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Sunday, May 30, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

TV Asahi's animated family comedy "Atashin'chi" and more

Monta Mino, look out! Comedian Shinsuke Shimada is looking to overtake you as the most popular emcee on TV. Unlike you, Shimada can't be seen every single night of the week, but some nights he can be seen more than once.

This Tuesday, for instance, you can watch him continually from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on three different networks. At 7 on Fuji TV, he hosts a special two-hour edition of the makeover-variety show "Beauty Colosseum," and then at 8:54 he pops up on TV Asahi as the emcee for the antique appraisal program "Nandemo Kanteidan." And at 10, on TBS, he hosts "Sekai Baribari Value (World's Exciting Values)," a quiz show where teams of celebrities guess the monetary value of goods and services. "Baribari" is Shimada's most representative gig, since he is also a noted financial whiz and gets to show off his knowledge.

This week's topic is "gravure idols," meaning young women who pose for cheesecake photo collections. Such books are now the main ticket to stardom for young girls in Japan. In the past, it was usually singing contests or appearing in commercials.

The program investigates the business surrounding gravure idols, including the dedicated male fans who support the industry. It also looks at how much the average fan spends on idol-related goods and services.

Anyone who's seen the animated family comedy "Atashin'chi (My Family)" (TV Asahi, Friday, 7:30 p.m.) will probably assume that the characters' unnaturally low stature is an aspect of their cartoon world. But on this week's episode, it turns out they really are just short. In fact, high-school-age daughter Mikan has become increasingly depressed over her height of 155 cm.

Her mother, who's just as diminutive, doesn't see any problem. "Being short has advantages," she tells her daughter. "You're closer to the ground, which means it's easier to spot money on the street." Mikan isn't convinced. Suddenly, her height is a liability: she can't see the stage at concerts, can't reach the top shelf at the video rental store, and on crowded subways she's overwhelmed by middle-aged salarymen.

The weekly talk show hosted by the comedy duo Downtown, "Junk Sports" (Fuji TV, Sunday, 7:58 p.m.), usually has as its guests about 10 athletes who are encouraged to talk frankly about their jobs, especially what happens off the playing field.

In the June 6 installment, the guests are wives of famous athletes, who will, of course, talk about what happens to their husbands off the playing field. In addition to prosaic stuff -- what kinds of meals they prepare to keep their better halves in shape -- they'll also reveal shocking personal information about their husbands' "real character." Among the guests is Christine Reiko Akebono, the wife of former yokozuna and current K1 hopeful Akebono.



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