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Inter-sex manga adaptation; ‘Human Documentary’; CM of the week: Asashi Beer

Manga are further ahead of the curve than other pop-culture forms when it comes to vanguard social issues. The new TV Tokyo drama “IS” (Mon., 10 p.m.) is based on a manga. IS stands for “inter-sex,” which describes a person who is born with “ambiguous” genitalia. Formerly, obstetricians and families decided which gender the child would be, but recently there has been pressure to let the ambiguity stand and let the child decide later.

Haru (Saki Fukuda) is such a child. Haru attends junior high school as a boy, but since the designation on Haru’s family register is “girl” Haru has to attend high school as a female, and though Haru’s parents are supportive of their child’s choices, the choices are becoming more difficult, especially after Haru befriends Miwako.

Former governor of Miyagi Prefecture Shiro Asano started his career as an official with the national agency that administers Hokkaido. His first major job with the agency was handling the demands of Michiko Osanai, a woman with cerebral palsy who wanted the government to approve programs that would make the lives of people with disabilities “more normal.”

That was 26 years ago, and as outlined on NHK’s “Human Documentary” (NHK-G, Wed., 10 p.m.) Asano and Osanai are still working together, however now Asano is afflicted with cancer. The program charts their unusual relationship and how they’ve come to support each other.

CM of the week: Asashi Beer

It’s summer and time for another half dozen new near-beer products to enter the market. Asahi Beer is plugging Blue Label, a “new genre” of malt-based alcoholic beverages.

The ad campaign anticipates the current heat wave. Actors Shosuke Tanihara, Saki Aibu and Masahiko Nishimura, dressed in old-fashioned summer wear, perform a humorous dance to some peppy kayokyoku (traditional pop), smiling so widely you expect the tops of their heads to fall off.

So far there’s a Tanihara version, in which he is sweating on a crowded train, and an Aibu version, where she’s rapidly chopping cabbage in a restaurant. Both say they “want to be refreshed” and the next shot has them reaching for a Blue Label and downing it in 1.3 seconds — a new record.