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Human-birds on Lake Biwa; Mystery at the maternity hospital; CM of the week: Suntory/Softbank

On July 28-29 the 35th annual Toriningen Kontesuto (Birdman Rally) was held in Shiga Prefecture on Lake Biwa and featured 37 contestants. It will be broadcast under the same name on Nippon TV on Monday (7 p.m.).

Each individual or team builds a flying machine from scratch. The contraption can have no motors or electronics, and can only use human power for propulsion. Contestants launch their machines from the end of a long, high pier and attempt to fly over the lake. Most human-birds simply fall into the water below, but the machine that flies the longest before touching the water is the winner.

One of this year’s contestants is Yoshimoto Kogyo, the venerable talent agency celebrating its 100th anniversary. Comedian Kanpei Hazama will pilot the company’s entry.

Based on a novel by Ogawa Ito, “Tsurukame Josanin” (“Tsurukame Maternity Hospital”; NHK-G, Tuesday, 10 p.m.) is about a maternity clinic on a fictional island in Okinawa Prefecture.

Kimiko Yo plays Kameko, a midwife working at a large hospital in Tokyo who is frustrated by the young women who casually come in for abortions. When she wins the lottery, she quits her job and decides to go on a world cruise, but lingers on an island in Okinawa that seems to need her services. There she meets Maria (Riisa Naka), a young woman whose husband has mysteriously gone missing. Lonely and at her wits’ end, Maria has come to the heart-shaped island because her husband used to talk about it so much.

CM of the week

Suntory/SoftBank: The new ad campaign for beverage maker Suntory celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Boss canned coffee brand by tying up with mobile service SoftBank. The opening CM in the campaign features an astronaut floating above the Earth while Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” the theme from “2001,” plays on the soundtrack. The astronaut is “the alien Jones,” meaning American actor Tommy Lee Jones, from the Boss series. Emerging from Earth’s atmosphere is a rocket that ejects a small figure in a spacesuit. It’s Otosan (Dad), the white dog from the Softbank commercials. The two most famous CM mascots float toward each other for a historic rendezvous. Where will this relationship go?