TORA-SAN CONFESSES, with Kiyoshi Atsumi, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Kumiko Goto, Mari Natsuki, Chieko Baisho and Gin Maeda. Directed by Yoji Yamada. At the Majestic. TORA-SAN is an institution in Japan, and the continued success of the series - Tora-san Confesses is the 44th episode - is a testament to director Yoji Yamada's ability to carve consistently entertaining designs from a tiny piece of ivory. Since the early '60s, this carefree peddler's attitude to life and its vicissitudes has struck a chord in the heart of Japan's stress-ridden salarymen. Here is a Japanese whose itinerant lifestyle has left him free to wander the countryside and reflect on the best way to lead one's life. The series may be formulaic, yet each episode has its charms, and a fair share of pithy observations about life in Japan. In this outing, Tora-san comes to the aid of Izumi (Kumiko Gota), his nephew Mitsuo's (Hidetaka Yoshioka) friend. Izumi's mother, Reiko (Mari Natsuki), is a divorced bar owner who brings home the odd moustachioed beau and the shame of this leads Izumi to leave home. Izumi goes to Tottori where she sends Mitsuo a tear-stained and melodramatic n ote. Beginning to realise he is in love with Izumi, Misuo is smitten by the message and runs off to find her. Meanwhile Tora-san, on his never-ending sales trek to nowhere, runs into the melancholic Izumi. Taking her under his wing he arranges a meeting between her and Mitsuo and then takes the pair of love birds to a hotelier friend of his, Seiko (Hideko Yoshida). Seiko is an old love to whom he once proposed marriage and whose unfaithful husband has recently died. The film follows the parallel development of the young and old couples' new-found love until Tora-san, the permanent bachelor, must make a decision regarding Seiko. Good, clean fun with a positive, if predictable, message.