As many of you idol fans have seen, AKB48 is doing a collaborative effort with Google+, Google’s answer to social media such as Facebook and Twitter. While I do use Google+ (less than Facebook and Twitter, which are used for family/friends and my Once Upon a Time fandom, respectively), I haven’t been a very active user on it, other than with other Intl Wota contributors, but that might change due to AKB.
1. Watching the live stream of the events, the one thing that stood out most to me was that they emphasized international fans. Now this is mostly just me being an English-language speaking American fan of idols, but the fact that they’re acknowledging international fans in a way that isn’t “Oh, we have fans from America, isn’t that amazing??” is pretty new. Even though this new Google + announcement isn’t doing too much in bringing idol stuff to the US (I’d still like AKB/SKE/NMB songs on iTunes…), it’s still something that they’re trying to acknowledge fans. I haven’t figured out how they’re working the “AKB48 translator” (if anyone knows tell me!) but it’s pretty cool either way.
2. The hangout system is cool in theory, but as I saw when it launched it’s going to be VERY difficult to actually “hang out” with your idols. Maeda Atsuko’s was full almost immediately, which isn’t hard to imagine when full is only 10 people. If you’re in Japan it would probably be easier to go to a handshake event or something to get face time with your favorite idol than sitting on Google + hoping for a hangout. As someone who’s not in Japan, I guess I just have to hope that one of my favorites will do a hangout that I can be in.
3. the fact that underage members can’t participate. I mean, there’s nothing that can really be done, since it’s a part of Google+’s policy. Yet it’s kind of amazing how many members are in fact over 18. It’s disappointing for me personally, since my two favorite members (Oota Aika and Iwasa Misaki) are under 18, but I’ll just have to be fine with my favorite NMB48 girl, Watanabe Miyuki!
All in all, I think it’s a good move. It’s good promotion at minimum cost with Google and AKB48 both getting a lot out of the partnership. I doubt it’ll be anything revolutionary, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the feeling of idols being even closer to you with little additional effort!