Exactly how many AKB48 fans are out there in Japan?

  August 3, 2013


Hey what’s up guys? This is Tommy Kono. So ahh sorry for having been silent for a long time! I’m doing okay, I’ve been quite busy with all the errands that magically come up and take up all my time. On top of miscellaneous chores, I was accepted by one of prestigious business school in U.S.A and preparing for the two years of boot-camp starting soon – *having been accepted by prestigious B-school itself, as some of you know, doesn’t mean you’re an excellent business person, and I’m proof. It’s just a twist of fate… and connections that get you to the top B-schools…

Thanks to Kevin, Wrapup’s front-end guru, our website have kept being updated while I’m away, and there’re a couple of wonderful fresh websites that cover what’s up of AKB48 other than Wrapup, so I guess there’s no shortage of news source for AKB48?

While I’m away, I’ve been thinking about why I’m so captivated by AKB48.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been never into brits and glitter of celebrities. I always prefer girls around me or girls passing by me on streets. I even had a conviction that “cute girl next door” is always more attractive than famous media personalities.

So, to put it bluntly, the early members of AKB have never caught my attentions. They started off as below-average-in-your-class but provocative and wildly ambitious girls, and managed to gain celebrity status. But no point in their breakthrough process were they “cute girl next door” that I can romantically relate to. And below-average-looking girls want to be actress or singer, while what they’re actually doing is singing and dancing to childish tunes, sound arrogant to me. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean their ambition is all about becoming a star and earning reputation, but rather, I think it’s just a primitive emotion of humans that we need affirmation from others:

“Am I needed by someone?”

And what they found is fans that flock at their theater or places like “Tokyo Big Site” where the idol group hold handshaking events, trying to convey message that their favorite girls are not alone and are needed by many people. Well, critiques associates this to the social context that is unique to Japan, as is often called “lost big story”. That is… Japan lost a sort of “Big Story” shared by it’s citizens after achieving the miraculous economic growth following the defeat in WW2. 70 years ago. And now, by being an emotional support for someone else, people are trying to settle their insecure emotional state… but this is a completely different story.

When I first went to the theater to see their stage, I was with my friend. He had phone numbers of some of the members, and actually dating one of them – which didn’t surprise me at all back then, but guess how jarring it would be if the same thing happens to the current members! –

Through the way he consume the idols, I developed an idea that maybe this idol thing is not that different from hostess clubs. They use all the tricks they’ve acquired to make fans believe that they may have a chance with the girls. Of course some of the girls are doing so just to gain popularity, but certainly you can’t expect all the girls to be completely innocent and loyal to fans.

So, one final point to make here – how in the world did I get to like the idol group despite the fact I disliked them so much?

Well, it’s tough to answer definitively.
Discovering 12th gen members of course played a big role in changing my mind. Having just one member who you really like matters a lot, because AKB for her is a process where she seeks the way to make her dream reality. Plus, finding one member you really like make you emotionally connected to other members as well. She works like a hub. Welcome to “Web of relationship”. Starting from her, your attention travels down to members who she hang out with a lot. The more you know about connections within the group, the more empathetic you become about the group in general.

For me, the most interesting thing about English AKB48 fansite – or supposed English version of Matomember – is finding different perspectives from different people. Right now, AKB48 is the only thing that keeps me in contact with Japanese language, and because there’s so much news or blogs on AKB48 around, I can’t even think of going through English forums of AKB ( and if I would do, I would probably end up on allkpop or eatyourkimchi, simply because they  look so much fun and so many people are conversing with each other there) So, the best way I found to avoid from being distracted and lost in a web is engaging in an actual conversation with overseas AKB fans. And WrapUp is perhaps the best place for that purpose.

One of the common criticism on AKB48 Japanese people make is that their business is relying too much on bulk purchase by very few people, typically(?) a single man in his 30’s or 40’s.  Look at the ongoing concert tour, so called “5 Dome Stadiums tour”. In this tour, they hold 11 concerts in 5 of the biggest venues in Japan. Putting available tickets of each concert together, it reaches around 400,000 (35,000 capacity x 11 days). Which may sound not particularly unrealistic for the group selling nearly 2 million singles in a single week, and releasing single in quite a short interval. But considering their past concert tours, this large scale of tour is totally unprecedented and thus gives us a pretty valid insight about exactly how many AKB48 fans are out there. Here are rough notes of how concert tickets sales for this tour went.

The take away: Acchan’s graduation worked like a deadline, making people very motivated to attend the show.

It’s also safe to say there is huge gap between Oshima Yuko, Maeda Asuko and the rest. Both in number-of-fans and amount-of-money-consumed metrics, they’re towering other the crowd.

Let’s assume there’re about 400 thousands fans out there who actually spend money on for AKB48. If you do the math, on average, fans spend around $480 for AKB48 annually, and this doesn’t include concert tickets or merchandise goods!!

Oh No! Otohsan kicked Mayuyu in her head!!!

Otohsan Camel Clutching Yuko


Otohsan groping Rena





Sashihara’s reiteration!! “I’ll shove my foot deep in your ass!! So that you can taste my sharp toe,  faggot!!”

See? This is yet another proof that she is extraordinary! She is fearless!!

For more images of this show, head to Matomember!