jimusho talent agency, which has brought you Smap, Tokio and Kinki Kids, gave the impression several years ago that he was hanging up his dancing shoes to become a businessman in New York. However, at 50 he still looks pretty good and sometimes makes appearances in Japan to thrill his old fans.
This week, Go is the guest on the music show “Bokura no Ongaku” (Our Music; Fuji TV, Friday, 11 p.m.), which apparently signals his full-time return to showbiz. He’ll sing a number of the hits that made him a teen star in the 1970s, and will also be joined by irrepressible jazz pianist-cum-singer Chie Ayato. The two will also talk about their mutual admiration of each other’s work.