This was the final part of the 24-hr TV telethon (24時間テレビ) hosted by Arashi – the 35th annual charity telethon presented by NTV. This part stretched from three and a half hours of program time, and included the finales of all the events that had been proceeding simultaneously through the day.

If you want more background, check out the post on Part 1 here. Here are the links to Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9. D-Addicts had a seven part version, and the review of Part 4 explains how the ten part version I got corresponds to it.

We begin with a VTR of Aragaki Yui-san visiting slums in the Philippines, at the behest of an organization that tries to help kids born into life in them.

She helps out with home construction, and befriends the girl whose family it is being built for.

Once again, Aragaki-san’s straightforward attitude comes off as charming.

After that heavy segment, a check on Hokuto-san, and the introduction of a few more Olympic medalists, the next major segment was a humor segment from the members of the variety show Sho-ten (笑点 – laugh point). Sho-ten has been a weekly show on NTV since 1966 – for over 2000 episodes – so it’s about as legendary as shows get.

Unfortunately, it’s humor with a notch more sophistication than the usual owarai geinin attempts, which mean it requires advanced Japanese skills. For instance, they make comic haikus using the syllables from the telethon’s theme (mirai) to start each line:

Well, there was an old-time magician:

But otherwise, the half-hour or so Sho-ten segment consisted of one line/one poem jokes, so if your Japanese is not up to snuff, you’ll probably have to give it a pass.

They decided to follow all that humor with something likely to sober everybody up – pro golfer Ishikawa Ryo-san visiting Miyagi-ken in the Tohoku earthquake zone, as he did last year.

He was, of course, visiting kids affected by the tragedy.

It wasn’t too teary, and involved a bit of golf and baseball, but I can’t say it was interesting enough to watch twice. It was a twenty-minute VTR, then we picked up on Hokuto-san preparing for the last part of her run.

Then it was time for more music, and this time it was a live feed from Tokyo Dome, where AKB48 performed “Everyday, Katyusha” and “Heavy Rotation.”

As Maeda Atsuko-san was graduating the next day, the focus was necessarily on her, with the NTV announcer doing a mini-interview with her before the performance.

More music followed, beginning with the somber “Imouto” (妹 – little sister), which was a special collaboration, and I didn’t catch the name of the performers.

Next, Kayama Yuuzou-san (加山 雄三) performed “Kimi to Itsumademo” (君といつまでも – With you forever).

I have to say that Kayama-san looked and sounded great for 75. He first released this song in 1965, for heaven’s sake – even before Sho-ten began its run. As a bit of trivia, since Oricon was established in 1968, this song doesn’t make it onto the list of all-time best-selling singles in Japan, but it sold around three million copies.

Then a VTR introduced Matsumoto-kun’s special project. He, too, visited a school in Miyagi-ken. His job is to conduct the high school band, which was decimated by the disaster, on stage at the Budokan. The VTR chronicles his preparation.

As the band was mostly female, the screams when MatsuJun entered were, of course, high-pitched. After they settled down, MatsuJun had some serious work ahead of him. Turns out conducting is a lot harder than it looks.

The performance on the Budokan stage consisted of the theme to “Galaxy Express 999” (銀河鉄道999), Louis Prima’s classic “Sing, Sing, Sing“, and “Ue wo Muite Arukou” (上を向いて歩こう) which was released in the United States as “Sukiyaki” in 1963, when it became and remains the only Japanese song to top the Billboard charts.

I probably would have put “Sing, Sing, Sing” last because it’s more upbeat than “Ue wo Muite Arukou,” but it was nice to hear all three songs, whatever the order.

The performance was followed by the tear-filled reading of a thank-you letter from the band, the declared end of the airship project, and then came a song that I was completely uninterested in.

That’s Saijou Hideki-san (西城 秀樹), an idol from the 70s. While he apparently sang other songs, he’s most famous for a translated cover of the Village People song “Y.M.C.A.” – titled “Young Man” in Japan.

I think that performance was probably saved by the sheer enthusiasm of everybody for it – from the cheerleaders on stage with Saijou-san, to the little kids hopping about in front, to all of the audience and the Arashi guys doing the moves.

With Hokuto-san less than five kilometers from the Budokan and an hour left in the proceedings, we had our last dart trip segment. This one was done by NTV announcer Hatori Shinichi-san.

He went to Hokusan-cho (北淡町) on Awaji Island. He met some interesting folks, but after seeing all the other dart trips, it looked all too familiar. Why do they always visit small fishing towns?

It’s all about Hokuto-san’s approach after that, as we get a little distance counter in the upper left corner of the screen.

There was a special encouragement medley sung (badly) by the comedians and other personalities involved with the show. I’m not going to mention the songs – they only sang a single verse of each one, and they did so in full karaoke style (in other words, not in the way you would want to be introduced to these songs).

As Hokuto-san got under the 3 km mark, Arashi took over, singing “Happiness” (with its somewhat appropriate refrain “走り出せ” – start/get running) while we continued to watch Hokuto-san approach.

The completed airship was finally revealed:

A flock of monomane pros (led by Korokke-san) pretending to be Kitajima Saburo-san then performed “Matsuri” (まつり – festival).

Right before Hokuto-san’s arrival, the members of Arashi read messages to cap things off.

Then they sang “Hatenai Sora” (果てない空).

After that, all that remained was Hokuto-san’s entrance, all the emotions bound with that, and a chorus singing the telethon’s theme – “Sarai.”

In the end, the amount raised for charity by the telethon was 282,404,461 yen (roughly $3.5 million).

Well, there you go. Watching it live, or in its entirety at any time, is certainly an exquisite emotional rollercoaster. It’s hard to imagine, but it must be even more entertaining if you can actually understand Japanese. What an event!

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