Extreme shopping special; ‘martial-arts love comedy’; CM of the week: Mikakuto

Variety shows have been forging open collaborations with commercial enterprises for some time now, but never as blatantly as TV Tokyo’s two-hour special “Sennyu! Mitchaku 24 Jikan Kuizu” (“Infiltrate! Intense 24-hour Quiz”; Mon., 8 p.m.).

A large video crew and a team of celebrities, mostly female, descend on a shopping mall (281 stores!) that recently opened near the Shonan beach region of Kanagawa Prefecture. The team basically sets up a quiz-variety show that followed the goings-on in the mall during the 24 hours prior to the grand opening. Yuko Mizuno, Mayumi Ono and other TV personalities report on the employees’ last-minute preparations and carry out an “information endurance quiz” about the things they’ve learned in the process.

Based on a popular comic, the drama special “Ranma ½” (Nihon TV, Fri., 7 p.m.) is described as a “martial-arts love comedy,” but it’s actually a lot more.

High school student Akane (Yui Aragaki) has decided she will take over her father’s martial-arts academy one day, and is working to become a master fighter. However, her father has different plans for her, and is already arranging for her to marry a young man named Ranma (Kento Kaku).

Ranma is not quite what he seems. When he is splashed with cold water, he turns into a woman (played by Natsuna), and when he is splashed with warm water, he turns back into a man. His reason for getting close to Akane is that he has heard that there is a hidden spring under her high school whose waters will make him a man permanently.

CM of the week

Mikakuto: Masaki Aiba, a member of the boy band Arashi, is passing through a city plaza when he overhears a young woman ask her friend in a concerned tone of voice if she’s suffering from a sore throat. Aiba reacts by spinning violently, shedding his clothes in the process to reveal a white jumpsuit and a bright red scarf. He has turned into … Aiba-chan.

Though obviously some kind of self-styled superhero, Aiba-chan’s only “power” is to distribute Mikakuto throat-lozenge candies to stricken civilians while leaping about in what looks like a useless attempt at flight. Nevertheless, the girl who receives the candy is grateful. “Thank you, Aiba-kun,” she says. “That’s Aiba-chan,” he insists, while folding his discarded clothes into a neat pile.