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Sunday, March 15, 2009

CHANNEL SURF

Alaska photographer remembered, three decades of Doraemon, Kansai retro-drama remake

Photographer Michio Hoshino, who died 12 years ago, is profiled in the documentary "Hoshino Michio Inochi e no Manazashi" ("A Look at the Life of Michio Hoshino") (NHK-E, Tues., 10:25 p.m.)

Hoshino made his living with one subject: the natural beauty and people of Alaska, where he lived for much of his life. His nature photography remains extremely popular both in the United States and Japan. The documentary attempts to explain the man through the recollections of his widow, Naoko — who still lives in their home in Fairbanks — and others, rather than through his work. In the process, a portrait of the artist as a member of his community comes into focus.

TV Asahi celebrates three decades of broadcasting the animated adventures of the beloved robot cat Doraemon with the special two-hour program "Doraemon 30 Shunen Special" (Doraemon 30th Year Special") (Fri., 7 p.m.). The producers asked fans of the series to select their favorite episodes, and received more than 25,000 votes. The top 30 episodes will be presented in digest form.

The "masterpiece" of the series was deemed to be the episode entitled "Sayonara Doraemon," in which the famous blue cat, who is from the future, decides to return to his proper time. Nobita, the boy with whom Doraemon lives, is heartbroken, especially since the cat often saves him from bullies and other misfortunes. One of the reasons U.S. broadcasters have never bought "Doraemon" is that they think Nobita is too much of a weakling to appeal to American kids. Nobita attempts to show his robot friend he can stand up for himself without him, and gets badly beaten in the process.

"Sayonara Doraemon" will be remade for the special program, using the current voice cast for the series.

Fuji TV has also remade a classic. As part of its 50th anniversary commemoration, it will broadcast a new, two-part drama about the construction of Toyama Prefecture's Kurobe Dam in the late 1950s, a story that inspired a hugely popular movie starring the late Yujiro Ishihara called "Kurobe no Taiyo" ("The Sun of Kurobe").

This new version (Mar. 21 and 22, 9:04 p.m.) has the same title and stars SMAP member Shingo Katori as Kuramatsu, a manager- foreman for Kumagaya Construction. In order to solve an acute energy shortage in the Kansai region, Kansai Electric Power decided to built a massive hydroelectric dam on the upper Kurobe River. However, the project requires the drilling of a huge tunnel that some, including Kuramatsu, believe is impossible.

A year after construction starts, the project has been marred by accidents and media scandals, pushing Kuramatsu to the edge of his sanity.



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