Government’s Cool Japan Project to fund AKB48 sister group in Philippines

It’s been recently announced that AKB Group, the idol conglomerate responsible for AKB48, NMB48, SKE48, HKT48, NGT48, JKT48, and SNH48, will be adding another serial number to the roster in the form of MNL48, which is planned to operate out of Manila in the Philippines.

This new group will be formed through a project by the publicly funded Cool Japan initiative which, contrary to what Gackt may think, appears to be doing something tangible with all their funding after all. In fact, this is especially tangible as yet another source of revenue for Yasushi Akimoto, the head of AKB Group who also just happens to be the chairman of the Cool Japan Council.

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Idol ordered to pay management company 650,000 yen after going to hotel with male fan

Idol singers exist in an extremely specialized, and often contradictory, corner of the already specialized Japanese pop music industry. Successful idols are expected to walk the fine line between having a polished, attractive appearance and an approachable, unassuming aura. Even more ironic is that while their songs’ lyrics are often focused on love and devotion, it’s practically unheard of for an active idol to openly be in a romantic relationship.

Every now and again, though, word gets out that an idol secretly has a boyfriend, or had an illicit liaison with a guy. The revelation is usually followed by a solemn apology to fans, and often the offending member being removed from the group. But this time the story of an idol’s amorous activities coming to light has something we’ve never heard about before: a court-ordered fine equivalent to several thousand dollars for breach of contract.

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Thai idol brings down the house with her sexy dance moves【Video】

It’s not easy to pull off dance moves with the same kind of finesse as you see in many of the most popular music videos. Whether you’ve got “the moves like Jagger” or you’re more like that pink girl in the Rebecca Black video, everyone seems to have their own style of getting their groove on.

Nevertheless, if you’ve got it, flaunt it, which is exactly what one Thai internet personality is doing in a popular video of her getting down in her room with hilarious results.

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Japanese arcade has floor pads so fans can kneel before, leave offerings to their anime crushes

Even among otaku, those with a fondness for anime series Love Live! are known for being particularly obsessive. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the Love Livers, as the franchise’s fans are known, worship the show’s central characters.

And if that’s the case, one arcade figured, why not give fans a place where they can kneel down and make offerings to their anime idols?

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Pro: Six idols fighting over you! Con: They’re all super-powered and violent!! Soda ad: Crazy!!!

There’s a pretty common male fantasy in Japan that goes like this: You’re sitting alone in your classroom at lunchtime, when suddenly, a cute female classmate walks up to you. With your heart fluttering and your stomach growling, you find out she’s ready to satisfy both, as she pulls out a bento lunch box filled with homemade goodies and, while smiling sweetly, asks if you’d eat lunch with her.

Now take that same scenario, but expand the cast from one girl to six. Even better, right?

Sure, at least until you find out that all six of your lady suitors have superpowers and violent streaks, like what happens to this unsuspecting guy in the craziest soda ad we’ve seen in quite a while.

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New music video by LADYBABY here to rock your world (in more ways than one) 【Video】

Few could have imagined that a bearded man dressed in a girl’s school uniform would prove to be big a hit. Even fewer perhaps would have guessed that putting said individual in a J-pop group alongside a couple of Japanese teens would be something people would actually want to watch, but watch they do, and LADYBABY is currently taking Japan by storm.

In the music video for their first upcoming single release, “Tokyo Manju”, Japan’s most curious trio takes to the streets of Tokyo to show you all the wonderful things we love about Japanese culture.

When Gackt said the Cool Japan campaign needed a revamp, I don’t think this is quite what he had in mind…

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What makes “Love Live!” so mega popular? We asked one passionate super fan

If you’re into anime and you haven’t been living under a rock for the past two years, you should have at least heard of the unstoppable, indomitable multimedia force known as Love Live! School Idol Project, which first aired in early 2013. The show took off and captured the hearts of Japanese and foreign viewers alike seemingly in the blink of an eye.

In fact, fans of the series are known for being so incredibly dedicated to the teenage troupe that we wanted to find out firsthand what attracted them to the series. Consequently, we had our Japanese reporter ask one enthusiastic fan, whom we’ll call Mr. K, for his personal opinion. What do you think he had to say about the draw of the series?

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Kyary Pamyu Pamyu goes to Tokyo DisneySea dressed like a total creeper

Perhaps it’s not to the extent that celebrities have it in the United States, but Japanese celebs – especially pop idols of the female persuasion – are regularly accosted in public if they’re recognized. And while most stereotypically meek Japanese might be content with taking surreptitious photos from afar in the event of an idol sighting, the possibility of running across an unhinged fan or aggressive paparazzi on the streets means most Japanese pop stars will conceal their faces somehow when strolling around in public on their own.

For the typical celeb, this generally means wearing dark shades or even just wearing a fashion they’re not normally seen wearing on TV, while others still will walk around with their faces totally uncovered like the rest of the unwashed masses. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, on the other hand, wasn’t taking chances on a recent trip to Tokyo DisneySea, choosing to conceal her face entirely and looking like a total creeper in doing so.

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Is AK48’s Chinese sister group even cuter than the original? Our reporter thinks so!

Ever heard of SNH48, AKB48’s second sister group outside of Japan? Based in Shanghai, China, the idol unit has been active since 2012, releasing a total of eight singles to date. These singles are all Chinese-language covers of previous AKB48 singles, including their latest release on May 15–the Chinese version of “Manatsu no Sounds Good!” (盛夏好声音).

Now, I’m not someone easily swayed by the cutesy “charms” of idol singers, but a female writer on our Japanese sister site recently wrote a piece expressing her opinion that SNH48 could possibly be–dare I write it–even cuter than the veritable goddesses of the original AKB48.

Take a moment to watch their latest music video and decide who you think is the cutest!

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Buy 2,000 identical CDs to visit hot springs with this idol group, save them from disbandment

Many Japanese idol groups, such as the mega-popular AKB48, package incentives in with their CDs to get fans to buy multiple copies of the same exact thing. In AKB48’s case, the group occasionally includes voting ballots within special “election singles” that allow fans to vote for the member that will be featured most prominently on a new song.

Like AKB48, up-and-coming rock idol unit DEEP GIRL is using a system of incentives to encourage fans to buy their debut single, which will be released this summer. However, the group is taking an even more drastic approach by using a tiered system of prizes–along with the very real threat that the group will be instantly disbanded if their song doesn’t make it into the Oricon Weekly Top Ten.

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Ami Takeuchi is a beauty queen with pageant awards under her belt, legions of fans and a new idol DVD out, and boy, is it sexy. She also happens to be a “new half”, which in Japan refers to a trans female. Her catchphrase, in fact, is “the new half that’s just too cute!”

Warning: Things are about to get a little bit NSFW (unless you work at RocketNews24, in which case, congratulations! Pretty much nothing is NSFW!)

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Smiles optional-New talent agency accepting applications for idols suffering emotional distress

It’s pretty widely accepted that in the Japanese pop idol world, legitimate musical talent takes a back seat to the ability to project an image. So while you might not need perfect pitch or flawless rhythm, if you want to be an idol, you will need to radiate a constantly upbeat aura, right?

Well, maybe not. A new idol talent agency has just opened its doors, and the company is specifically looking for performers with a gloomy outlook, and is now accepting applications, with no experience required.

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Superfan buys treasure trove of idol-cover magazines, swims through it like Scrooge McOtakuduck

In recent years, the idol singer industry in Japan has put a lot of power in the hands of fans. Multi-vocalist units like AKB48 and its numerous tri-letter, dual-digit sister groups often hold “elections,” in which votes are tallied to see which members will get the most prominent roles in upcoming music videos, live performances, and the like.

The idol world isn’t a perfect democracy, though, in that concepts like universal suffrage and “one person, one vote” don’t exist within it. Ballots are often packed inside CDs, DVDs, or other commercial goods, and the more you buy, the more you can vote, which is leading one dedicated fan to try to corner the market on manga anthologies.

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Daiso posts videos of fans dancing with long-lasting glow sticks, we can’t look away 【Video】

Last year, we learned from Nissin that samurai are still well and alive in Japan–they’ve just traded their swords in for glow sticks. While the Cup Noodle creators were obviously having a bit of fun with us, it has hard not to take notice of the wild swinging dance moves of the featured idol otaku. They moved with the sort of alacrity that we’d normally expect from a magical pear fairy running from explosions, and we had kind of assumed they were just actors playing a role.

It turns out we were wrong! Apparently that sort of jazzercise-on-steroids dancing is actually common at idol shows. In fact, it’s so common that Diaso, the 100 yen store filled with unique products, has gone out of its way to make and market long-lasting glow sticks. They even have little loops to make finger-spinning easier!

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Japan’s newest idol group, KBG84, hails from Okinawa, has an average age of 84

Japan’s idol world is quite…expansive, for lack of a better word. Even with the wide variety of groups running around, it can be hard to really tell them apart–though we have to say there was no mistaking Osaka’s Obachaaan for any other group. In fact, the “old lady” idol group is still going strong–perhaps thanks in part to the dearth of elderly competition. But it looks like Obachaaa and AKB48 are about to face some new rivals: KBG84, Okinawa’s own geriatric idol group!

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Want to see anime singer Hironobu Kageyama, or rising idol Azusa Todokoro, perform live? 【Event】

Aside from protagonist Goku’s voice actress Masako Nozawa, it’s pretty hard to find a performer who can claim to have made his or her presence felt in all of anime hit Dragon Ball’s over 290 TV episodes and dozen-plus movies. One man who can make that claim, though, is vocalist Hironobu Kageyama, who supplied the opening theme for each and every episode of Dragon Ball and its successor series Dragon Ball Z, plus 12 of its 13 movies to-date (and even the most recent film used a cover of his iconic hit “Cha-La Head-Cha-La”).

Now in his 50s, no one would blame Kageyama is he said he didn’t have the energy for live performances anymore, but the tireless singer isn’t ready to retire yet. Aside from being the front man for anime song supergroup JAM Project, next month Kageyama will be performing for TV program Anison CLUB!, and anime music Internet portal animeloLIVE! is giving away tickets to the event.

And don’t worry if Dragon Ball was before your time, because animeloLIVE! is also looking for fans to come out and support up-and-coming voice actress and idol Azusa Todokoro at yet another event to be held in March.

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Man who attacked AKB48 members with saw at handshake event is jailed for six years

Hugely popular idol group AKB48 was founded on the premise of “idols you can meet” and over the years they’ve stuck to it, hosting numerous handshake and meet-and-greet events on top of their live shows and performances at their own special theatre. Sadly, that open, accommodating fan policy was jeopardised last year when two members of the group were viciously attacked at a handshake event by a crazed “fan” wielding a hand saw.

Luckily, the girls weren’t too seriously injured, but the incident shook the entertainment industry and led to increased security measures being implemented at celebrity events, and it was reported yesterday that the individual responsible for the attack has been sentenced to six years in prison.

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Happy Twintail Day! Now ask out that girl you’ve got a crush on, say Japanese fans of the hairdo

Now that we’re into February, shy men across Japan are out of excuses not to ask out the girl they’ve got a crush on. This month includes a special day with its own framework that allows guys to express their feelings with an established method that leaves no doubt about their affections.

Of course, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day, because in Japan, women give gifts to men on February 14. No, we’re talking about Twintail Day, observed on February 2, which not only celebrates the dual-tail hairstyle, but also seeks to strengthen the bonds between young lovers and established couples alike.

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Who’s still buying physical media in Japan? Top 20 singles lists for the year reveal the answer

With a large music market and some of the world’s highest prices for physical releases, Japan has been very slow in adapting to digital distribution. Rights holders are finally warming up to the idea, though, and it doesn’t look like it’s ruining the industry in Japan. What downloadable music does seem to be doing, though, is splitting the country’s pop music market into two distinct parts, as the lists of Japan’s top 20 single downloads and CD purchases for the year are almost completely different.

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State of the otaku union – Survey reveals vocaloids up, adult games down in 2014

Long ago, being an otaku, one of Japan’s hyper-obsessive subculture fans, made you sort of an outcast. People, especially respectable adults, didn’t really want to look at you, either out of embarrassment for your childish hobbies, or perhaps fear that having spent the last three days indoors had given you a case of shut-in cooties that would jump onto them.

That’s starting to change, though. More and more people are becoming comfortable identifying themselves as otaku, and while some still worry their fixations on fantasy are a drain on society, they’re definitely a boost to the economy, as shown by a survey that indicates spending is up in several sectors of the otaku world.

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