This week’s “Friday Entertainment” special (Fuji TV, 9 p.m.) is a dramatization of the 131st winner of the Naoki Prize for Literature, Hideo Okura’s novel “Kuchu Buranko (Flying Trapeze).”
Hiroshi Abe plays Irabu, a psychiatrist who works in his father’s clinic. One day he is visited by a circus trapeze artist named Kohei, who complains that he has suddenly been overcome with acute anxiety that prevents him from sleeping and, even worse, makes him unable to jump off the platform to perform his circus routines.
Irabu has a very casual approach to his calling, and rather than offering Kohei counseling or any other form of treatment, simply gives him a vitamin shot and tells him he has nothing to worry about. Kohei, who blames his neurosis on his trapeze partner, is dissatisfied with Irabu’s attitude, and then Irabu asks him if he’d let him fly on the trapeze himself.
The popular singer Hibari Misora, who was born in 1937 and died in 1989, is often referred to as the diva of the Showa Era. Indeed, no other popular entertainer had a career that so perfectly reflected the hopes and desires of the people as they changed during the course of the Showa years.
On Sunday, May 29, at 9 p.m., TBS will present a special drama about Misora’s youth called “Misora Hibari Tanjo Monogatari (The Story of the Birth of Hibari Misora).”
Misora’s birth name was Kazue. She was the first daughter of Kimie (Pinko Izumi) and Masukichi (Masutoshi Nakamura), both of whom were music lovers, and Kazue started singing when she was a toddler. As war clouds loom, Masukichi is drafted, and at his farewell party, Kazue sings a patriotic song to send him off. Everyone is impressed, especially Kimie, who realizes that Kazue possesses a unique gift.
Cats have always been a source of inspiration to artists, including painters. Masters such as Goya, Renoir and Manet often included images of cats in their work.
On NHK’s visual arts variety show, “Art Entertainment” (BS-2, Sunday, May 29, 11 p.m.), Tadaaki Ima-izumi, an expert on cat behavior, will analyze the use of cats in famous paintings in terms of psychology, culture and scholarship, and will attempt to explain what the artists wanted to convey through their use of cat images.
The program will also look at the work of the great Edo Era ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who was very fond of cats and was known to keep a dozen or so in his home at any one time. Kuniyoshi’s work is filled with images of cats. He even did a series of prints on the 53 stations of Tokaido that featured felines instead of humans. His love of cats is explained in relationship to his powerful iconoclasm as Kuniyoshi habitually violated Edo Era censorship laws.