Otaku band AKB48 morphs into $200M business

Idolatry: With a reported $212 million in record sales in 2011, AKB48 is one of the highest-earning pop groups in the world.


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.

The music is, shall we say, an aquired taste; it sounds like arcade game tunes drenched in a massive one-part vocal harmony. Yet intense otaku fandom has lifted the hydra-headed, miniskirted band to the highest levels of Japanese acceptability. It’s even acting as Japan’s unofficial representative in China.

Created by Petworks, these AKB48 dolls are 10 inches tall and identical to the real thing, right down to the coiffures and eyelashes.

Flickr: petworks_co_ltd)

The … [Read more]

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