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Manga: AKB49 - Renai Kinshi Jourei

Urayama Minoru, an Ordinary High-School Student, is disillusioned and apathetic towards his current life and future prospects. His crush, Yoshinaga Hiroko, is however secretly aspiring to become an Idol Singer. When Minoru found out that Hiroko is making a final attempt to pass the audition for the famous idol group AKB48, he decided to support her dream at all costs, even if it meant cross-dressing to participate in the same audition and watch over her from the back. A heated outburst in the audition caught the attention of the group's producer and both Hiroko and Minoru - who assumed the name "Urakawa Minori" - unexpectedly passed the audition and became trainee members, or kenkyuusei, of AKB48. Now Minoru must not only protect Hiroko's dream, but also his true identity as well as he plunges unwittingly into the entertainment world.

A shounen manga by Miyajima Reiji and Motoazabu Factory, AKB49~Ren'ai Kinshi Jourei~ is the first manga that features the Real Life idol group AKB48 and actual AKB48 members appear from time to time as supporting characters.

This series provides examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Minoru, in the first chapter, to the senbatsu member, no less. After he becomes Minori and is walking in on the kenkyuusei girls changing, he makes a point to not look and goes to change in the bathroom.
  • The Ace: Maeda Atsuko, a member of AKB48 Team A, is often described as one; among the kenkyuusei Okabe Ai can be counted as one, being naturally talented in both singing and dancing.
  • A-Cup Angst: Subverted. The kenkyuusei girls think Minori is ashamed of her chest because she changes clothes in the bathroom.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Invoked willingly by Minoru, and enforced by the Contractual Purity the AKB48 girls have.
  • Aloof Ally: Okabe eventually becomes this towards the rest of the kenkyuusei after concluding a truce with Minoru.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Okudaira Manabu, a classic literature teacher in Minoru's school was on the verge of becoming one until he caught a glimpse of a kenkyuusei performance and became touched by their determination, especially that of "Minori" who had persisted in continuing the performance even after being injured on an accident on-stage. His subsequent devotion towards supporting the kenkyuusei's determination makes him rather cool after all.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Maeda's favorite method of provoking Minoru into action in this series.
    • Minoru threw one at Maya in Chapter 90 by questioning her motivation to perform.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Hiroko, a fan of AKB48, becomes one after she successfully passed the AKB48 auditions.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Minoru, when dressed up as "Minori".
  • Baka: How Maeda refers to Minori when she's talking to Maya.
  • Batman Gambit: Okabe's profuse apologising to Maya, complete with Inelegant Blubbering and a Pose of Supplication, in Chapter 83 turns out to be a ploy to convince her that Okabe and her group is so weak that there is no harm in allowing them to participate in a television programme.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: GJ subunit. Ai, Hiroko and Minori respectively.
  • The Bechdel Test: With so many girls around, would be a hard problem not to pass.
  • Berserk Button: Hiroko extremely detests people badmouthing Maeda, who she admires greatly.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Minoru has performed a few. Saving a Okabe in a Date Rape Averted situation, saving Team K from a pair of inescrupulous Paparazzi, kicking down a locked door to save Maeda...
  • Bishounen: Kijima Taichi, the manager for Minoru, Hiroko and Okabe later in the series, is one. He even appears with Bishie Sparkle.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Okabe started off as one towards the kenkyuusei, although she turned out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and even exhibited Tsundere attitudes occasionally.
    • Maya and the &Jewel group seem to be a straight example.
  • Bland-Name Product: Played straight with references to Coogle and Nuco Nuco Douga; averted with YouTube and a straight up Hatsune Miku cosplay.
  • Blank White Eyes: Okabe suffered a case of these in Chapter 54.
  • Blinding Bangs: The stage chief Sakura has them, which disappears when she becomes serious.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Minori's Holding the Floor moment starts as a sequence of lame puns, then turns into this after the other girls join her in the stage.
  • Boring but Practical: Backstage work is essentially this. Sure, the staff do not appear in the actual performance itself, but without their work, the performance will not happen at all.
  • Call Back: Used frequently in this series, sometimes with references from multiple chapters within a single page.
  • Captain Obvious: Invoked hillariously during the first kenkyuusei public performance. When someone tells Minori that she's just like an old man for "chugging milk", she says "I'm an old woman". Everyone just laughs it off as Minori's weirdness, but the reader is aware of the predicament.
  • Career-Ending Injury: It is hinted on the flashbacks that Minoru was a Baseball player until an elbow injury left him unable to play anymore and turned him apathetic to his life, mentioning that "Having dreams is pointless."
  • The Caretaker: Togasaki for the AKB Theather and Sakura for the stages.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The pair of charms Hiroko got for both herself and Minoru turn out to be instrumental in snapping Minoru out of his Heroic BSOD in Chapter 34.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Maeda turns out to be one during Gekoku Jou's concert showdown with &Jewel, where she was shown attending the concert in Chapter 89, and turns up in Chapter 93 to rescue Minoru from being exposed as a male.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Hiroko was constantly pressured by her father to focus on her studies. Her hard work paid off during a quiz show in Chapter 78 when she rescued her team from the brink with her years of accumulated knowledge.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Minoru did this in Chapter 33 when he disregarded his masquerade and poured his heart out to an unconscious Hiroko in the hospital.
  • Cool Big Sis: The default role of the regular members of AKB48 towards the kenkyuusei, who will offer helpful advices on what it means and takes to be an idol whenever they appear.
  • Costume Porn: The costumes for stage performances.
  • Cry Cute: Several times.
    • Hiroko the night before her first stage performance.
    • Haruko after she uses Maeda's influence to encourage her friends from the GJ and the other kenkyuusei.
    • Minoru, of all people, in several separate ocasions.
  • A Day in the Limelight: A few chapters focuses on the main senbatsu members, and their interactions with the kenkyuusei girls.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Maeda is portrayed as such in this series.
  • Death Glare:
    • Maya is usually either distributing Death Glares or giving Oh, Crap faces.
    • Okabe before her Heel-Face Turn also was fond of distributing these.
    • An &Jewel fan used it to intimidate the other &Jewel fans on to not cheer for GJ.
  • Debt Detester: Okabe claims to be this after she helped Minoru in a performance.
  • Determinator: Most characters in this series have this quality.
  • Dirty Old Man: Kisaki Tadamoto, the mysterious old man that appeared in Chapter 55, likes to grope Minoru and company a bit too much. He even admitted of being this trope himself.
    • As a Running Gag, Team K member Ooshima Yuuko is depicted as having the mind of one.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Minoru, which led him to attempt cross-dressing in the first place.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The introduction of Kijima, where he appeared in a cool pose with Bishie Sparkle and gave a Rousing Speech... until he dropped his pen and ended up chasing after it, cemented his status as a Genius Ditz.
  • Disguised in Drag: Okabe forces Minoru to disguise himself as a girl so they could talk in private, because she can't be seen with a guy. Minoru's reaction to it is priceless.
    Minoru: "How much of my life am I going to spend as a girl..."
  • Every Girl Is Cuter with Hair Decs: After Hiroko cut her hair for the second time, Maeda takes her to a hair dresser who outfits her with a ribbon.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Arakawa Haruto, a composer whose works are internet hits, surprised Minoru and company when they visited him to request his services and found out that he is only a middle school student.
  • Face Fault: Occurred to Minoru when AKB48 producer Akimoto Yasushi commented that he is male in front of all the kenkyuusei during their initial meeting, then dismissing the statement as a joke. Turns out he is really aware of Minoru's true identity after all.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Hiroko's father strongly disapproved of her dreams to become an Idol Singer, which led to a confrontation between he and Hiroko when he found out that she had joined AKB48 and culminated in him estranging her.
  • Ferris Wheel Date Moment: Minoru's Not a Date with Takahashi Minami, the captain of AKB48, in Chapter 38 featured them having a private conversation with each other on board a ferris wheel, complete with Ship Tease.
  • First Name Basis: Hiroko allowed "Minori" to call her by that in Chapter 15, marking the strong friendship between them.
  • Flower Motifs: All over the place, more proeminent during the GJ showdown against &J.
  • A Friend in Need: Okabe bailed out Minoru a couple of times, after Minoru did the same to her earlier in the series, proving that she really has a Hidden Heart of Gold, though she claims that she do not like to owe anyone any favors.
  • Friend or Idol Decision: A rather literal one occurred in Chapter 31 when Hiroko collapsed due to fatigue right before the crucial "Day X" performance, causing Minoru to contemplate on accompanying her to the hospital and abandon his idol career or continue with the performance. He chose the former. Subverted in that the decision is not mutually exclusive after all.
  • Funny Background Event: The missing banana in Chapter 87, presented in a Brick Joke format.
  • Gender-Bender Friendship: While Minoru is on good terms with Hiroko, his friendship with her only becomes very strong when he is "Minori".
  • Genius Ditz: Kijima is really The Klutz if not for the fact that he is very sincere about his work and knows what is the best for his clients.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Plenty to go around.
    • Mayuyu to Minoru when he's hiding in the bathroom from the other kenkyuusei during one of his part-time jobs at a crossdressing café.
    • Maeda while losing to Minoru an Air Hockey game at an arcade.
    • Maeda (again), right after she saves Minoru from being exposed... while shoving the Hyperventilation Bag on his face.
    • Hiroko also receives one from Oshima Yuuko when she calls the latter a "Sexual Harraser Senpai."
  • Gratuitous English: Played for Laughs in Chapter 1 when Minoru deluded himself into thinking he is not stalking Hiroko when he mis-applied the definition of "stoker" to "stalker".
  • Grew a Spine: Hiroko grew one when she finally opposed her Fantasy-Forbidding Father in Chapter 46 to persist in her dream to be an Idol Singer.
  • Grilling the Newbies: The senbatsu members do this to the new kenkyuusei the first time they meet on the AKB theather.
  • Grin of Audacity: Minori when she founds out that Okabe's and Yoshinaga's mics weren't working during the live showdown agaisnt &Jewel.
  • Grudging Thank You: Okabe to Minoru after the latter saved her from publicly humiliating herself in Chapter 12. Marks the beginning of her Character Development.
  • Heroic BSOD: Minoru suffered from one in Chapter 31 when Hiroko collapsed due to fatigue.
  • Holding the Floor: Minoru went up to the stage alone performing impromptu gags in one occasion to buy time for the backstage crew to repair the stage, which was damaged in an accident in between performances.
    • The regular members of AKB48 did a collective impromptu performance after Minoru suffered from a Heroic BSOD (see above) and abandoned the "Day X" performance, so as to ensure the crucial performance do not get cancelled because they believe that Minoru will return. He did. Counts as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Home Field Advantage: Maya invites the GJ to a live showdown during one of &J shows, thinking that they'll have the advantage in such conditions, and Minori wouldn't accept the offer. Sadly mistaken she was in both cases.
  • A House Divided: Subverted. Team K's method of rehearsal involves so much arguing and infighting that one wonders how they get anything done at all, then after all is said and done, they go back to be True Companions. Minori then copies this method to improve the kenkyuusei as well.
  • Hyperventilation Bag: During Minori's crisis after the showdown against &Jewel.
  • Idol Singer: The AKB48 is essentially a group of idol singers, complete with Contractual Purity.note 
  • I Drank What?: The actual contents of the "Divine Drink" is never revealed but, according to Okabe, it actually tastes pretty good.
  • Important Haircut: Hiroko had cut her hair twice in the series, once in the beginning to signify her all-or-nothing attitude towards the upcoming AKB48 auditions and the other in Chapter 52 which signified her determination to surpass Maeda.
  • Impossible Task: Producer Akimoto is fond of giving the kenkyuusei (especially Minoru) extremely difficult tasks to force them to improve themselves; the most notable being the "Day X" performance, where the kenkyuusei are required to attract a full house (250 people) in the AKB Theatre with a ticket price of 10000 yen per seat within two months, failing which they would be disbanded.note 
  • In-Series Nickname: Minorichii.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason why Minoru had continued with his cross-dressing is because he had realised the importance of "Minori" as a pillar of support to Hiroko.
  • Jerkass Façade: Producer Akimoto and AKB Theatre manager Togasaki put up this towards the kenkyuusei.
  • Joshikousei: The majority of the girls.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: Minoru experienced this when he suffered from hyperventilation during a concert showdown with &Jewel and was on the verge of being sent to hospital, where his masquerade would surely be exposed. Luckily for him, Maeda appeared to save him.
  • Kick the Dog: Maya throws water from a bucket at the GJ, after having stolen their turn on the stage performance, then goes on to belittle them and continues on to sing their parts during the show.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Invoked by Minori during her Holding the Floor moment.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Hiroko, who is usually The Quiet One, put away her inhibitions and succeeded in bringing her team back from the brink during a live-broadcast quiz show in Chapter 78.
  • Loophole Abuse: Minori couldn't win against &Jewel during the "Hell Bath Time Attack" because Haruka would get fired if she did, but no one said anything about not standing out more than the winner.
  • Luminescent Blush: Several. A particularly funny one is when the "Sexual Harasser Oji-san" grabs Minori's chest.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Minoru receives one from Haruko, while she's sleeping.
  • Megaton Punch: Well, Megaton Kick, but still applies. Okabe to Minoru, after the latter saved her from a bike that was passing, but grabbed her chest to do so.
  • Music for Courage: A minor example occured in Chapter 54, when Minoru put up an impromptu performance to inspire the apathetic employees of a record company.
  • Mythology Gag: AKB0048 has the Micsaber, wich they use to fight the DES troops. During the Uta-Seta performance, the GJ uses their mics as they were swords to act as if they're cutting each other up.
  • Naked First Impression: Minoru first met the members of AKB48 by accidentally barging into their changing room. Fanservice ensues as he desperately attempts to escape. He eventually succeeded, but not after bumping against a few of them.
  • Nice Girl: Hiroko.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The crowd wouldn't be so receptive to GJ third song, had the president not turn off Yoshinaga's and Okabe's mics on the second song, forcing "Minori" to come up with the plan to sing the entire song with just one mic.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Pairosmith is the "legendary rock band" performing in Chapter 84.
  • Not a Date: Minoru was invited to a few one-to-one meetings by various regular AKB48 members, which would appear as dates if not for the fact that they are unaware of Minoru's true identity and simply treat those meetings as between friends or senior and junior. Except for Maeda, who knew about him being male but would still meet up with him as a way to mentor him about the way of an idol singer.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Kisaki is actually the director of Queen Records which manages Minoru, Hiroko and Okabe and, according to producer Akimoto, the "Old Master of the entertainment world", but likes to appear as a perverted janitor.
  • Oh, Crap: Maya during the GJ arc, every single time the GJ girls are doing (or about to do) something out of her expectations. It almost turn into her default expression in later chapters.
  • Ojou: Okabe, though we don't get to see much of her home lifestyle.
  • Otaku: Okudaira-sensei, wich overlaps with a kind of Single-Target Sexuality without the sexual part. He's that much of a Minori's fan. Not Idols, not AKB, Minori's fan.
  • Parental Abandonment: The main reason why Minoru succeeded in maintaining his masquerade is because his family gave him a free rein on his life (his father is not even mentioned at all), which is ramped up later in the series when his family moved house without even informing him, rendering him effectively homeless.
  • Passing the Torch: Maeda does this when she graduates.
  • Placebo Effect: The "divine drink".
  • Portmanteau: Haruko refers to Maeda Atsuko as "MaeAtsu"
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: In-Universe, it seems that Oshima Yuuko and the other senbatsu members refers to Takamina's crush on Minori as "TakaMino".
  • Pose of Supplication: Minoru did that once before the audience after he returned to the "Day X" performance to demonstrate his sincerity in apologising for his lateness.
  • Power of Trust: Okabe and the rest of kenkyuusei steadfastly refused to perform without Minoru during the "Day X" performance because they trusted that he will return. He did.
    • Earlier on in the series, Hiroko purposely lied that she had given the wrong meeting time to Minoru such that he would be late for practice after he told her that he is not worthy as an idol and is quitting because she believed that he will return.
  • Punny Name: The group &Jewel has one. Going by the pronunciation in the manga "エンジェル"note , it seems to be Xtreme Kool Letterz for "Angel".
  • The Quiet One: Hiroko.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The kenkyuusei are originally this.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Minoru claims that he is working part-time in a male cross-dressing café to throw off AKB48 Team B member Watanabe Mayu's suspicions on his true gender. Thankfully for him, it works.
  • Rousing Speech: Minoru gave a few speeches towards the kenkyuusei throughout the series to inspire them in the face of adversity, incidentally cementing his position as centre of the kenkyuusei.
  • Running Gag: Takahashi getting extremely flustered whenever she interacts with "Minori".
  • Sailor Fuku: GJ's costume for the music "Unwielding Twintails" is this.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Maeda revealed before that "Minori" is really a guy, expecting no-one to believe it. Nobody did.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The producer in charge of the &Jewel group believes in this.
  • Secret Identity: Minoru as "Minori".
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Producer Akimoto and Maeda are aware that Minoru is really male, but keep that secret by themselves because they thought the entire premise is interesting.
    • Secret Keeper: Minoru suspects that Maeda is aware of his true gender, but has never outright asked her to confirm his fear.
  • Secret Test of Character: Itano Tomomi, a Team B member, gave a minor one to Minoru and Hiroko in Chapter 11 by tempting them with the knowledge of subverting AKB48's rule against love. Hiroko passed by arguing vehemently that they are too busy to even think of relationships.
  • Shout-Out: Being a manga based off AKB48, it is not surprising that the series makes numerous references about it, ranging from song lyrics sang by AKB48 members to real life events pertaining towards AKB48 members.
    • Kijima quoted Moshidora in a speech he gave to Minoru and company after their initial introduction. When he was called out for that, he declared that he is a fan of Moshidora and is currently learning idol management from it, causing them to break out in laughter, especially Hiroko. Incidentally, the live-action film adaptation of Moshidora starred Maeda.
  • Show Within a Show: Hell Bath Time Attack and Uta-Sute
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Implied with Minoru.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Producer Akimoto is arguably this, with his penchant for giving the kenkyuusei impossible tasks.
  • Sleep Cute: Hiroko during the first time she and Minori slept over at the AKB dorms.
  • Sprint Scrubbing: Minori tries to use this to help Sakura clean the stage, before she stops him.
  • Team Hand Stack: Frequently depicted occurring before group performances.
  • The Tease: Tomomi in the first chapter.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Minoru, despite him being the centre of the kenkyuusei, had quitted a couple of times temporarily due to a lack of self-confidence (being an idol was not his original intention anyway). He got stronger each time he recovered though.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Minoru to Okabe, saving her from a bike that was passing by, while he's crossdressing as girl but not as Minori...
  • Title Drop: The subtitle Renai Kinshi Jourei, or "rule against love" is said by Minoru to himself in one occasion as a sign of determination to protect Hiroko's dream at any cost.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Minoru, Hiroko and Okabe developed very high levels of stamina after working part-time in a construction site for three months.
  • Town Girls: Okabe, Hiroko and Minoru eventually formed a stand-alone unit under AKB48 called "Gekoku Jou" with Kijima as their manager.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Producer Akimoto is depicted as liking Calbee's Jagarico snack very much.
  • Twelfth Night Adventure: Minoru's involvement with AKB48 can be seen as this.
  • Twin Tails: Okabe sports a pair of them, with matching Tsundere personality.
  • Undying Loyalty: Okudaira-sensei towards Minori.
  • The Unseen: Urena Inako, an enka singer, is often fondly mentioned by Kijima, who used to be her manager, but has yet to appear in person.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: We hardly see the girls (and Minoru) with the same casual clothes, aside from stage costumes and rehearsal outfits.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Used in Chapter 3 when Minoru came up with a plan to Out Gambit Okabe. His explanation to the kenkyuusei was not depicted until after his plan had taken place.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: "Minori".
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Minoru's disguise relies simply on a blond wig, a change in dress, and a heightened voice.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Working for Maya is...hard, to say the least.
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alternative title(s): AKB 49 Renai Kinshi Jourei
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