Where I stand on: AKB48

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? 🙂

4 Responses to Where I stand on: AKB48

  1. Nygan says:

    I can’t look away from that picture of Tsunku you have here, It blowned my mind so hard …
    Seriously, where did you find that thing ?

    Regarding AKB : there’s so much members… I think it scares me a little bit, but I recently found a quite cute girl with glasses of this group while browing randomly the pictboard of H!O, so I think i’ll get interested in this very soon …

    • Rebecca says:

      Haha, it’s been floating around the internet for a while now- it seems to come up whenever Tsunku is mentioned. Hard to believe that he used to be a sex symbol, huh?

      I wish you luck!

  2. Cat says:

    About the listening to the fans thing, I find it very relative. In regards of the election, I feel the same way you do, Yuko should be center at least until the next election comes, but Akimoto knows that even if Yuko got the most votes, Acchan is still the most popular girl. It’s a given fact. Yuko has been given a lot of props for winning the election though, she’s always center in all the magazine shoots I’ve seen xD The elections are a sore topic or me because I agree with you, those girls should stay in the position they were elected for all the singles at least during the year of the election. When you think of someone like Sato Amina, who has been elected senbatsu twice but has never made normal senbatsu it’s kinda sad. But then again, it’s all about the business for AKiP

    However, I disagree when it comes to the rest of things, AKB48 is much more likely to listen to their fans. There are some impressive examples of this in the past, the first of them being Shinoda Mariko being added to Team A after a petition was signed even though she failed the auditions, and the other example that comes to mind is Kikuchi Ayaka being re hired after she had a boyfriend scandal also because of a petition. These things have never happened in H!P, and while AKB seems to thrive because of the singles at this moment, their producer knows that they depend entirely on the fans, even more so than H!P because of their “Idols you can meet” concept.

    And I thank you very much for the last paragraph. I don’t get why do H!P fans have to hate AKB either. The AKB girls ADORE everything H!P, it makes me sad to see some H!P fans bash them and say horrible things about them 😦

    • Rebecca says:

      Oh gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t see this comment before! I have comments from you on auto-approval, so it must have slipped by me. I’m sorry!

      I think that’s part of what makes AKB48 so much fun. It’s annoying and aggravating when a member who has given her best isn’t rewarded, but there always seems to be something of a chance within AKB to move up. As far as I can tell, AkiP has the business smarts to realize that when a girl has some fans, he ought to promote her. Tsunku never seems to. Linlin made some massive gains in popularity during her time within H!P. Her goods rose from the bottom of the sales ranking to the middle and then to the top, yet she never received proportional promotion. If a girl in AKB suddenly started selling better than usual, she would be rewarded.

      Ido see your point. I suppose accessible really wasn’t the best word for me to have used. The relationship with H!P and UFA seems more… established. Of course, H!P has been around longer, but it feels like the fan-UFA relationship isn’t in danger of going through crazy changes. AKB seems to love throwing curveballs our way, and one almost expects a change.

      I had a few questions- it seems like AKB48’s “idols you can meet” concept has diminished lately. I remember reading a while ago that some fan-idol interaction that had been a staple for AKB48 was no longer available. Is that true?

      And also, since the teams were shuffled, have there been any changes in the “feel” of each team?

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