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Sunday, Aug. 21, 2011

CHANNEL SURF

Japan's 'astonishing' islands; story of a motherless chimp; CM of the week: DoCoMo

Though the Nippon Television variety program "Kenmin Show" ("Prefectural Citizen Show") has covered every regional peccadillo there is, the similarly themed occasional TBS series "Japan 47 Channels" attempts to discover towns and villages that have never been visited on TV. On this week's two-hour special (Wed., 9 p.m.), the producers seek out "astonishing islands."

There a small island in the Seto Inland Sea, part of Ehime Prefecture, whose 33 residents are all descendants of the warlord Oda Nobunaga, though only two-thirds have the surname Oda. Not far away in Yamaguchi Prefecture, there's another island famous for pure-bred Japanese, though in this case the population is all bovine. These cattle are indigenous to Japan and have been designated a national treasure. Only 10 are slaughtered a year, and the guests in the studio get to taste them.

Chimpanzees are social animals, and when one is raised by humans it usually has problems adjusting to a group. The documentary special "Lady Monogatari: Haha wo Nakushita Chimpanzee to Shikuin to no 1,600-hi" ("Lady's Story: 1,600 Days with a Motherless Chimp and Her Keeper"; Nippon TV, Sat., 10:30 a.m.) tells the story of Lady, a chimp born in the Maruyama Zoo in Hokkaido whose mother died when she was 2 months old.

Lady is raised by a zookeeper, who attempts to introduce her to a group of other chimps when she is an adolescent. It's very difficult. Except for her brother, all the other chimps either ignore her or pick on her. And when her brother dies suddenly, she's left all alone.

CM of the week: DoCoMo

DoCoMo: Actor Ken Watanabe is the only personality of the original three (including singer Kaela Kimura and Darth Vader) still participating in mobile phone service DoCoMo's "walk with you" campaign. The idea is that Watanabe is a walking, talking avatar of your cell phone; a figure that anthropomorphizes the helpful qualities of one's most valued electronic device.

In the latest ad, a young man sits in a dark apartment depressed over a "betrayal." He pulls out his cell phone and Watanabe appears, suggesting a song to alleviate his loneliness. He even pulls out a guitar. The ad promotes a new karaoke app. A woman walks in, seeing the young man alone, loudly singing to his cell, but the implication is that the only friend you can trust is your smartphone.



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