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Sunday, Oct. 29, 2006

CHANNEL SURF

TV Asahi's "Quiz Presentation Variety Q-sama," Fuji's "Kinyo Prestige" and more

SLack of imagination has not stopped TV producers from coming up with new outlets for all the comedians looking for work. Every week TV Asahi's variety show "Quiz Presentation Variety Q-sama" (Mon., 8 p.m.) offers about a dozen comedians and other tarento the opportunity to present their own quizzes, though the term "quiz" is used pretty loosely.

The main segment on this week's program features Japan's Number One practitioner of the fine art of air guitar, Dainoji Ouchi, himself a 34-year-old comedian who knows nothing about music but will do anything to attract attention. In the segment he is forced to scale a high-dive platform and jump ten meters into a pool all the while demonstrating his air guitar technique. How this segment can be made into a quiz is beside the point. Another segment involves something called "pressure bowling."

In 1996, in a mountainous area of southeastern China, 40 female newborn babies were abandoned at the entrance of a Buddhist temple over a period of six months. The region is populated mostly by farmers, who still think of girls as being a burden since they aren't considered as useful as boys and won't be able to take over their farms.

On Tuesday, NHK's BS-1 channel will present a Chinese-made documentary called "Seven Girls Raised in a Temple of Nuns." Most of the 40 foundlings were adopted, but seven remained at the temple, which houses a group of Buddhist nuns. The program follows the girls as they enter elementary school, which is a problem since the temple is located in a remote area and the school is in town. And though it is still "customary" to abandon girl babies, the documentary shows how the orphans overcome hardship with the help of their community.

Chinese people are also the subject of "Kinyo Prestige" (Fuji, Fri., 9 p.m.), a special documentary program to commemorate Culture Day. The documentary covers ten years in the life of a Chinese man who, in 1989, came to Japan to study the Japanese language in order to improve his situation and that of his family back in Shanghai.

The man had to borrow the equivalent of 420,000 yen for tuition and entrance fees. The school is in a remote area of Hokkaido that was once a mining community. The mine has long since closed down, and the man cannot find work to pay back his debts, so he eventually moves to Tokyo where he works illegally, sending all his pay back to his wife in Shanghai.

His daughter has since gained entrance to a university in New York where she is studying to be a doctor. The program profiles the entire family, each member of which lives in a different far-flung city. In the moving climactic scene, the father, who hasn't seen his daughter for eight years, meets her briefly in transit as she changes planes at Narita airport.



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