Honestly, it’s hard to know how to start an article about this. This is probably the most shocking thing I’ve ever had to write about.
At a handshake event in Iwate prefecture, Kawaei Rina and Iriyama Anna were injured. They were attacked by a man wielding a saw, who has since been apprehended. Luckily, every report I’ve seen says that there haven’t been any major injuries, and that they’re certainly not life threatening.
That said, this is incredibly difficult to process. Kawaei Rina is one of my favorite idols, and I’ve been worrying about this ever since I heard about it. Yet, all of this is beyond favorite members. I have both Kawaei Rina, Iriyama Anna and the injured staff member in my thoughts. As well as the rest of the AKB48 members; this has to be incredibly scarring and mentally distressing for every 48 member, if not even every idol. Ultimately, as we discuss all the repercussions of this event, I think it’s important to stress that it should be the well-being of Kawaei Rina, Iriyama Anna and every other 48 member that we take into consideration above all else. I have everyone in my thoughts, and hoping for a speedy recovery.
That said, it’s hard to know what AKB48’s management is going to do. I imagine that they are discussing possibilities right now. The first thing I considered was that this will mean an end to handshake events and other such things. From what I’ve seen, it looks like SKE48’s event and NMB48’s after-show high touch event were both cancelled. I don’t think this necessarily indicative of what will happen in the future, but it is telling about how much this is going to affect things.
The thing is, I can’t see them ending handshake events. AKB48 is built on the cornerstone of “Idols you can meet.” Even as AKB48 has become increasingly popular, to the point where they dominate sales charts, they have continued these meet and greet opportunities. It might be cynical, but completely ending these events would have a very negative effect on AKB’s sales, and I doubt that they would want that. Also, the vast majority of fans aren’t doing anything like this. This is one guy out of the hundreds of thousands of fans who have gone to see AKB.
That said, they have to do something. What I see them doing is increased security measures. More security guards will be there. There will probably be bag checks instated; the fact that there haven’t been any bag checks in the past is almost unbelievable to me. One measure that might be considered is a metal detector system; Japan doesn’t have a major gun problem like the US, but if they are able to check for knives or saws that might make things better.
The thing is, this doesn’t just hurt the two members in question. Obviously that is the most important thing we should be worrying about, but that’s not it. This disrupts the entire illusion of safety that idol events have. I know that I never even conceived of this being a possibility. Idols and fans aren’t going to feel safe until they see that some measures have been taken, which is why I think it’s going to have to be more increased security.
This type of event has the potential to completely shake up the idol world. And for good reason; safety is the most important thing for these girls, and if that’s threatened then we need to reevaluate how these events are run. Fans might be disappointed; I think some were disappointed that SKE’s event was cancelled. But that really doesn’t matter, because the well-being of the members, both physical AND mental, trumps all fan disappointment.
Again, I have Kawaei Rina, Iriyama Anna and the staff member in my thoughts.