High seas piracy; the story behind ‘Madame Butterfly’; CM of the week: Hagoromo Foods

Former NHK announcer turned super-explainer Akira Ikegami returns to the airwaves for the premier three-hour installment of “Mirai Seiki Zipangu” (“Future Century Zipangu”; TV Tokyo, Mon., 8 p.m.), which looks at topical stories from an economic perspective.

The main topic this week is piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Ikegami travels to Djibouti, where the first overseas Self-Defense Forces base has been set up to patrol the sea passage from the gulf to the Suez Canal, making sure that Japanese vessels aren’t attacked by pirates. He then visits a Somalian refugee camp to find out why there are so many pirates in this part of Africa, and what sort of effect the situation will have on Japan’s future.

The program will also look at the current economic situation in Indonesia.

NHK has produced a two-part dramatization of the story that inspired Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly,” which is set in late 19th-century Japan. The secondary title of “Chocho-san” (NHK-G, Sat., 9 p.m.) is “the daughter of the last samurai.”

Ocho (Aoi Miyazaki) is born to a proud samurai family of the Saga clan, but her father is killed in the general upheaval that accompanies the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Raised by her mother and grandmother in the bushi (warrior) philosophy, she is forced to fend for herself when they both die. In the end she is adopted by the Suigetsuro brothel of Nagasaki.

CM of the week

Hagoromo Foods: A housewife stands in a supermarket produce section holding a head of lettuce. “What do I do about salad?” she says to herself forlornly, and then looks up to see a man played by ikemen (handsome guy) actor Katsunori Takahashi wearing an apron, his hands planted resolutely on his hips.

“A monotonous salad makes for a monotonous family,” he says. “Your salad should be a katsunori salad.” In one hand he holds a package of Hagoromo katsuobushi (dried bonito) and in the other a package of Hagoromo nori (dried seaweed laver). By combining the two ingredients with Hagoromo’s famous “sea chicken” (canned tuna), she can make exciting new salads.

In fact, he apparently shows her immediately, since in the next scene he is sitting with her at her kitchen table. Her husband, briefcase in hand, suddenly walks in. “Who are you?” he demands to know.

“Katsunori,” says Takahashi.