Yuko Oshima ranks 1st in AKB48 General Election

Yuko Oshima has won a much-heralded popularity contest for all-girl pop group AKB48. Oshima, 23, garnered 108,837 votes in AKB48s fourth “general election” Wednesday. Fans cast ballots to select 64 members, including 16 to sing on the groups 27th single, which will be released in August.

In second place was 18-year-old Mayu Watanabe. Atsuko Maeda, the previous years front-runner, withdrew from the contest as she will be “graduating” from AKB48 this summer.


Japan Hires AKB48 to Sell Government Bonds

Japan’s cash-strapped government is reportedly turning to popular music group AKB48 to help it sell government bonds, as interest in the low-yield paper wanes.

The all-female pop group will headline a summer campaign for “reconstruction bonds” aimed at financing projects in regions hammered by last year’s quake-tsunami disaster, the Wall Street Journal said, citing an unnamed source.

AKB48, one of the world’s highest-grossing acts with more than $200m in CD and DVD sales last year, are a phenomenon in Japan and across Asia, with members appearing in commercials for everything from chocolate to mobile phones.

via Japan hires top girlband AKB48 to sell government bonds.

AKB48’s Latest Single Breaks Oricon Highest 1st Day Sales Record Again!

Popular idol group AKB48s much anticipated 26th Single “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” is released today on May 23rd. Each copies except Theater Version contains a ballot for fans to vote for their favourite member for the upcoming 4th Senbatsu Elections, which will be held 2 weeks later on June 6th.

Oricon Top 3 May 22nd

#1 – AKB48 – Manatsu no Sounds Good! – 1,170,554 sales

#2 – GLAY – Bible – 28,247 sales

#3 – yuzu – with you – 9,765 sales

*In Japan, sales and pre-orders start rolling out 1 day before actual release day, hence Oricon states that its May 22nd.

With 1.171 million copies sold on the 1st day, this single broke the Oricon records of having the highest first day sales since the establishment of the charts back in 1967.

Current Oricon Top 3 highest first day sales records:

1. Manatsu no Sounds Good! – AKB48 – 1,170,554 Released May 23rd 2012

2. Kaze wa Fuiteiru – AKB48 – 1,045,937 Released Oct 26th 2011

3. Flying Get – AKB48 – 1,025,952 Released Aug 24th 2011

Manatsu no Sounds Good! shall be AKB48s 7th consecutive million-selling single 8th overall.

AKB48 in trouble over a little piece of candy

A commercial showing members of wildly popular all-girl band AKB48 passing bite-sized candies seductively from mouth-to-mouth is under fire in Japan for encouraging homosexuality.The advertisement, which aired in March, shows the school uniform-clad young women – all in their late teens or early 20s – intimately exchanging the sweet, with the close-up footage slowing as their lips near.

A broadcasting standards watchdog said on Thursday the majority of the 116 complaints it had received in March about commercials concerning young people related to this advert.

Read the rest of the story: Lesbian Japan pop group ad slammed.


AKB48 announces Tokyo Dome concert and more

During AKB48’s concerts at Saitama Super Arena on Friday and Saturday, multiple major announcements were made. The first came on Friday, when it was revealed that the group will finally realize their dream of performing a concert at Tokyo Dome, more than 6 years after their debut.

Since the beginning, AKB48′s main goal has been to perform at Tokyo Dome. Given their tremendous popularity in the past couple of years, it was inevitable that they would achieve that goal, but now that dream is finally becoming a reality. Although the concert has been decided, the concert’s date has not yet been announced.

On Saturday, it was announced that AKB48′s Team 4 is gaining 5 more members, bringing it to a full roster of 16 members. The new additions are research students Kato Rena, Kawaei Rina, Iwata Karen, Tano Yuuka, and Takahashi Juri.

That news was followed by a big surprise announcement, revealing that SKE48 member Matsui Jurina and NMB48 member Watanabe Miyuki will temporarily join AKB48. Since January, AKB48′s Team K and Team B have each been one member short of a full 16 due to the resignations of members Hirajima Natsumi and Yonezawa Rumi. Because of that, Matsui is being added to Team K and Watanabe is being added to Team B, both for a limited time until permanent replacements have been decided. While part of AKB48, both Matsui and Watanabe will continue their activities with SKE48 and NMB48.

Producer Akimoto Yasushi also mentioned in a Google+ post on Saturday that he plans to create AKB48′s Team 8, but he gave no specific details about his plans.

AKB48 has one more concert at Saitama Super Arena today (March 25).

Oshima Yuko of AKB48 to be in “Yamikin Ushijima-kun” movie

Some supporting cast details have finally been revealed for the “Yamikin Ushijima-kun” movie that was announced last August. AKB48’s Oshima Yuko (23) has been cast as the heroine of the story, playing a young woman who has to shoulder her mother’s debt.

Starring Yamada Takayuki (28), “Yamikin Ushijima-kun” was a 2010 television drama adaptation of a manga by Manabe Shohei. Yamada plays a ruthless loan shark named Ushijima, and the story depicts the unfortunate lives of the people he collects from.

Oshima plays Suzuki Mirai, who begins working part-time at a “dating cafe” in order to pay off part of her mother’s debt. Hayashi Kento (21) plays the greedy and ambitious Jun, a leader of an event group who will do anything to get ahead in life.

Actors Sakimoto Hiromi and Yabe Kyosuke will reprise their roles from the television series. Arai Hirofumi, Okada Yoshinori, Muro Tsuyoshi, and Kurokawa Asuka have also been cast.

The movie is set for an August 25 release date.

AKB48 pop group and actor Tomohiro Sekiguchi named goodwill ambassadors

The AKB48 pop group and actor Tomohiro Sekiguchi have been named goodwill ambassadors for events commemorating the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between Japan and China.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Keidanren business association and head of the commemoration planning committee, appointed them Monday.

Read the rest of the story: AKB48, Sekiguchi goodwill envoys | The Japan Times Online.


Minami in the Middle – Idols mom caught with underage boy

The recent arrest of the mother of a Japanese pop idol for sex with a minor raises questions on how the media here handles such high-profile cases.Caught in the middle: Minami Takahashi center poses with fellow members of the AKB48 spinoff group No Sleeves, Haruna Kojima left and Minami Minegishi right. Takahashis mother was recently fined for having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Usually, if someone who is related to a tarento TV personality, or other type of celebrity, is arrested in Japan, the shukanshi weekly gossip magazines almost always report the names of the celebrities — though major TV news programs and newspapers dont always reveal this information.

Last week, this was the case when Shukan Bunshun reported in its Feb. 16 issue on sale Thursday that the 44-year-old mother of Minami Takahashi 20, a leading member of the idol group AKB48, had been arrested on suspicion of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Read the rest of the story: The idols mom, the underage boy and the media.

Otaku band AKB48 is showing that nothing can stop it

What if the vice president of your university were a genius producer who had put together an insanely successful pop group of 90 singers and then approved the creation of identical doll versions of them?

Weird? Not for Kyoto University of Art and Design and Yasushi Akimoto, the Steve Jobs of otaku (supergeeks) in Japan. The school just hosted a hit exhibition of dolls based on the gals in the band he produces, AKB48.

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.

Read the rest of the story: Otaku band AKB48 morphs into $200M business.

AKB48’s Watanabe Mayu to play teacher in “Saba Doru”

Some plot details have finally been released regarding the drama series “Saba Doru,” starring AKB48 member Watanabe Mayu. The series was announced last month but was initially surrounded by secrecy. It turns out that Watanabe will be playing a dual role, one as herself and one as a 38-year-old teacher.

The story revolves around the 38-year-old Usa Shijimi (Watanabe), who is a high school classical literature teacher. Her students are mean to her, but they don’t realize that she has another identity. Outside school, she lies about her age to be active as the super popular 17-year-old idol Watanabe Mayu, whom the students adore.

The title is a combination of the phrase “nenrei no saba wo yomu” (to lie about one’s age) and the word “aidoru” (idol).

Watanabe commented on the role, “How to act as the 38-year-old Shijimi is especially difficult, but I want to give it my best.” She continued, “The show is a heartful comedy, so I hope I can provide energy to those who watch it.”

Ando Tamae, Sakata Tadashi, Kaminaga Keisuke, and Takahashi Hitomi are among the supporting cast. The planning and original work are being handled by AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi.

It was already announced that Watanabe’s solo debut single “Synchro Tokimeki” (being released February 29) will be the drama’s theme song, and that the drama will have a manga version debuting in Kodansha’s Young Magazine on January 16.

“Saba Doru” will air on Friday nights at 12:53am on TV Tokyo, beginning January 13. A total of 12 episodes are planned.