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Sunday, Nov. 14, 2004


TV Asahi's special five-part drama series and more

To celebrate its 45th anniversary, TV Asahi will present a special five-part drama series about Japan's favorite siblings -- Yujiro and Shintaro Ishihara. Like Elvis, Yujiro's early death has only increased the actor-singer's popularity, and since his older brother, who was responsible for making him famous, is the combative governor of Tokyo, people are always reminded of Yujiro whenever they see Shintaro. The governor, in fact, reportedly wept when he was shown a preview of the drama series, called "Little Brother," which covers the lives of the two Ishiharas from 1934 to 1987. Each two-hour episode starts at 9 p.m.

* Nov. 17: The Ishiharas' father is a shipping company executive and for the first part of their boyhood they live in Otaru, Hokkaido, but move to Zushi on the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture shortly before the war.

* Nov. 18: When the boys are in their teens, their father buys a boat. After the father dies in 1951, Shintaro becomes the de facto head of the family even though he is attending university. Yujiro is just a party animal, only interested in sailing and girls, and his mother suffers for it. Shintaro captures his brother's wayward ways in his first novel, which is published in 1955. It becomes a best seller.

* Nov. 19: When Nikkatsu makes the film version of Shintaro's novel, Yujiro makes his acting debut, essentially playing himself. He is an instant star, but for the rest of the 1950s he's stuck in the same role, and he rebels against this typecasting. In 1959 he famously "goes missing" for two weeks, and later elopes to America with his leading lady, Mie Kitahara.

* Nov. 20: Yujiro forms his own production company and starts making his own movies. In 1968, Shintaro enters politics. Things are going relatively well until Yujiro, a heavy drinker, contracts tuberculosis in 1971 -- the start of a cycle of bad health that continues until his death.

* Nov. 21: Yujiro survives a dangerous operation in 1981 and returns to his hit TV cop show. But in 1984 he develops liver cancer.

This week, NHK will broadcast three foreign documentaries about environmental degradation on its BS1 channel. All start at 10:10 p.m. and are in bilingual format.

* Nov. 15, "The One Degree Factor": In areas near the Arctic Circle, caribou populations are slowly dying out due to unseasonal rains and the resulting clouds of killer mosquitoes. The warming of the Indian Ocean by a single degree affects the atmosphere in the northern Atlantic, thus causing the increase in rain.

* Nov. 16, "Troubled Waters": The use of agricultural chemicals in the United States is killing off a species of frog. It is also causing sperm counts to drop among men in farming areas.

* Nov. 18, "Invaders, Predators": When non-native species of plants or animals are introduced to an ecosystem, the effects can be profound. Since a foreign plant species started growing in Victoria Lake in Africa, the incidence of malaria has increased.

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