If an AKB48 CD gets abandoned in the woods, does it make a sound?
Of course not, but what about ditching nearly 600 discs of the peppy idol group’s May single “Negaigoto No Mochigusare” on a mountain?
Police in Fukuoka Prefecture filed charges Tuesday against a man in his 30s for doing just that. The man, from the city of Dazaifu in the country’s Kyushu region, reportedly admitted that he ditched 585 CDs on a local mountain. If you are wondering what that might sound like, watch the below clip 585 times.
The song served as this year’s “election single,” for the annual AKB48 event wherein fans vote for their favourite members, helping dictate who appears in upcoming videos and so forth. Unlike most democratic processes, ballots for this vote come packaged in physical CD copies of a specific song, and fans who buy multiple copies can then vote multiple times for their favourite. Even though this year’s election introduced online voting, plenty of hardcores still go the classic route of purchasing a physical copy of the song. Besides, it helps AKB48 on the Oricon Chart.
But even the biggest AKB fan doesn’t need several hundred copies of the same song. The Fukuoka man decided to simply abandon them on a mountain. Reports say the case started in June, when a local walking on the mountain found several boxes full of CDs. The police investigated, and this week significant steps were taken in the case.
This isn’t a new problem, though! AKB48 fans are well known (or perceived) to buy multiple copies of new singles to support the group - or get the sweet, sweet handshake-event tickets or ballots within their jewel cases. Every year around the time of the election, you can count on at least one news story going viral in Japan about a fan who buys, like, several thousand CDs to support his favourite.
And the issue of where they go has long fascinated those outside the fandom in Japan (and abroad, hence this post). Stories have appeared about fans giving out copies of AKB singles to classmates at their universities, or trying to sell them online. It has gotten to the point that some second-hand stores in Japan refuse to take more AKB48 CDs. The reason this story is getting extra attention is because it is a (sort of?) extreme example of what people actually do with all these products after they get what they want from it.
Plus, it plays into the narrative that AKB48’s chart and sales success has all been inflated by fans who don’t necessarily want these physical goods. Which is true! But also isn’t unique to AKB anymore, as all sorts of Western pop and rock artists pull similar tricks now (Metallica used a each-CD-comes-with-concert-tickets trick to climb up the Billboard charts recently). Not to mention that streaming services, in many ways, allow fans to inflate chart position just as much. Though, I guess you can’t abandon a Spotify play in nature.
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