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Several weeks ago, NHK profiled Yusei Uesugi, a matte painter who works for George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic. Uesugi is a major talent in Hollywood special effects, and he got his start as a contestant on “Zen-Nihon Kaso Taisho” (“All-Japan Disguise Awards”), which takes place two or three times a year. Amateurs devise elaborate sketches using homemade costumes and props, which are then judged by a panel of celebrities. Uesugi won the grand prize of ¥1 million in 1989 for his portrayal of a giant beetle, and he used the money to go to California where he applied for a job at ILM.

This week, perennial host Kinichi Hagimoto hosts the 84th edition of the awards (Nihon TV, Tues., 7:56 p.m.). Among the celebrity judges are musical actress Mao Taichi and moguls skier Aiko Uemura. This time the stakes have been increased. In order for contestants to qualify for a winning slot they have to earn at least 15 out of a maximum 20 points.

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