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Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008

Channel surf

Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, is the setting for the two-hour mystery, "Shirokuma Encho Inochi no Jikenbo 2 (Zookeeper Polar Bear, Case File of Life 2)" (TV Tokyo, Wednesday, 9 p.m.). The title is a pun based on the lead character's name as well as Asahiyama's main attraction.

Terahiko Saigo plays head zookeeper Kumashiro (which is "shirokuma," or "polar bear," in reverse), who one day notices an employee arguing with a group of male visitors.

Later in the week, the naked corpse of one of these men is found in the mountains, in a location reserved for feeding wild animals.

Kumashiro assumes that the murderer has detailed knowledge not only of the mountain terrain, but also of animal behavior.The killer probably left the body there thinking that wild bears would devour it, leaving no trace of the dead man.

It could have been the perfect crime. Kumashiro works with a local police detective (Noriko Aoyama) to uncover the truth.

Acompletely different sort of mystery is tackled in the hit theatrical film "Kisaragi" (TV Tokyo, Thursday, 9 p.m.), which takes place completely in a single room occupied by five men.

Written by Ryota Furusawa, who also penned the nostalgic movie series, "Always, Sanchome no Yuhi (Always, Sunset on Third Street)," this intense ensemble piece stars singing idol Jun Oguri as well as popular comedians Yusuke Santamaria, Muga Tsukaji and Teruyuki Kagawa.

The men only know one another through their Internet pseudonyms, and have assembled to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of "B-class" teen pictorial idol Miki Kisaragi (Kanako Sakai), who committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. All five men are big fans of Miki and as they discuss their attraction to the dead woman, they reveal their personalities and life histories.

On the 63rd anniversary of Japan's surrender to Allied forces, NHK will broadcast a documentary called "Shogen Kiroku Leyte Kessen (Testimonial Record, The Decisive Battle of Leyte)" (NHK-G, Friday, 10:30 p.m.).

The Battle of Leyte in the Philippines took place in the fall of 1944 and lasted two months.

It involved approximately 290,000 soldiers. There were American and Filipino troops attacking the Imperial Japanese Army, which had been occupying the country for about three years.

Interviews with American, Filipino and Japanese survivors of the battle reveal how the Japanese military's reckless defense set a pattern for the final months of the Pacific War: suicide attacks, death before surrender, and the systematic brutalization not only of civilians, but of their own troops.



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