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Sunday, July 1, 2007

CHANNEL SURF

High school teen sitcom, JR conductor melodrama, dream-house design

Some high schools are famous for producing star athletes, while graduation from others practically guarantees entrance to a prestigious university. The fictitious Sakurazaki Gakuen is known for one thing and one thing only: cute boys.

Sakurazaki is the setting for the new Fuji TV series "Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise (To You Who Are in Full Bloom: Good-looking Guys Paradise)" (Tues., 9 p.m.), which stars Maki Horikita as Mizuki, a second-year high-school student with a crush on Sano (Jun Oguri), who happens to attend Sakurazaki. Unfortunately for Mizuki, Sakurazaki is not coeducational, but that doesn't stop her. In order to get close to Sano, she disguises herself as a boy and manages to effect a transfer to the all-male boarding school. Even better, she's placed in Sano's class.

The next time you ride the shinkansen, be extra nice to the young women who push the snack and drink carts down the aisle. Their job is a lot more difficult than you might think, as shown in the two-hour summer drama special "Shinkansen Girl" (Nihon TV, Wed., 9 p.m.).

Ubiquitous TV tarento (media personality) Becky plays Rinko Takatsuki, a 22-year-old ticket conductor on the Tokaido Shinkansen line. Rinko is a tireless and conscientious employee responsible for training a number of young women whose ambition is to sell coffee, boxed lunches, beer and magazines on the trains.

Rinko is liked by everyone she works with, but her road to glory was not an easy one. The woman who trained her was a tough taskmaster, and prior to her JR job she worked in customer relations at a hotel, where she had a particularly rough time.

Every few months, TV Tokyo broadcasts "Dream House Special," in which the construction of a detached home is documented from initial design to final completion.

This time (July 8, 8 p.m.) the subject is a single salaryman who wants to build a house for his future family of four. Unfortunately, the land he purchased was very small, and according to zoning rules he can only use 23 sq. meters of it for the foundation. Even worse, the plot is surrounded on three sides by other houses that limit the amount of sunshine.

The architect he hires proposes something bold. The foundation will be divided into seven "spaces" that can be interpolated as "skip floors," a design term that describes staggered floors within a single structure. This unique design will even allow sunlight into the basement.



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