Yasushi Akimoto has learned a lot since his days at Onyanko Club. Like Tsunku, he has created an ever-expanding empire of short-skirted schoolgirls, but the scale of his enterprise is incomparably more vast than anything Hello Project could ever dream of achieving.
AKB48 started out with mere 48 members – by itself a significant number. Now there are clones in Nagoya – SKE48, Osaka – NMB48, Fukuoka – HKT48, an adult clone SDN48, a ‘competition’ clone Nogizaka46.
It has now expanded successfully overseas, something Tsunku failed notably at: there is now JKT48 in Jakarta and TPE48 in Taipei, and a first AKB48 cafe opened in Singapore.
Altogether there are now hundreds of teenage Asian girls prancing around in school uniforms miming catchy tunes on stages all over the Far East. MoMusu may be failing- its latest single failed to top the charts, reaching a mere 2nd place – but the J-pop mega-girlsband dream lives on.