Tadanobu Asano is the guest and subject of this week’s installment of “Family History” (NHK-G, Wed., 10 p.m.), which probes a famous person’s background in depth.
The popular 37-year-old actor talks mainly about his maternal grandfather, a Navajo Indian who came to Japan just after the war, with the American occupation. He married Asano’s grandmother, a geisha and champion ballroom dancer, but the union only lasted long enough to produce a daughter. Then he returned to the U.S.
Asano never met him and, in fact, no one in his family has ever been able to explain why he left Japan. Asano wonders if he would have been a different sort of person if he had grown up knowing his grandfather and understanding his background.
It’s that time of year again, when programming executives’ thoughts turn to World War II. On Friday, Nihon TV will present a two-and-a-half-hour dramatization of the award-winning comic “Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni” (“In This Corner of the World”; 9 p.m.), about one woman’s difficult life during the war years.
In 1944, Suzu (Keiko Kitagawa) marries Shusaku (Keisuke Koide), though they have only met once before, as children. She is infatuated with another man, but soon warms to her new husband, who turns out to be kind and gentle. Despite the privations brought on by the war, she is happier than she has been in years; that is, until she discovers Shusaku carrying on a secret affair with an old acquaintance of hers named Rin (Yuka), who makes her living as a prostitute.
CM of the week: Sakai Moving Service
The most emotion-filled relationship in Japanese pop culture is that between students and a beloved teacher. It’s a cinch to get the tear ducts working, and the latest ad by moving service Sakai gets the job done in a very efficient 15 seconds.
An elementary school teacher in a small mountain town has been transferred to a new school, and his students give him a rousing farewell as two uniformed movers stand to the side and look on with pride and awe. They are helping him make this momentous move, though the question eventually arises: What are they and their two-ton truck doing at the school? Did he live in the classroom? The closing blurb attests to the company’s award-winning service reputation, so maybe they drove all the way up the mountain just to pick up his desk supplies.