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Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005

CHANNEL SURF

NHK's "Project X" on the Takarazuka production of "The Rose of Versailles" and more

Takarazuka, the all-female musical theater company based in Hyogo Prefecture, made its first-ever trip to South Korea last month with a revival of the troupe's most popular musical, "The Rose of Versailles." Riyoko Ikeda's 1970s manga, upon which the musical is based, has been translated into 10 languages and turned into an animated TV series that's been shown in 20 countries.

This week, NHK's documentary series "Project X" (NHK-G, Tuesday, 9:15 p.m.) looks back at the first Takarazuka production of "The Rose of Versailles" -- back in 1974. At that time, the company, which was founded in 1914, was barely surviving. Television had become affordable and widespread in the '60s, which meant popular stars could be seen easily and often. Takarazuka, which also maintains a school to train young girls to sing and dance, was for many years Japan's main source of female singing stars, but by 1970 the stage shows themselves were deemed to be out-of-date.

However, "Versailles," which is set during the French Revolution, brought the company new fans with its evocatively romantic plot and rococo set designs and costumes. During a two-year run, more than 1 million people saw the musical.


Nihon TV's Friday night variety show, "Nazo wo Toke: Masaka no Mystery (Solve the Riddle: Impossible Mysteries; 8 p.m.)," looks at real-life situations that don't seem to follow any known system of logic and attempts to explain them.

The main segment of this week's show looks at a female college student's proposed method for catching drug smugglers and users with a small tropical fish called the red-tail black shark. It is a theory that has received a great deal of attention from the legal community.

The show will also offer up a foolproof method for married couples to avoid fighting, and explain a famous tombstone around which women by the dozens gather every weekend.


The popular "Odoru" police series has spawned movies, books, and TV specials, the latest of which will be broadcast Saturday at 9 p.m. on Fuji TV. A sort of prequel to two recent hit movies, "Negotiator Masayoshi Mashita" and "Suspect Shinji Muroi," the drama special "Fugitive Joichiro Kijima" will feature characters from both.

The story takes place two months before the events described in "Negotiator." A man takes a small boy hostage in a house. The police negotiator, Mashita (Yusuke Santamaria), tries to talk the kidnapper into giving up the boy, but is unsuccessful. Detective Kijima (Susumu Terajima) takes over and rescues the boy by force. However, when the police try to take the boy back to his parents he panics and puts up resistance. After talking to him, Kijima takes the boy under his wing and escapes, becoming a fugitive himself.



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