28 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

AKB0048 and what power entertainment has

Seems only fitting to follow-up an Aquarion EVOL post with Shoji Kawamori’s latest nonsense fest, AKB0048. In the world of AKB0048, jpop idol music is wonderful and amazing and everyone loves listening to it. That’s fine by me, but I do have a bit of a problem with idol music being the bastion of the free world.

There’s a post on Shameful Otaku Secret about the irony of how entertainment is one of the most effective methods to subjugate the masses. But that’s a rather bleak view of entertainment. If you’ll allow me to get a bit arts studenty here for a second, that the view many early Marxist writers had of entertainment. The main power it had was to distract people away from fighting for real issues, a delopoliticising effect. I’m not going to fight for my civil rights because I’m too busy cheering for idols.

However that’s a fairly backward view, and most people nowadays recognise that entertainment has a power to challenge society. Taking music on its own, the birth of pop music and Elvis and all that was a form of sexual expression that had been pushed out of mainstream culture. Punk was a way for young people to express their frustration at their role in society. The entire goth rock thing is mainly a form of teenage rebellion. You can make all forms of entertainment represent something. Stand up comedy is mocking social norms and people in power. Burlesque dancing is a form of sexual expression. Even something as utterly dopey and inoffensive as Morris dancing could be viewed as a form of nationalism as the dancers try to keep a part of English culture alive.

In AKB0048, the resistance decided a great way to fight this injustice is through idol jpop. Why? Why idols? The lyrics are about love and stuff, so are they banning dangerous messages about how loving people is nice? Nope, because the main character has parents who call each other ‘dear’, and even her friend has a boyfriend who seems quite partial to following the rules of society. So it’s not the lyrics. Maybe it’s the very nature of fun or artistic expression they’re trying to ban, and idol jpop is just the purest version of that? Well no because, as the post on Shameful Otaku Secret points out, there’s still fashion. The main character’s room is filled with stuffed animals and even a mobile above her bed. The only thing her dad had a problem with was the AKB0048 poster.

What’s left then? Well, analysing the concert scene, we have a bunch of young women dressed up as schoolgirls performing to an audience consisting largely of older men, along with a few young girls in the crowd who want to become those idols. There was that one shot of one of the AKB0048 members blowing a kiss to a selection of the men, who all blush and swoon. The powerful message the AKB0048 concert had was one of older men sexualising young girls and for younger girls to aspire to become one of these sexualised pop stars in their teenage years.

Row row fight the power I guess.

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  1. Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    You are taking this show way too seriously.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      If I didn’t take Aquarion EVOL as seriously as I do, I wouldn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. That show is fun precisely because you have to think for a second to reach the logical conclusions the metaphors are making you arrive at

      • Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:31 am | Permalink

        I see. Still, AKB0048 has some of the most cringe-worthy moments in anime history, as you will see in later episodes, CGI performers notwithstanding. Not to mention all that unintentional comedy.

      • Kamui
        Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Makes me kind of wish you reviewed Aquarion Evol episodically, considering it gives a lot to talk about. Then again, you already had your hands full at the time with Nise and Future Diary. But man, it would’ve made for some very interesting posts.

      • Erif
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

        I agree with Kamui, to an extent, but I think blogging Aquarion might have eventually become tedious. Though I do wonder how differently I’d view it if I approached it with a more serious mindset. That’s what I tried to do at first, but I ended up thinking too hard about it, which only tarnished my overall enjoyment of the show. So the only reason I actually enjoy (to the extent that I do) is because I don’t take it seriously, as it provides a break from the more “serious” shows I watch and care about.


  2. abc
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:05 am | Permalink

    As someone who loved The Idolm@ster, this show makes me very sad.

  3. diz1776
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Clearly one of the best shows this season.

  4. Thrashy
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    After reading your second paragraph, suddenly the pacification through music of the invading Zentraedi in Macross takes on a new, darker undertone.

    • Scamp
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Macross is actually a communist anime

      • Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

        Macross is Hitler

      • Erif
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:53 am | Permalink

        It’s funny because Hitler was fascist, not communist.

  5. Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    The amount of unintentional comedy in this series is ridiculous; I find myself raising an eyebrow at just about everything that’s said or done, and this is coming from a guy who almost took parts of Akikan seriously.

    • Embok
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Oh hey another person throwing out the ‘unintentional’ word to make himself feel better about being entertained, when it’s clearly anything but that.

      • Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        It’s strange, it’s almost like a forced meme, how really, that specific word is all that everyone says about it:

  6. Adrian
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    I would never have guessed something like that.
    I was like wtf watching the first episode. You know, military guys trying to take down a bunch of girls just because “entertainment is prohibited”. “And why the hell idols?”, I thought (and now I know the answer). They even stamp their missiles with that ridiculous no-idol symbol. They were playing a ridiculous setting straight, but I couldn’t stand how ridiculously bland the characters were, so I dropped this show.

  7. Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    AKB0048: Revolution X, but Steven Tyler’s in a seifuku.

  8. 3242
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    It’s the threat,
    next thing you know they will be singing about overthrowing the planets ruling system if Idoling goes unchecked!

  9. Posted May 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    The amount of unintentional comedy in this comments thread about a cartoon not worth the attention is what’s ridiculous.

    Posted May 22, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Drop Space Bros & blog Kids on the Slope!

  11. Meonlyme1845
    Posted May 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Just wondering… Have you seen Hyouka yet? Not like it’s any good, but I’ve been waiting for your first impressions post :)
    BTW, since you don’t like those weeaboo names, call it Ice Cream instead :D (that’s what it really means)

  12. Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    We could simply see this as a poor man’s UN-GO, given that show’s episode about idols, both actual and virtual, their voices and governmental control.

    • luffyluffy
      Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      UN-GO isn’t that good in the first place though, so being a poor man’s UN-GO would be quite bad.

      • Daniel
        Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

        Then it fits perfectly.

  13. Erif
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    I like a lot of the points you made here, Scamp. It kind of makes me wonder the potential this has; if the writers and directors and producers made an attempt to create a serious, self-respecting anime, just by addressing the above could it be a step above what it’s made out to be.

    • diz1776
      Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      You never know. Maybe that’s what they’re attempting to do right here.

      • Golos
        Posted May 26, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

        Seriously? Does it get better?

  14. GuardMonkey10
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I buy this premise pretty well. After all so many forms of entertainment have been banned by the folks in charge for various dubious reasons. That’s just simple history. As for your charge of them being sexualized for the entertainment of old men…. Well duh, its a music group that plays in public. Can you name many groups pop, industrial, techno, classic, country, or whatever the style where the females are at least decent looking? Any visible female in a music group is going to be sexualized deliberately to sell. Doesn’t this apply to the males too? I really don’t see many butt-ugly folks in entertainment. Also… Aren’t most voice actresses pretty much ‘idols’ too? Is my understanding of the system incorrect? Aren’t they also required to do more than just voice act but to also live act, sing, and possibly perform on stage? The girls in AKB0048 do all that and also are trained in hand to hand combat, mech warefare, gunnery, small arms, etc… That sounds like Audie Murphy! I don’t find what I can see of the real life AKB to excessively slutty like a lot of other pop stars… Actually they look kinda tame.

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  • […] start somewhere. The future is built one brick at a time. Furthermore, Idols, as 5camp accurately characterized, are sexualized and it certainly questions the value for girls to aspire to be mere sex objects. […]

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