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Sunday, Oct. 10, 2004

CHANNEL SURF

"Black Jack" comes back to Nihon TV and more

In addition to being Japan's manga/anime god, Osamu Tezuka was a licensed physician, an abandoned calling that he channeled into one of his later comic series, "Black Jack," about a hard-boiled, unlicensed doctor who possessed amazing surgical skills.

On Oct. 11 at 7 p.m., Nihon TV starts a newly animated series based on the 1973 manga and directed by Tezuka's son. In the special one-hour premiere episode, Black Jack is traveling on a ship that makes a stop at remote Nishi Iriomote Island. A hunter boards the ship with a captured wild cat protected by law. The hunter plans to smuggle the cat back to Japan.

However, the cat escapes and attacks a baby. The young mother of the baby and her companion, a rich politician, implore Black Jack to save the child, but the renegade surgeon demands a huge sum of money up front. But even after he receives the money, he operates on the wounded cat first.

Japan-Korea relations get the dramatization treatment on "Atsuki Yume no hi (Days of Passionate Dreams)" on Fuji TV, Friday at 9:03 p.m.. It's a special two-hour re-creation of how the two countries came to jointly host the 2002 soccer World Cup.

The story centers on Takase, an employee of a securities company who quits his job in 1988 to travel the world. When he returns to Japan, he makes friends with an ambitious man named Murata, who seems obsessed with the World Cup tournament that's taking place in the United States. "Do you think such a thing could ever take place in Japan?" he asks his friend.

It's not a meaningless question because the J League has just been established and seems to be quite popular. Murata and Takase work in earnest to bring the World Cup to Japan, and then Takase runs into a Korean man named Wee Han, whom he had met on his overseas travels.

As the war in Iraq continues with no end in sight, the U.S. government has been forced to call up reserves and National Guard units throughout the United States to replace regular troops.

On Oct. 17 at 9 p.m., "NHK Special" airs the first part of a two-part documentary on members of the Arkansas National Guard who were called up a year ago to serve in Iraq.

NHK focuses on one town called Clarksville, a farming community with a population of 8,000. In Oct. 2003 all 57 members of the town's National Guard contingent were ordered to report for duty in Iraq. They spent six months in basic training and then were shipped to Baghdad. The documentary follows them closely for 300 days after they leave Arkansas.



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