This entry has little to do with H!p. You’ve been warned.
You know, there has been a lot of growth in the AKB48 fandom lately, and several of my (online) friends really like them. I had a ton of free time this weekend, so I decided to go out and give them a thorough honest chance. I watched the full Top 100 concert, since I though it would give me a good look at all the teams and some of their best songs. I watched some random other stuff and read various profiles of the girls too, so while I’m no expert, I consider my fairly educated. I’d say I can identify 3/4 of the girls or so (pretty much got A and K down, B not so much). So, what do I think? Plus and minus style.
+ Some of the girls have really nice voices. It’s true. There are definitely several girls who are as good as or better than the best h!p has to offer. Lots of good dancers/ stage presence too.
- WAY too much lipsyncing. This is a huge minus for me. There are only a handful of performances that I can find that seem to be live, and that’s just not acceptable. With h!p, the majority of concert performances are live, with occasional lip syncing. With AKB, it seems to be the other way around. If I go to see idols sing, I want them to actually sing, not just pretend to. Are they afraid that if everything doesn’t sound just perfect, their fans will desert them or something?
+They have some very good songs. There’s plenty of boring filler in there, but the gems make it worthwhile. I’ve expanded my music collection quite a bit!
+Also on the topic of songs, I have to admit that the lyrics are often more creative than h!p. They’re willing to do more daring things, like sing overtly lesbian themed songs, for example. More variety in song types is a plus.
-That said, sometimes I think the sexuality can go a little far, especially considering that there are several younger girls. Many of these girls release much more risque photobooks than you would expect to see from h!p, and as a female, that would make me feel a little weird if I were their fan. Also, I know that CK will hate me for this, but Miss Ohori slinking around stage literally wearing negligee makes me feel like I accidentally wandered into a sleazy strip joint. No thank you.
-There are just too many girls. I know, I know. It’s the same old argument you hear all the time, but it’s true. And they keep adding more. So many of those girls will forever be pushed to the very back. If they’re not good enough to be on the CD, why are they even there? It sounds harsh, but it seems to me like AKB is carrying some deadweight. From a marketing standpoint, it’s an established fact that the sheer number of girls can be a turn off when it comes to attracting new fans.
+That top 100 concert is a great idea! I know that there is some argument about the fairness of the voting system, but I still love the concept. I wish h!p would do something like that, but then I guess they’d just be copying AKB. I’m quite curious to know what the fans would pick as their top 100 h!p songs of all time.
-I also worry that the girls may be being exploited a bit. They’ve done a lot to remove distance between fans and the idols, but are all the girls truly happy with that? Handshake events is one thing, but hug events? Personal wake up calls? Private photo sessions? I dunno. Not to mention that the daily performances ensure that the girls are working their asses off all the time, and from what I hear, only the very top girls get paid much at all.
+Their AKBingo show looks to be much more entertaining than haromoni or yorosen ever were.
-Lastly, in the negative category, some of their promotional schemes are just exploitative. The infamous “collect all 48 posters, 1 randomly chosen with each CD purchase” incident was the worst, but this new “buy a CD, get a vote for who is in the next single” ploy is kind of dirty too. The voting idea isn’t bad, but it should just be one vote per person. Making people buy their votes with stacks and stacks of CDs… the CD itself is meaningless.
Overall, I appreciate a lot of AKB’s music and performances. I’m sure they have some good idols in their ranks too, but I’m going to be sticking with my h!p fandom for now. There’s just too much about AKB that makes me feel uncomfortable for me to really get into that fandom, and the lipsyncing drives me crazy.