Introducing AKG48

Like AKB48, but 2.08 times as big

Introducing AKG48

And so we bring you the latest in the AKB48 saga, and it seems a challenger may have arrived; one that may not outdo our heroes for talent, but one that beats them physically, member for member, 2.08 to one.

Meet AKG48, an idol group with an unusually familiar name who recently descended from the Gunma mountains to stake their claim on the hearts and minds of Tokyo. The central 'G' core hit the street earlier this month, performing outside Gunmachan, a shop in Ginza that specialises in Gunma produced goods (see the video clip above). The core 'G' group features 12 members, a mere fraction of a more stupendous whole: at full strength, AKG48 boasts 100 members.

According to a report in the Sankei Shimbun several weeks ago, the all-singing-all-dancing mega unit was formed by an odds-and-sods company called Oriental Japan (also a dispatch company, recruiter, events planner, consultancy and advertising firm), and was originally intended to replicate AKB48 in everything, including number. However, of the 220-odd people who turned up, the Sankei tells us, 'there were too many promising candidates to narrow it down', and so membership was rounded up to include 100 people. Who'd have thought that Gunma was such a hotbed of burgeoning pop talent?

If you're having trouble comprehending the name, know this: AKG48 were not always thus. A little surfing around their Flickr site quickly shows that they once worked under the name Gunma Mega Idol Group (or the Japanese translation thereof). We've yet to discern why they thought to change it, though the official line is that they're named after Gunma's Mt Akagi, along with the idea that 'A' stands for 'akaruku' (brightly), 'K' stands for 'kawaiku' (cutely) and 'G' stands for 'genkiyoku' (cheerfully). None of this adequately explains why they've kept the number 48 in their name, but it's obvious that the group and their management company are not shy when it comes to wearing influences on their sleeves. Videos on YouTube demonstrate that an AKG48 show has so far consisted chiefly of the group miming or dancing along to AKB48 hits.

Interestingly enough, the Gunma Discover tourism campaign is currently underway, running July 1-Sept 30. Without wishing to appear too cynical, we wouldn't be surprised if AKG48 disappears back up the Akagi mountain they came down from before the summer is out, though with luck they'll stick around long enough to do some Oricon chart damage with their first single, 'Knee High Lover'.

Jon Wilks
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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