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Monday, March 17, 2014

Last 2 episodes of Discovery Channel's "Sea Whisperers" and "POPcorn Dreams”


The land of the rising sun is an amazing convergence of old and new; a place where ancient traditions, culture and history are well-preserved but in harmony with ever-evolving cultural progressions and state-of-the-art technologies. SUPER JAPAN – five documentaries by the winners of Discovery Channel’s First Time Filmmakers (FTFM) Japan – celebrates the evolvement of Japan into the global powerhouse it is today.

Premiere works of passionate first time international film producers, these films document the  country’s progressions, obsessions and pays tribute to some of the things they do best. The last two episodes of SUPER JAPAN – “Sea Whisperers” and “POPcorn Dreams” - air back-to-back on March 19, 2014 (Wednesday) from 7:00 p.m. (1900 hrs) SIN/HK.

The “Sea Whisperers” episode dives into the country’s 5,000 year old ancient tradition that has defied the tide of time – the legendary free-diving Ama or ‘sea woman’ who make a living by diving deep in the coastal waters of Japan to harvest abalone and turban shells. The key to their culture is their identity as female free-divers who understand the need to live in harmony with nature if future generations are to continue their way of life. This means they refuse to use scuba tanks as that would make it too easy to over harvest the abalone and turban shells which they depend on a living for. With environmental changes threatening their livelihoods and most Ama divers now aged over 65 years old, their future, as free-diving champion Ai Futaki discovers, is far from secure.

To cap off the five-part series, SUPER JAPAN takes viewers inside the quintessential Japanese pop (J-POP) music scene to document a burgeoning phenomenon – J-POP girl group AKB48 from Akihabara, Tokyo. Unlike regular pop groups who occasionally put up performances and are seen mostly on television, AKB48 – who holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest Pop Group – was founded and produced by Yasushi Akimoto based on the “idols you can meet” concept. The group is split into several teams and take turns to perform on a daily basis at their very own AKB48 Theatre where fans would be able to catch them live.

SUPER JAPAN tracks the global expansion of AKB48 and examines its first overseas venture, sister group, JKT48 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Follow Melody Nurramdhani Laksani, a local JKT48 member as she hones her performing skills to become a pop idol sensation in Indonesia and Haruka Nakagawa, a Japanese girl who transferred from AKB48 to JKT48 to help the Indonesian girls replicate AKB48 songs and dance moves – and whose character and efforts to learn the local language is attracting a growing fan base. Can a pop group concept as unique and radical AKB48 be successfully exported and duplicated in countries with starkly different cultures?

FTFM Japan – a partnership between Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Japan (MIC) – is a project designed to help develop the documentary storytelling skills of Japanese filmmakers while providing them a platform for their talent and bring the globe on a journey that reveals what makes contemporary Japan tick.

Episode Guide

Episode 4: Sea Whisperers (Ama Divers - JCTV)
Director: Masashi "Sho" Matsuhashi, Japan Cable Television Ltd


It is thought the culture of Japan’s female free-divers, or Ama, goes back 5,000 years. The key to their culture is their identity as women free-divers who understand the need to live in harmony with nature if future generations are to continue their way of life. This means they refuse to use scuba tanks because that would make it too easy to over harvest the abalone and turban shells which they depend on for a living. With environmental changes threatening their  livelihoods and most Ama now more than 65 years old, their future, as free-diving champion Ai Futaki discovers, is far from secure.

Episode 5: POPcorn Dreams (AK48 – TV Asahi)
Director: Naoto Ueda, TV Asahi


This episode showcases the global expansion of the J-POP idol group, AKB48 from Akihabara, Tokyo, and examines its first overseas venture, sister group, JKT48 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Follow Melody Nurramdhani Laksani, a local JKT48 member as she hones her performing skills to become a pop idol sensation in Indonesia and Haruka Nakagawa, a Japanese girl who transferred from AKB48 to JKT48 to help the Indonesian girls replicate the AKB songs and dance moves – and whose character and efforts to learn the local language is attracting a growing fan base. Also featuring Yasushi Akimoto, the producer who invented the AKB formula, this episode offers a unique insight into Japan’s pop idol culture.


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