Osaka’s honorable loan shark; China’s village of painters; CM of the week: Daiichi Pachinko

The drama “Shin Minami no Teio” (“New Emperor of Minami”; Fuji, Tue., 10 p.m.) is based on a popular comic about a charismatic moneylender in Osaka. Shinsuke Daito plays Ryuichi, a young man who is determined to meet Ginjiro (Chihara Junior), the legendary moneylender of the Minami district. Ryuichi admires Ginjiro for his manly attributes. Despite the fact that some people refer to him as a loan shark, he’s honorable, strong and loyal. The younger man begs Ginjiro to hire him as one of his men.

Ryuichi is assigned the case of Imamiya (Shigeru Uchida), a banker who can’t seem to turn a profit and thus risks dismissal. Breaking under pressure from his sarcastic bosses, Imamiya borrows money from Ginjiro and pretends it’s money he made through honest banking.

The documentary showcase “Sennyu! Riaru Sukopu” (“Immersion! Real Scope”; Fuji, Sat., 11:25 p.m.) travels to a village in China where all 8,000 residents are painters. And they’re not ordinary painters, but oil painters who copy world-famous works of art for commercial sale. The village is authorized by the government, and the copies of famous works by Picasso, Van Gogh and others are sold for as little at ¥900 a piece.

The artists also work on original paintings from their own imagination. Some of the copies are brought to the Tokyo studio and examined by laypeople and experts, who have a tough time believing that they’re replicas. Since some of the paintings are still covered by international copyrights, there are problems in selling the copies for profit.

CM of the week

Daiichi Pachinko: Many washed up stars extend their brand value by lending their names to pachinko game manufacturers, who produce machines with their likenesses attached. In 2007, Daiichi launched a line of machines based on idols from the 1970s and ’80s, starting with the duo Pink Lady and Taiwan chanteuse Teresa Ten. Their biggest hit was Akina Nakamori, who with her smoldering voice suggested the kind of sexual potential burikko (overly coy and cute) idols like Seiko Matsuda couldn’t achieve.

Akina’s Utahime (song princess) series for Daiichi has been revived for a second round, and the TV commercials show the singer, dressed in an elegant evening gown, standing on high bluff against a blue sky, singing one of her later hits. From above, a pair of claws descend and lift her up by the waist, carrying her off the bluff as she continues singing. When the camera moves back, the claws are revealed to belong to one of those UFO Catcher machines popular in game arcades.

Suddenly, the claws open and Akina plunges into the new pachinko machine bearing her name. It’s a living.