Second chances are the theme of the fantasy “Sumika Sumire” (“Sumi or Sumire”; TV Asahi, Fri., 11:15 p.m.), a new series based on a popular “girls comic” by Mitsuba Takanashi.

Sumire (Keiko Matsuzaka) is a 65-year-old woman who hasn’t lived her life fully. Until she graduated from high school her strict father made her devote all her free time to the family farm, and afterwards she had to take care of her grandmother and the house. She never married, never had friends.

One day she’s visited by an enchanted cat who takes 40 years off her age. Now calling herself Sumi (Mirei Kiritani), she enrolls in university because it was always her dream. She’ll now live the life she couldn’t the first time around. Meanwhile, the cat, Rei, takes human form (Mitsuhiro Oikawa) as her companion and advisor.

Eternal youth is also the subtext of “Budokan” (Fuji TV, Feb. 6, 11:40 p.m.), a show about the famous martial arts venue in Tokyo that doubles as a concert hall, a space that represents the goal of a female idol group named Next To You, portrayed by the real idol group Juice=Juice.

In the first episode, Next To You has already been working as an idol group for a year but doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of sales and fans. Their managers make a plan for the next year, but there is also a “charismatic” pop music blogger named Hakase (Seiji Rokkaku) who has been watching the group carefully. On his website he analyzes their potential and gives them some free advice.

The series endeavors to show how the idol-making machine works behind the scenes, and addresses the issue of idols’ forbidden love lives. The songs are written and produced by real-life idol-maker Tsunku.

CM of the week

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group: Goro Inagaki has always been the odd factor in SMAP, the guy who lucked out. You could never imagine him making a career on his own. In the new CM for MUFG’s kabu.com online stock transaction service, he plays the gentle fool. Marching in earnest lockstep along a city street to a childish melody, singing about the ease of selling and buying stocks, he collides with a demure young woman and romance blooms. He then tries to help an old lady with her heavy bag but can’t move it, so she picks him up and carries him up the stairs. Choosing stocks is so carefree, but only if you’re as blessed as Goro.

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