Wednesday, January 27, 2010

For Those About to AKB48, I Salute You!

I'm not sure what that video is. I was looking for another AKB48 clip with which to illustrate this post, and this was first. Pretty amusing. At first I thought it might be two AKB48 members giving a press conference, but now I believe it's a couple of girls comically riffing on the whole "idol" phenomenon. I can only understand about 5% of what they're saying, so I could easily be wrong. I like their little synchronized hand gestures, though.

AKB48 fans found my post about the group, and if any are still reading this blog, welcome. I checked out some AKB48 messageboards and was happy to see a few people enjoyed my post. It was fun to write, and I had no idea the group's popularity had penetrated the North American market already. Anything that gets people excited about Japan is fine by me. Well, amost anything; there are a few things here that deeply disturb me and I try not to think about them.

But if AKB48 is your gateway drug, then I'm all for that. Mine happened to be Ultraman, Pink Lady and Jeff and bands like Shonen Knife and Melt-Banana.

Anyway, here's a bit more about AKB48 and their impact locally. That is, in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture.

At the beginning of the week, I usually ask my students what they did over the weekend. Standard stuff, and they're no doubt bored as hell by it by now. One of my classes consists of three kids from three different local high schools. Here's what happened Tuesday, in a semi-screenplay format:

ME: And what did you do last weekend?

GIRL (big smile): I went to karaoke... with my friends.

ME: How many people went?

GIRL (thinks for a moment): Three people.

ME: Wow, cool, fun! What songs did you sing?

(A barely audible, all-in-Japanese discussion between the GIRL and the one GUY in the class ensues. She wants to know what I'm asking and this is the safest, quickest way to find out. The GUY explains.)

GIRL (smiling again, still not sure she understands, but willing to do her best to answer): AKB.

ME: AKB48? Do you like AKB48?

GIRL (laughing because she's surprised I know what AKB48 is and possibly because the answer to such a stupid question should already be obvious): YES!

Unfortunately for her, a quick quiz determined she was the only AKB48 fan in the room. But outside the classroom, she's not alone.

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