Melos and Gaki bring more details about Aki-P’s new idol project – auditions have already begun and there’s a schedule that seems to indicate a group debut before the end of 2011. Gaki sees this as Aki-P’s chance to continue his rein of the idol world even after the sell-by date of AKB passes. It’s as good a theory as any, and certainly speaks to the business acumen of someone who has found two different idol collectives.
I have to say, this is as much a “fuck you” to Hello! Project as it is to AKB48. Not only is H!P considered too weak to compete against AKB48 – and let’s face it, the numbers bear this out in an excruciatingly obvious fashion – but Sony is the company behind UFA, which runs Hello! Project. If Sony really wants to push idol groups, why aren’t they working with the collective already in their realm of influence? On the surface, this looks like a vote of no-confidence for Tsunku and company.
Beyond that, one has to wonder if Aki-P is hoping this new rivalry will actually increase sales for AKB in the short term. After all, the senbatsu election has proven so wildly successful, and that’s all about choosing favorites and picking sides. It could backfire – people could see Aki-P as being overly manipulative in playing both sides of a fence he created. That said, he’s already done one highly manipulative stunt after another with AKB and has barely even been called out on it by the fan base. Who’s to say they’ll start now?
I remember when I first heard about AKB48 – there were a bunch of other new super-sized idol groups at the time whose names I can’t even remember now, including the one BENI came from and another one created by a department store, and Avex was trying to aggregate all their girl group under the Girl’s Box title. In that context, and with Morning Musume still the biggest fish in an ever dwindling pond, AKB48 looked like a long shot at best.
Now, idol girl groups have cycled back to being all the rage, Morning Musume remained the same size while other groups outdid them by leaps and bounds… It’s a very different landscape, and Aki-P trying to do a threepeat with a new girl group collective doesn’t seem so quixotic or misguided. I’m actually rooting for this group to succeed – because the more the merrier, right? But I do believe in cycles, and if AKB has become SO successful that we’ll see the same idol burnout that happened in the mid-2000s… well, to quote numerous people, It is what it is.