Fortune tellers and paranormals used to be quite popular on Japanese TV until the Aum Shinrikyo affair made people a little nervous about certain kinds of unorthodox beliefs. In the past few years, however, such TV personalities have slowly made a comeback. The most striking example is Kazuki Hosoki, a fortune teller who uses the Chinese birthdate system called rokusei to foretell people’s futures. However, her popularity is based more on her frank manner than her predictions. She’s been a regular on several comedy-variety shows, and is occasionally the focus of special programs. But on Aug. 10 at 9 p.m., TBS launches her first regular series: “Zubari Iu Wa Yo! (I’ll Give It to You Straight!).” Hosoki’s bluntness knows no bounds. She’s been known to tell newlyweds that they’re headed for divorce, popular comedians that they will soon be washed up, and demure ingenues that they are widely hated by their peers. She even once told Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara that he shouldn’t run for office again, though in a rather nice way. In a sense, she’s not so much a fortune teller as a sensitive type who sums up a person’s life so far, then tells him where such a life will likely lead. On the series, she will tackle the lives of celebrity guests, but mainly she will take requests from viewers, who are mostly “women in trouble.” Hosoki’s intention is to steer them down the happy road of life.
On the paranormal side, what would August be without a few true-life ghost tale specials? This week’s “Wednesday Special” (TV Asahi, 7 p.m.) will present several “verified” cases of supernatural phenomena that are supposedly impossible to explain with logic or science. In one case, the spirit of a person who committed suicide in an apartment building haunts his next-door neighbor, who never so much as met him. Another segment looks at a mountain pass in Yamaguchi Prefecture, said to be cursed by a spirit who holds a deadly and eternal grudge. And in perhaps the creepiest case, a couple buys a new home that is haunted — even though no one lived there before! The ghost of a disgruntled subcontractor? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
Ghosts of a different kind haunt “Ippeisotsu no Senso” (A Private’s War; NHK-G, Aug. 13, 9 p.m.). The late author Komao Furuyama, who was an infantryman during World War II in China, spent his entire life writing about his wartime experiences. The documentary is based on his testimonials and those of other soldiers involved in the 1944 battle in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province to break the supply lines that the Allied forces had set up for Chiang Kai-shek’s army.