Master explainer Akira Ikegami makes his sixth appearance on “Mirai Seiki Jipangu” (“Future Century Japan”; TV Tokyo, Mon., 10 p.m.) for a two-part exploration of the Kingdom of Bhutan in the eastern Himalayas.

Bhutan is famous for having the highest Gross National Happiness in the world. GNH is an index that measures spiritual well-being as opposed to material well-being, which tends to be gauged by conventional GNP (Gross National Product) parameters. Since Bhutan invented GNH based on Buddhist precepts, it makes sense that the country always ranks high, and Ikegami endeavors to find out what GNH actually means.

He discovers a culture that, economically speaking, will be familiar to Japanese who grew up in the 1960s, but he also senses a darker aspect related to rising consumption and inflation.

Charity takes on new meaning on the Fuji TV variety special “Itoshi no Zannen Onna-chan” (“Beloved Unfortunate Women”; Tues., 7 p.m.), which endeavors to save some young women from their own worse natures.

The producers “dispatch” a group of ikemen (handsome young man) “specialists” to help women mired in bad habits and unhealthy lifestyles to turn their situations around. Requests for assistance have come from these women’s friends and family. After the men give their advice they then have to monitor their charges so that they don’t fall back into lassitude.

In the studio, their efforts are observed by onē (effeminate) TV personalities Ikko and Mitsu Mangrove, who provide plenty of salty running commentary.

CM of the week

Summer Jumbo: SMAP heartthrob Takuya Kimura and comedian-cum-painter Jimmy Onishi are on a yakatabune (floating restaurant) when Kimura slaps a coin down on the railing. He says in wordplay, “Go-en okun janain dayo. Go-oku-en” (“It’s not ‘putting down ¥5’; it’s ¥500 million”).

Kimura is now the face of the Takarakuji lottery and is pointing out that this summer the jackpot has been raised to ¥500 million. He then picks up a toy and says it isn’t a “nisemon no sanma” (“fake saury”) but a “nisenman samā” (“¥20 million summer”), a pun that references both the secondary prize amount in this summer’s lottery and Onishi’s former employer, comedian Sanma Akashiya.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.