AKB48, or 48 Group as a whole consisting of AKB48 based in Tokyo Akihabara and their sister groups SKE48(Nagoya, Sakae), NMB48(Osaka, Namba) and HKT48(Fukuoka, Hakata) is one of the more easily recognizable idol groups today in the Japanese entertainment world. In the world of animation, Love Live! has a similar idol concept and not surprising that both have a huge following in Japan and overseas. Here I have, is a 3 part Q&A feature with fans from both 48 Group and Love Live!
Before I proceed to the Q&A section, here is an short introduction of the very helpful fans who has contributed their answers for this feature. Upon their request, I will be using initials to represent their names instead.
I am in my early 20s, currently employed. I love to relax around during most of my free time as work really do pile up some stress. Would not call myself a gamer anymore as I really have toned down on my gaming time. I consider myself a casual fan for Love Live! compared to others as I do not really go all the way out for them unless I really want to.
I am a engineer in my late 20s with strong passions in gaming, photography and Japanese culture; particularly anime and idol sub-culture. I consider myself a feverish fan of AKB48 and it’s sisters’ groups, and make between 2 to 4 trips to Japan annually over the past 4 years to meet the members in person and attend their events.
I’m a huge fan of Japanese subculture particularly anime and visual novels. I’m also an avid music listener and audiophile who loves listening to instrumentals and Japanese music. Lately I have taken an interest in joji idol anime like Aikatsu and Pripara so I would love to talk to anyone about it!
Guy in his early 30s, working in a customer-oriented environment. Been into the J-fever since late secondary and listening to J-Pop and J-Rock music. Officially stepped into the idol mania since Morning Musume (Kamei Eri fan) in 2000…
Without further ado, I will now proceed to the Q&A.
- What/how did you get attracted to them and for how long have you been a fan.
I was first introduced to LL(Love Live!) by a friend, it was their music PV and how their voice complemented each other in the group that got me attracted. Since then I have been a fan from their 3rd single release which was like back in 2011.
I chanced upon AKB48 while randomly surfing for anisongs AKB48 on Youtube back in 2007, and become a committed fan towards early 2009. To date, I have attended nearly 60 AKB48 and its sisters’ groups events both in Singapore and Japan, ranging from concerts, live stages, cafe events, handshake events, 2shots events and recently, the 2015 Senbatsu Sousenkyo in Fukuoka.
AKB48’s concept of watching your favorite idol grow from a trainee to an established member attracted me then. Their concept of “Idols you can meet” allows 2-way communications between fans and idols both online and in reality. It gives you a sense of participation to their growth in the idol industry as you can actively show your support and tell them how you feel, rather than it being a 1-way affair like traditional artiste-fan relationships. We also have the opportunity to talk directly to the group managers and staffs about our opinions and feelings. It brings me happiness when I convey my support to them. For example, members, particularly the younger and fresher members will express elation when you told them you are from Singapore and that you watch their performance via Live on Demand. To some of them, they have never thought about having overseas fans. Of course an idol group at its core is the live performance. I definitely enjoy wota-ing with everyone at their live performance!
While I do not shy away from admitting my devotion to the group, I generally do not publicize my experience and tend to only share it among peers in the same interest group.
It was back at the end of 2010 when “Snow Halation” was released and I saw it. I was excited and taken aback by the concept(3D music PVs with singles) and I loved the storytelling in their music videos. I had a friend on IRC(yes it still exist) and we talked about the group and their singles “僕らのLIVE君とのLIFE” and from there we followed on. So I have pretty much been a fan for the 5 years they have been active.
I guess the big part of why muse has been very attractive is the freshness and uniqueness in their songs and the unique concept behind their singles. Each single comes with a PV that rather than being just another visually spectacle told the group’s story, of course that was before the anime came out. Post anime, what kept me on was the huge presence of the seiyuu cast’s voices and their dedication to bring their characters to life. Take Uchida Aya, don’t you think she is really like her character Kotori? Also Kusuda Aina and Nanjo Yoshino and how they really reenact that delicious chemistry behind third years Toujou Nozomi and Eli Ayase onstage.
Kinda surprising because I wasn’t really a fan of them (was into Morning Musume then) until my brother downloaded the Oricon Top 20 songs of the week and my 1st song from them was “Sakura no Habiratachi” (桜の花びらたち) 2008 version. Been a fan ever since.
- Your collection of merchandises, what does it consists of. Prized item?
For me, I mainly collect whatever media they have released. For now, I have their album, singles, various unit releases, anime series for both season 1 and 2 and also their live concert Blu ray. What I considered my most prized item would be the 2015 concert single release. This is prized to me because it was the only live concert that I personally attended to and getting the ticket through the ballot process was not easy as I am competing with really a lot of fans out there for that 1 single slot in Saitama Super Arena.
Like many fellow fans, we have our huge stashes of monthly and event photo sets as well as specific member’s merchandise and apparel. I collect primarily merchandise of my AKB Oshimen, Takamina Minami (Takamina), SKE Oshimen Matsui Jurina and a handful of favorite members such as Owada Nana, Kato Rena, Oshima Ryoka and Maeda Atsuko.
My prized collection includes a first print Sakura no Hanabiratachi and Skirt Hirari singles. Both are indie releases and are pretty rare now. There are also 15 members autographed boards, BLT X AKB48 magazine photographs and merchandise that I treasured. Unfortunately, as the group becomes more popular, the management has tightened the opportunities that fans can get them by restricting the number of events, available signatures and excluding popular members from giving out signatures. Last but not least are the 2shots photographs I have taken with my Oshimen and favorite members. It might sound egoistic, but it sort of gave me some validation of my support for them.
I have always believed in supporting Love Live! through their music by getting as many of their singles first press when I can and even concert exclusive songs and albums when I can. As a student, it was really hard and as with any other person, worked part-time to support the hobby. I think the most memorable part of my collection is the Memorial Box Solo Collection Vol.1, its a concert exclusive from their very first live and I had a heck of a time getting my hands on it. Its a compilation of solo voices for their first unit albums and group singles. It remains to be a significant part of the collection due to its sheer value and hey, its from their first live! Another part of the collection I love is the 2012 Birth Anniversary music box for Honoka’s birthday, the fine craftsmanship and print gives it a very classy feel.
Merchandises such as the countless photo sets of the group and its sister groups, CDs due to the balloting for the handshake or/and 2shot tickets. Most prized item would be the autographed board which my favourite member signed. Furthermore, it was the only one with my English name written (which the staff failed to spot) as we were supposed to only write our IC/passport name according to the ticket.
Due to the overwhelming responses they have answered for the entire list of questions handed to them, this feature will be a 3 part feature with the 2nd part to be published tomorrow. So readers, what are your views on the respective groups, looking forward to your comments here!