Where I stand on: AKB48

October 3, 2010

Alternative Title:  The Opinions of the Under-informed.

Because I am chiefly a H!P fan, this blog is very Hello! Project-centric, but at its inception, I intended it to have a broader subject matter. I don’t mind mostly talking about H!P, of course, but in the next few posts, I’d like to take the time to cover a few things that I rarely take the time to mention in this blog, a sort of  “This is Aoi♥Usagi’s Official Stance on ______.” I will try to go beyond mere opinion and provide a bit of analysis, because I don’t like my posts to be too self-indulgent. 😉

To kick this series off, I’ll start with one of the things that I do mention from time to time: AKB48.

The Quick Facts:

Favorite Member: Miyzawa Sae

Favorite Song: Namida Uri no Shoujo

Favorite Single: Oogoe Diamond, Sakura Shiori

Favorite Subunit: I still love Chocolove!

Least Favorite Member: None

First off: I don’t consider myself a fan of AKB48. In my mind, a fan is someone who goes above and beyond casual interest in a group.  I have about 30 AKB48 songs on my Ipod, watch their new PVs, can name a few members, and keep up with new happenings in their world. But I can’t name all of the girls, don’t actively search out information on them, and haven’t sat down and watched a full stage since K4. So while I certainly don’t dislike AKB48, I’m far from being a fan.

As a fan of Hello! Project, I feel as though my thoughts and wants, and those of the general H!P community, are represented and understood by those in power. Tsunku has said many times that he reads online forums. If a feeling is expressed strongly enough in the H!P fan community, we do see our desires granted. Case in point, the decision to scrap Koi wa Hassou as the 28th single in favor of Chokkan 2. The fan reaction to Koi as Hassou was less than enthusiastic, and we were heard. Although it’s not confirmed, a similar thing may have happened with MM’s upcoming 44th single, as well.

The relationship between H!P fans and the higher ups in H!P feels established. We may not get everything we want, but our whims are generally respected. There is mutual dependence, and the relationship thus feels comfortable and solid.

(He may be the most ridiculous man alive, but at least he respects us)

The feeling I get from AKB48 is entirely different. Despite the fact that AKB fans are given a much more direct chance to affect the future of their Idols (through Senbatsu), the transient nature of that chance doesn’t give the same feeling of safety and stability as does the power relationship within H!P. With every new single or election, fans risk having their established opinions ignored. The most recent example of that is, of course, the Yuko/Acchan struggle. Fans made it pretty clear that Yuko was the girl they wanted to see as AKB’s Number 1 (she had about 600 more votes than Acchan in the Heavy Rotation senbatsu). But when the next single came around, that desire was ignored, and Atsuko was right back in the center.

This relationship is further complicated by the desires of casual fans.  Now, H!P obviously doesn’t have as many casual fans as AKB48 does. If they did, H!P’s sales wouldn’t be so dismal. But despite that, the lack of many  casual H!P fans means that the wota, those who have dedicated their love to their Idols, have a greater say in the girls’ futures. As far as AKB48, those who are really devoted to their Idols seem to be drowned out by the money-paying masses. So a H!P fan can sit back on his or her laurels, knowing that what they want will be heard, whereas an AKB fan has to worry and worry about whether or not their voice matters.

However, there is one huge positive for AKB48: Change.

I’ll say it: H!P is been fairly stagnant musically and in terms of members.  That has a huge effect on the sales of merchandise. I’m not saying that this stagnation is the sole reason that H!P’s sales aren’t what the once were, but I do think that it’s a major factor. Dedicated fans tend to dislike change. They don’t want to see their Number 1 fall from favor or, Gaki forbid, graduate. That desire is respected, and the fans feel safe. But nothing changes, and the casual public becomes bored.

The lack of safety in AKB48 means that no such stagnation is permitted, or indeed possible. The public won’t tire of AKB48 as long as those in charge of the group keep changing things up, and turning the desires of the casual fans into shocking new ideas (see my last post).

Lastly, what of the supposition that, as a H!P fan, I must automatically be an AKBhater?

Well, that’s just silly, isn’t it? 🙂

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