“Igiari! (Objection!)” on TV Asahi and more

The New Year brings a truckload of new drama series, most of which seem to be about women. This year, the female protagonists are not defined by their relations with men, though that isn’t necessarily a sign of progress.

In the new afternoon soap opera “The Magic of Cosmetics” (TBS; Monday to Friday, 1 p.m.), which premieres Jan. 5, Hisako Manta plays Reiko, a “charisma cosmetics saleswoman” who works for a makeup company called Ma Belle. Reiko is the kind of woman who believes the world will be a better place when every woman understands the proper way to apply foundation and that “neglecting the possibility of being beautiful is tantamount to a crime.”

Reiko’s first challenge is mousy housewife Minayo (Fumie Hosokawa), who, after one session of makeup application and manicure, is completely shocked by the change. Reiko makes Minayo pledge that she’ll make herself more beautiful in two weeks time.

Two women share the role of main protagonist in the six-part NHK series “Yesterday’s Friends are Today’s Enemies” (NHK-G, Monday, 9:15 p.m.). Usually, brides and mothers-in-law who live together under the same roof don’t get along in Japanese fiction (or in real life), but in this drama, Ayako (Atsuko Asano) has a very good relationship with her mother-in-law, Sanae (Mitsuko Kusabue), mainly because Ayako is the sole full-time housekeeper in their home while Sanae is a successful full-time editor. However, when Sanae retires, Ayako persuades her to take up the housecleaning and cooking chores so she can pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a baker.

Sanae proves to be quite inept, and the family, which includes three kids and Ayako’s husband, are quite distressed by the change in lifestyle. Ayako teaches Sanae how to keep house, but the results aren’t what she envisioned. Sanae becomes so good at housework that she soon develops her own homemaking style, which is different from Ayako’s but nonetheless delights everyone . . . except Ayako.

In “Igiari! (Objection!)” on TV Asahi on Thursday at 8 p.m., Reiko Takashima plays country lawyer Norie Oka, whose 10-year practice on a remote island has never allowed her the opportunity to actually stand before a judge. In this special two-hour premiere episode, Oka goes to Tokyo to attend the funeral of her father, who ran a larger law firm in the capital. While there, she learns that her father was not as successful as she thought. His assistant hands her a bill for the funeral expenses as well as a written demand for back pay. Later, she receives a summons to appear in court for debts that her father incurred.

On her first day in court, Oka receives a legal drubbing from the plaintiff’s lawyer as well as from the no-nonsense judge. She realizes how inexperienced she is in the ways of courtroom procedure and embarks on a program to strengthen her legal skills and sense of justice.