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Sunday, March 19, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

Popular TV hosts weep in TBS's "Tokumitsu & Azumi's Moving Reunions" and more

Some TV presenters are famous for their voices, others for their piquant opinions or sense of humor. Veteran Kazuo Tokumitsu and relative newcomer Shinichiro Azumi are vastly different in terms of vocal timbre and personality, but they share one unusual trait: they can weep at the drop of a hat.

Consequently, they are often called upon to host variety shows centered on family tragedies or rags-to-riches stories. This week both are the emcees of "Tokumitsu & Azumi's Moving Reunions" (TBS, Wed., 6:55 p.m.), the eighth in a series of specials about people who have lost touch with family members and who wish to re-establish contact with them.

The main story, a continuation from a previous special, concerns a woman in her 30s whose mother abandoned her family 23 years ago and disappeared. The woman has never understood why her mother ran away and has been haunted by uncertainty ever since. Is this the show where she'll finally track her mother down?

This week's "Friday Entertainment" drama special takes on a topical subject. In "Tsuma wa Taju Jinkakusha" ("My Wife Has Multiple Personalities"; Fuji, 9 p.m.) Masanobu Takashima plays Shinji, a teacher at a private art school who learns that his wife, Akiko (Yuki Matsushita), has run up an enormous amount of personal debt.

However, when he confronts Akiko about the debt, she says she can't remember exactly how much money she borrowed. Consequently, Shinji doesn't know how to go about solving the problem. Before long the debt collectors are calling, asking for huge payments and making serious threats. The pressure becomes too much and Shinji decides to kill himself and Akiko, thus allowing their three children to receive his life insurance money, until he notices that Akiko suddenly seems like a completely different person.

TV Tokyo's popular Tokyo neighborhood travel show, "Adomacchiku Paradise" (Sat., 9 p.m.), tends to spend a lot of time exploring the working-class shitamachi neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, mainly because they haven't changed as much as other areas of the city have over the years.

This week, the show expands to 90 minutes for a Spring Shitamachi special focusing on the Arakawa Line, which is the last surviving streetcar line in Tokyo, running from Waseda to Minowabashi. This 12-kilometer route has become especially popular lately as more people have become nostalgic for the Showa Era (1925-89). Many of the neighborhoods that the streetcar passes through have gone mostly untouched since World War II, and the special will focus on landmarks and out-of-the-way attractions that are only known to locals.



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