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Sunday, Oct. 5, 2008

Channel surf

Japan's biggest rock band in terms of sales (80 million CDs) is B'z, which basically consists of 43-year-old Koshi Inaba and 47-year-old Tak Matsumoto. The duo is currently celebrating their 20th year in show business. Last year they were the first rock act from Asia to be inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk at the Guitar Center in Los Angeles.

NHK will present a special program about B'z entitled "Megahit no Himitsu" ("The Secret of the Megahit"; NHK-G, Mon., 10 p.m.) to mark the anniversary. NHK cameras cover the group's live show, both onstage and backstage, and hang around the recording studio with the two rockers. The program also includes a rare long interview with Inaba and Matsumoto in which they discuss the secret behind their longevity and success.

The title of Fuji TV's drama special "Arigato, Okan" (Tues., 9 p.m.) means "thanks, ma" in the Osaka dialect. The mother in question is Hanako (Shinobu Otake), who was not enthusiastic when her husband took in two foster children some years ago. He died not long afterward, leaving her alone to care for the youngsters, Koya (Subaru Shibuya) and Torataro (Shingo Murakami), a task that she rose to with a passion. As the two boys graduate from high school, Hanako has become not only a devoted parent but the neighborhood's most reliable mother in the Osaka style: strong, responsible, irreverent.

After the two boys leave school they also leave home, though Torataro continues to work in the family factory. Koya secures employment at a restaurant, where he is forced to put up with the bullying of an older colleague. Unable to take it any more, he runs away, and Hanako and Torataro look for him. They eventually find him pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician. There have been many dramatic recreations of the Shinsengumi, that private police force of masterless samurai who defended the Tokogawa Shogunate against the revolutionary imperialists in Kyoto during the chaotic years leading up to the Meiji Restoration (1867), but most have focused on the group's military actions. Nihon TV's "Nihonshi Suspense Gekijo" ("Japanese History Suspense Theater"; Wed., 7 p.m.) looks at the group's idol-like popularity.

The Shinsengumi were extremely popular among Kyoto girls for their good looks and romantic fatalism. Soji Okita was a master swordsman who died of tuberculosis at a very young age. Sozaburo Kano was a serious tactician whose life was completely turned around by a comely courtesan. The reticent Toshizo Hijikata loved to compose haiku. And then there was Kojuro Kusonoki who, with his big eyes, snow-white skin and bow-shaped mouth, was considered one of the most gorgeous creatures in Kyoto, male or female.



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