When one 48-girl pop group isn't enough, create another. And another...

When one 48-girl pop group isn't enough, create another. And another...

Osaka is to launch its own AKB48 in Namba -- NMB48
AKB48, Japan pop group
One third of the AKB48 clan make it to Cannes in 2009 and will join with SKE48 in Macau this November.

The only problem with having 48 girls in a successful pop group, is that they are hard to move around. The solution? Just make another group in another city. And so AKB48, based in the anime & manga hub of Akihabara in northwest Tokyo since 2005, found itself with a sister group, SKE48, from Nagoya in 2008. But how about Japan's second city, Osaka, came the cry. Well, this November hoards of male teens (and most likely, early-30s otaku in their droves), will be placated with the launch of another 48-girl group, this time basing themselves in Namba, Osaka. Called NMB48 naturally.

AKB48's rise to near ubiquity in Japan began back in July 2005 when auditions were held to form a theater-based unit in Akihabara. Today the group is split into three teams of 16, named A, K and B respectively and they've charted three no.1 singles and 15 top-10 hits to date. Every night they perform at AKB48 theater, sometimes several times on weekends. Meanwhile, SKE48 were established not by an artist management company, but by a subsidiary of the development company of Sunshine Sakae plaza in Nagoya.

The news of NMB48 came after an AKB48 performance last weekend and auditions this summer will lead to a November debut. With the original AKB48 already performing shows in the United States, France and Macau, it seems it's not only the girls that are muliplying, so are their fans worldwide. Are NY48 and LDN48 on the horizon we wonder?


Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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