Pop dating

The concept behind the group was to create stars that fans could not only relate to, but actually meet.

While the AKB girls are pretty, they aren't portrayed as the aloof, chiseled ice queens often seen in J-pop; they give off a vibe that isn't girl-next-door so much as popstar-next-stage.

In a declining music industry, producer Yasushi Akimoto worked out how to strike gold: create a group laser-focused on the one demographic guaranteed to hand over money, no matter what. Not only did Akimoto make AKB48 appealing enough for people to buy the CDs, he figured out methods of convincing devoted fans to buy the same CD multiple times.

Singles often come with lottery tickets to meet members of the group, or — most lucratively — a vote in the annual AKB48 "election," a giant popularity contest that crowns the leader of the group.

In fact, I don't know too many people in Japan who buy music at all — and who can blame them, at around a pop?

And if they were to buy CDs, it's unlikely they'd go for AKB48, who make music that would be considered impossibly juvenile by just about any standard.

I don't expect to be forgiven by doing this, but the first thing I thought was that I didn't want to quit AKB48." The article in question came out in the Shukan Bunshun magazine last week, and showed alleged photos of Minegishi leaving the house of boy band member Alan Shirahama."Regarding the article that will be released today, I am so sorry for worrying my band members, fans, staff, family, and everyone else." She bows in contrition for a full eight seconds — slightly longer than, say, Sony’s Kaz Hirai did when apologizing for the massive Play Station Network security breach in 2011.Minami Minegishi had just been accused of having a boyfriend.Such "scandals" are common in Japan; despite the flagrant marketing of J-pop idols as sex symbols, any hint of them engaging in an actual relationship is harshly frowned upon.When AKB48's agency released the Minegishi video along with a blog post demoting her to the "training" ranks of the 88-member-strong group, it was only the most extreme example in a long line of similar incidents. That's the age of majority in Japan; two weeks previously, she had celebrated her coming-of-age day along with every other Japanese person who reached the age of 20 in the past year.

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Instead, the group has found success by targeting a niche market: the otaku, Japan's unique subculture of nerds and misfits.

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