AKB48 is possibly one of the most daunting fandoms to get into, of all time. There are so many members, so many elections, so many graduations, so many competitions, even the simple game of rock, paper, scissors can get complicated when discussing AKB48.
Here are the basics to get you started.
What/who is AKB48?
AKB48 are “idols you can meet”.
Named after Akihabara in Tokyo, they were meant to have 48 and so were namedAKB48. At last count they had 140 members. They perform daily at their theatre.
And just because they are all super cute, don't think that their PVs are all about cuteness. Their latest, Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai is pretty intense! (And has lightsabers!)
While AKB48 may be the best known, they also have sister groups. An idol in the ’48 family can belong to more than one group, so for instance, they can be with AKB48 but also be in SKE48.
Some of the sister groups are international, such as JKT48 in Indonesia and TPE48 in China.
The sister groups, some still active while others have disbanded, have included SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, SDN48, JKT48, TPE48, SNH48 and just to change things up, Nogizaka46.
What’s a handshaking event?
Fans buy a CD single, which comes with a ticket to go to the handshaking event. Then you go to the theatre where the group is performing and get to shake their hands!
It’s not always a good thing for the girls. There was an attack on some of the members which made international headlines.
What’s with all the competitions?
There's a few different competitions that can happen within AKB48 and their sister groups throughout the year, including a janken tournament. The competitions often affect who appears on their singles, so they’re important to all members of the group.
Janken is paper-scissors-rock. The members play agai/nst one another, to see who will be victorious!
Arguably more important than this (I say arguably because being good at paper-scissors-rock is a very important skill in my book) is the single ‘general election’. It’s to see who will be queen of AKB48 for another year. The top 16 voted members will appear in the next single.
The winner of the general election is decided by who has received the most votes from fans. This year of this year's single general election was Sashihara Rino. (Who's actually in HKT48)
You fill out the ballot by buying the latest single. You can vote more than once, but it requires buying multiple copies. The question then becomes, how much do you love your favourite member?
This is only skimming the surface of AKB48 and their sister groups