Boys in the big house; modernity’s trash heap; CM of the week: Aderans

The Matsumoto Boys Prison in Nagano prefecture is the only punitive facility in Japan with a public junior high school. It has been the subject of two TBS documentaries, and on Monday the network will present a true-life drama that takes place in the school.

In “Hei no Naka Chugakko” (“Junior High School Between the Walls”; 9 p.m.), Joe Odagiri plays Junpei, a failed photographer who has been teaching at a reformatory for five years when he is transferred to the Matsumoto facility as a teacher. His class will consist of five long-term convicts selected from prisons all over Japan. The prisoners range in age from 22 to 76.

Each of the students has his own reason for not having received an education, but the fact is none of them can read or use arithmetic. After the entry ceremony the five men sit down in the classroom and introduce themselves and their crimes. Ken Watanabe stars as one of the inmates. I t’s an uncomfortable truth of modern life that the things we throw away immediately vanish from our conscience, and that the technology that makes our lives easier may be destroying the planet. The special “academic entertainment” program “Saigo no Shakaika Kengaku” (“The Last Social Studies Observation”; Nihon TV, Tues., 10 p.m.) reveals what happens to some of those things, but in a way that is both “enjoyable and serious.”

For instance, next July Japan’s television broadcast system will become completely digital, so what happens to all those analog television sets? When a person undergoes surgery for cancer, can the tumor that’s removed be used for anything? During a Formula 1 race, a single car can go through multiple tire changes. Are those tires recycled? And what about jumbo jets and warships? What happens to them after they’re “retired?”

CM of the week

Aderans: It’s a show biz taboo to point out celebrities who wear toupees, which is why the wig maker Aderans always uses men who are famous for having lots of natural hair. Fortunately, such good genetic luck doesn’t prevent these men from making fun of themselves.

In a new Aderans ad actor Masahiro Takashima plays an actor — a very bad actor — who is asked repeatedly to redo a scene in which he emerges from a police car and scratches his head in frustration. With each take he becomes more theatrically agitated until he’s practically tearing his hair out. The director asks him to make it even more “dramatic,” and finally adds some fake rain to give the scene more desperation.

The point is that if Takashima is wearing a wig, it stands up very well under this kind of professional punishment. To make the point clearer, in the last shot we see the “actor” with his “wig” removed.