April 07, 2011

The new normal


I noticed late last week that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has started wearing a normal suit coat at press conferences. I guess that's one sign things are getting back to normal.

Normally, except for the news, TV Japan time-delays the NHK satellite feed so that shows come on at approximately the same time as in Japan. During the first week after the earthquake, the NHK feed was live, including the regularly-scheduled drama series.

Little by little, the normal program schedule is resuming. This week, Morning Market (a current affairs show, not a stock market show) is actually being broadcast in the morning, instead of late in the afternoon the day before.

The second season of Rinjou (臨場) resumed on Wednesday. It's a CSI-type police procedural about the investigators who conduct the in situ coroner's inquest,(1) meaning that every broadcast begins with at least one dead body.

"Normal" means going back to being entertained by fake dead bodies.

Though that gets me thinking about all the second unit possibilities here. Shows like NCIS, CSI: Miami and Bones are mostly filmed in Hollywood, with a second unit shooting on location with stand-ins.

Yes, it's macabre, but Sendai should open up a film office so Hollywood can come over and shoot all kinds of high-def second unit material to be blue-screened later. Heck, with all the story possibilities, you could do a whole season of NCIS just in Japan.

Making money off the travails of others--what's more normal than that?



1. To an almost creepily thorough extent, basically everything but the actual autopsy. In contrast, the practice in the U.S. is to "scoop and run": bag the body and the evidence and bring it back to the crime lab.

Taking the "CSI effect" into account, this is an odd product of the tension between culture and religion (especially Buddhism) and modern science when it comes to dealing with the dead.

Only recently did cadaverous organ donation even become legal in Japan, and only in 2009 did it become legal for parents to donate the organs of a minor. Cadaverous organ transplants remain few and far between.

Doing as much of the coroner's inquest at the crime scene--under the aegis of the police, whose authority is far more encompassing and unquestioned--is one way to tiptoe around these social problems.

The eccentric, brilliant and brooding (aren't they all) lead investigator is played by Masaaki Uchino, though I'd prefer to see more of the light touch he's shown in previous roles.


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