Me: Japan?

Japan: Yeah?

Me: What’s AKB48?

Japan: AKB48? They’re an all female pop act, dance troupe, music group.

Me: What kind of music do they make?

Japan: Sweet, sugary, pony-tailed, girl next-door, soft, bubble-gummy, feminine, cute, pop music.

Me: How old are they?

Japan: Well, teens and early twenties. What do you expect with that kind of musical genre?

Me: And they’ve been around for a while, right?

Japan: Yeah, since 2005.

Me: They seem quite popular too.

Japan: Erm, yeah, i’d say very popular. Huge. Massive. In 2011 they made 200 million dollars. They’re one of the all time most popular female pop music acts of all time. Ever. Anywhere. Forever.

Me: Right. So how many girls are in AKB48?

Japan: At the last count? Erm, eighty six.

Me: What?!

Japan: Yeah, something like that.

Me: Eighty six?

Japan: Yeah.

Me: Eighty? Six? But, why so many?

Japan: Well, so they can perform every day. They have concerts simultaneously in different cities.

Me: So, they exist in various places at once?

Japan: Right. And then they have a “festival” twice a year to decide who the most popular member is.

Me: A “festival”?

Japan: Yeah. The fans buy AKB48 CDs and in the CD there’s a voting sheet and you can vote for your favourite member.

Me: An election?

Japan: Right, a “festival”. Some fans buy multiple CDs so they can vote lots of times.

Me: And what does the winner get?

Japan: She gets to be the “leader” and stand in the middle of all the dancing and the singing and bubble gumming and the stuff. She can be the girl in middle of the girls next door.

Me: Like a cute dancing, singing, pink, terraced house?

Japan: Er, maybe. It’s all very emotional and thousands of people watch it live. They fill stadiums.

Me: And what happens if you aren’t deemed popular or leader like?

Japan: Well, once these girls have had enough of dancing around and singing and spending everyday looking cute they “graduate” AKB48.

Me: You mean “leave”?

Japan: Yeah, right, “graduate”. And then some new cutsie looking teenage girls will be “inaugurated”.

Me: You mean “start”?

Japan: Yeah, right, “inaugurated”.

Me: And who buys these CDs and votes in the elections?

Japan: “Festivals”?

Me: Yeah.

Japan: Erm, mainly teenage girls and middle-aged men.

Me: …?!

Japan: What’s wrong?

Me: Middle-aged men?

Japan: Well, yeah. What’s wrong with that? Don’t tell me that grown men who work full time jobs and living adult grown-up lives sometimes with families to sustain don’t enjoy paying exorbitant amounts of money to support cute, teenage girl, pop idol, musical dancing troupes in your country too? It can’t be unique to me, can it?

Me: …

Japan: Can it?

Me: Well, actually…

Japan: No way!

Me: Which mad genius is behind all this anyway?

Japan: Yasushi Akimoto.

Me: And has he ever done anything like this before?

Japan: In the 1980s he created Onyanko Club. It had 52 members and could possibly be described as, well, an all female pop act, dance troupe, music group.

Me: Amazing.

Japan: Really?

Me: Yeah, i mean, one man sets up a happy smiley dancey teen group with an almost uncountable number of short skirt wearing, girl next door members and then releases records half a dozen times a year and they have an election –

Japan: A festival.

Me: Every six months to decide who they should stand in the middle. This then continues until a girl quits –

Japan: Graduates.

Me: And is then replaced by another cute girl who starts –

Japan: Is inaugurated.

Me: And the whole process starts all over again. It’s never ending. They just keep singing and dancing and smiling and middle-aged men and teenage girls empty their pockets while a genius –

Japan: Yasushi Akimoto.

Me: Pulls the strings and pushes the buttons and counts his money whilst creating euphemisms for things in an attempt to make it sound less manufactured than it actually is.

Japan: Right.

Me: It sounds like a massive cult.

Japan: I beg your pardon!

Me: No, no. Cult. With an “L”. A massive cult.

Japan: Oh, right, yeah. That as well. A big cult. That’s what it is.

Me: A huge, cute, dancing cult.

Japan: AKB48. Cult.


July 3, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized.

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