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Sunday, Aug. 18, 2002
There's two sides to every story . . .
Despite his ubiquity in the media, the comedian Beat Takeshi is never asked to appear on NHK's sogo (general) channel, which is why his one-minute appearance last New Year's Eve on NHK's annual song contest received a lot of media attention. Considering that other popular comedians are also conspicuously absent from NHK's flagship channel, it's easy to conclude that the national broadcaster isn't comfortable with the kind of crude jokes that pass for humor on the commercial stations.
On the other hand, Takeshi Kitano, the world-famous movie director, is more than welcome on NHK in the capacity of renaissance man and raconteur -- though you're more likely to find him on the educational channel.
Both Beat Takeshi and Takeshi Kitano will appear on a special program Sunday on NHK's BS-2 channel called "The Two Takeshis." If you've been living in a cave the past 15 years, you may not know that the two Takeshis are, in fact, the same person, but that doesn't faze NHK, which will utilize special video technology to produce a unique type of "visual variety show."
In order to find out more about these "two men," NHK will have them interview each other. Is Beat Takeshi, the burlesque comic from the poor side of the tracks, fond of Takeshi Kitano's stylized and often ultra-violent movies? Does Kitano find Takeshi's bathroom humor funny? The alter egos will not only discuss work and life, but also play games and work out math problems. In order to break the monotony (there is such a thing as too much Takeshi), rock critic Yoichi Shibuya will act as emcee and cross-dressing singer Akihiro Miwa will drop in as a guest.
Several weeks ago, this column described a lighthearted variety show in which a housekeeping company was called in to clean up the apartment of a woman who hadn't done any housework for eight years. The show treated the topic as something offbeat, but the woman's aversion to housework is representative of a psychological problem that is becoming more widespread in Japan.
Sunday, Nippon TV's "Document '02" (12:25 a.m.) will profile a 44-year-old woman suffering from the same problem, which is a kind of adult manifestation of attention deficit disorder. ADD is often linked to so-called hyperactive children who cannot sit still in class. Adult ADD sufferers with the symptoms profiled are not lazy nor, for that matter, are they inherently "sloppy." Essentially, these people have a severe psychological disinclination toward order. However, considering that ADD is not gender-specific in children, it seems odd that the vast majority of adult ADD sufferers are women. Is it more acceptable for men to be less neat?
In addition to profiling this particular woman, the documentary also looks at the problem in other countries and explores treatment at the public level.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of mystery writer Seicho Matsumoto, this week's "Women and Love and Mystery" special (TV Tokyo, Wednesday, 8:54 p.m.) presents a dramatization of one of the master's short stories, "Kamon (The Family Seal)," a timeless tale of twisted love.
In a small Hokuriku town, a couple is discovered brutally murdered on the estate of the husband's family. Apparently, right before the murder, the couple had been summoned to the main house by a messenger. Their only daughter, Yukio, is only 5 years old, and to shield her from the horror of the crime, she is sent to be raised by distant relatives in Kyushu.
Eighteen years later, Yukio (Kayako Kishimoto) is finally told what happened to her parents. Intrigued, she travels back to Hokuriku and interviews the police detective who investigated the case. Something the officer says triggers a memory from her childhood that begins to obsess her, and she goes to the family estate to find out the truth.
Fifteen million people in the world suffer from the debilitating brain disorder known as Alzheimer's disease. Medical scientists, however, predict that a treatment will be available within the decade. The trick is to pinpoint the cause.
It is generally assumed that the person who discovers this cause is a shoo-in for a Nobel Prize, which is why there is a heated international competition to find it. Experts seem to agree that 48-year-old researcher Akihiko Takashima has the advantage, and this week's "Front Line" (NHK-G, Friday, 9:15 p.m.) will look closely at Takashima and the work being done in his laboratory.
Produced by the same team that makes the popular NHK documentary series "Project X," "Front Line" also reports on innovative thinkers who have a profound effect not only on Japan, but on the world. But whereas "Project X" looks at past achievements, "Front Line" looks at work that is going on right now.
Takashima's laboratory is staffed by seven specially selected experts from all over the world. The atmosphere in the lab is less like that of a research project than that of a sporting event. Researchers who do not demonstrate positive results are dismissed. The race is on, and Dr. Takashima aims to win.