24-jikan terebi (24時間テレビ) is an annual charity telethon hosted by Nihon Terebi (日本テレビ – Nippon Television – NTV) for the past 35 years. It is subtitled “愛は地球を救う” (Ai wa Chikyuu wo Sukuu – Love Saves the World), and features a broad range of programming. In a way, it’s the ultimate variety show, except that it lacks games and has a whole lot more drama. This year, the theme is mirai (未来 – the future).

Mirai

This year’s main personalities hosting the telethon are the members of Arashi. Alongside them, though, is a huge cast of talents that I’ll introduce along the way. While I’ve titled this a review, I don’t really intend to critique the show, but rather focus on highlights that, if you get the chance to see a saved copy, you won’t want to miss. I will identify what type of highlight each segment is – either humor, drama, music, or some sort of challenge – and how entertaining it was.

Two parts of the telethon will be reviewed separately. First is Ninomiya-kun’s drama, which was the second part of the telethon, and I’ll hold off on until I find subtitles. The second is the Arashi ni Shiyagare part – part three – which will be reviewed under the title of “Arashi ni Shiyagare 2012.08.25,” and I’ll try to do a more thorough review of. The version of the telethon that I’m matching my review to was on youku, and was broken up into ten parts in total (including the drama and AnS).

With that, on with the show!

The telethon begins with a dramatized story from the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, where a woman weeps as her son is trapped beneath rubble:

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A soldier saves the kid:

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Flash forward to the present, and we see the real people involved rather than actors, with the kid now grown up and a soldier himself, ready to help those affected by disasters like the Tohoku earthquake:

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And he thanks the man who saved him:

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Clearly, this is meant to remind us of some of the intended beneficiaries of this charity event.

After that, the title sequence runs . . .

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Arashi appears . . .

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And we get the first of many performances – 感謝カンゲキ雨嵐 (Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi):

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We get the introduction of the other hosts, starting with Aragaki Yui-san (新垣 結衣):

Aragaki Yui

Then Taka and Toshi, who we most recently saw on last week’s Arashi ni Shiyagare:

Taka and Toshi

Then the man who completed an Earth Marathon, Hazama Kanpei-san (間寛平):

Hazama Kanpei

And finally the two announcers, Suzue Nana-san (鈴江 奈々) and Hatori Shinichi-san (羽鳥慎一):

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And those are the main on-stage (primarily in the Budoukan – 日本武道館) personalities:

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Then we get introduced to the marathon runners – the Kensuke-Hokuto family we also met on Arashi ni Shiyagare last week, and whose progress we’ve gotten updates on in that show:

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With the introductions over, the segments begin. First, we get a VTR of the making of the charity tee-shirt (the selling of which will bring in the money), which involved the collaboration of Ohno-san and famous artist Nara Yoshitomo-san (奈良美智).

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There are three colors for the tee-shirt, and we learn that top soccer players prefer yellow:

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While not on stage, the Arashi members are busy thanking people for making a contribution to the charity:

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After a fax-reading moment (people still fax?), the two members of Savanna (サバンナ) introduce a few of Japan’s medalists in the recent Olympics, who are then received on stage:

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Then it’s time for this show’s marathon runner to start, with Kensuke-san taking the first leg of the relay. Of course, they can’t just let him start – there’s not enough drama in that. First, we get a VTR with him reflecting on his reasons for running and his thoughts on family.

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A bit about their physical check-ups and preparation:

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Photos of the marriage and when they were younger:

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Then, Tokumitsu-san, who ran the marathon last year as the oldest runner ever (at 70 years old), appeared and wished them well.

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Just in case the emotions weren’t heavy enough, the eldest son read a letter that he wrote to his parents:

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Another VTR showed the various charity personalities writing words of encouragement on the sash worn by the runner:

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Geez, these guys really know how to up the tension on a moment, don’t they? It’s not over though, because Kensuke-san can’t start running without Arashi performing a song to pump him up – “Happiness.”

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Finally, Kensuke-san begins his run with the other family members followed behind for the first minute.

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With that underway, we get the first extended segment of the telethon – the first of Arashi’s Dart Journey VTRs (ダーツの旅的 – daatsu no tabiteki – that is, they each went to a place in Japan chosen by tossing a dart on a map, presumably, and interviewed the people there). Up first was Matsumoto-kun, who ended up in a little corner of Ishikawa-ken (Ishikawa Prefecture).

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These segments are all high comedy, mainly because of the way people react to the Arashi members. It never gets old, seeing how shocked they are, and how quickly they compose themselves. First, he encountered a pair of elderly women who appeared to be gardening:

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He interviews one of them about the theme of the telethon, the future, but she seems most interested in enjoying the present:

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Next is a diver who invites MatsuJun to his home, and offers a taste of seaweed:

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Then Matsumoto-kun encounters a pair of girls in their twenties, and gets to dunk his feet into some hot water:

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He then throws a whole girl’s tennis club into a tizzy:

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But the girl who’s asked which Arashi member she likes best doesn’t hesitate to answer honestly:

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In a fish-packing warehouse, he is fawned over by the most amorous old lady he’s met yet:

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And no wonder she reacts that way to him – he tells her that at 79, she’s still young (now that’s a good kid for you)!

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The end of MatsuJun’s dart trip caps the first hour of the telethon (the first 44 minutes for those watching a version without ads).

Next, the comedy trio Morisanchuu (森三中) introduce an art project based on the tee-shirt designs which includes a bewildering array of messages . . .

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. . . and then a VTR about an airship that would be constructed as a mosaic of 7,500 photographs:

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This falls under the category of a “challenge” segment, and among the challengers are classmates of Kennosuke-kun, the eldest son of Kensuke and Hokuto, who will reproduce an enlarged version of a photograph they picked out using the thousands of little photographs.

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We get video of gatherings in Sapporo, Miyagi, Nagoya, Kansai, and other locales in Japan (this seems to be required for these sorts of events, to prove that it isn’t just a Tokyo thing).

Nino-kun’s drama co-stars get introduced, including Ueto Aya-san. They discuss the drama, which will begin in about two hours (one and a half hours without commercials).

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Well, it’s been a lot of fun, so I guess it’s about time for us to get to some of the human interest stories. This event has a serious purpose, and those responsible for it every year have been remarkably artful about reminding the audience of the suffering of their metaphorical (or possibly actual) neighbors. By artful, I mean that they try and succeed to move the audience emotionally. The first moving story is that of Yasutake Hana-chan, age 9, and her Miso Soup (みそ汁).

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I’m not going to detail each human interest story, because I don’t think these are the parts people will want to watch over and over again (unlike, say, the muscial performances, the funnier parts, or the challenges).

Some parts of Hana-chan’s story are quite cute, including a clip where she’s singing at the age of 3:

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I’ll hand it to the people who put these together – they definitely tug at your heart and get you to sympathize with the subjects of the stories, and there’s a way in which stories like this tap into our common humanity.

Hana-chan’s story ends after twelve minutes with her singing the song her deceased mother performed so well – ハナミズキ (“Hanamizuki”) – a song I’m also fond of.

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On stage in the Budoukan, Hana-chan and her father are present, and the original singer of “Hanamizuki,” Hitoto You-san (一青 窈), performs her hit:

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Hitoto-san seemed a bit choked up when she started singing, and I don’t think we could blame her.

Time to catch up with our marathon runner as Kensuke-san is taking a breather and some ice packs for the knees after forty minutes of running:

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Savanna’s Takahashi-san introduces one enka singer and three more Olympic medalists (you can be sure they’re going to show as many medalists as they can as often as possible, folks):

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Time for an update from Morisanchuu, who detail the plans for the photograph airship. Apparently, it’s going to be 7.2m in length (23.6 feet).

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While Kennosuke-kun’s friends are doing their work, a cadre of women are at the sewing machines, preparing the fabric.

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Next, a new challenge is introduced, though the challenger in this one is also a human interest story. The challenge is to climb Yakushima (屋久島), a World Heritage Site. It’s tallest point is 1,935 m above sea level (6,360 ft), and the entire trek is made difficult by a dense, ancient forest. The challenger is high-schooler Fujii Miho-chan (藤井美穂), who gets around quite well considering she’s lost her right leg:

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Her supporter in the trek up Yakushima is Miyagawa Daisuke-san (宮川大輔):

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Before we even settle into that story, we preview another brief story about a memorial game for a lost member played by the future Nadeshiko Japan soccer team and Sakurai-san against the current Nadeshiko Japan team.

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After a break, Enka singer Tendo Yoshimi-san (天童よしみ) makes an appearance on stage alongside the three Olympic medalists she was accompanying. We get another mini-story that I won’t detail related to Tendo-san’s performance (she’s singing for someone in particular. Tendo-san, of course, performs probably the most famous enka song – Misora Hibari-san’s “Ai San San” (愛燦燦).

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I guess having one of the monomane guys do it wouldn’t fit with the serious tone of the telethon. Tendo-san did an excellent job of it, though she lacks the depth of Misora-san’s voice (who doesn’t?).

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I smiled when I saw Sakurai-san singing along, remembering an “Encounter the Unknown” segment on Arashi ni Shiyagare where he had to pick out a Misora Hibari record:

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Next up, Taka and Toshi had their dart journey to Kamisu-shi (神栖市 – Kamisu City) in Ibaraki-ken (茨城県). Going in, I didn’t expect this to be as funny as the Arashi ones, since no one was going to swoon over Taka and Toshi. The first person they met knew who they were, though:

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Then they met a mother with her ten month-old Ryoma-kun:

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Her other kid, Kenshiro-kun, was not at all eager to come over when bidden:

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The mother’s future looks like another kid on the way:

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Here’s some screencaps of the rest of their activities, meeting all sorts of Kamisu residents:

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With the end of that segment, the show entered its third hour (without commercials, passed the hour-and-a-half mark) and we got an Olympic highlight reel of some of Japan’s triumphs in the recent games:

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They checked into Kensuke-san and the marathon:

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Hokuto-san is preparing some power food for him:

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We get another song dedicated to someone with a mini-story – this time, the performers are The Boom, whose music is inspired by the music of Okinawa. The song they performed was “Shima-uta” (島唄 – island song) a huge hit in 1992 selling 1.5 million copies and covered by artist including Gackt.

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It’s a good song, though a simple one. I checked out the recorded version, and I think the texture of it is significantly better than in the live version, though it still feels a tad repetitive. Anyway, after some promotional stuff, we get Ohno-san’s Dart Journey:

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His destination is Kyonan-machi (鋸南町 – Kyonan Town) in Chiba Prefecture (千葉県).

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The first person he met was positively delightful, and didn’t look like she had the faintest clue who he was:

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Her main thing was how long it takes to get to Chiba from Tokyo, because she has a son in Yokohama who takes two hours to make the drive. She was amazingly talkative, and I really wonder what she was up to on the roadside there.

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Ohno-san can’t resist asking her if she recognizes him, which she doesn’t, and then he asks whether she knows about Arashi, which she doesn’t. As explanation, though, she says she doesn’t watch TV, preferring only to watch music shows, at which point Ohno-san clarifies that Arashi is a musical group:

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Ah, well, I guess Arashi just isn’t popular yet. Moving right along, Ohno-san stumbles on a whole group of elderly women who . . . well, they don’t seem to know him, either, because they also ask where he’s from:

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But then, suddenly, when he gets out of the car and they get a good look at him, light dawns:

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But they think he just looks like Ohno – he has to tell them that he really is Ohno:

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It still took them a while to accept it. There seems to be one bright one among them who acts as the tsukkomi to the rest of their boke.

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Now, obviously, because it’s Ohno-san, he bloody climbed a concrete barrier to talk to guys who were fishing. I think he would have objected if the dart landed on a place where he couldn’t get at fish.

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The elderly men’s club was quicker to recognize him than their wives were:

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One of them’s a comedian – when asked whether they knew the names of the other members of Arashi, he answered that he didn’t even know his own name:

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A woman with kids approaches, and the one hiding behind her back shouts that Sakurai-kun is good(!!):

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The other girl likes Aiba-kun, by the way (her mother thought she liked Ohno, but she corrected that mistake immediately).

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Poor Ohno-san. The VTR ended there, and it was the most entertaining thing so far. I swear, you can always count on Ohno-san.

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Next up, we got the full story of the future Nadeshiko Japan versus the current Nadeshiko Japan, with Sakurai-san explaining everything in a voice-over. The game is a memorial to Oyama Shiori-san, whose story is detailed through a trip Sakurai-san makes to meet her mother.

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Shiori-san died in the tsunami following the earthquake last year, which ripped through the building she was in. The ruins are still standing, and they go to visit the sight. They thought that no tsunami would reach the third floor of the building, but nothing like last year’s tsunamis had ever been seen before.

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This was a very tough story for everyone to hear. I won’t detail how we got from that tragedy to the match that Sakurai-san will be participating in, but I think you can guess. The future team is composed of Shiori-san’s former teammates and friends. Sakurai-san arranged for special uniforms, which are replicas of Shiroi-san’s – all with her number 6.

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Then the real Nadeshiko Japan team enters the stadium:

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And, really, if you’re not moved at this point . . . I don’t know what to say. What happens next is, of course, the match itself. It was a half-hour match, and is condensed to under ten minutes. The Nadeshiko team didn’t stray far from top form, and there was no hint that they were relaxing against the future team. The best moment was when Sawa-san scored a goal and celebrated by giving Shiori’s parents a hug.

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Shiori’s parents and teammates concluded the story on the stage, watching a video message from Sawa-san.

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With that, the first part of the telethon – three hours of air time from 18:30-21:23 local time and two and a half hours of programming time – ended. What followed was Nino’s Drama (two hours of air time from 21:23-23:23, then Arashi ni Shiyagare from 23:23-25:45. Since I’m waiting on subtitles for Nino’s Drama, my next 24hr TV-related post will cover Arashi ni Shiyagare.