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Sunday, April 18, 2010

CHANNEL SURF

Tracing food origins; Korean drama 'Iris'; CM of the week: Reve21

Many travel shows are about food. The new TV Tokyo series, "Gakuryu Shiraberu Toraberu" (Reverse Current Investigation Travel; Mon., 8 p.m.) takes the idea one step further.

Every week the show chooses a common foodstuff and traces it back to where it came. Since Japan's self-sufficiency rate for food is only about 40 percent, the program will never have a shortage of subjects.

This week's is octopus, much of which is imported from Morocco. The video crew travels to the coast of Morocco where they meet a "legendary octopus fisherman," whose technique is said to be very special. Along the way, they discover the "astonishing variety" of Moroccan cuisine and visit a village that has been designated a World Cultural Asset by the U.N.

On Wednesday at 9 p.m., TBS will broadcast Episode One of the full-scale Korean spy drama "Iris," which qualifies as a kind of milestone. Though Korean dramas are very popular in Japan, commercial TV broadcasters almost never air them during Golden Time on their key terrestrial stations. But "Iris" is special since several episodes were filmed in Akita Prefecture.

Hyun Jun (Lee Byung Hun) and Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho) are lifelong friends and Special Forces soldiers who separately have romantic encounters with the same woman, Seung Hee (Kim Tae Hee), after which they are forced into a secret compound where they are tortured. The torture turns out to be a test to gauge their value as possible special agents for the National Security Service, which investigates and eliminates outside threats to South Korea. Even the president doesn't know of its existence.

Seung Hee turns out to be an NSA supervisor, and she and Hyun Jun date between assignments. In future episodes they go to Akita for sightseeing and skiing.

CM of the week

Reve21: Every spring, the hair restoration clinic Reve21 holds a Hair Growth Champion Contest in Tokyo. About 60 men and women "from 7 to 77" participate in the competition to show off their "remarkable achievements" in hair growth.

Several scenes from last year's contest are compiled in a 30-second TV ad centered around the winner, 61-year-old Kazumi Maki, who is shown walking out on stage and throwing away her floppy hat. "I don't need it any more," she says. A rapid-fire montage of other contestants jumping and weeping with joy in front of company president Katsumasa Okamura is shown before the final shot of Maki receiving a check for ¥3 million.

In an earlier ad Okamura stated that only 3.4 percent of Reve21's users say "they cannot sense hair growth," which may mean hair restoration is a matter of perception.



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