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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.

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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.

In 2014, the manga was adapted into a musical stage play, with members of the AKB48 group as the main cast. The musical adapted the main story arc of the first five volumes of the manga, the "X Day" arc. Urayama Minoru/Urakawa Minori was portrayed by Miyazawa Sae, Yoshinaga Hiroko was double-casted and portrayed by both Kojima Mako and Owada Nana, and Okabe Ai was portrayed by Suda Akari.

One year later, in 2015, SKE48 performed their own version of the musical, now with Furuhata Nao as Minoru/Minori, Kitagawa Ryouha and Miyamae Ami double-cast as Hiroko, and Takayanagi Akane as Ai. The following year, yet again, SKE did a revival of the musical, updating the script and having an entirely new cast. The 2016 version had double-casted both Minoru/Minori and Hiroko, with Suda Akari as Minoru/Minori and Ego Yuna as Hiroko as one pair, and Azuma Rion as Minoru/Minori and Souda Sarina as Hiroko as another, and Sato Sumire portraying Ai.

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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.
  • Adaptational Personality Change:
    • Takamina is much less goofy than her real-life persona, has a crush on Minori and is jealous whenever somebody gets close to "her". She's still a Big Sister Mentor to her juniors, though, as are all the seniors based on real-life members.
    • Backstage, Matsui Rena acts more like L from Death Note (who likes spicy food instead of sweets) than a top idol.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: The Senbatsu Elections, of course. Pretty much Truth in Television with fans buying dozens of CDs, or even hundreds, to vote multiple times.note 
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Invoked willingly by Minoru, and enforced by the Contractual Purity the AKB48 girls have. Played straight with Ria to Minoru, since he only has eyes for Hiroko.
    • After Hiroko finds out that her Twitter supporter is actually Minoru and she almost gets caught in a scandal with him, she decides to end their online friendship, saying in her farewell message "otherwise, I might actually fall in love with you".
  • Aloof Ally: Okabe eventually becomes this towards the rest of the kenkyuusei after concluding a truce with Minoru.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Maeda Atsuko is depicted as aloof and rarely smiling to her juniors, but still cares for and willing to help everyone.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Hiroko's dog is jealous of all male humans around her and is also aware of Minori's true gender.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Minoru's sister, Masaki, enters his apartment without permission and later stalks him around town trying to figure out what he does for a living.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License: Even an officially endorsed manga can bend reality a bit.
    • AKB members aren't allowed to have part-time jobs. Mayuyu handwaved this by mentioning that the butler cafe she works at is closely related to AKB management, but Minori's supposed side job is not given any justification.
    • They also don't outdance each other to take over the center spot in the middle of a dance routine.
    • Going to a foreign country such as the USA for work when you legally don't exist and are taken there by force on a private plane would surely pose many problems, no matter how famous you or your sponsors are.
    • The scene where Minori breaks Maeda out from a locked shower room in the AKB Theater can't happen in real life, since (according to AKBingo!) the theater doesn't have shower rooms.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Hiroko, a fan of AKB48, becomes one after she successfully passed the AKB48 auditions.
  • As Herself: Many 48 Group members appear in the story. Also featured are the franchise's creator, Akimoto Yasushi; Togasaki-san (then AKB theater manager); and Yuasa-san (SKE theater manager).
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Minoru, when dressed up as "Minori".
  • Audience Surrogate: Minoru is one for those uninitiated to idol culture. Okudaira-sensei is a representative of the die-hard wota.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: After leading her team into taking the lead during the quiz show on Chapter 78, Hiroko doesn't know the answer to the very last question, but managed to win anyway using deduction and educated guesswork.
  • Badass Biker: Haruko used to lead a biker gang in Fukuoka, and enlists them to help the HKT48 members get to a concert venue in time when they were stranded due to a landslide. Hilariously, the rough female bikers are very considerate, taking care to minimize the motorcycle noise when passing through neighborhoods and avoiding idling as it's bad for the environment.
  • 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.
  • Beach Episode: Minori and Hiroko celebrate their entry into Senbatsu and friendship reconciliation by going to Hawaii to visit Ria.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: GJ subunit. Ai, Hiroko and Minori respectively.
  • 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...
  • Big Fancy House: Okabe's mansion, Ria's apartment, and Hiroko's parents' house qualify, prompting Minoru to wonder if he's the only one living in a tiny apartment.
  • Big Sister Mentor: 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.
  • Bilingual Bonus: HKT48's Murashige Anna is half-Russian and is briefly shown speaking the language when angry (the effect text says "рассердится" rasserditsya, meaning "enraged").
  • Bishounen: Kijima Taichi, the manager for Minoru, Hiroko and Okabe later in the series, is one. He even appears with Bishie Sparkle.
    • Also Minoru himself, who's so feminine looking that people believe he's a girl even without makeup and a wig.
  • 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. Uta-Sute (short for Uta Station, uta meaning "song") is a combination of the real-life music shows Utaban and Music Station, and Queen Records is a spoof of AKB48's real-life label, King Records. Shukan Bunshun, the tabloid notorious for exposing Japanese celebrity scandals, becomes Shukan Houshun.
  • 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.
    • This happens again in Osaka, with Hiroko being the main tsukkomi with her "audience perspective" skill.
  • Bookworm: When they visit Ria's family's apartment, Hiroko is completely blown away by the huge library they have and stays there reading everything in sight until they have to go home, allowing Ria to have Minori all for herself.
  • 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.
  • Born Unlucky: Moriyasu Madoka of HKT48, to the point that she believed being accepted to the group has taken her lifetime share of luck.
  • But Not Too Foreign: HKT48's Murashige Anna is half Russian.
  • 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." He considers Hiroko his savior, because her conviction to become an idol made him believe in dreams again.
  • The Caretaker: Togasaki for the AKB48 Theater and Sakura for the stages.
  • The Casanova: Raoul Goldman, the Oscar-winning actor. He tries to seduce Hiroko until Minori puts him in his place... which makes him target Minori instead.
  • Celebrity Fic: This is an officially endorsed example.
  • 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.
    • Being a former baseball player, Minori successfully incapacitated a bus robber with a well-aimed fastball during their travel to Osaka (it's actually just a Candid Camera Prank, NMB's idea of welcoming new concurrent members). As Minoru, he often uses "looking for a stray ball" as an excuse to get to restricted places.
  • 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.
  • Costume Porn:
    • The costumes for stage performances are lovingly detailed.
    • Miss Aphrodite often wears eccentric dresses designed after animals.
  • 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 occasions.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Child Prodigy Arakawa Haruto becomes a hikikomori because his perfect pitch makes him very sensitive to ambient noise. He is also distrustful of other people, whom he believes are only nice to him to exploit his musical skills.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: Especially to Team K and SKE. As Minori puts it, performing with Team K as an understudy feels like being swallowed whole by a tornado, and even the audience can barely see her on stage.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Almost all real AKB48 members important to the story are from the 1st to 3rd generations of each group, i.e. the original 3 teams. The rest are relegated to cameos or background characters.
    • HKT's Miyawaki Sakura doesn't appear much either, possibly to avoid confusion with theater manager Sakura.
    • In the 2012 Senbatsu Elections, Minori gets 21st place and Hiroko becomes Future Girls center, respectively taking the spots held by Sato Amina and Muto Tomu in real life (incidentally, both real members were notoriously ignored by the management despite their apparent popularity). Meanwhile, Ai replaces Ogiso Shiori (last Undergirls rank) and Haruko takes the place of Komori Mika (last overall rank).
    • the 2013 election results are mostly fictional, where Oshima Yuko remains the center while the real-life first place, Sashihara Rino, is in 6th place. Sashihara's real-life transfer to HKT48 and rise to the top don't happen in this universe.
  • 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..."
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Some of the idols, in particular Takamina and Yamamoto Sayaka, are somehow attracted to Minori and most are confused why they feel that way. Subverted since, as we know, she's not really a she.
  • 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.
  • Fauxreigner: Ai Okabe started a music career in the US and took the stage name Elena to avoid the racism often experienced by ethnic Asian aspiring artists (apparently Truth in Television). Turns out her mother also did the same, and is known to the world as Miss Aphrodite.
  • Fan Nickname: The concurrent members (Minori, Ria, and Hiroko) are temporarily attached to the AKB48 sister groups in turn, and in-universe are affectionately called Team Nozomi after the Shinkansen train line of the same name, as they usually travel to each group's city by Shinkansen. "Nozomi" also means "hope".
  • Fanservice: Plenty of shots of the girls changing and showering, although Minori herself makes a point not to look. The costumes show quite a bit of skin and is often drawn from a Male Gaze perspective.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Hiroko's father strongly disapproved of her dreams to become an Idol Singer, which led to a confrontation between him and Hiroko when he found out that she had joined AKB48 and culminated in him estranging her. However, he decided to silently support her after seeing how happy she was on stage.
    Mr. Yoshinaga: What is this? Her dancing and singing are way behind the other girls. I can't believe she would run away from home just to do this. What a waste of time. That's why I always told her she wasn't fit to be an idol and should pursue education instead. (Manly Tears) But... I never knew Hiroko could make that kind of face...
  • 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.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Matsui Rena's candies have this effect on people.
  • First-Name Basis: Hiroko allowed "Minori" to call her by that in Chapter 15, marking the strong friendship between them.
  • Five-Man Band: The Kami 8, despite the differences in number and gender, fulfill this dynamic.
    • The Leader: Maeda Atsuko, of course.
    • The Lancer:
      • Takamina as the Team Mom. Her famed "doushita sensor", which in real life lets her sense when other members are having problems ("doushita?" means "what's going on?"), may be what makes her uncomfortably shy around Minori.
      • Yuko as well, as Maeda's rival for the top center position, and is also the Red Oni to Maeda's Blue. When Maeda graduates, she takes over as the leader.
    • The Smart Girl: Mayuyu, the resident Otaku and one of the first (after Maeda) to suspect Minori's true gender, although she's as shocked as everybody else when she's later proven to be right all along.
    • The Big Girl: Mariko, the tallest, oldest, and portrayed as least talkative.
    • The Chick: Kojiharu, Yukirin, and Tomochin are the nice girls and don't mind being in the sidelines compared to the others, and are also the most interested in girl stuff like beauty and fashion.
  • Flower Motifs: All over the place, more proeminent during the GJ showdown against &J.
  • Former Delinquent: Haruko.
  • 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.
  • Happy Place: Hiroko overcomes her Stage Fright during a variety show by imagining that the studio is the AKB48 Theater and the audience are their loyal fans.
  • Hates Being Called Cute: HKT48's Tanaka Natsumi dislikes fancy, girly stuff, but felt obligated to pretend to like those to maintain her image. Minori helps her embrace her real personality and shows her that fans can like her as she is.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Host: Hiroko becomes a very effective MC in the variety show they appear in, thanks to her superb ability to see the show through the audience's perspective and direct the conversation accordingly by being their voice on stage. She obtains this ability by rigorously studying a senior MC's performance.
  • 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.
  • Ill Girl: Ria is deaf in one ear and will lose hearing in the other one in months.
  • 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. Maeda is quite impressed by this that she treats her to a proper haircut at her regular salon.
    Hiroko: I have always thought of becoming like Acchan. But now I know, even if I aimed to become Acchan, I can never become Acchan, because Acchan herself has never aimed to be Acchan. (roughly cuts her hair that was styled after Acchan's) Goodbye, Acchan. (bows) Good morning, Maeda-san.
  • 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 
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: The girls have no problem undressing around Minori and sleeping with her, because they think she's also a girl. However, Minoru doesn't take advantage of the situation.
  • In-Series Nickname: For Minori, Minorichii from Takamina. And Minori-oniichan from Mayuyu, who doesn't know how apt that nickname is.
  • Internal Reveal: The members finally learn about Minori's true nature from Masaki, Minoru's sister, who also brings copies of the compromising picture which will be published in Shukan Houshun, when they're preparing for Minori's graduation concert.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Minori is snatched from the street into a car and then flown by private jet to Las Vegas, where waiting for "her" is none other than Miss Aphrodite, who has talked with Producer Akimoto and wishes to take Minori in as a protégé.
  • Kill the Gods: Minori is challenged by Akimoto-sensei to surpass the Kami 8.
  • Ladykiller in Love: To prove his love for Minori, Raoul Goldman calls and breaks up with all his other girlfriends in front of her. Later, he protects her from a collapsed scaffolding and has to briefly stay in the hospital.
    Raoul: A man protecting the woman he loves is the same in every culture!
  • 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.
  • Lost Food Grievance: When Minori is on a plane to Las Vegas to meet Aphrodite, a bodyguard picks up and throws away a steak she's eating along with the plate, to her shock. He does it to make the point that his employer can afford wasting even such luxurious food.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Minoru's name means "truth" or "reality", being Minori's real identity.
    • The name of the owner of Queen Records, Kisaki, also means "queen".
  • 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.
  • Mistaken for Profound: When Minori is still a trainee, she's frustrated at a handshake event because nobody wants to shake her hand. Her tandem, Kojima Haruna, suddenly asks a question about ghosts. Minori is inspired by that question to rally the other trainees by saying they should keep their spirits up and not become invisible ghosts next to the regular members, while actually Kojima is only commenting on the ghost picture on Minori's T-shirt.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Despite his express disinterest, Ria doesn't stop trying to seduce Minoru, including by using her body.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • When a member asserts her superiority over the others, the manga visualizes it as her becoming a Giant Woman.
    • AKB48 Team K's intensity is visualized as a tornado and SKE48's as a tsunami enveloping the theater (SKE48 take pride in sweating much more than AKB48 during their performances).
    • Matsui Rena's idol aura is first visualized as her being a giant monster with long flowing hair.
    • The third Senbatsu Election countdown is juxtaposed with scenes from the Uta-Sute music show the night before, where Minori and Hiroko gradually outperformed everyone else until the others stepped back and let them jointly take over the center position on stage. This is visualized as an epic Fight Scene between Minori and the reigning Senbatsu members where "she" literally slays the goddesses, starting from the bottom ranks and ending with her taking down reigning center Oshima Yuko, with everybody wearing various battle outfits and weapons. Hiroko joins her shortly after, having won battles of her own, and they become towering giants in the audience's eyes. (Real-life idol performances don't involve competing to be in the center mid-routine as the positions were decided beforehand).
  • 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.
  • The Musical: Naturally, the manga became so popular and a musical adaption was made, which focused on the "X Day" arc. While some of the plot is changed and many famous members who appeared in the manga are only mentioned in the play, it had the members of AKB48 cast as the characters, with Minoru being a Crosscast Role, and Hiroko being double casted with two different members playing her. Not only that, there was an SKE 48 version of the play, which LATER got a revival!
  • 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.
    • Lady Orchid and Miss Aphrodite are heavily based on Lady Gaga.
  • The Notable Numeral: Kami 8 (Goddess 8), the top 8 members of AKB48 by election. Based on the real-life Kami 7, which is sometimes also called the Kami 8 to include the eighth position.
  • 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.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Togasaki doesn't blink an eye when Mizuno Haruko greets him, Hiroko, and Minori in only her panties and a towel draped on her shoulders (she didn't know Togasaki would come along).
  • 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.
  • One Steve Limit: HKT48 member Miyawaki Sakura, who's one of the group's most well-known members in real life, is shown several times (and graces the cover of a volume) but seldom mentioned by name, while the fictional AKB48 stage chief Sakura, who appeared first in the story, has a prominent supporting role.
  • 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.
    • Mayuyu is an anime and cosplay otaku as in real life, which is probably why she could come up with the notion that Minori might be a guy, and also why everybody dismisses her suspicion as the result of an overactive imagination. Being the youngest of the original Kami 8 doesn't help either.
    • Ria is a manga and anime otaku. She manages to win the heart of a Team Nozomi hater who's an idol otaku through their similar dedication toward their respective interests (and jumping into a river to save him and his rare SKE collectible card).
  • Paparazzi: Shukan Houshun is a notorious gossip tabloid. Hiroko almost gets into a scandal twice: first, when a picture of her with an older man (actually her father) goes public, and second when a photographer took a picture of her holding Minoru's hand (to stop him from going away and ask him a question, not because they're on a date). Minori also becomes a target after they discover that he's a man.
  • 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.
  • Parents as People: Hiroko's father is strict and actively discouraged her idol aspiration since she was little, making her study hard to get into a good university instead. When Hiroko refused to quit AKB, he kicked her out of the family home. However, after watching her perform on TV, he shed Manly Tears upon realizing that it is truly what makes her happy and supports her from the background since then, although he is still too proud to accept her back home.
  • 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 Levels: The Senbatsu Election vote count is a measurement of each member's popularity, which translates to more work opportunities and entitles them to perform in a major single, which in turn increase their popularity even more.
  • 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.
  • Pungeon Master: Like her real-life counterpart, Matsui Jurina slings puns at every opportunity, sometimes using the Nagoya dialect.
  • 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.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: During the shooting for "Nante Bohemian" MV, Ai kicks Minori into the swimming pool and Minori pulls her in retaliation, causing everyone else to loosen up and join in after previously being tense due to the pressure of representing their groups in the Undergirls. The director, who scolded them earlier for their stiff performance, doesn't miss the chance to record them genuinely having fun in the water and the candid footage is included in the MV.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Among others, the Tokyo Dome team shuffle and some of the alleged scandals are based on actual events. The 2012 elections single songs and music videos, particularly "Nante Bohemian" and "Show Fight!" are also the same as in real life.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Minoru claims that he is working part-time in a male cross-dressing Cosplay Café to throw off AKB48 Team B member Watanabe Mayu's suspicions on his true gender. Thankfully for him, it works.
    • Inspired by this, Mayuyu takes to actually working at a crossdressing butler café on her days off and once takes Minori with her. Minori simply turns back to Minoru for the job and seemingly starts to enjoy the work... until Hiroko walks through the door.
  • 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.
  • Sassy Secretary: Minori cannot defy her manager, especially if she begins to refer to her as a tengu (slang for smug or arrogant person).
  • Scary Black Man: Most of the foreign celebrities' bodyguards qualify.
  • 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. Maeda confirms it herself when Minori collapses and later wakes up with Maeda by "her" side, taking care of "her".
    • Miss Aphrodite is also aware of Minori's true gender, and takes "her" under her wing prior to "her" graduation.
  • 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.
    • NMB48's Yamamoto Sayaka and Watanabe Miyuki offer Minori and Hiroko the opportunity to leave the "plateauing" AKB and kickstart a solo career with each of them, as part of a prank. Naturally, they decline.
  • 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 and Minegishi Minami.
    • Haruko's background as a former biker gang leader from Fukuoka is the same as AKBingo!'s long-time hosts, the comedy duo Bad Boys.
    • Okabe Ai not sweating even after hours of practice is possibly a reference to Watanabe Mayu, who was given the nickname CG (Cyborg Girl/Computer Generated) for this trait.
    • Maeda removing her glasses and asking "Are you serious?" to Minori shortly after Gekoku Jou's debut announcement refers to Majisuka Gakuen, in which that phrase is her character's Berserk Button and she has a habit of removing her glasses before a fight.
    • The covers of several volumes allude to real-life occurrences related to the member being shown.
      • Volumes 1-8 each shows one of the Kami 8, with Maeda Atsuko and Oshima Yuko, respectively the first and second ever Senbatsu Election winners, on the first two.
      • Oshima Yuko is shown groping Minori, which she often did to members in real life.
      • Kashiwagi Yuki is shown at a photoshoot location holding an umbrella under the rain, since she is known as an ame-onna (rain-bringing lady) whose photo sessions are often delayed by rain.
      • Takamina is shown being caring as the Team Mom.
      • Watanabe Mayu is shown walking with Minoru in Akihabara, as she is a known otaku.
      • Kojima Haruna is shown at a hot springs bath, as she is known for her sexy body.
      • Sashihara Rino is shown at a beach with Minori making shaved ice in the background, referring to her sub-unit's single "Kakigori" ("Shaved Ice") released around the same time as the volume.
      • Minegishi Minami is shown holding a pie at a variety show set (probably AKBingo! from the decoration), ready to give Minori a Pie in the Face, as she is one of the "variety queens".
      • Matsui Jurina and Rena's covers can be combined into a single picture, signifying their bond and status as the "Double Matsui" of SKE48 (they're not related, though). The combined picture depicts the transition from winter to spring.
      • Kitahara Rie is reading shoujo manga, which is a known hobby of hers.
      • Yokoyama Yui is wearing a kimono as she is from the traditional city of Kyoto.
      • Suda Akari, known for being particularly charming at handshake events (a "fisher" in the group's parlance), is shown talking to a blushing fan at one.
      • Kawaei Rina, who held the dubious distinction of "Baka Center" ("Stupid Center"), is shown trying to hide her low test score from Minori.
      • Miyawaki Sakura is posing in front of her namesake tree.
  • Show Within a Show: Hell Bath Time Attack, Number 8, and Uta-Sute
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Implied with Minoru.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: As Minori, Minoru is around dozens of attractive girls idolized by the nation almost everyday and can easily see them naked or engage in skinship if he wants to, yet he still only has eyes for Hiroko and makes a point to not take advantage of the situation. After all, Hiroko's the reason why he's doing all this in the first place.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Producer Akimoto is arguably this, with his penchant for giving the kenkyuusei impossible tasks.
  • Situational Sexuality: After Raoul protected "her" from a collapsed scaffolding with his body, Minori briefly becomes confused about "her" sexuality and wonders whether living as a girl for such a long time has changed "her".
  • Sleep Cute: Hiroko during the first time she and Minori slept over at the AKB dorms.
  • The Smart Girl: Hiroko. Her teacher tries to pressure her into applying to university and abandon her idol aspiration, until her father, who has previously wished the same, has a change of heart and requests that the teacher stop doing so.
    • As mentioned above, she leads Gekoku Jou to victory in Appare, a celebrity quiz show, which was rigged against them. She later goes on the show solo and wins again by a landslide, despite worrying about Minori's sudden departure to the US the whole time.
    • She writes down and analyzes every single line of dialog and gesture of every episode of a variety show in which they appear in order to learn the host's methods. This ends up saving everyone when said host deliberately neglects to show up, as he has plans to destroy the show and replace it with another.
  • Speech Impediment: Kodama Haruka has a lisp like in real life.
  • Sprint Scrubbing: Minori tries to use this to help Sakura clean the stage, before she stops him.
  • Surprisingly Good English: Although she has visited the USA and lived there for nine months as Aphrodite's protege, Minori still feels unconfident about her English, until Oscar-winning actor Raoul Goldman, who has a crush on Hiroko, tries to walk out in the middle of a talk show where she is interviewing him and force her to go on a date, and Minori has to put him in his place, impressing Hiroko in the process.
    (in English) Now that you appear on our program, you should follow our rules!
  • Taking the Heat: After Hiroko was photographed holding Minoru's hand by Shukan Houshun, Ria offered a staged picture of her partying with older men for them to publish in place of Hiroko's photo, since Ria is going to graduate anyway due to her illness. Subverted since Hiroko refuses to let Ria sacrifice her reputation for her sake and holds a press conference clarifying the whole situation.
  • 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.
    • As in real life, Rena Matsui loves extra spicy candies. Here, she also gives those as a gift or reward to others.
    • Minori likes strawberry-flavored food and drinks, despite her boyish image (and actually being a guy).
  • 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.
    • Senbatsu Election announcements mention many members during the countdown, but most of them are not shown.
  • Visual Pun: At the AKB dorm, Minori ends up literally sleeping in the closet to avoid being an Accidental Pervert.
  • The Walls Have Eyes: Hiroko put up posters of people on every square inch of wall and ceiling in her apartment to conquer her fear of public speaking.
  • 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.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Invoked by Minori, who starts a fight with Hiroko on TV so that they'll be publicly recognized as rivals, forcing both of them to be more independent. They still silently encourage each other when nobody's looking and publicly reconcile on the Senbatsu Election stage after Hiroko breaks through to Kami 8, with Minori following on 9th place.
    • Before the election announcement, Hiroko is briefly actually mad at Minori after learning that Minori has always intended to get the center position and give it away to Hiroko, as she considers it an insult to herself and everyone else who work hard to obtain it.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
    • "Minori", of course.
    • Watanabe Mayu enjoys crossdressing on her days off and occasionally works at a crossdresser butler café.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Minoru's disguise relies simply on a blond wig, a change in dress, and a heightened voice.
  • Wrench Wench: Stage chief Sakura, who so far was only seen meticulously cleaning the stage and equipment, manages to fix a damaged stage set in 10 minutes when everybody else believes the show cannot continue.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Working for Maya is...hard, to say the least.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Ria commented that Hiroko has a traditional lady's body when they took a bath together.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Employed in some costumes and street clothes.
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