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Child stars stud orphanage drama; new fantasy series features ninja vigilante; CM of the week: U-Can

by Philip Brasor

An orphanage is the setting for the new Nippon TV drama series, “Ashita, Mama ga Inai” (“Tomorrow, Mama Will Be Gone”; Wed., 10 p.m.), which stars the two hottest child actors in Japan right now, Rio Suzuki and Mana Ashida.

Maki (Suzuki) is sent to a group home for orphans at the age of 9 after her mother is arrested and sent to jail. Her social worker, Kana (Fumino Kimura), introduces her to the director of the home and to her new housemates, most of whom go by nicknames. Maki believes her mother will show up at any time to take her home, but most of the other girls don’t have that possibility.

In the second episode, the self-appointed leader of the girls, Post (Ashida), has complicated feelings when she sees off a housemate who is being taken in by foster parents.

Yuriko Ono stars as Sana in the new fantasy series “Tenchu: Yami no Shiokinin.” (“Divine Retribution: Punishment from the People of Darkness”; Fuji TV, Fri., 7:57 p.m.). Sana is a ninja who has been magically transported from the 16th century to modern-day Japan. She is taken in by an older woman, Masako (Pinko Izumi), who, when she finds out who Sana is and what she can do, enlists her to punish evildoers.

Masako has no faith in the authorities because her daughter went missing 24 years earlier and the police never carried out a proper investigation. She locates people for Sana to punish — criminals who cheat old people out of money, husbands who beat their wives. “There are too many bad people in the world,” she tells Sana. “So we will defeat them in the name of heaven.”

CM of the Week: U-Can

A pleasant domestic scene. A woman is cleaning up after a meal while her husband and preschool son sit at the kitchen table. The boy is drawing and the father is impressed. “It’s an airplane,” he says. “I want to be a pilot when I grow up,” says the boy.

He then turns to his mother and asks, “What did you want to be when you grow up?” Before she can answer, the father says, “She wanted to be my wife, right?” The mother, with a faraway look in her eyes, says blankly, “I guess so…”

In the next scene, she is at the supermarket and after checkout picks up a free copy of the job search catalogue U-Can. Her eyes glow. Things could get interesting.