Based on the concept of "idols you can meet", AKB48 is an idol group consisting of, you guessed it, 48 members. However, the group currently holds more than 48 members, with even more members scattered in its many sister groupsーNagoya-based SKE48, Osaka-based NMB48, Fukuoka-based HKT48, Jakarta-based JKT48 and Niigata-based NGT48. Their newest sister group is STU48 that debuted in 2017 and will have its theater aboard a Cool Ship cruising around the Setouchi region. Shanghai-based SNH48 has started its own franchise and has its own sister groups, all based in Chinese cities. Another sister group, SDN48, used to perform in the AKB48 Theater but was disbanded in 2012. There is also the Taipei-based TPE48, which was announced in 2011 but was stuck in Development Hell until their debut in 2017; the Bangkok-based BNK48 and the Manila-based MNL48, which were both announced in 2016, with the former debuting one year later and the latter two years later; and Nogizaka46, an official rival group.It has two main subunits: no3b (pronounced No Sleevesnote ) and Tentoumu Chu! Other sub-units that were active in the past but are now disbanded (mostly because of their members' graduation) are French Kiss, Not Yet, DiVA and Wataraouka Hashiritai.The group holds performances in their theater in Akihabara, Tokyo and the different teams take turns performing stages-a set list of songs. They also hold special events each year: the Senbatsu Elections, where fans choose their favourite members; the Janken Tournament, where the girls take part in rock-paper-scissors games to get into the Christmas' single senbatsu; the Request Hour, where fans choose their favourite songs and the Draft Tournament, where the captains for all the teams choose between a group of new girls who aren't even trainees.Now has an anime, which is set in the future & directed by Shoji Kawamori, and a manga, set more or less in the present day. There's also the mystery manga series AKB48 Satsujin Jiken (AKB48 Murder Mystery) written by Gosho Aoyama of Detective Conan fame, which has been adapted into a 5-part live-action commercial series for Glico Fruit Ice.For more live-action TV, there's Majisuka Gakuen, the group's longest and most popular drama series, and Mendol Ikemen, that features the members of no3b. And of course, the Long Runner Variety Show AKBingo!.Received an official Rhythm Game for Android and iOS platforms on early 2014, that now features also all SKE, NMB and HKT members. And don't forget the Dating Sim series for PSP, AKB 1/48 and AKB 1/149.
AKB48 provides examples of the following tropes:
- A Cappella: "Dreamin' Girls" from Himawari-gumi's 1st Stage is sung this way. Also, during the 2012 Kouhaku several members performed an 'a cappella' version of "Oogoe Diamond".
- Action Girl: Everyone in the "Flying Get", "Show fight!", and "Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai" PVs.
- And of course, Majisuka Gakuen
- Adults Are Useless: Implied in the lyrics to "Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou".
- Affectionate Parody: The PV for "Everyday, Katyusha" can be seen as one, with scenes echoing previous PVs such as "Iiwake Maybe", "Oogoe Diamond", "Ponytail to Chouchou", "Heavy Rotation" and "10nen Zakura".
- Always Female: All the members are female. Subverted in the manga AKB49 – Renai Kinshi Jourei, which is about a Wholesome Crossdresser teenager joining the group to look after his Love Interest.
- Animal Theme Naming: The "Chu!" subunits are named after small animals: Tentoumu Chu (tentoumushi/ladybug), Dendenmu Chu (dendenmushi/snail), and the unofficial Kabutomu Chu (kabutomushi/rhino beetle).
- Anime Theme Song: Several.
- They performed one of Crayon Shin-chan's openings (later the sub-unit Watarirouka Hashiritai performed another one), Deltora Quest second opening and Dragon Ball Kai second ending.
- Former sub-unit Chocolove from AKB48 performed The Skull Man's ending, and no3b performed Beelzebub first ending and Birdy the Mighty second season ending.
- French Kiss also performed Sket Dance first opening theme.
- And of course, the songs used in their official anime AKB0048 also apply.
- There's also the ICE OVA, where a group of selected members performed the songs and voiced characters.
- Ascended Extra: Anyone who isn't a regular senbatsu member who manages to participate in singles, due to the Janken Tournaments or being pushed by the management.
- For example, Mayumi Uchida and Haruka Ishida in "Chance no Junban", Reina Fujie and Marina Kobayashi in "Ue Kara Mariko" and Mika Komori in "Namida Surprise!".
- The sub-unit DiVA has become a separate act from AKB and were active until their disbandment in November 2014.
- Anti-Love Song: "Romance, Irane", though it's rather perky!
- Artificial Human: Aimi Eguchi, a CG idol created to promote Glico's Ice no Mi product. The fans found out she was created off the other members' looks.◊
- Audience Participation Song: Before any concert performance of "Koisuru Fortune Cookie", either a video will play or the members will teach the audience how to dance along the song.
- Auto-Tune: Used very sparingly, but some songs like "UZA", Mariko Shinoda's "Plastic no Kuchibiru" or Mayu Watanabe's "Hikaru Monotachi" do have it.
- Bad Girl Song: Almost 90% of SDN's songs.
- Badass Bisexual: Okada Nana.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: An implied theme, as the girls cannot have boyfriends and most of the romantic scenes in the PVs are played by the members themselves.
- Beach Episode: The PVs for "BINGO!", "Ponytail to Chouchou", "Everyday, Katyusha", "Manatsu no Sounds good!", "Sayonara Crawl", "Nusumareta Kuchibiru", "Labrador Retriever" and "Summer Side" all take place at the beach.
- Also the AKB 1/49 Idol to Guam de Koishitara... dating sim.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The group's drama, Majisuka Gakuen. For a drama based on an idol group, one would think that it'll be something light and happy, right? Definitely wrong.
- Also the regular music video for "Manatsu no Sounds good!".
- The mini-series Crows Blood is definitely NOT for the faint of heart.
- Book Ends: Atsuko Maeda's first single participation in AKB48 was the group's debut single, "Sakura no Hanabiratachi". A week before Maeda's graduation from the group six years later, AKB48 released an album on which she recorded a solo, more melancholy reprise of the same song. "Sakura no Hanabiratachi" was also the final song performed during her graduation performance.
- The girls usually have their graduation performance at the theater, the place where they all start out.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Their first five singles were about cherry blossom petals, fluttering skirts, the longing to meet someone, implied underage prostitution, and bullying and suicide. Enjoy!
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Minami Takahashi. Made worse by her always hyping up the joke before telling it.
- Cat Girl: Part of the Music Video for "Heavy Rotation".
- Celibate Hero: As per the rules of the group, the girls have to be this, as Minegishi found out the hard way.
- Chase Scene: The "Kibouteki Refrain" PV features past and current (as of 2014) centers on a MacGuffin Escort Mission, running across town and passing a satchel of golden microphones (and its decoys) to one another while being chased by Mooks.
- Cherry Blossoms: A lot of their songs are about this; "Sakura no Hanabiratachi", "10nen Zakura", "Sakura no Shiori", and "Sakura no ki ni Narou" just to name a few!
- Christmas Songs: One for each Janken single: "Yoyaku Shita Christmas", "Noel no Yoru" and "Totteoki Christmas".
- "Anata to Christmas Eve" from Team A 1st Stage also counts.
- Crossover: In recent years, girls from sister groups also take part in AKB singles, with the more prominent girls being SKE's Jurina Matsui and Rena Matsui, along with NMB's Sayaka Yamamoto and Miyuki Watanabe.
- The General Election and Janken Tournament can also be seen as this, with sister group members being allowed to participate alongside AKB members.
- The AKBIdoling!! unit was a one-shot crossover unit between AKB and Idoling!! members.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Team A is pink, Team K is green, Team B is blue and Team 4 is yellow. Team 8 used grey for a bit, but now is officially dark blue.
- Each group also has its own color: AKB is pink, SKE is yellow, HKT is black, NGT is white (the logo letters use red instead of the usual white), JKT is red, and STU is light blue with white horizontal stripes (they're planned to be the first ship-based group). NMB's color is... leopard print (but they go with dark brown when they have to color something). Former group SDN used silver.
- SNH is blue, but they've separated from the AKB48 Group.
- Cover Version: Watarirouka Hashiritai's "Valentine Kiss".
- Before Teams K and B received their own stages, they performed existing stages. Teams A, K and B currently perform revivals of one of their own stages, with Team 4's current stage being a revival of Team B's "Idol no Yoake".
- The previous waiting stages had a mixture of songs from older stages and different teams.
- Happens quite often in concerts-songs that do not require major members to perform are often given to other girls.
- All the teams are currently covering older stages until new stages are ready.
- Darker and Edgier
- The PV for "Beginner" was apparently supposed to be much more violent than the standard idol fare PVs but was not used in the end, though the dance shots were kept and the shots of the members getting violently killed off in a technological atmosphere complete with blood and shots of them being crushed under various devices were fortunately cut out. But for you nightmare fetishists, here's a CM of the original ...AND the original itself!
- Some of their older songs are darker and edgier as well, such as Keibetsu Shiteita Aijou and Seifuku ga Jama wo Suru. Definitely not your usual idol group.
- The dance-emphasized "UZA", which has a music video themed around a gothic haunted house.
- "Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai", a pacifist anthem where the girls fight against futuristic enemies.
- Dream Team: The 2012 Yubi Matsuri in Budokan held by Sasshi was dubbed as Idols Emergency Meeting, and wa attended by the nation's best idol groups such as Momoiro Clover Z, Ebichu, Buono!, Tokyo Girls' Style, Passpo, Idoling!, Nogizaka46 and Supergirls. The best part? They performed Heavy Rotation altogether in the encore.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Hrm, let's see a group of idols under management of one guy complete with subgroups and soloists? You must mean Hello! Project! Although, Hello! Project/Morning Musume was inspired by the 80s idol group Onyanko Club, which was created by Yasushi Akimoto, the producer of AKB48.
- "Koisuru Fortune Cookie" is jokingly called "KFC" by the fans. It doesn't help that the outfit for the song is inspired in the waitress outfits from the 60's.
- Door Closes Ending: The PVs for "Kaze wa Fuiteiru" and "UZA".
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Team 4's "Hashire! Penguin", complete with penguin costumes.
- One of the girls in "Ame no Doubutsuen" wears a penguin costume too.
- Fanservice Faux Fight: "Heavy Rotation" features the girls pillow fighting in their underwear.
- Former Child Star: Among others, Oshima Yuko, Mukaichi Mion, and Murayama Yuiri. All of them seem to have averted the pitfalls of this trope.
- Four-Girl Ensemble: Not Yet and DiVA.
- Watarirouka Hashiritai, prior to being rebranding as Watarirouka Hashiritai 7.
- Also present occasionally during stages, with songs like "Arashi no Yoru ni wa" from B5 having four singers.
- Friendly Rivalry: Described in the Team K song "Itoshiki Rival"I don't know when it was
The people around us
Began calling you my rival
And I became aware of it
We were able to live strong
Because we competed with each other
If you should happen to disappear
What would I do?
- This most likely reflected on the friendly rivalry between Jurina and Sayanee, who's respective groups also were considered rivals, and the two of them had concurrent positions in Team K at the same time.
- Fun with Acronyms: Anna Iriyama, Rina Kawaei and Rena Kato form the unit AnRiRe.
- Genre Roulette: The PV for "Gingham Check" switches between a cop show, horror scenes, a Kaiju attack and dance shots between two girl bands.
- Gratuitous English: "S-U-G-A-R, jump into your racing car, say Sugar Rush! Say Sugar Rush!"
- "I want you! I need you! I love you!" followed by "I feel you! I touch you! I hold you!" in 'Heavy Rotation'.
- Without the subtitles, Acchan's pronunciation of "vowel" in Satsujin Jiken would be incomprehensible.
- Lampshaded in the lyrics of "High Tension".
- Great Balls of Fire: When "UZA" or "RIVER" are performed in a concert.
- Also featured in the "Flying Get" PV.
- Greatest Hits Album: SET LIST ~Greatest Songs 2006-2007~ includes all singles from debut to "Yuuhi wo Miteiru ka?" and Kami-kyokutachi includes all songs from "Oogoe Diamond" to "Sakura no Shiori" (and also contains two songs that weren't released before).
- Hair Decorations: Worn by many of the girls.
- Halloween Episode: 2015's senbatsu single it's called "Halloween Night". Oddly, the single will be released on August.
- Happy Birthday to You!: Incorporated in the song "Namida Surprise!".
- Hotter and Sexier: The basis of SDN48, which is where AKB48 girls (e.g. Megumi "Meetan" Ohori) went once they turned into a Christmas Cake. However, all the members graduated from this group in February 2012 and it was disolved, but the sub-unit DiVA still follows this theme with songs and outfits more similar to K-Pop groups.
- NMB originally followed this trope too, although not as agressively as SDN.
- Human Aliens: The girls in Watarirouka Hashiritai's PV "Shonen Yo Uso O Tsuke" are these.
- Humiliation Conga: The kind of punishment the girls had to go through when they failed to complete the moe contest...
- Muchaburi Dodgeball. Nuff said.
- Iconic Outfit: The school-uniform inspired costume from the "Iiwake Maybe" PV, to the point where Atsuko Maeda's celebrity impersonator Kintaro wears a similar outfit in all her public appearances.
- In-Series Nickname: All the senbatsu members for "Heart Ereki" got special Western names (e.g. Kojiharu got Michelle, Takamina got Linda, etc.), except Rina Kawaei, who got... Kawaey.
- Intercourse with You: SDN's "Kodoku na Runner". Many of their songs could be an example, but this is the most explicit one.
- In the Name of the Moon: To be more easily remembered by fans, many members came up with a greeting they always use in performances. Some require the participation of other members and the audience to work. Notably averted by the so-called Eternal Ace, Maeda Atsuko.Watanabe Mayu: I get everyone's eyes on me, Mayuyu! ("Minna no mesen wo itadaki... Mayuyu!" Likely a wordplay on itadakimasu)
Iwatate Saho: Sound check time! (Yahhoo!) You're too early! Tee-hee! ... Yahhoo! (Yahhoo!) Sahho! (Sahho!)
- Joshikousei: What the girls are in many of their PVs.
- Kawaii Ko: Watarirouka Hashiritai is practically made of this.
- Several members have this as her gimmick, such as Saho Iwatate.
- Kimono Is Traditional: As seen in PVs such as "Sakura no Shiori" and "Kodoku na Hoshizora".
- List Song: Team B's "Wasshoi! B" from B3, "Team B Oshi" from B5 and "B Garden" from the single "Labrador Retriever" lists the members' nicknames.
- "Yasai Sisters" lists a good number of vegetable names in Japanese.
- "16nin Shimai no Uta" from Team K's 4th Stage lists the Team K members' names and a fact about each member.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Naturally, with sister groups across Japan. The main group is already this, with 88 main members, and the 47 Team 8 Members.
- Long Title: AKB's 34th single, "Suzukake no Ki no Michi de 'Kimi no Hohoemi o Yume ni Miru' to Itte Shimattara Bokutachi no Kankei wa Dou Kawatte Shimau no ka, Bokunari ni Nan-nichi ka Kangaeta Ue de no Yaya Kihazukashii Ketsuron no Youna Mono" note
- Meaningful Echo: The first song to be performed in the AKB Theater was "PARTY ga Hajimaru yo" by Team A. Nearly 6 years later, it was also the very first song to be performed in the group's first Tokyo Dome Concert in 2012 after years of hard work.
- Most of the girls sing "Sakura no Hanabiratachi", AKB's last single, when they graduate.
- Music for Courage
Just before your very eyes
- The inspirational lyrics to "RIVER".
A river is flowing
Broadly, such a great river
Darkly, deeply, even so
The current is fast, even so
Do not be scared, OK?
Do not wander off
That’s right, the opposite side is there
So more, believe in yourself.
We can't do anything
- Also, the lyrics for "Beginner". There's an official English version, performed by their sister group JKT48.
We cannot succeed
You know why that is?
It is because we are still young
We can't do anything
Can't do it instantly
And that is why we have
opportunity on our side!
- Non-Appearing Title: Songs like "Ponytail to Chouchou" and "Honest Man" have this.
- One Steve Limit: Averted, with six girls named Haruka: Ishida, Shimazaki, Shimada, Nakagawa, Katayama, and Komiyama—and that's only in AKB alone! There are five more Harukas in the sister groups.
- Also, let's not forget the two Miyus, Minamis, and Mariyas!
- At one point, there were four Tomomis: Itano, Kasai, and Nakatsuka, and Ohe. All four have graduated, starting with Ohe and ending with Itano.
- There are also two Ayakas at present: Umeda and Morikawa. There used to be a third, Kikuchi, but she has graduated.
- There are also four Rinas at present: Izuta, Kawaei, Chikano, and Hirata. There are three others in the sister groups. The graduated Rinas from AKB comprise of Nakanishi, and Kozuka.
- Currently, there are four Yuis in AKB alone: Yokoyama, (another) Yokoyama, Oguri, and Hiwatashi. There are three more Yuis in the sister groups.
- For this reason, members almost always need to be referred to by their official nicknames in order to identify who is being talked about.
- Panda-ing to the Audience: One of the girls wears a panda outfit in "Ame no Doubutsuen" from Team K's 2nd Stage.
- Parody Commercial: Shown at the end of Watarirouka Hashiritai's "Hetappi Wink" PV.
- Pretty in Mink: In a Christmas video, one of the girls wears a white fur jacket in the "story" part, and in the "performance" part, all the girls wear short Happy Holidays Dresses covered with red fur puffballs.
- Product Placement: Some of her PVs are entirely designed for publicitary campaigns (for example, the whole Aimi Eguchi project was part of a Glico campaign) Lately they've focused even more on this, developing team projects with several companies (sweets company Papico with Otona AKB, Toyota with Team 8 and Baito AKB with part-time job company Baitoru).
- Qipao: Worn by the girls in the non-dancing scenes in the "Flying Get" PV.
- Real-Person Fic: Lots of AKB fans write AKB fanfiction (See Most Fanfic Writers Are Fans ). Some are based off music videos while others are completely different realities (See Alternate Universe Fic ).
- Re-release the Song: "Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008" was a remade version of the group's original single, "Sakura no Hanabiratachi".
- The Rival: Nogizaka46
- Rock–Paper–Scissors: Since 2010 the lineup for singles released in December have been decided by this.
- It was also incorporated in the PV for "Ue Kara Mariko", foreshadowing what happened before it was shooted.
- Romantic Two Girl Friend Ship: The two girls in the lyrics of "Oshibe to Meshibe to Yoru no Chouchou" are implied to have this.
- Also implied between Atsuko Maeda and Jurina Matsui in the "Sakura no Ki ni Narou" PV.
- Sailor Fuku: Worn in their drama Majisuka Gakuen and some PVs.
- Also in the PVs for "Majisuka Rock 'n' Roll" and "Majijo Teppen Blues" where the girls act as the same characters from the above drama.
- Scenery Censor: Taken to an extreme level of hilarity in the intro to "Ponytail to Shushu".
- School Uniforms Are the New Black: Combined with Impossibly Cool Clothes. The members usually wear a lot of uniform-themed costumes in concerts and PVs.
- School Festival: The PV for "Oogoe Diamond" takes place during a school festival, with the members performing the titular song.
- Sexy Santa Dress: Worn in some videos, and in promos for certain companies, like Coke and 7-11.
- Silly Love Songs: They have a few, despite trying most of the time not to. An example is "Aitakatta".
- Singer Namedrop: The song "AKB48" from Team A's 1st stage has this in the chorus.
- "Pioneer" from Team's 6th stage, "Team B Oshi" from Team B's 5th stage, "Korogaru Ishi ni Nare" from Team K's 2nd stage and "RESET" from Team K's 6th stage have the members mention their team's name several times.
- "RIVER" starts out with a loud shout of "AKBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... FOR-TY EIGHT!" by Minami Takahashi (in the original version).
- Something Completely Different: Usually, AKB releases each year a summer single, containing the ballots for voting in the elections. It's a tradition they've followed since "Baby! Baby! Baby!" They've only skipped in 2009, where it was a birthday song, and 2015, where they released the powerful in vocals and techno instrumental "Bokutachi wa Tatatakawanai". The latter has the summer song as it B-side, "Summer Side".
- Slut-Shaming: In January 2013, Minami Minegishi was caught leaving the house of Alan Shirahama, a member of the J-Pop boy-bands EXILE and Generations. Since the girls of AKB48 are contractually forbidden from having romantic relationships in order to preserve the fans' fantasies,note she was demoted to a trainee member status. Minami all-but shaved her head - a symbol of contrition in Japanese culture - and uploaded a video of herself tearfully apologizing for her "thoughtless behavior" and begging for her fans' forgiveness. In August of 2013, she was reinstated to her prior position as the leader of Team 4.
- Spiritual Successor: To Onyanko Club; both groups have the same producer.
- The sub-unit Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 is one to a sub-unit of the same name (without the 7) that was part of Onyanko Club.
- Strawberry Shorthand: In "Sayonara Crawl", the girls appear eating strawberries.
- Sugar Bowl: Some of their PVs, such as "Heavy Rotation" or "Sugar Rush".
- Talky Bookends: Many of the group's PVs have these, such as "Eien Pressure" and "So Long!".
- Teacher/Student Romance: The lyrics for "Dear My Teacher".
- Translated Cover Version: Though not officially released, the group did perform a pretty good English version of "Oogoe Diamond" in New York.
- JKT48 (sister group based in Jakarta, Indonesia) does AKB's songs translated into Indonesian. However, the music videos produced for each are significantly differentーcompare "Heavy Rotation" as done by AKB48 and JKT48.
- JKT48 has also done a cover of "Koisuru Fortune Cookie" in English (good English, to boot). Currently, they have also done English covers of "Beginner", "Gingham Check", "Halloween Night", "Mae Shika Mukanee", "Manatsu no Sounds Good", "Kokoro no Placard", "Pareo wa Emerald", "Kibouteki Refrain", "Kaze wa Fuiteru", and "Love Trip".
- SNH sings AKB's songs but in Chinese.
- Take That!: When the group won the prestigious Japan Records Awards' Grand Prix in 2011, many people criticized them, because a group who didn't play any instruments (even less an idol group!) couldn't become that important. The group's answer? GIVE ME FIVE!, where all the senbatsu members played instruments. For real. Some of them already knew how to play their instrument (such as Yuko Oshima, who played the bass in high school), but others had to train for weeks before recording the single.
- Toros y Flamenco: Featured in Team K's 2nd Stage's Cinderella wa Damasarenai.
- Tsundere: The song "Tsundere!" from Team A 5th stage revolves around this trope. The narrators of "Iiwake Maybe" and "Tenshi no Shippo" also could be ones.
- Vampire Musical: Yes, they did one, and it was AKB Kagekidan Infinity
- Variety Show: The long-runner "AKBingo!", "AKB Shukan" and "Nemousu Terebi" are the most notable examples.
- Video Full of Film Clips: "Majisuka Rock 'n' Roll" has some of this, with clips coming from drama Majisuka Gakuen.
- "Yankee Soul", too.
- Visual Novel: There's a series of visual novels where the romance ban is lifted and the player can romance one of the members while rejecting the rest, with currently three installments.
- Wham Episode: The team shuffles, in which all the team line-ups are reformed to provide a new environment and dynamic for the members, especially when several graduations take place. Team shuffles are usually announced onstage with no warning, thus surprising both the fans and the members.
- Widget Series: Saturday Night Child Machine starring Team B.