Children following their ambitions, cartoonists discussion, nature-speciality

One of the most popular segments on the Saturday morning variety show “Shittoko!” profiles children who are working hard to fulfill individual dreams. In order to celebrate 100 segments on the show, TBS will air a special two-hour program, “Kodomo no Chikara wa Mugendai (The Power of Children is Unlimited)” (Wednesday, 6:55 p.m.), with profiles of several more dreamers.

The comedy duo TKO travels throughout Japan helping these kids with their ambitious projects.

In Hokkaido, they visit an elementary school where some of the sixth graders have formed a jazz group. Their dream is to go to New Orleans and perform there.

In another segment, a boy is learning music so that he can write a song for his mother and his as yet unborn little brother.

Then there’s the girl who is determined to become a Japanese karate champion.

F ujio Akatsuka is one of the acknowledged giants of comic book art and the originator of what has come to be called “gag manga.”

His life work, “Tensai Bakabon,” about a dysfunctional extended family — an early “Simpsons,” in a sense — was first published about 40 years ago, and its black humor has deeply impacted Japanese popular culture.

On Friday, NHK looks at this influence by analyzing the cartoon and its characters, mainly by asking some of Japan’s most respected creative types to describe how Akatsuka’s work affected them as children growing up in the ’60s and ’70s.

Three professional cartoon-humor writers carry out a round-table discussion about the mechanics and meaning of Akatsuka’s humor. Because the cartoonist is very ill he will not appear on the program, but his longtime assistant and his editor talk about how he works and offer anecdotes that illustrate how close he is to his strange characters.

Lastly, theater director Suzuki Matsuo discusses a new animated piece he’s working on called “Narome 2008,” based on Narome, the evil cat from “Tensai Bakabon,” and focuses on the cartoon’s so-called supernonsense.

I f one were floating in outer space and looked down at Earth, there are many things that would be recognizable, but also many things that would be totally baffling: strange, otherworldly colors, bizarre patterns and mysterious landscapes. Last year, a French broadcaster aired a program of these unusual images, which were taken by satellites, and it was a huge hit throughout Europe. Working with these images, world traveler Katsunari Takahashi and some celebrity friends visit the places these images represent.

One is a rock mountain in Africa that juts straight up into the sky. Another is a lake in Bolivia that shouldn’t really be there. Most of these locales are remote and difficult to reach, so half the excitement is getting there.