I started following AKB48 since around August of 2010. At first I was thinking, “Man, there’s 48 of them and they all look like sluts so I don’t understand why people like them.” (I’m pretty sure I offended all 2 of you that are reading this. ) At that time I was 26 and the idea of following teenage girls was foreign, if not creepy to me.
Around that time I needed some new music to listen to, and I subscribed to the belief that “the more Japanese you listen to, the better you’ll get at it,” so I grabbed a bunch of top 40 songs. One of them was the song Kimi Shika, by no3b. I had no idea who they were, but I looked up their music video and thought it was okay.
“Let’s see, who are these people? Let me type Minegishi Minami, she seems to be the cutest. Actually, she seems to be the only one that’s cute.”
I then discovered that no3b was a sub-unit of AKB48. “No!” I said, eyes wide open in surprise. “I don’t want to be a fan of slutty idol groups!” (Sorry, again.)
I decided to just stop at that song and at that PV…
…until one morning, when I was laying in bed and playing around with my smartphone on Youtube when I had a sudden thought of “Huh. I wonder if no3b has any other songs.”
And so with viewing this video and that video, it snowballed and I eventually became a gigantic fan of AKB48, starting with PVs and then keeping up with the variety show AKBingo every week. That led to concerts, stages, other variety shows, variety show appearances, and I even went so far as to attempt reading the novel Moshidora just because Acchan and Miichan starred in the movie.
My primary motivation was, of course, to boost my learning in Japanese. I had stopped watching anime and drama and really didn’t do anything in Japanese except study textbook material, which made me question why I was learning Japanese in the first place. It still is my primary motivation, but I’ve also realized how to have fun with Japanese by watching variety shows and if it weren’t for AKB48, who knows what I would be doing or if I’d get to this level.
“But why is your blog about NMB48?”
Coming to the fandom in 2010, I was pretty behind in what was going on and made a good effort to learn as much as I could. I just started downloading and watching as many shows as I could, and I stumbled on the show AKB to XX! One episode covered some of their auditions and followed their development and that’s how I got to know NMB. I was a hesitant as I was thinking “Really? Another sister group? What’s going to be next, China48? I only have room for so many people to follow.”
I’d say there were two real turning points that made me switch from a primary AKB fan to an NMB fan.
1. Yamamoto Sayaka’s performance of Bird from N1
I had actually never watched or cared for stage shows prior to this. However, on AKB to XX! they showed a clip of Yamamoto performing Bird and I was immediately impressed with her vocal talent, given the disappointment I have with lipsynching in the entire group. I decided to give N1 a try. Wow. It changed my mind about everything regarding NMB and I was immediately hypnotized by her performance. I also finally understood stage shows and watched some of the AKB ones.
2. The manzai performance of SayaMilky on Naniwa Nadeshiko.
This was when I discovered that NMB was really, really… funny. Hilarious. In fact, I discovered that the real reason I liked AKB48 is because I like humor. It was easy to understand. There’s tons of inside jokes that you can only understand if you know them and have watched previous shows. The manzai performance just sealed the deal and it was at this point that I decided to primarily follow NMB over their big sisters.
Another minor thing is that AKB48 became big. Really big. It already felt kinda distant, you know, not being Japanese and not being in Japan. But now they fill up stadiums. NMB48 is smaller and thus they seem closer. If I ever go to a handshake event I don’t have to wade through 50,000 people for 5 seconds of time from a girl who will have seen so many people already, and I would rather not attention whore myself just so they’ll remember me.
With all that said, I’m not really a typical fan. I’m not a big fan of most Mixes or wotagei, I don’t really care for gravures or photoshoots or any of that trading cards business, I don’t harbor any surrogate girlfriend/little sister fantasies, I adamantly oppose the ban on dating, etc. I just like being entertained with some good jokes and some good songs and I love watching skill and talent grow.