AKB48

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AKB48
Ax10akb18.jpg
AKB48 performing at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, July 2010
Background information
OriginAkihabara, Tokyo, Japan
GenresJ-pop
Years active2005–present
LabelsAKS (Japan)
Defstar (Japan)
You, Be Cool! / King (Japan)
Gold Typhoon (Taiwan)
Maru Music (USA)[1]
Associated actsSKE48
SDN48
NMB48
HKT48
JKT48
TPE48
SNH48
no3b
Watarirouka Hashiritai
French Kiss
Not Yet
DiVA
Websitewww.akb48.co.jp
MembersTeam A details
Team K details
Team B details
Team 4 details
Kenkyūsei details
Past membersFormer members
 
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AKB48
Ax10akb18.jpg
AKB48 performing at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, July 2010
Background information
OriginAkihabara, Tokyo, Japan
GenresJ-pop
Years active2005–present
LabelsAKS (Japan)
Defstar (Japan)
You, Be Cool! / King (Japan)
Gold Typhoon (Taiwan)
Maru Music (USA)[1]
Associated actsSKE48
SDN48
NMB48
HKT48
JKT48
TPE48
SNH48
no3b
Watarirouka Hashiritai
French Kiss
Not Yet
DiVA
Websitewww.akb48.co.jp
MembersTeam A details
Team K details
Team B details
Team 4 details
Kenkyūsei details
Past membersFormer members

AKB48 (read "A.K.B. Forty-eight", Japanese pronunciation: eː keː biː ɸɔːti eɪto) is a Japanese idol girl group. As of November 2013, the group has 89 members.[2] The girls range in age from early teens to mid-20s.[3][4] Produced by Yasushi Akimoto, it is one of the highest-earning musical acts in the world, with 2012 record sales of over US$226 million in Japan.[5] It has achieved such popularity in Japan[6] that it has been characterized as a social phenomenon.[7]

As of January 2013, the group's eighteen latest singles topped the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart. In 2010, "Beginner" and "Heavy Rotation" placed, respectively, first and second in the list of Japan's best selling singles for that year.[8] In 2011 and 2012, AKB48's singles occupied the top five spots of the Oricon Yearly Singles Chart.[9][10] As of May 2013, the group has sold over 21.85 million CDs,[11] and it holds the record for most singles sold in Japan by a female group[12] with its 2013 single Sayonara Crawl, which sold for more than 1.87 million copies.[13]

AKB48 is named after Akihabara (Akiba for short), the area in Tokyo where the group's theater is located. The idea of AKB48's producer Yasushi Akimoto was to create a girl group that, unlike a regular pop group, which gives occasional concerts and that is mostly seen on TV, would have its own theater and perform there on a daily basis; the fans would always be able to go and see the girls live. AKB48 still performs at the theater daily, with tickets distributed by lottery.[14] Akimoto has also expanded the AKB48 concept to several sister groups throughout Japan, and all over Asia.

Concept[edit]

AKB48 Theater in Akihabara, Tokyo

AKB48 was founded based on the "idols you can meet" concept.[15] The group's producer Yasushi Akimoto decided to create an idol group that, unlike a regular idol group that gives occasional concerts and that is mostly seen on TV, would have its own theater and perform there on a daily basis; the fans would always be able to go and see the girls live.[15][16] AKB48 performs at the theater daily; because of demand, tickets are now distributed only via a lottery.[14] The AKB48 Theater is located in the Don Quijote store in Akihabara, Tokyo.[14]

The group is split into several "teams": Team A, Team K, Team B and Team 4. Having several teams not only allows the group to reduce the load on its members, since a daily concert at the theater is given by only one team, but also gives AKB48 opportunity to perform in several places and even countries simultaneously.[17] Each of the teams also has a unique image.[18] According to member Misaki Iwasa, Team A represents freedom, Team B is very idol-like with cutesy costumes, while Team K has a strong and powerful image.[18] According to an early press release, the group intended to have 16 members on each of three teams to make a total member count of 48[15][19][20][21] but had varied the member count over time,[6] and had as many as 92.[22] A number of aspiring members (so-called trainees or kenkyūsei (研究生?))[note 1] learn the group's songs and are appointed as understudies for the main members, so that a replacement is always available. In addition to singing performances, members are heavily promoted throughout the Japanese mass media.[14] The group regularly holds "handshake events", where fans get a chance to shake hands with the group's members.[14]

Membership[edit]

AKB48 holds the Guinness World Record for the Largest Pop Group.[19][23] As of November 7, 2013 (2013-11-07), the group consists of 89 girls, divided among several teams: Team A with 19 members, Team K with 20 members, Team B with 22 members, and Team 4 with 16 members.[2] There are 10 aspiring members who are grouped as kenkyūsei (研究生?, trainees).[16][note 1] There are AKB48 members who have been transferred to overseas sister groups, and ones who hold concurrent positions with AKB48's sister groups.[2]

AKB48 members are girls whose age ranges from early teens to 20-plus.[3][4] They are selected from auditions that are held regularly in Japan.[6][14] Members of the group are not allowed to have boyfriends, and must be "well-behaved."[18] If they "misbehave", they may be punished[24] or expelled from the group.[25] It's an old rule that many idol groups follow including groups from Hello!Project.[citation needed] The member lineup often changes as when girls get older, they "graduate" from the group, and are replaced by members promoted from the trainees. Monica Hesse of The Washington Post describes the AKB48 audition process as "rolling American Idol-esque".[6]

The group has publicized special events for choosing the promotional and recording lineup for some of its singles.[26] In 2009, the concept of sōsenkyo (総選挙?, "general elections") was introduced.[16] To obtain a ballot, voters have to buy the group's latest "election single."[27] The members who receive the most votes will get to participate in the recording of AKB48's next single,[16] and are heavily promoted.[14] The top vote getter earns the right to be the center performer during the group's live performances.[26][27] Votes cast for the 2011 election exceeded 1 million, and the single "Everyday, Katyusha", that contained a voting ticket for the election, set a new Japanese all-time record for weekly sales of a CD single.[28] The 2012 election had almost 1.4 million votes,[26] and the 2013 election had 2.6 million votes.[29]

Another selection method, AKB48's rock-paper-scissors tournaments, was introduced in 2010 for the group's 19th single "Chance no Junban".[30] Members of AKB48 and its sister groups compete against each other in the knockout tournament in order to be part of the recording and promotional lineup for AKB48's next single.[31] The participants dress up in various costumes.[32]

History[edit]

2005–2006: Creation and independent releases[edit]

In July 2005, Yasushi Akimoto held an audition for a new theater-based idol girl group.[33] Of the 7,924 girls that applied, 24 girls were chosen to become members of the group.[33] On December 8, 20 members debuted as Team A in the AKB48 theater.[34]

In January 2006, AKB48 cafe worker Mariko Shinoda joined Team A as a "1.5 generation" member; she had a special audition by Akimoto where she had to learn the group's 12 songs in four days.[35][36]

Assembly of the next team was done in cooperation with telecommunications company NTT DoCoMo.[citation needed] Applicants sent in their audition videos via mobile phones.[citation needed] Out of the 11,892 applicants, 19 were chosen, and 18 eventually joined AKB48 to form Team K in April 2006.[37]

AKB48 released its debut single "Sakura no Hanabiratachi" in February 2006. This single entered the TOP10 Oricon weekly charts and sold 22,011 units in its first week, a rarity for a group on an indie label.[38] On March 1, AKB48 released its first photo book Micchaku! "AKB48" ~Shashinshuu Vol.1 the DEBUT.[citation needed] On March 31, Yuki Usami became the first member to "graduate" from the group.[citation needed]

AKB48 was preparing to make a major debut, on March 26, 2006

On June 7, the group released its second single, "Skirt, Hirari".[39] Two days later, the group performed on television for the first time.[37] Ayako Uemura graduated from the group on June 17.[37][importance?] In August 2006, AKB48 signed a major label contract with DefStar Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.[40]

2006–2008: Major debut and the DefStar Records period[edit]

AKB48's first single under DefStar Records, "Aitakatta", was released on October 25, 2006. The title single was recorded with 20 members selected from Team A and Team K.[41] It debuted at number 12 on the Oricon weekly single charts.[42] In the first six weeks of its release, "Aitakatta" sold a total of 25,544 copies.[42]

In October, AKB48 announced auditions for the formation of Team B;[43] 13 girls were added in December 2006.[44] On November 3 and 4, AKB48 held concerts titled "AKB48 First Concert: Aitakatta ~Hashira wa Nai ze!~" at Nippon Seinenkan in Shinjuku.[37] December 2006, AKB48 made its first ever lineup change: Kazumi Urano, Shiho Watanabe and Natsumi Hirajima were transferred from Team A to Team B as supporting members.[37] Ayumi Orii graduated from the group shortly after this, though she appeared in the unit Crayon Friends from AKB48 after her graduation.[citation needed][importance?]

AKB48's second major single "Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru" was released on January 31, 2007.[45] It debuted at number seven on the Oricon TOP10 charts.[45] Its music video and lyrics have hinted at the subject of enjo kōsai (compensated dating).[46]

On March 2, AKB48 released a second photo book AKB48 JUMP&CRY.[47] AKB48's next single, "Keibetsu Shiteita Aijō", was released on March 18.[48] Its title song revolves around the theme of school bullying and suicides.[citation needed] "Keibetsu Shiteita Aijō" reached number eight on the Oricon TOP10 charts.[48] AKB48's second concert tour, titled "AKB48 Haru no Chotto dake Zenkoku Tour ~Madamada daze AKB48!~", began on March 10.[49]

In April, the AKB48 official website added information about Team B, albeit with five fewer members than its original announcement.[37] The group's member count stood at 48 - the first time it had reflected its name. Members Yū Imai, Michiru Hoshino, and Ayana Takada graduated in June 2007.[citation needed][importance?] The group's next single, "Bingo!", was released on July 18.[50] In October and November respectively, Shiho Watanabe and Kayano Masuyama graduated.[citation needed][importance?] On December 31, AKB48 appeared on the 58th Kōhaku Uta Gassen television program for the first time as part of the Akihabara performance segment.[37] With 43 members, the group set the record for the largest number of people in a single group to be on stage at one time for the program.[37]

On New Year's Day of 2008, AKB48 released its first studio album, titled Set List: Greatest Songs 2006–2007.[citation needed] Its seventh major (ninth overall) single "Romance, Irane" was released on January 23.[51] It reached number six on the Oricon TOP10 charts.[52]

On February 27, AKB48 released its tenth overall single, "Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008", a rendition of its debut indie single when there was only Team A in AKB48. The tenth single features ten members from Team A, six members from Team K and five members from Team B.[53] A promotion was planned where people who had collected the 44 kinds of posters of the single CD would be invited to a special event, but this act was a suspected violation of the antitrust law, and it was eventually cancelled by DefStar Records.[54]

2008–2009: Switch to King Records and the first Oricon number-one hit[edit]

In June 2008, AKB48 announced expansion plans to launch a sister group SKE48 in the Sakae area in Nagoya.[55]

In August, AKB48 changed record labels from DefStar Records to King Records.[citation needed] In the same month, Ayaka Kikuchi became the first member to be fired from the group.[why?][56][note 2]

On October 22, the single "Ōgoe Diamond" was released under King Records' You Be Cool label.[57] It was the first single to feature a member from AKB48's sister group, SKE48, and also the first single to have that member, 11-year-old Jurina Matsui, perform as its center and cover girl.[58] It debuted at number three on the Oricon TOP10 weekly charts.[59]

AKB48 at Japan Expo in Paris, 2009

AKB48 released its 11th major single, "10nen Sakura", on March 4, 2009. The single also reached number three on the Oricon charts in the first week and eventually became the group's first single to sell over 100,000 copies.[60] The group's 12th major single, "Namida Surprise!", was released on June 24; it included a handshaking event ticket and a ballot for selecting a member that would headline its next single.[61] "Namida Surprise!" sold 104,180 copies in its initial week on the Oricon charts.[citation needed] The 13th single, "Iiwake Maybe", released on August 26,[62] outsold SMAP's single, to reach number one on the Oricon Daily Singles Chart;[63] it reached number two on the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.[64]

AKB48's Team A was a guest of honor for the Japan Expo in Paris, held from July 2–5,[65] Team A performed an English version of "Ōgoe Diamond" for the first time.[citation needed] AKB48 made its United States debut with a concert at Webster Hall in New York City on September 27.[66]

In October, three AKB48 singles, "10nen Sakura", "Namida Surprise!" and "Iiwake Maybe", were certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.[67] Its 14th single, "River", released on October 21,[68] became the group's first number-one and first debut number-one hit on the Oricon TOP10 weekly charts.[68]

2010: Five number-one singles[edit]

AKB48 released their 15th major single, "Sakura no Shiori", on February 17, 2010. In its first week, the single topped the Oricon chart with over 300,000 copies sold, the most of any Japanese female artist in the past seven years.[69] Their 16th single, "Ponytail to Shushu", released on May 26, exceeded the previous single in sales with over 400,000 copies sold the first day, and over 513,000 copies in its first week.[70] On April 27, Anime Expo, the largest anime convention in the United States, announced AKB48 as an official guest of honor. The group performed there on July 1 at the Nokia Theatre.[71]

On October 23, AKB48 represented Japan at the 7th Asia Song Festival, organized by Korea Foundation for International Culture Exchange, at the Seoul Olympic Stadium.[72] On October 27, AKB48's released its 18th single "Beginner". In its first week, the single sold 826,989 copies, which made it the highest first week sales for a female idol group single.[73] AKB48 member Mayu Watanabe was also announced to be on the cover of the December issue of the idol magazine UP to boy with Airi Suzuki from the Japanese girl group Cute. That was the first gravure collaboration between Hello! Project and AKB48.[74]

AKB48 performing in the Cool Japan Night in Singapore as part of the Anime Festival Asia X, in November 2010.

In November, AKB48 participated in several events outside Japan. On November 20, AKB48 sent 12 members to perform at the Japanese Pop Culture Festival in Moscow.[75] AKB48 performed at the Cool Japan forum in Singapore as part of Anime Festival Asia X, and also at the Singapore Toy Games & Comics Convention.[76][77]

The AKB48 graduates in 2010 included Erena Ono, who graduated on September 27 to pursue acting overseas.[78][79]

2011: Another five number ones and overseas expansion[edit]

AKB48's first single of 2011, "Sakura no Ki ni Narō", was released on February 16. It sold 655,000 copies on its first day, beating the group's previous top record (568,000 copies of "Beginner").[80] By the end of its first week, the single sold 942,479 copies, the group's personal best, as well as the most in Japan in the past 11 years.[81]

On February 21, AKB48 announced its third studio album, Koko ni Ita Koto (ここにいたこと?), which would contain 11 new unreleased tracks. It was scheduled for release on April 6.[82]

Due to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, AKB48 halted performances at the AKB48 Theater and cancelled some of its public events.[note 3] The group worked on the "Dareka no Tame ni" (誰かのために lit. "For someone's sake"?) project, and gathered donations for earthquake and tsunami relief. One of the group's concert venues Yokohama Arena was used for a 2-day charity event starting March 26. 12 AKB48 members attended the Okinawa International Movie Festival on the same day for the same purpose. On March 15, AKB48 announced that ¥500 million would be donated by the members of the group and its sister groups SKE48, SDN48 and NMB48, along with others associated with their managing company AKS.[83] The release date of the Koko ni Ita Koto album was pushed back to June 8, but that part of the proceeds of the album would be donated to the disaster victims.[84] On April 1, the group released the charity single "Dareka no Tame ni (What can I do for someone?)" (誰かのために -What can I do for someone?-?) through the Recochoku website as a digital download, with all profits donated for earthquake and tsunami relief.[85]

On May 1, AKB48 announced a new sister group HKT48, based in Fukuoka in Kyushu; its theater would be established in the Hawks Town Mall of Fukuoka’s Chuo ward.[86]

AKB48 Official Shop in Singapore, 2011

On May 3, The Straits Times reported the opening of AKB48's first overseas theater in Singapore.[87] The theater is based in *scape Youth Park, where 16 members from AKB48 and its sister groups would perform there two days a month with two concerts per day.[87] The venue includes an adjacent AKB48 Official Shop for merchandise and the world's first AKB48 Cafe which serves Japanese fusion food and dessert.[87]

AKB48 released its 21st major single, Everyday, Kachūsha, on May 25. As an "election single", it contained ballots for determining who would headline the next single.[84][88] Its release shattered the first day sales record in Japan, with 942,475 copies,[88] and the first week sales record in Japan, with 1,333,969 copies.[89] On June 22, Oricon reported that for the first half of 2011, AKB48 topped the album sales rankings and had the best and second-best selling singles ("Everyday, Kachūsha" and "Sakura no Ki ni Narō"). The group had also garnered ¥6.66 billion in total merchandise sales.[90]

On June 7, AKB48 announced the creation of "Team 4" ahead of its nationwide concert tour.[91] The team was built up to 16 members.[91] The new team would be captained by Mina Ōba.[92] AKB48 also dropped "Team" from "Team Kenkyuusei" for the alternates in the group. On June 11, AKB48 announced at a handshake event that Aimi Eguchi, a girl who had supposedly auditioned for NMB48, would be joining AKB48 as a trainee. It was later revealed that Eguchi was not a real person, but a composite of AKB48 members' facial features that was created to promote the Glico product Ice no Mi.[93] On June 28, AKB48's producer Yasushi Akimoto announced plans to create a group to become AKB48's "official rival". The group would be called Nogizaka46 (乃木坂46?) and debut with approximately 20 members. Akimoto teamed up with Sony Music Japan to produce the new group.[94]

AKB48 released its 22nd single, "Flying Get" (フライングゲット Furaingugetto?), on August 24.[95] It sold 1,025,952 copies on its first day,[96] and became its fourth single to sell over a million in its first week, with 1.354 million copies.[95] On September 20, AKB48 held its second rock-paper-scissors tournament to determine the lineup for its 24th single.[97][98] AKB48 released its 23rd single, "Kaze wa Fuiteiru" on October 26, which sold 1,045,937 copies on its first day.[99] The next single, "Ue kara Mariko", released on December 7, sold 1.199 million in its first week.[100]

For the year end, AKB48 topped seven of 16 Oricon rankings.[9] The rankings include: Total sales by an artist, Copies sold for a single, Total sales for a single, Total sales by an artist (for singles), Copies sold for a music Blu-ray disc, Total sales for a music Blu-ray disc and Total sales by an artist (for Blu-rays discs).[9] The group broke the all-time records for the most singles selling over one million copies in a year, the best-selling single by a female group and the highest-earning female group.[9] AKB48 won the Grand Prix award in the 53rd Japan Record Awards for its song "Flying Get".[101]

2012: Atsuko Maeda's graduation, Team reshuffling and transfers[edit]

On January 6, 2012, Oricon announced that AKB48 had sold 11,787,000 units of its CD singles, which surpassed girl group Morning Musume's record of 11,774,000, and which set a new record for most singles sold in Japan by a female group.[12]

AKB48 Shop in Akihabara sales official goods of "Everyday, Kachūsha" and "Give Me Five!", in March 2012

On January 22, the final day of its "AKB48 Request Hour Set List Best 100 2012" concert event at Tokyo Dome City Hall, AKB48 performed a new song, "Give Me Five!" where members had formed a band "Baby Blossom" with guitars, keyboards, drums, even percussion and horns.[9][102] The participants in Baby Blossom had spent the past five months learning to play instruments, some members had little to no previous experience.[9][102] "Give Me Five!" was released on February 15.[9]

A fictional anime television series titled AKB0048 was developed by Satelight.[103] It was directed by Yoshimasa Hiraike; AKB48 producer Akimoto provided planning and supervision input.[103] Nine members from AKB48 and its sister groups were selected to voice the main characters and to sing its opening and closing theme songs[104][105] as the subunit "No Name".[106]

Following scandals where they were photographed with their boyfriends, Natsumi Hirajima and Rumi Yonezawa resigned from AKB48.[25] In replacing Hirajima and Yonezawa, Jurina Matsui of SKE48 and Miyuki Watanabe of NMB48 joined AKB48 as concurrent members.[25][107] On March 24, AKB48 announced that five trainees would be promoted to Team 4 to bring the team's member count to 16.[107] In the same announcement, it was revealed that AKB48 would perform at the Tokyo Dome stadium, which was one of the group's main goals since its founding.[25][108]

On March 25, long-time headliner Atsuko Maeda announced she would be graduating from the group.[109] This caused a large buzz in the Japanese news, and spawned a rumor (later proven false) that a student from University of Tokyo had committed suicide over the announcement.[110] AKB48 later announced that Maeda would graduate after the Tokyo Dome concerts;[103] her final performance and graduation ceremony took place in the AKB48 theatre on August 27;[111] the event was streamed live on YouTube.[112]

On March 26, AKB48 announced it would be holding an election to determine the lineup for its 27th major single, "Gingham Check". The field of candidates consisted of 243 members from AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, and HKT48,[113] and the ballots were available in the group's 26th single, "Manatsu no Sounds Good!"[114] The elections were held on June 6 at Nippon Budokan and results were broadcast live on TV for the first time.[115] Yuko Oshima came first, followed by Mayu Watanabe and Yuki Kashiwagi.[114]

On April 23, AKB48 announced the creation of its third overseas sister group, SNH48, based in Shanghai.[116]

On June 17, AKB48 announced that Rino Sashihara would be transferred to HKT48 in July as a "restart" because of an alleged scandal that involved her ex-boyfriend.[117] On June 24, AKB48 announced the promotion of its six trainees from the 10th and 11th generation,[118] and that its third rock-paper-scissors tournament would take place on September 18 to determine which members would take part in its 29th single, "Eien Pressure".[118]

On August 15, the group released its fourth album titled 1830m. On August 24, the first day of its Tokyo Dome concert series, AKB48 announced a reorganization of its teams. Team 4 was dissolved and its members were transferred to the other three teams; Aika Ōta was transferred to HKT48; Aki Takajō and Haruka Nakagawa to Jakarta based JKT48; and Sae Miyazawa and Mariya Suzuki to SNH48.[119] Minami Takahashi became the general manager of AKB48, while Mariko Shinoda replaced her as captain of Team A. Yuko Oshima became the captain of Team K, and Ayaka Umeda became Team B's captain.[120][121]

AKB48 recorded the track "Sugar Rush" for the 2012 Disney animated movie Wreck-It Ralph.[122] AKB48 was awarded the Guinness World Record for the most number of pop singers featured in a video game for their dating simulation game AKB1/149 Renai Sousenkyo.[123] AKB48 won the Japan Record Award for the second year in a row for its song "Manatsu no Sounds Good!".

2013[edit]

On January 26, on the third day of the "AKB48 Request Hour Set List Best 100 2013" concert in Tokyo Dome City Hall, AKB48 announced that it and its sister groups would perform a series of live concerts titled "AKB48 Fair" at the Nippon Budokan in late April.[124] The following day, AKB48 announced an "AKB48 Super Festival" event to be held at the Nissan Stadium in June, which would made them the first female artist to hold a solo live concert there.[125] On February 1, AKB48 released the film Documentary of AKB48: No Flower Without Rain: Shōjo Tachi wa Namida no Ato ni Nani o Miru?.[importance?] During a stage-greeting event for the film, first-generation member Tomomi Itano announced her intention to graduate.[126] On April 28, following a concert at Nippon Budokan, the AKB48 general manager announced another round of team shuffles, including girls who were added or dropped as concurrent members with its sister groups.[127] Also, Nito Moeno and Tomomi Kasai had their last concert stages with the group.[not in citation given]

AKB48 released its 31st single, "Sayonara Crawl", as an election single on May 22.[128] and more than 1.9 million copies were sold in a month.[129] It also broke the record of highest female group single sales previously held by Speed's White Love in 1997.[130] The election field consisted of 246 girls from AKB48, its sister groups, and some of its graduated members.[131] On June 8, the results were broadcast on Fuji TV and streamed live on YouTube; the latter broadcast included both Japanese and English commentators.[132][133] The winner was HKT48 member Rino Sashihara, who was formerly with AKB48.[131] During the event, Team A captain Mariko Shinoda, who placed fifth, announced her intention to graduate in July.[134]

During the group's summer concert series at the Sapporo Dome on July 31, AKB48 had a guest appearance by former headliner Atsuko Maeda, who performed a new solo single, "Time Machine Nante Iranai".[135]

On August 21, the group released its 32nd single, "Koi Suru Fortune Cookie", which reached number one on the Oricon daily chart. The single contains graduation songs for Mariko Shinoda and Tomomi Itano.[136] The music video involved 3,800 extras,[137] the most for any AKB48 and sister group-related video.[138] Sister group JKT48 also released its own version of "Koi Suru" on the same day. On August 24, AKB48 announced the reinstatement of Team 4, with Minami Minegishi as the captain, and the members promoted from the 13th and 14th generation trainees.[139]

On September 18, AKB48 held its annual rock-paper-scissors tournament to determine the lineup for its 34th single. The event was held at the Nippon Budokan arena.[140] The winner was Jurina Matsui.[32] Following the event, AKB48 announced the lineup for the group's 33rd single, "Heart Electric", and performed the song, which will be released in October.[141] Its music video is directed by Shusuke Kaneko who is known for the Heisei Gamera trilogy, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, and the live-action film adaptation of Death Note.[142]

On November 6, it was reported that the title of 34th single would be "Suzukake no Ki no Michi de 'Kimi no Hohoemi o Yume ni Miru' to Itte Shimattara Bokutachi no Kankei wa Dō Kawatte Shimau no ka, Bokunari ni Nan-nichi ka Kangaeta Ue de no Yaya Kihazukashii Ketsuron no Yō na Mono" (鈴懸の木の道で「君の微笑みを夢に見る」と言ってしまったら僕たちの関係はどう変わってしまうのか、僕なりに何日か考えた上でのやや気恥ずかしい結論のようなもの A sort of slightly embarrassing conclusion I came to after several days of deliberating about how our relationship would change were I to tell you "I see your smile in my dreams" on the road lined with Platanus trees?), composed by Tetsuro Oda.[143]

Musical style[edit]

The group's style is loosely characterized as "bubblegum pop and synchronised dancing" that appeals to pre-pubescent girls as well as older males who support the group's merchandise.[144] Mari Yamaguchi of Associated Press wrote that the "performances can seem orchestrated. As the girls sing and dance in unison, fans follow a cheering formula" and likened the fan responses to a Kabuki audience.[145] Monica Hesse of The Washington Post described the group's style: "It is as if Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and the entire cast of Twilight were placed into a saucepan and simmered on a low boil until nothing remained but the sweet, cloying essence of fame, and if that fame were then poured into pleated tartan skirts and given pigtails."[6]

Andrew Joyce and Kenneth Maxwell of The Wall Street Journal described the music as "sugar-sweet pop tunes and sometimes-suggestive lyrics". During the AKB48 performances, "members perform a revue of simply choreographed routines in front of a roughly 95% male audience. The music is typical Japanese pop: fast-paced numbers with high-pitched, singalong choruses."[22]

Reception[edit]

Tower Records Japan’s CEO Ikuo Minewaki describes AKB48 as a wildly popular act [146] and it has been characterized as a social phenomenon in Japan.[7] In 2011, the group had record sales in Japan of over $200 million.[5] According to Oricon, AKB48 had sold a total of 11,787,000 singles as of January 6, 2012, breaking the record of "the most singles sold in Japan by a female group".[12] Twelve of its singles have topped the Oricon TOP10 Weekly Singles Chart. In 2010, "Beginner" and "Heavy Rotation" placed, respectively, first and second in the list of Japan's best selling singles for the year,[8] while in 2011 and 2012 AKB48 occupied the top five positions on the Oricon Yearly Singles Chart.[9] Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ichirō Fujisaki, on meeting the group on its visit to Washington, D.C., stated that “AKB” stood for Adorable, Kind and Beautiful.[6]

AKB48 holds several Guinness World Records, including being recognized on December 1, 2010 as the "largest pop group", when it consisted of 48 members.[19][23] It set the record for "Most Number of Same Product Television Endorsement within 24 Hours" on February 28, 2012, after 90 of its group members appeared in 90 different commercials that were aired in the Kanto, Kansai and Tokai regions of Japan.[147]

On February 1, 2012, Japan Post issued a postage stamp in honor of the group.[148]

Other media work[edit]

The producers for AKB48 have developed several television shows to promote AKB48. AKB48 hosts several of its own TV shows, including AKBingo!, Shūkan AKB, and Nemōsu TV. It even has its own TV series Majisuka Gakuen, and Sakura Karano Tegami starring AKB48 members in practically all the roles.

Since 2011 documentaries have been released annually in theatres chronicling events and issues encountered by the group during the previous year.[149][150][151][better source needed]

The manga AKB49: Ren'ai Kinshi Jōrei revolves around AKB48, and it features real-life AKB48 members in the story as supporting characters.[152] The 2012 anime series AKB0048 is also inspired by the group, with production ties to Yasushi Akimoto.[153] Nine of the characters in this anime are voiced by members of AKB48 and its sister groups.[153] The anime aired in Japan starting on April 29, 2012.[153]

The group also has it own visual novel series, with dating sim. In the first installment, AKB1/48: Idol to Koishitara... (released on December 23, 2010), the player must choose one of the promoted members of the group and engage in a relationship with her, while rejecting the rest of the members. The second installment, AKB1/48: Idol to Guam de Koishitara... (released in October 10, 2011), features the same system, but the game is now situated in Guam. The latest installment of the series, AKB1/149 Ren'ai Sousenkyo (released in December 20, 2012), follows the same formula but features all the promoted members of AKB, SKE, NMB and HKT. The three games were released for the PlayStation Portable, but Ren'ai Sousenkyo was also released for the PlayStation Vita and will receive a PlayStation 3 port in September 12, 2013.

Controversies[edit]

Over the years, AKB48 has received criticism for sexually suggestive lyrics, which some felt were unsuitable for its young members. When asked about it by CNN's Anna Coren, AKB48 founder Yasushi Akimoto, who also writes all of AKB48's song lyrics, said that his works were a way of "depicting reality" and were meant to provoke in listeners thought about difficult issues.[110][154][155]

The band's risqué music videos have also been a focal point for controversy. In the promotional video for Heavy Rotation some members of the public expressed outrage over the depictions of the AKB48 members in lingerie, hugging,[144] kissing, and sharing a bath. "Heavy Rotation" music video director Mika Ninagawa explained she wanted to appeal to both men and women by creating a creative and fun video, due to the group's rising popularity among girls.[156] In her interview she took full responsibility for the content and was quoted "Mr. Akimoto left everything to me. He did not give me any tips at all." she continued "I tried to show how AKB48 is in real life, in the video. In the dressing room, they seemed very close to each other. Then I came up with the concept, girl’s high school." [157]

In a TV commercial for the candy brand Puccho, which aired from March 15, 2012, featured AKB48 members in schoolgirl uniforms passing a candy from mouth to mouth. Although the girls held the candy between their teeth, some viewers were offended, and called it "encouraging homosexuality", apart from being simply "unhygienic" and a "bad example to children".[144][158][159][160]

In the second week of January 2013, the group came under fire when an image that showed a boy's hands covering a topless Tomomi Kasai's breasts was intended to be published in Shukan Young Magazine. The image was subsequently pulled from the magazine and from Kasai's upcoming photobook, where it would have been the cover picture. The sale of the magazine was postponed from January 12 to January 21.[161][162][163]

In February 2013, member Minami Minegishi appeared in a YouTube video with a shaved head to apologize after it was reported by a tabloid that she had spent a night with a man in violation of her contract, and had been consequently demoted to trainee status. The act of shaving her hair was seen as extreme and drew criticism on how the situation was handled.[164] Labor expert and writer for The Japan Times Hifumi Okunuki argued that a no-dating clause in a labor contract would be in violation of Japanese labor laws.[165]

Philanthropy[edit]

A few days after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, AKB48's official blog reported that a sum of more than 617 million yen had been donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.[166] On April 1, the group issued a digital charity single titled "Dareka no Tame ni (What Can I Do for Someone?)", all profit from which was donated to a 2011 earthquake and tsunami relief fund.[167] AKB48's 23rd single "Kaze wa Fuiteiru" was also dedicated to the 2011 tsunami victims, its title song's lyrics having been written with the intention of cheering up the Japanese people who were affected by the March 11 disaster.[168][169]

In February 2012, the group announced another donation to the Japanese Red Cross, of over 580 million yen. It was reported that to date AKB48 had raised a total of over 1.25 billion yen for the earthquake and tsunami relief.[170]

On March 8, 2013, AKB48 released "Tenohira ga Kataru Koto", another song dedicated to the March 2011 disaster victims, for free digital distribution on their website.[171] On the anniversary of the disaster, AKB48 and sister group members simultaneously visited the disaster regions to hold performances at children schools, as well as special concerts at AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, and HKT48 theaters where the profits from theater tickets were used to further help the recovery process.[172]


Members[edit]

(Names are arranged in gojuon order, as appearing on the official website. The tables include ranks from each of the annual general elections starting from 2009. The number of places to be filled at an election (the number of available positions on the single the election is for) varies from year to year. An "×" means that the member did not rank. A gray space means that the member did not participate as a candidate in the election.)

Minami Takahashi is the leader or "general manager" of AKB48 and all of its sister groups.

Team A[edit]

Yui Yokoyama is the leader of Team A.[173]

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)Election
rank
12345
Rina Izuta (伊豆田 莉奈?) ((1995-11-26)November 26, 1995 in Saitama)×××
Anna Iriyama (入山 杏奈?) ((1995-12-03)December 3, 1995 in Chiba)××30
Karen Iwata (岩田 華怜?) ((1998-05-13)May 13, 1998 in Miyagi)××
Ryōka Ōshima (大島 涼花?) ((1998-10-21)October 21, 1998 in Kanagawa)××
Rina Kawaei (川栄 李奈 ?) ((1995-02-12)February 12, 1995 in Kanagawa)××25
Ayaka Kikuchi (菊地 あやか?) ((1993-06-30)June 30, 1993 in Tokyo)×××5151
Haruka Kodama (兒玉 遥?) (September 19, 1996 in Fukuoka)×37
Marina Kobayashi (小林 茉里奈?) (Feb. 24, 1996 in Tokyo)×××
Yukari Sasaki (佐々木 優佳里?) (August 28, 1995 in Saitama)××
Sumire Satō (佐藤 すみれ?) ((1993-11-20)November 20, 1993 in Saitama)×31346152
Mariya Suzuki (鈴木 まりや?) ((1991-04-29)April 29, 1991 in Saitama)×××××
Juri Takahashi (高橋 朱里?) ((1997-10-03)October 3, 1997 in Ibaraki)××
Minami Takahashi (高橋 みなみ?) ((1991-04-08)April 8, 1991 in Tokyo)56768
Yūka Tano (田野 優花?) ((1997-03-07)March 7, 1997 in Tokyo)4538
Sakiko Matsui (松井 咲子?) ((1990-12-10)December 10, 1990 in Saitama)××385360
Ayaka Morikawa (森川 彩香?) ((1996-03-24)March 24, 1996 in Saitama)×××
Fūko Yagura (矢倉 楓子?) (February 24, 1997 in Ōsaka)×44
Yui Yokoyama (横山 由依?) ((1992-12-08)December 8, 1992 in Kyoto)×191513
Mayu Watanabe (渡辺 麻友?) ((1994-03-26)March 26, 1994 in Saitama)45523

Team K[edit]

Yūko Ōshima is the leader of Team K.[174]

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)Election
rank
12345
Maria Abe (阿部 マリア?) ((1995-11-29)November 29, 1995 in Kanagawa)×××
Mayumi Uchida (内田 眞由美?) ((1993-12-27)December 27, 1993 in Tokyo)×××××
Yūko Ōshima (大島 優子?) ((1988-10-17)October 17, 1988 in Tochigi)21212
Rie Kitahara (北原 里英?) ((1991-06-24)June 24, 1991 in Aichi)1316131321
Asuka Kuramochi (倉持 明日香?) (Sep. 11, 1989 in Kanagawa)2123212236
Kana Kobayashi (小林 香菜?) ((1991-05-17)May 17, 1991 in Saitama)×××41×
Amina Satō (佐藤 亜美菜?) ((1990-10-16)October 16, 1990 in Tokyo)818182133
Haruka Shimada (島田 晴香?) (Dec. 16, 1992 in Shizuoka)××××
Shihori Suzuki (鈴木 紫帆里?) (Feb. 17, 1994 in Kanagawa)××××
Rina Chikano (近野 莉菜?) ((1993-04-23)April 23, 1993 in Tokyo)×××××
Chisato Nakata (中田 ちさと?) ((1990-10-08)October 8, 1990 in Saitama)×××37×
Mariya Nagao (永尾 まりや?) ((1994-03-10)March 10, 1994 in Kanagawa)××3935
Rena Nozawa (野澤 玲奈?) (May 6, 1998 in Nagoya)
Rina Hirata (平田 梨奈?) (July 16, 1998 in Fukuoka[note 4])××
Nana Fujita (藤田 奈那?) ((1996-12-28)December 28, 1996 in Tokyo)×××
Nao Furuhata (古畑 奈和?) ((1996-09-15)September 15, 1996 in Aichi)xx
Ami Maeda (前田 亜美?) ((1995-06-01)June 1, 1995 in Tokyo)××374253
Jurina Matsui (松井 珠理奈?) ((1997-03-08)March 8, 1997 in Aichi)19101496
Miho Miyazaki (宮崎 美穂?) ((1993-07-30)July 30, 1993 in Tokyo)18212738×
Tomu Mutō (武藤 十夢?) ((1994-11-25)November 25, 1994 in Tokyo)4945

Team B[edit]

Ayaka Umeda is the leader of Team B.[174]

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)Election
rank
12345
Haruka Ishida (石田 晴香?) ((1993-12-02)December 2, 1993 in Saitama)×27×5046
Miori Ichikawa (市川 美織?) ((1994-02-12)February 12, 1994 in Saitama)395857
Misaki Iwasa (岩佐 美咲?) ((1995-01-30)January 30, 1995 in Chiba)×××3356
Ayaka Umeda (梅田 彩佳?) ((1989-01-03)January 3, 1989 in Fukuoka)×32221619
Mina Ōba (大場 美奈?) ((1992-04-03)April 3, 1992 in Kanagawa)×355748
Miyū Ōmori (大森 美優?) (September 3, 1998 in Kanagawa)××
Shizuka Ōya (大家 志津香?) ((1991-12-28)December 28, 1991 in Fukuoka)××2959×
Yuki Kashiwagi (柏木 由紀?) ((1991-07-15)July 15, 1991 in Kagoshima)98334
Haruka Katayama (片山 陽加?) ((1990-05-10)May 10, 1990 in Aichi)2837×4834
Rena Katō (加藤 玲奈?) ((1997-07-10)July 10, 1997 in Chiba)×××
Natsuki Kojima (小嶋 菜月?) ((1995-03-08)March 8, 1995 in Chiba)×××
Haruna Kojima (小嶋 陽菜?) ((1988-04-19)April 19, 1988 in Saitama)67679
Haruka Shimazaki (島崎 遥香?) ((1994-03-30)March 30, 1994 in Saitama)28×2312
Aki Takajō (高城 亜樹?) ((1991-10-03)October 3, 1991 in Tokyo)2313121720
Miyu Takeuchi (竹内 美宥?) ((1996-01-12)January 12, 1996 in Tokyo)××××
Miku Tanabe (田名部 生来?) ((1992-12-02)December 2, 1992 in Shiga)×××××
Mariko Nakamura (中村 麻里子?) (Dec. 16, 1993 in Chiba)××××
Wakana Natori (名取 稚菜?) ((1995-06-07)June 7, 1995 in Tokyo)×××
Misato Nonaka (野中 美郷?) ((1991-04-20)April 20, 1991 in Fukuoka)×××××
Reina Fujie (藤江 れいな?) ((1994-02-01)February 1, 1994 in Chiba)×33404032
Suzuran Yamauchi (山内 鈴蘭?) ((1994-12-08)December 8, 1994 in Chiba)36×5461
Miyuki Watanabe (渡辺 美優紀?) ((1993-09-19)September 19, 1993 in Nara)×1915

Team 4[edit]

Minami Minegishi is the captain of Team 4.[139]

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)Election
rank
12345
Moe Aigasa (相笠 萌?) (April 6, 1998 in Kanagawa)××
Saho Iwatate (岩立 沙穂?) (October 4, 1994 in Kanagawa)××
Natsuki Uchiyama (内山 奈月?) (September 25, 1995 in Kanagawa)×
Ayano Umeta (梅田 綾乃?) (March 20, 1999 in Tokyo)××
Ayaka Okada (岡田 彩花?) (November 6, 1998 in Tokyo)××
Nana Okada (岡田 奈々?) (November 7, 1997 in Kanagawa)×
Saki Kitazawa (北澤 早紀?) (June 5, 1997 in Aichi)××
Mako Kojima (小嶋 真子?) (May 30, 1997 in Tokyo)×
Ayana Shinozaki (篠崎 彩奈?) (January 8, 1996 in Saitama)××
Yurina Takashima (髙島 祐利奈?) (May 24, 1997 in Aichi)××
Miki Nishino (西野 未姫?) (April 4, 1999 in Shizuoka)×
Hikari Hashimoto (橋本 耀?) (June 17, 1997 in Kanagawa)×
Mitsuki Maeda (前田 美月?) (October 5, 1998 in Tokyo)×
Minami Minegishi (峯岸 みなみ?) (Nov. 15, 1992 in Tokyo)1614151418
Yuiri Murayama (村山 彩希?) (June 15, 1997 in Kanagawa)××
Shinobu Mogi (茂木 忍?) (February 16, 1997 in Chiba)××

Overseas transfer (no concurrent AKB team)[edit]

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)Election
rank
Group
12345
Haruka Nakagawa (仲川 遥香?) (Feb. 10, 1992 in Tokyo)×202444JKT48
Sae Miyazawa (宮澤 佐江?) ((1990-08-13)August 13, 1990 in Tokyo)149111110SNH48

Concurrent positions[edit]

The following AKB48 members also hold positions in a sister group:

  • Jurina Matsui (SKE48's Team S and AKB48's Team K)
  • Miyuki Watanabe (NMB48's Team N and AKB48's Team B)
  • Mina Ōba (SKE48's Team KII and AKB48's Team B)
  • Miori Ichikawa (NMB48's Team N and AKB48's Team B)
  • Haruka Kodama (HKT48's Team H and AKB48's Team A)
  • Nao Furuhata (SKE48's Team E and AKB48's Team K)
  • Fuuko Yagura (NMB48's Team M and AKB48's Team A)
  • Aki Takajō (JKT48's Team J and AKB48's Team B)
  • Mariya Suzuki (SNH48's Team SII and AKB48's Team A)
  • Rena Nozawa (JKT48's Team J and AKB48's Team K)

Kenkyūsei[edit]

(Kenkyūsei (研究生?, "Trainees"))

Name (Birth date, prefecture of origin)
15th generation
Manami Ichikawa (市川 愛美?) (August 26, 1999 in Tokyo)
Nana Owada (大和田 南那?) (September 15, 1999 in Chiba)
Haruka Komiyama (込山 榛香?) (September 12, 1998 in Chiba)
Kiara Sato (佐藤 妃星?) (August 11, 2000 in Chiba)
Mizuki Tsuchiyasu (土保 瑞希?) (October 5, 1996 in Ōsaka)
Seina Fukuoka (福岡 聖菜?) (August 1, 2000 in Kanagawa)
Mion Mukaichi (向井地 美音?) (January 29, 1998 in Saitama)
Ami Yumoto (湯本 亜美?) (October 3, 1997 in Saitama)
15.5th generation
Rio Okawa (大川 莉央?) (March 1, 2001 in Tokyo)
Makiho Tatsuya (達家 真姫宝?) (October 19, 2001 in Tokyo)


Former members[edit]

Discography[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Awards[edit]

The most important awards received by the group

YearCeremonyAwardNominated workResult
2011Billboard Japan Music Awards[175]Artist of the YearWon
Top Pop ArtistsWon
Hot 100 of the Year"Everyday, Katyusha"[176]Won
Hot 100 Single Sales of the Year"Everyday, Katyusha"[176]Won
53rd Japan Record AwardsGrand Prix"Flying Get"[101]Won
2012Billboard Japan Music Awards[177]Artist of the YearWon
Top Pop ArtistsWon
Hot 100 of the Year"Manatsu no Sounds Good!"Won
Hot 100 Single Sales of the Year"Manatsu no Sounds Good!"Won
14th Mnet Asian Music AwardsBest Asian Artist Japan"Uza"Won
54th Japan Record Awards[178]Grand Prix"Manatsu no Sounds Good!"Won

Sister groups[edit]

AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto has also created AKB48 sister groups that are based on the same "idols you can meet" concept. Each such sister group has a home theater based in Japan or elsewhere in Asia and releases its own singles. Sister group members also occasionally perform with AKB48.[108][179] Jurina Matsui and Miyuki Watanabe, members of AKB48 sister groups, have also been temporary members of AKB48, as well.[107]

AKB48's first sister group, SKE48, was formed in 2008, and their theater is based in Sakae, Nagoya.[55][180] Subsequently, SDN48 ("Saturday Night"), NMB48,[181] ("Namba"), and HKT48[182] ("Hakata") were formed. In 2011, the first sister group outside of Japan, JKT48,[183] was announced. The group is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. JKT48 was followed by two more overseas AKB48 sister groups: TPE48, based in Taipei, Taiwan; and SNH48[184] based in Shanghai, China.

Apart from sister groups, AKB48 also has an "official rival" named Nogizaka46.[185]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Trainee" was the English translation for kenkyūsei (研究生?) according to the AKB48 official English version website writeup back in 2008. AKB48 has since used Google Translate on its website to convert to English."What is AKB48?". AKB48 official website. 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  2. ^ Ayaka Kikuchi was eventually rehired after she had passed a subsequent audition.[when?] - "菊地からファンの皆様へ" (in Japanese). AKB48 Official Blog. 2010-02-28. 
  3. ^ On March 14, 2011, AKB48 canceled its concert Takamina ni tsuite ikimasu (たかみなについて行きます?, lit. "(We) will follow Takamina"), scheduled to be held on March 25–27 at Yokohama Arena, but later refashioned it into a charity event to support victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
  4. ^ According to the Washington Post article, Rina "Hilary" Hirata was born in Arizona.

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b Torres, Ida (2012-11-14). "J-Pop group AKB48 becomes the face of Tokyo electoral drive". Japan Daily Press. 
  4. ^ a b Akiko Fujita (2013-02-01). "Pop Star Shaves Head in Remorse for Dating". ABC News. 
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External links[edit]