There are few happy stories on the environmental front these days, but NHK will cover one of them on its nature program, “Chikyu Fushigi Daishizen (The Earth’s Amazing Nature)” (NHK-G, Mon., 8 p.m.). Ashio Mountain in Gunma Prefecture has been bare for almost a century, the victim of sulfur-dioxide pollution produced by the Ashio copper mine, which went into operation in 1610.
As early as the Meiji Restoration in the mid-1800s, Ashio was already a wasteland, and the poisonous effects of the mine were recognized in 1890. The mine didn’t shut down until the 1970s, but thanks to a number of environmental groups that have spent the last 30 years trying to revitalize the mountain by planting trees and other forms of vegetation, the area has become green again, and last year it was discovered that bears had returned to the mountain.
Once a year, Nihon TV solicits nonfiction story ideas with women’s themes from the public and turns one into a two-hour drama called “Woman’s Beat.” This year, the winner is the story of an alcoholic housewife called “Oboreru Hito (A Person Drowning)” (Tues., 9:03 p.m.).
Seiji is a bus driver in Nagano who considers himself the luckiest man in the world when Mari (Ryoko Shinohara) falls in love with him. Mari is “the perfect woman” — well-educated, beautiful, funny, charming. However, after they marry Seiji notices that Mari likes to drink, and that whenever there is alcohol around she will drink it all. Even more troubling is that her personality darkens when she drinks and that she rarely remembers it the next morning.
After she gives birth to their first child, Mari decides to quit drinking completely, and she doesn’t touch a drop for two years. Then inexplicably she starts again and even worse than before. After she is caught shoplifting, Seiji begs her to enter the hospital and seek treatment.
The long-running animated series “Chibi Maruko-chan” (Fuji, Sun., 6 p.m.) is based on an autobiographical manga by Momoko Sakura and takes place in the ’70s, when Sakura was a third-grader. Momoko, whose nickname is Chibi Maruko, is a somewhat precocious kid living with her parents, grandparents and sister.
In “Nomiso no Hatsugen (The Development of the Brain),” the episode that airs Mar. 6, Maruko learns that the human brain is divided into right and left hemispheres, and that each side has its own functions. Her best friend, Tama-chan, then informs her that people only use 3 percent of their brain capacity, and Maruko wonders what kind of incredible things she can accomplish if she harnesses the remaining 97 percent. She thinks she might be able to find out when a classmate, Hamaji, shows her a machine that helps you study while you sleep.