Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why is the girl group, AKB48, popular in Japan?

In my previous post (click here), I wrote about a popular girl group called AKB48, which is produced by Yasushi Akimoto. Today, I'll talk about the reasons for its popularity.

According to a TV show I watched recently, AKB48, like Disneyland, always offers an original world in a single place. The group has an exclusive theater in Akihabara, Tokyo and puts on shows there almost every day. The members always wear the same original costumes. Because of this, if you go there, you can be part of their special world. In addition, since the group consists of over sixty girls, you might be able to find a favorite among them - just like you have a favorite Disney character.

The members' stage positions, the main vocal and so on are decided based on a fan ballot called "総選挙/the general election”. I guess that since the phrase 総選挙 is very popular in our society due to the recent political fuss, the phrase was chosen intentionally. The members announce their platforms for the so-called general election. You can get one vote for each CD you buy, although there are other ways to obtain votes as well. As you can easily imagine, some fans buy many CDs so that they can vote many times for their favorite girl to make her stand on the center of the stage.

All in all, this system enables the fans to feel as if they, themselves, could produce an idol. It's said that this has helped the group become popular. The members, on the other hand, need to improve their various skills and impress people to acquire more fans.

In my opinion, in Japan, men more or less like women who are dependent, immature, indecisive, dutiful or reserved because these women make them feel that they, the men, are superior. So, women often affect this kind of personality in front of men. This is one reason that girl groups like AKB48 are able to become popular. Give the fact that many wives wear the pants at home in Japan, girl groups like AKB48 make young men feel happy before they have to deal with the harsh realities of married life.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why are girl groups popular in Japan?

The day before yesterday, girl groups were discussed on a TV show.Since I found it interesting, I'll tell you about it.

In Japan, every ten years or so for the last thirty years, a girl group appears. Until now, three groups have appeared in total and all of them have become popular. These girls are cuter than average, but many of them aren't notably cute, which makes boys and young men feel as if the girls were their friends. It's been said that this sort of familiarity with the idols helps these three groups become popular.

In 1985, about fifty high school girls were selected in a popular TV show to form an idol group called Onyanko Club (おニャン子クラブ), which you can see in the first YouTube video. The group captured the hearts and minds of boys and young men. Although it broke up in 1987, some members are still popular now and appear on TV shows.

In 1997, another group called モーニング娘/morning-musume appeared, which you can see in the second YouTube video. First, the group received public attention because it was produced by a well-known musician named つんく/tsunku. The group consists of ten girls on average, and it changes members frequently. The frequent change of members is a strategy to capture public attention. Since elementary school girls sometimes become members, during the peak of the group's popularity, many young girls used to pay close attention to it, dreaming of joining it. I would say that the group is still popular, but it is much less popular now than it was up until five years ago.

About five years ago, a third group called AKB48 (the third You Tube video) was formed by a Yasushi Akimoto/秋元康, who is well known as a songwriter, music producer and so on. As a songwriter, he has written the lyrics of a wide range of many popular and great songs. His strategy for making the group popular is unique and noteworthy. Even though I'm not interested in the group itself at all, I follow it as a businesswoman. I think that you can find useful hints to develop new business models if you see why the group is very popular lately.

The AKB of AKB48 is from Akiba. Akiba is the abbreviated form of Akihabara/秋葉原, which is well known as an area where there are many Otaku and costume maids. Since the group has an exclusive theater as their home base in Akihabara and consists of around forty-eight girls, it was named AKB48. In the TV show that I mentioned at the beginning of the entry, AKB48's popularity was discussed, and they were compared with Disneyland (I might talk about this in a future post).  

I wonder if such groups consisting of many girls could be popular in other countries.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Again, again. I can't help but sigh a heavy sigh.

Twelve hours ago, our Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, resigned. His government lasted only about eight months. It's really disappointing. Given that he insisted just a few days ago that he wasn't going to resign, saying that it was't his way to take responsibility for what he had done, his resignation was surprising and weird. So, it's fueling the speculation. He repeatedly claims that he himself made the decision, but I can't help but wonder whether or not that's true. Also, I suppose his resignation was the only way to drag down Mr. Ozawa, who is considered a power broker. In fact, the PM's resignation forced Mr. Ozawa to resign from his high position in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). In a press conference, the PM said that the DPJ really needed to eliminate problems related to money and politics, so he forced Mr. Ozawa to resign because it has been suspected that both the PM and Mr.Ozawa had most likely been receiving money illegally since before their terms started last September.

Admittedly, the PM has disappointed the public. His government has failed to convince the public that it will implement the platform issued in the August election. He has shown particular lack of leadership with regards to the controversial issue of the relocation of the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Prefecture, which led to a sharp decline in his approval rating. However, I didn't want him to resign. I've been really fed up with the frequent changes of our PM and cabinet members during the last 25 years. In the last election, many people didn't support the Liberal Democratic Party, which had been in power for about 50 years, because of the frequent changes, which actually contributed to the DPJ's victory.

Given that there aren't any reliable and capable politicians, that change is meaningless. There is no time for this. We have been struggling with too many issues.