Japan, the broadband Internet country is having new Internet connection service under the name of AKB48, Japan’s most popular girls group.
On the top image, one of the most popular member Yuko Oshima is “breastfeeding” a baby and the caption says “will you make a baby with me?”
The ISP offers free application AKBaby (AKB + baby), which compose baby face from AKB48 member and you. You upload your face and choose an AKB48 member, you will get the baby photo with the member.
The provider costs 1,480 yen monthly. You also need either optical or ADSL internet connection by NTT East or NTT West. (It is possible that enthusiastic AKB48 fans could want multiple memberships, but I could not find information if you can subscribe only AKB48 Net part without NTT contract.)
As a member of AKB Official Net, you will enjoy the following rewards,
- Internet connection service (of course!)
- AKBaby application explained above
- advanced distribution of AKB48 movies
- right to purchase a special e-mail address with your favorite member’s sub domain (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, atchan is one member’s nickname)
- AKB48 official fan club member contents, including 1) right to request song and 2) queuing tickets for AKB48 theater booking
AKB48 is known by its election business, where they hustle fans into purchasing more than one CDs to push their favorite member up on the inside-group ranking (Wikipedia English). That is well designed voting entertainment such like The US presidential nominating caucuses and primaries. AKB48 does not reach any political achievement, but I see similarity in collecting huge money from supporters.
In May, there was a report that one fan bought 5,500 of the same CD for “voting”. Although some say that this 5,500 CD story is a fake, there are many anecdotes on 2-channel and other sites that AKB fans buying 10-100 CDs to support his girl and get a special treatment such like hand-shake with her.
In September, nation-wide real-estate agent chain Apa Man Shop introduced AKB48 apartment [J], where the lessee can listen AKB48 members’ (recorded) voice in their flat.
It is becoming more and more convenient for Japanese AKB48 fans to show their loyalty for their Oshimen (a generated word on this AKB48 phenomenon means “A member you support”).