Sakana-kun in Tohoku; Sanma x Okamura; CM of the week: Sukiya

Although he’s now teaching and consulting for aquariums, the TV personality and fish expert Sakana-kun has not lost any of his bubbly, childlike demeanor. A marine otaku (obsessive) since he was a boy, Sakana-kun is basically self-taught, and much of his learning was acquired by talking with fishermen all over Japan.

This week he’ll return some of those favors on “Sakana-kun Hisaichi Ongaeshi” (“Sakana-kun Gives Back to the Disaster-Stricken Area”; NHK-G, Mon., 10:05 a.m.). He visits the tsunami-destroyed Sanriku coastline and pledges to help the region rebuild its aquarium. He also carries out some research diving of the undersea damage and meets a boy who wrote him a letter saying he never wants to see the ocean again.

The worst thing you could say to a Japanese variety-show producer is: “Someday Sanma Akashiya is going to die.” The buck-toothed, motor-mouthed comedian will fill up a full three hours of prime-time with his off-the-cuff humor during the “Sanma & Okamura Premium Talk Show” (Nippon TV, Tues., 7:56 p.m.) along with Takashi Okamura of the comedy duo Ninety-Nine.

The content hardly matters since Sanma discusses whatever he wants, but for the record he’s scheduled to talk with “famous people who’ve never met him before” and whose identities will be kept secret until air time. He will also talk about the anime industry, techniques of “nail art,” and who really writes those memoirs attributed to celebrities. Oh, and Okamura will probably say something, too.

As if all this weren’t enough, the special will take a break for the news at around 11 p.m. and then return at 11:58.

CM of the week

Sukiya: The aging boy band Tokio appears in a new commercial for the No. 1 gyudon (shredded beef on rice) chain Sukiya. “America has hamburger,” goes the voiceover, as each member of the group shoves a heap of beef into his mouth. “Italy has pizza. Japan has gyudon.”

The men of Tokio are required to smile ostentatiously as they chew in slow motion, which is more difficult than it sounds. Usually, the personalities in food ads, especially the women, fake chewing because they don’t actually have anything in their mouths. Here we see the food go in, thus begging the question: How many beef bowls did they put away — or spit out — before they got it right?