The Initials AKB

I grew up in a town that was in the shadow of a big city. That city had a famous football team that was huge in the 60’s and the 80’s and even in the 21st century has won Champions League trophies. I however supported my home town team who these days are barely even professional. Going to university and then working in the city meant I met a lot of fans of the successful team and so many of them snorted at my choice of team to support. I found it odd just how many football fans use their team’s success as a way of feeling superior to other people. As if a random bunch of international millionaires doing well on a football pitch somehow meant the supporter was better than those supporting less successful teams. It’s a curious human trait. Taking pride in things that really have nothing to do with you and using that to look down on others. I remember meeting someone at university who was from the south of England yet she supported Manchester United. She too laughed at the team I supported. Well she supported Man U because they happened to be winning everything as she was growing up. If Chelsea had been winning everything at that stage she’d have supported them instead. I meanwhile would still be supporting my hometown team no matter what as, well, they are my home town team. On the rare occasions they do well it’s good for the town so I have some emotional investment there. Ultimately looking down on others just because of the success some people have, and that you had nothing much to do with, is incredibly childish and somewhat vulgar.

The relevance of this to idols? Well I’m sure there are a lot of AKB fans that love AKB’s music or love the idols. That’s great. That’s what the idol industry is for. Yet there’s always an AKB fan who is willing to point out their success if you ever speak happily of Momusu’s sales in recent years or even if you just happen to mention somewhere you are a fan of H!P. It’s almost as if they are saying you shouldn’t be a fan of the idols you like and the music you like because they aren’t successful enough. Now I’d love sales to be higher but I’m not a glory hunter. I don’t use my love of idols as a way of putting down others. It’s a shitty way to behave. Away from H!P there’s been plenty of other groups I’ve loved. Sakura Gakuin were a tiny group in terms of sales yet they gave the world the awesome Babymetal. My favourite Sakura Gakuin idol though was Horiuchi Marina. She was a hilarious wonderful bundle of energy and I’m glad I got to see her working for the years she was in the group. I wish she’d had more success but the lack of sales in no way diminishes how brightly she shone. I adored that idol and nothing would change that. The entertainment she gave was wonderful. That’s what being an idol fan is about. It’s not about counting sales then deciding to like a group. It’s about diving in on a wonderful journey (Sakura Gakuin obscure pun reference number 267) and being entertained and energised along the way.

There is of course an opposite of the glory hunter. I once saw someone say they didn’t like that C-ute were selling more copies now as in the past they used to remember the person’s name at handshakes and now they don’t. This is also a bizarre concept. Specifically wanting idols not to be successful just so they’ll seem closer to you. Yeah never mind the fact they’d probably quit sooner let’s just hope they continue making no money so I can feel I have some personal relationship with them.

Ultimately liking an idol or a group should be about just that. It should be about liking individuals or liking the music. It shouldn’t be about liking the sales and the opportunity it gives to make you feel superior. Nor should it be about liking that thing nobody else knows about because it makes you feel special. If someone loves AKB for the members or the music than good for them. Go for it. Enjoy. But anyone who starts going on about sales as though that somehow justifies something is being a dick. I’m not criticising AKB idols or their fans. I’m hoping I’m simply criticising a small minority who seem overly obsessed with sales and use that to try to lord it over others. Give it a rest. It’s childish.

I recently tweeted that Momusu’s last 13 (I think) singles had sold over 100,000 and of course was met with one or two AKB fans talking about their superior sales. It’s a bit like someone wanting to climb Mount Everest all their life only to do it and then have people say “yeah well my favourite mountaineer climbed it 3 times”. So what? If you like your favourite groups in the right way you want them to have success but even if others are having more success you’ll still celebrate nice things. Why wouldn’t you?  To be perfectly honest I find the whole H!P and AKB rivalry thing a bit silly anyway. Maybe with the news Momusu will perform on a song on AKB’s next album this supposed rivalry (which seems to only exist with the fans) will die down a bit. I will say one more thing though. Lots of idols from other agencies seem to like H!P. There seems to be an opinion that H!P really looks after it’s members. When other idols like H!P perhaps fans of other groups should think a bit about that before criticising.

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8 responses to “The Initials AKB

  1. Amen! And great comparison! I’m actually excited for this collaboration it’ll be interesting to actually hear how H!P idols sound alongside AKB. Plus Sashihara Rino finally gets to fulfill her fangirl dreams after spazzing and being a fan of H!P for so long – she living her dream now! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was once a part of this childish crowd thinking to myself that it’s somehow “unfair” and “cheating” that AKB48 managers sell “bikini singles”, put voting tickets into CDs and add so many members. We have to be honest and admit that idol industry is stil an INDUSTRY which means that it aims to milk us to death and not make the girls shine brightly and achieve their potential. It’s a money making machine and AKB48 perfected it. It’s easy to feel sour about it and make ppl feel down. We as H!P fans often feel superior claiming that H!P treats members better and makes better music while AKB48 fans can flaunt the sales numbers and better quality PVs. I think that many members feel the rivalry as well but many of them do not.
    But you mentioned something slightly different. Glory hunting is a great term (damn you, native speakers ><). At the same time "I hate it since it became mainstream" is also a thing. In general, what I like versus what you like is in our genes or something. Politics, sport, idols, whatever. Empathy and tolerance is clearly not very trendy =='

    Liked by 3 people

  3. True. But empathy and tolerance is the way forward if we are ever to stop the endless cycle of aggression and war that erupts in so many ways on so many levels. Looking at 2016 I’m sure we’re getting more tolerant. >.>

    Personally it’s all so subjective. I like H!P’s music more but it’s silly to make statements like “H!P makes the best music” as it’s a personal thing. It’s okay to say “to my taste H!P makes the best music” but that doesn’t then become empirical proof that H!P makes the best music. xD It’s just the best to me. Again though people love to think their taste is the best. It happens with allsorts. Fans of obscure artists will look down their noses at fans of commercial manufactured groups and so on. People love self-importance. It’s so unimportant that it’s all just a bit silly.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you. Just thank you! 👏

    I was close to writing my own piece for 2017 about this. I’ve witnessed the fan wars back in the late 2000s and I tight it had died down. Turns out I was just in a bubble of “tolerant” fans.

    Regardless of how much the fandoms melt, one thing remained constant: the idols themselves LOVE their fellow idols and while it is an industry, they don’t see each other as rivals to be toppled. I’ve even see fan wars WITHIN the fandom (which saddened me. What kept me as a fan was my love for the idols themselves).

    I said it once and I’ll say it again: the album track is like the J-idol equivalent to the Mario & Sonic series (or even Sonic’s appearance in Smash). (Coincidentally, Smash 4 famously had a Senbatsu-like event where you could write in a potential character… with the results being polarizing on all counts. Oh dear….)

    Anyway, thank you for this piece. 👏 You win! Good day, sir!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: Jealousy for a Brand New Morning | Magi-Kat presents "Morning Meteora"·

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