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!
In the previous segment, I have covered how did they get attracted to the respective groups and their prized collections. The focus for this segment will be their highs & lows, their views on the local fan base.
- What are the highs and lows you have experienced while following your respective fandom.
Highs would be every time that they announce a new group single, the PV that came along with the single will be very spectacular but ever since the anime was released, the quality could be said to have split. Since their 6 official group single release by Lantis along (not even featured in the anime) titled “ Music S.T.A.R.T”. I have not really seen any good music release but more for rushing out in the anime show or the games.
The low aspect is definitely the assault incident on Kawaei Rina and Iriyama Anna on a handshake event mid last year. It was particularly shocking to me as I was in Japan during that period and had actually met Kawaei the day before(the incident). All AKB48 events were suspended indefinitely and it was a dark period for both fans and members then as we have no idea what will happen to the future of the group. Fortunately, with the combined strength of the members, fans, management and communities, we managed to bounce back stronger than ever. Though certain security precautions has been set in place we still believe that the safety of the members should never be compromised.
The first high period is definitely when I met my Takamina in Singapore back in 2011. I still remember how hard I stutter when I first got the chance to talk to her! It is especially meaningful to be able to see her achieve her highest ranking of #4 in the in the Sousenkyo Senbatsu this year, her last Sousenkyo prior to graduation set for this December.
Another memorable high I’ve experienced is definitely Jurina remembering me events after events! It is really a great feeling to know that one of your group Oshimen remembers you despite being a top popular member herself. It makes you feel that your support over the years had paid off and it makes you want to commit even further for her.
The highest points for the group(and myself) was definitely experiencing their growth into what they are today. It’s kinda amazing how big the group is now especially in terms of getting into the top rankings for music releases or grossing a huge amount of money for their recent movie. Unfortunately I have not managed to attend any of their concerts ever D: so I guess that is one of the lows. The other thing that is nice is talking to other fans and discussing about the series locally and online with random people over twitter or otherwise.
– When AKB decided to start the theatre shows here like those in Akihabara’s Don Quijote. Although top-notch members like Oshima Yuko, Maeda Atsuko didn’t grace our shores, but the energy coupled with the performance of the other girls didn’t really affect the enthusiasm of the fans in Singapore. I also get to know the other not-as-popular members better as compared to the senbatsu, whom were mostly in the media limelight.
– Going for my maiden handshake event in Kyoto when my plane was due to take off in the evening in Osaka. Although I have been to Japan several times, the Nogizaka46 handshake event was my 1st in Japan.
– Turning up for AKB’s makeup Valentines’ Day 2shot event (14-Feb-2015), which was supposed to be held on on June 2014. Although I had no Valentine on the day, I managed to celebrate V-Day with 7 of my favourite girls =x
– The attack on the groups’ 2 girls which caused a big ruckus in the international scene, as it was the first such attack in the group’s history during its events. It also changed how the future handshake/2shot events were held, such as putting a table which “affected” the closeness of the girls to the fans and security was more stringent before entering the venue.
– When AKB48 decided to forsake the Singapore market, as Singapore is still in the K-fever.
- From a local perspective, what are your views on the reach of the respective groups here in Singapore.
Most of the fans here would not really be called hardcore fans as most only started following them after the release of the anime. But the way the fans here in the local do for their favourite character would sometimes really be too crazy and idiotic like in the AFA event where fans went and bow in front of a booth wallpaper and also trying to tear it down at the end of the event without permission.
Although there is a sizable AKB48 fan base in Singapore, it is by no means mass appealing. Partially because of our culture here do not really support idol worship, as well as the influence of K-pop in Singapore currently. Among the fans I know, it is really majority casual fans; passive photo/merchandise collectors and online media consumer, and a small group of hardcore fans who make frequent trips to Japan annually for events.
For LL, it definitely have a larger mass appeal among the Japanese interest groups here. How difficult is it to spot a LL fans at an event? Even two of my colleagues are already hardcore LL fans!
The reach here for either AKB48 or Love Live! is very significant though one can see that Love Live! really has a huge presence that is extremely obvious in the community whether through cosplay or merchandise. Everywhere in a con these days and you would be hard pressed not to encounter a Love Live! fan within a 10 metre radius. Hell I see middle aged men playing the game on MRT!
It was really an eye-opener when AKB48 performed in Singapore for the 1st time (12-Nov-2010) in AFA. Getting to see the top-notch senbatsu members like Watanabe Mayu were only possible either at the concert venues or the theatre performances. But seeing them so up close, was really WAOHHHHHH , Also meeting fellow fans and getting to know more friends were also part-and-parcel of the subsequent performances in *scape. The performances held in *scape, had quite a few accomplishments of its own, which the other countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan & Indonesia) didn’t have: – First overseas performance by NMB48 Team N – First overseas performance by SKE48 KII – First and last overseas performance by SDN48 Sadly, all good things must come to a end, as Singapore was still dominated by the K-fever and the fans turnout rate grew lesser with each performances.
Nevertheless, the remaining loyal fans will still gather around and instead of waiting for the performances to be held in Singapore, they have ventured overseas together.
On a side note, it’s disheartening that the Japanese artistes finally decided to reach out to Singapore only now, not when Singapore was still in the J-fever 10 years ago. But it’s still a good start that they have started with the different Japanese related events, primarily a-nation and AFA SG. Popular artistes have also started appearing in Singapore to promote their music once in a while.
- What are the differences you have seen between local fans and Japanese fans.
Compared to Japanese fans, I have been to the live concert this year. The way the fans behaved over there are very polite and well mannered during events compare to what we see here locally.
Japanese fans are generally more disciplined, courteous and hardcore than local fans. I have receive gifts from Japanese fans and receiving gratitude for traveling so far to show my support when they knew I am a foreigner! One interesting aspect of Japanese fans are their grassroot initiatives in organizing members’ birthday committees, event venue cleanliness community and even vigilante community to deter fans from engaging in undesirable activities on event venues.
Personally the local fans I feel are pretty dedicated but have long ways to go compared to the Japanese fans. My only experience with Japanese fans are online and generally there are just so much more neta that you can learn from talking to them compared to the local fans. The local fans don’t seem to provide me(IMO) a very good impression at least compared to other idol fandoms locally. The Idolm@ster group sticks out to me as a local fan group with a lot of knowledge and willingness to share.
Besides the language difference, the most significant difference between local and Japanese fans is the Japanese fans love to know more about the overseas fans, like where they are from, who their favourite members are etc. Local fans tend to be more reserved and would rather to stick to their own circle of friends.
That is all for now in this particular segment. Some insights on how they view the fans here in Singapore and those in Japan.
The final part of this feature will conclude tomorrow, stay tuned!