AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi is apparently planning to create an “official rival group” to AKB48. An announcement on Tuesday revealed that he is working with Sony Music to create a new group called 乃木坂46 (read as “Nogizaka 46″).
Unlike AKB48′s sister groups such as SKE48 and NMB48, this new group is specifically being billed as a rival to AKB48. The group’s name comes from the fact that the final audition will be held at the SME Nogizaka Building (where Sony’s office is located). According to Akimoto, the 46 was chosen with the meaning, “Even with fewer members than AKB48, we won’t lose.”
The audition will be open to everyone. The first round (application) deadline is July 20, and the second round (interviews) will take place in seven cities (Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Okinawa) on August 6-7. The final round will be held on August 20-21.
Akimoto is looking to choose approximately 20 members for the first generation. The chosen members will appear on a television variety show that is scheduled to start in October, and they will make their CD debut under Sony Music Records.
An official website with more information has been launched at nogizaka46.com.