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Sunday, July 17, 2005

CHANNEL SURF

TBS's special "Shiina Makoto no Kando Ni-man Mairu" and more

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Jules Verne, the French author who is regarded by many as the father of the science-fiction novel. Over the last century, Verne's tales of adventure and discovery have inspired many people to become writers.

One of them is novelist Makoto Shiina, who calls Verne's 1888 story "Deux ans de vacances (Adrift in the Pacific)" the "starting point" for his career. On Monday at 4 p.m., TBS will present a special program, "Shiina Makoto no Kando Ni-man Mairu (Makoto Shiina's 20,000 Miles of Emotion)," in which the writer traces the route traveled in the book by 15 boys.

For as long as the book has been in print there has been a controversy over the setting. People once believed it was Hanover Island, which belongs to Chile and is located near the Straits of Magellan. However, there are many inconsistencies in the book that indicate this isn't true. Shiina goes to Hanover to find out.

Another writer traces the life of his boyhood hero on NHK's travel program "World Traveler" (BS-2, Wednesday, 11 p.m.). Kazushige Abe was a violent and hot-tempered youth until he saw Bruce Lee in "Way of the Dragon" when he was 14. Impressed by Lee's skill, he decided to channel his passions into something more constructive. Abe's first novel, "Night of America," published in 1994, opened with a martial arts scene lifted from Bruce Lee's own writings.

Abe travels to Hong Kong and Los Angeles to find out more about Lee, who died in 1973 at the age of 33 as he was poised to become the biggest Asian movie star in the world. Abe learns how Lee had to struggle to get to the top, especially against anti-Asian racism in Hollywood in the late 60s.

Aless serious purpose is behind the journeys taken on this week's installment of "Inaka ni Tomaro" (Let's Stay in the Country; TV Tokyo, July 24, 7 p.m.). The premise of the show is that a celebrity is dropped off in a rural area and has to find free accommodations for the night with a local family.

This time, two celebrities work simultaneously. Makoto Yoshida, half of the manzai team Pakkun Makkun, is deposited in the Hokkaido town of Urakawa, where thoroughbred horses are raised. Meanwhile his partner, American Patrick Harlan, goes to the town of Kawaura in Kumamoto, at the other end of the archipelago. The two towns are not only sister cities (their names consist of the same kanji characters, but in a different order), but most of the residents of Urakawa are descendants of people who emigrated directly from Kawaura. Makkun and Pakkun, communicating by cell phone, try to find cross-country family ties among the people they meet.



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