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“Paji”; Persian influence in ancient Japan?; CM of the week: Nissin Foods

“Paji,” a manga that won an award from the Cultural Agency, has been turned into a two-hour TV drama (TV Tokyo, Wed., 9 p.m.). The title is a mash-up of “papa” and “ojiisan” (grandfather) and describes the main character, Mokuchi (Shiro Ito), a 71-year-old widower who is raising his 5-year-old granddaughter, Momo (Sera Kobayashi), by himself after Momo’s father is killed in a car accident and her mother succumbs to illness.

The drama is framed as the memory of 25-year-old Momo (Mao Inoue) just before her wedding. Mokuchi is plagued by chest pains that his doctor dismisses as muscle problems, but Mokuchi is aware of his mortality and becomes more determined to give Momo a proper upbringing. However, there are financial problems when Mokuchi’s employer goes out of business. The drama’s theme is the importance of community, since Mokuchi receives assistance from his neighbors.

The travel special “Sekai Isan Sandai Meikyu Mysteries” (“Labyrinth Mysteries of Three World Assets”; TV Tokyo, Fri., 9 p.m.), sends celebrities to check out the riddles associated with some of the world’s most famous historical entities. Actor Naoto Takenaka tries to find out about Shotoku Taishi, the Imperial prince credited with establishing Japan’s first central government in 603. Legend has it he was influenced by Persian culture, and Takenaka investigates the connection at several shrines in Japan.

Hiroki Narimiya goes to the Collosseum in Rome to look into the theory of the apocalypse, and Ki Kitano travels to the Versailles Palace outside Paris to ask about rumors related to Queen Marie Antoinette.

CM of the Week:

Nissin Foods: Kenta Kiritani plays a Japanese astronaut participating in an international space program. He is walking down a gangway to board the rocket, dressed in his space suit, when an excitable technician named Joe comes running behind him, carrying a dish of Nissin’s UFO instant yakisoba fried noodles. It will be the last taste of home before blasting off. Kiritani opens wide as Joe offers him a mouthful of noodles, but another technician abruptly shuts his helmet. “It’s time.”

“I’ll eat it instead,” Joe says, and Kiritani is dragged away, screaming in frustration. As the rocket lifts off, he’s still screaming. Two weeks without yakisoba would be torture for any man.