Akiba-kei

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Akihabara in 2007
GiGO, a large Sega game center in Akihabara Tokyo, Japan

Akiba-kei (Japanese: 秋葉系) or Akiba-chan (アキバちゃん) is a Japanese slang term for Akihabara style. Akihabara is a district in Chiyoda, Tokyo where many otaku, or obsessive anime, manga, idol, and video game fans gather.

Definition[edit]

Akiba-kei is a Japanese slang term meaning "Akihabara style". It dates back to the early 80s and refers to a subset of otaku who spend much of their time in and around the Akihabara area of Tokyo and are known for their strong interest in "fantasy worlds...anime, manga, maids, idols, and games".[1] Akiba-kei have also been characterized as being "interested in ruminating about domestic items and creating fan works based on these existing elements."[2]

Location[edit]

The Akihabara area in central Tokyo is well known as a marketplace of technology; it has ties to the Japanese video game industry, as well as to anime and manga publishers.[3]

In addition to patronizing the famous electronics stores around them, Akiba-kei frequently open their own shops in Akihabara. Many of these shops are run by Akiba-kei in cosplay, who may claim that such attire is the rule for them rather than the exception.[4] The shops offer a wide variety of goods and services: some sell model or ornamental weaponry;[4] others are modeled after antique reading rooms; and still others sell quirky or innovative foodstuffs.

In popular culture[edit]

One distinctive feature of Akiba-kei within Japan's larger popular culture is that for the most part they belong to an older generation, who are well-versed in the history of Akihabara before it ever became a center of pop culture. Some of them, affectionately known as "Akiba historians", have worked in and around the Akihabara area for decades, and witnessed firsthand the changes the area went through. In addition to running shops and participating vigorously in Akiba-kei culture, they may also be fonts of knowledge about Akihabara and its environs in ways that relate particularly to their areas of interests.[5]

In early 2008, a project was undertaken to attempt to merge some aspects of Akiba-kei culture with Shibuya-kei, Japan's "super-chic internationalist music, fashion, interior, and design movement" that began in Japan in the 1990s. In writing about this project, W. David Marx of Diamond Agency's culture blog observed:

Instead of fighting technological change, Akiba-kei otaku skillfully use the internet as a way to discuss and consecrate their favorite cultural items and disseminate new works to their community. This has only made the subculture stronger. In the end, the Akiba-kei subculture has won a top spot in the contemporary pop landscape because its culture has been least affected by the last decade's democratization of media and the decline in the culture markets.[2]

Akiba-kei Idol[edit]

Early Akiba-kei idols
Stage name Haruko Momoi (momo-i) Shoko Nakagawa (Shokotan) AKB48
Photo
Haruko Momoi in concert at FanimeCon 2010-05-30 7.JPG
Shoko Nakagawa at Japan Expo 2014 (5).jpg
Ax10akb18.jpg
Years active 1996– 2001– 2005–
Description Haruko Momoi (momo-i) is the first known Akiba-kei idol.[6]

She started her activities by watching the live performance of Aoi Mizuno, an underground idol who made her solo debut in 1994.

Considering the rise of Akiba-kei in the late 2000s, it can be said that she started her activities as an Akiba-kei idol very early.

Shoko Nakagawa (Shokotan) is the most famous Akiba-kei idol in Japan.

In 2008, she overtook the popular tarento Kaori Manabe in the number of blog views and ranked first. It is the first Akiba-kei idol who gained general recognition.

AKB48 is the Japanese idol Group, started in Akihabara.

Later, several groups were formed that incorporated "48" as part of their name and grew into a franchise.

Akiba-kei idols are Japanese idols representing Akihabara style. It is said that the activities of Akiba-kei idols were started by women who were influenced by the style of underground idols created by Aoi Mizuno.

In the 1990s, Akihabara was developing into a neighborhood centered on male otaku interests. However, there were a few women who liked Akihabara, and Haruko Momoi was one of them. Haruko Momoi is also an enthusiastic fan of Aoi Mizuno, who made her debut before Haruko Momoi and completed the style of an underground idol, and started her activities as an underground idol by cosplaying as Shiori Fujisaki, the character of Tokimeki Memorial. Since the cosplay of anime characters and activities as underground idols are characteristics that are widely seen in later Akiba-kei idols, Haruko Momoi is considered[by whom?] the prototype of Akiba-kei idols.

Haruko Momoi, today's famous Anison musician, is the first known Akiba-kei idol, and she began her activities in 1996. It is a very early start of activity.[6] And Shoko Nakagawa, today's famous tarento, is the most famous Akiba-kei idol in Japan, her activities began in 2001. The idol group AKB48, one of Japan's highest selling contemporary musical acts, having begun activities in 2005, runs its own theater in Akihabara, from which the group's name is derived.[7] Formed in 2009, Dempagumi.inc has all members claiming to be otaku of some genre. By the time of Dempagumi.inc, the number of Akiba-kei idols had increased considerably. With the spread of otaku culture, it is no longer necessary to distinguish this by place name, so Akiba-kei is becoming a dead language. Therefore, at present, the artists who were called Akiba-kei idols in the past are working beyond the framework of Akiba-kei and their activities have also had a great influence on contemporary Japanese culture.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Glossary". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Neomarxisme". Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Japan Guide". Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Bukiya weaponry shop". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Akiba historians article". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b "桃井はるこ(Rooftop2015年9月号) – インタビュー". Rooftop (in Japanese). Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  7. ^ "A Beginner's Guide to the 48Group Family". www.tsunagujapan.com. Retrieved 14 February 2019.