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Two documentaries on the rougher side of sports; CM of the week: Bandai Namco’s Gundam games

The life of a pro athlete can be grueling, but 37-year-old soccer player Dan Ito has a perverse determination to make his even more so. The Sapporo native set himself a challenge 15 years ago: He would play for a different professional soccer team in a different Asian country every year, and so far he has been successful in this aim: 14 teams in 14 countries.

Ito spent two years as a J-Leaguer and ever since he’s been a “migratory bird,” as he calls it. Making matters even more difficult, he doesn’t have a manager or an agent. He just shows up at team tryouts and hopes for the best.

In the documentary “Ball hitosu de Doko e Demo” (“Anywhere With One Ball”; NHK BS1, Mon., 4:30 p.m.), Ito tries out for his 15th team in the Philippines.

A different sort of sports documentary is featured on a special edition of the variety show “Ariehen Sekai” (“Unbelievable World”; TV Tokyo, Tues., 6:30 p.m.). Hikaru Miwa is a former juvenile delinquent who is now a judo coach at a night high school, where his charges are students who also exist on the margins of society. Miwa’s methods are “spartan,” meaning they can be rough and seemingly cruel. Miwa has been profiled on the show in the past and earned high ratings, but in the meantime we’ve had scandals involving coaches who were criticized for the use of corporal punishment. Has such coverage affected Miwa’s style?

The two-and-a-half-hour program chronicles the judo team’s activities through graduation, as well as the start of a new year and the recruitment of a new team. One member is a “super problem child” who doesn’t tolerate the tough coach and quits after a few sessions. It’s up to Miwa and his dedicated female manager to persuade him to come back.

CM of the week

Bandai Namco: Salaryman Eita sits in a bar, absorbed in a game he’s playing on his smartphone. Bartender Yasuko Matsuyuki leans over, watching him with a bored look on her face. She asks him if he’s playing the Gundam game again. Gundam is a famous robot anime character. He replies that there are all sorts of Gundam games. She says there are all sorts of people, too, and starts to cry, distressed by his lack of interest in her rather than his failure to purchase more drinks. When it comes down to robots versus love, robots win every time.