It’s becoming more and more common for idol singer units in Japan to pump up their sales numbers by offering some kind of special prize to fans who purchase multiple copies of the same CD. Each disc might come with a raffle ticket for a chance to shake hands with the group, and at least one band will let you straight up go on a date with the member of your choice if you buy enough copies.
By far the most coveted prizes are those handed out by Japan’s biggest musical act, AKB48. The loyalty of the supergroup’s fans is legendary, but even with their reputation proceeding them, we’re shocked at just how much cash the unit squeezed out of one ardent supporter.
AKB48’s massive 48-singer roster (more if you count their junior member “trainees”) can be a little unwieldy to manage and choreograph. So instead of everyone getting treated equally, the unit is divided into subgroups based on the results of periodic popularity polls, which producers have termed “elections.” The more votes a singer gets, the stronger the focus that’s placed on her in the band’s next song, video, or concert.
The poll isn’t conducted through AKB48’s website, though. The only way to vote is to get your hands on one of the ballots that come packaged with certain AKB48 CDs. Unlike political elections, though, voting multiple times is not only allowed, but encouraged, and even hoped for by the band and its handlers. Were he alive today, Boss Tweed would definitely be a fan.
▼ “Koi suru, fortune cookie!”
The last two elections haven’t been kind to 16-year-old idol Juri Takahashi, who both times failed to crack the top 48. Thankfully, though, she has a wealthy sponsor this time, and the anonymous fan is determined to put his favorite member of AKB48 closer to the spotlight. Just how serious is he? Well, here’s a snapshot of his bulk purchase of the latest ballot-containing release.
So how much did this shocking gesture of support for Ms. Takahashi cost him?
Roughly 31,502,400 yen ($311,905).
Internet users, of course, had plenty to say:
“Umm, that’s good for the economy, I guess?”
“Well that’s creepy. And what’s he gonna do with all those CDs now?”
The last point is actually a good question, as the industrial-style floor shows those boxes clearly aren’t in his house or apartment. If you just bought so many idol CDs you have to store them at the office, you might have crossed the line from passionate to obsessive.
Honestly, once you start throwing this kind of money around, you have to ask yourself a simple question: Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just produce your favorite idol’s CDs yourself?