The Yomiuri Shimbun paper’s website reports that Yasushi Akimoto, the producer and songwriter of the Japanese female idol group AKB48, is entertaining offers for spinoff groups from seven television stations and production companies in six countries. The six countries include Thailand, Singapore, China, and Italy.
According to the website, Akimoto believes that “the era of imitating the West is over. Now we export Japanese culture.” The seven companies want to license the rights to localize AKB48’s concept and format in their respective countries. In particular, the proposed spinoffs would each have a theater of its own (like AKB48 has in Tokyo’s Akihabara otaku shopping district), 48 members and a name that ends with “48,” costumes modeled after high school uniforms, and songs written by Akimoto.
AKB48 performed theme songs for the Deltora Quest and ICE anime projects. The contemporary artist and occasional anime creator Takashi Murakami illustrated the jacket for the AKB48 idol group’s June 24 single, “Namida Surprise!” In return, AKB48 producer Yasushi Akimoto wrote the lyrics for the “First Love” tie-in song for Murakami’s “Superflat First Love” anime short. Members of the group have made appearances in New York Anime Festival in the United States and Japan Expo in France.
In a separate development, Beckii Cruel, the 14-year-old British dancer who rose to Internet fame in Japan by dancing to anime songs in net videos, is making her first appearances in a manga and a Japanese television program on Wednesday. The dancer appeared in Hideo Nishimoto’s Mō, Shimasen Kara non-fiction manga in this year’s sixth issue of Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine. The manga installment reports on her first sightseeing trip to Tokyo’s traditional Asakusa neighborhood. She is also making her Japanese television debut on the Jinrui Akiramekaketeita Yume program on the NTV television network on Wednesday.
After her dancing videos were seen over 3.3 million times last year, Beckii Cruel released a DVD in Japan, performed at a stage event in Akihabara, and is now leading a three-girl band for a CD.