Rant: My Take On Cnet’s Article – CNET News Crave Otaku band AKB48 morphs into $200M business

  April 4, 2012
As you all know,  wrote an article on AKB48 at CNET, which is full of flawsAs a close observer of AKB48, it’s very easy to point out flaws of his argument, but please don’t blame him. Not everyone is a hardcore fan of AKB48, that’s the reality. So let’s begin.

What if the vice president of your university were a genius producer who had put together an insanely successful pop group of 90 singers…

This line is misleading. AkiP is named as a vice president of Kyoto Zokei university 2007 after he named as  a professor in 2005. So definitely he leads AKB48’s successful career right during his tenure at the university. The problem is…. this university is very famous for hiring eye-catching figures like him, just to attract public eyes to the university, but of course it’s from it’s student’s perspective, those figures are more like a guest professor than a normal professor, who has exclusive contract with his university.

Yasushi Akimoto, the Steve Jobs of otaku (supergeeks) in Japan.

Yasushi Akimoto = Otaku… this line looks just ignorant for Otaku researchers like Kaichiro Morimto, or Toshio Okada (self-claimed Otaku). When it’s aim is mainstream, it can’t no longer be said Otaku culture. Otaku is the word basically associating to “Dame” (pathetic), means they much more prefer what normal people see weird things to what normal people can enjoy with Otaku people. When AKB48 got to stardom of pop culture, AKB48 is no longer a Otaku culture. For American’s taste, AKB48 is something only geek or Otaku can appreciate, and in that sense, all Japanese are Otaku. But if he really know what actual Otaku now appreciate, he can’t dare to associate present AKB48 to Otaku. Bottom line is, AkiP is a commercial producer. He knows Otaku community is very loyal to what they appreciate, and he found it as a strong fan base for a new idol group. But from the beginning his intention is not that dominating Otaku market, but creating Otaku like enthusiasm toward the group among normal people.

The original idea behind the group, which was founded in 2005 with 20 girls, is “idols you can meet.” At an AKB48 theater in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, otaku who are lucky enough to have won tickets in a lottery run by the band can see some of their idols onstage. The men dance to the songs, wave glow sticks, and get to briefly meet the performers after the show.
But the adulation doesn’t end there. AKB48 also runs popularity contests for the girls, and fans get to vote with tickets included in CD packages. Some otaku spend thousands of dollars buying the same disc to give their favorite member a better chance of winning the contests.

This line is OK. Basic introduction for those who don’ know AKB48 at all.

That’s nothing new in pop, but AKB48 has seen unbelievable success recently: 16.28 billion yen ($212 million) in 2011 CD and DVD sales alone, according to compiler Oricon. That’s more than what Forbes’ chart-toppers U2 makes.

That’s nothing new, yes, except those voting or franchise sytem (NMB, SKE..) and the group’s concept “idols you can actually meet and talk”, all those marketing side, AKB48 is doing nothing new in music side. Sure there are many artists better talented in music than AKB48. It’s commonly said Japanese are very prone to ‘Boom’ or ‘Fashion’ or ‘Trend’, and I don’t deny it. But if you categorize AKB48 in that category, I say ‘Do you have a crackhead?’. If you closely follow members of AKB48, and listen to what they speak, try to understand who they are as a person, I come to the conclusion that what AKB48 represents is not just mere ‘boom’ which only lasts for a short time, but a basic human value all Japanese or Asian has respected throughout it’s cultural history. Every tears and smiles appears on their faces look real because we closely feel their pain, distress, joy, effort. In that sense, AKB48 may be nothing special in music side but once once-in-5-decades figure in term of their ability to honestly express their feeling and appreciation for fans and members. In that sense, this is something we’ve never seen before.

At 90 members, AKB48 is the Guinness-certified world’s largest pop band. Its members are all females in their teens and early twenties, and all its bubble-gum singles top the charts on the day of their release.

yes. But now they have total more than 200 members if you includes their sister groups SKE, NMB, and HKT (and may be more if includes JKT48). SEK and NMB also performs better than any other music groups in Japan except AKB48 in terms of record sales and fan base.

The music is, shall we say, an aquired taste; it sounds like arcade game tunes drenched in a massive one-part vocal harmony. Yet intense otaku fandom has lifted the hydra-headed, miniskirted band to the highest levels of Japanese acceptability. It’s even acting as Japan’s unofficial representative in China.

Everyone has different tastes and you clearly those who don’t get AKB48’s music. Simple.
Stay in your realm, Don’t write about you don’t understand. 
He should have skipped this sentence after proof-reading.

The accuracy and impartiality of Oricon’s charts has been questioned before, and it could be way off now. Yet even if the latest AKB48 numbers are inflated, there’s no denying the band has gone mainstream in its popularity.

AKB48’s sales figure is often said not reflecting the unique number of it’s fans. This is because some fans buy tons of the same record to vote his ballots for his favorite member.

Meanwhile, Shiseido hair products, Glico candy, Asahi drinks, Peach John lingerie, and other big brands have entered endorsement deals with the girls. Even the staunchly conservative Japan Post has started selling AKB48 stamps; fans crashed its Web site when the product was announced.

Informative for those who don’t know AKB48 at all. By the way Japan Post has been aggressive in it’s business after it’s privatization as it’s revenue of online shopping is thriving.

AKB’s tentacles have spread to other parts of Japan, and even Indonesia, sprouting “clone” groups and waves upon waves of merchandise. Producer Akimoto apparently wants to take the concept to other Asian countries as well. Is there a universal appeal?

Lol Don(t use the word “Clone” just because you’re following Japanese Robot or Humanoid, you can find more appropriate words like “sister” “derivative” (I’m not using the word just because I’m C.P.A by the way)

Somehow I doubt there would be as much cheering without the bikinis and miniskirts.

Unanimous. Whenever members give revealing shots in PV or Magazine or in whatever media, fans react unanimously “Don’t push yourself so hard. We are not fans of your body but your whole humanity.”

But Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba seems to agree with Akimoto, and recently recruited AKB48 girls to act as goodwill ambassadors to China to improve the countries’ often rocky relationship.

This is absolutely the best move of Genba.

The girls will try to boost Chinese tourism to Japan, which dropped off following last year’s massive earthquake. In their thigh-highs and ponytails, they’ll outshine anything else Tokyo could send.

If I were a editor of Cnet, I would revise this sentence like… “…With their bright characters and enormous popularity in China,  they’ll outshine any other famous figures as a face of Japan for China.”

As for the dolls, fans are clamoring to take them home. Created by design studio Petworks, they’re 10 inches tall and just about identical to the real thing, right down to the coiffures and eyelashes. They’re not on sale yet, but it’s probably just a matter of time before otaku will be able to get their own little piece of AKB48 to love and cherish forever.

As the company self-claims, fans actually buy and appreciate these dolls are tiny portion of AKB’s over all fan base. And they are of course serious Otakus.
There’s no way to avoid saying this writer made a lot of mis-leading statement in this cheesy article. Bottom-line is… again, Stay in your realm, Don’t write about you don’t understand. 
For his justice, he is not always writing this kind of shit. He mainly covers Japanese Robot or Machineries, and writing some interesting stuffs. That’s whay I say “stay in your realm (and focus)”.