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Sunday, July 24, 2005

CHANNEL SURF

NHK's "Sono Toki — Rekishi ga Ugoita," TV Asahi's " Kikujiro and Saki" and more

On Wednesday, NHK will explain one of the great ironies of the Pacific War on its history series, "Sono Toki -- Rekishi ga Ugoita" (That Time -- History was Changed; NHK-G, 9:15 p.m .). On Apr. 7, 1945, the Yamato, the biggest battleship ever built by the Japanese Imperial Navy, sank in the South Pacific during what was its first and last combat mission.

Legendary for its nine 46-centimeter cannons, the Yamato was perhaps too big. The Imperial Navy's claim that it was "indestructible" didn't take into consideration the changes that warfare had undergone during World War II. Traditionally, battleships fought with other ships in broadside attacks, but no real attention was paid to defending the ship from aerial attacks.

The Imperial Navy probably knew this. The naval battles of Midway, Leyte, and the Marianas were characterized by fighter plane attacks, and the Yamato didn't participate. Even Pearl Harbor proved how defenseless ships were against nimble airplanes. In a sense, the Yamato was a white elephant, trotted out as a last resort that failed in a way that could have been predicted. NHK explains its sinking using new information, eyewitness testimony, and computer graphics.

Comedian Beat Takeshi is a one-man entertainment conglomerate, and TV Asahi has made a brand new series of " Kikujiro and Saki" (Thurs., 9 p.m.), his childhood memoir of the 50s, which was already made into a serial by NHK many years ago.

Takeshi's father, Kikujiro (Takenori Jinnai), is a housepainter by trade and a drunk by inclination. His mother, Saki (Shigeru Muroi), works hard trying to minimize her husband's violent outbursts and pushing her three sons to stay in school, believing that only education can lift them out of poverty.

In episode 2, which airs this week, Saki gives Takeshi money that he is supposed to bring to school and save for the year-end field trip. However, Takeshi uses the money to buy a baseball bat and tells his teacher that his father took the money to spend on sake. Naturally, the teacher calls Saki and reports this information.

No historical figure is more reviled than Adolf Hitler, but during his rise to power and even during World War II many people didn't have the courage to denounce him. On the historical variety show, "Tokoro-san to Osugi no Idai Naru Tohoho Jinbutsuden" (Tokoro and Osugi's Odd Legacies of Great Men; TV Tokyo, Fri., 8 p.m.), a panel of Japanese celebrities looks at three women who "defied" the German chancellor in their own ways: the young Elizabeth, who become queen of England after the war; French fashion designer Coco Chanel; and Hollywood movie star Marlene Dietrich, who was born and raised in Germany but worked with the American military to defeat the Nazis.



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