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The logo of the group, because getting a photo of all the girls would be... quite hard.
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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. There's also the scandalous Honey Popcorn, a Korean Pop Music Girl Group formed by former members of the various sister groups.

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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.

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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.


These tropes have come down for you! Are you ready? ARE! YOU! READY?!

  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Afraid of Needles: Their annual vaccination day was made into a documentary and a few members were shown to be terrified of needles. In particular, Arizona-born Hirata Rina had to be held down by other members every year and one time Sashihara Rino hummed "The Star-Spangled Banner" to distract her from the needle. They call her "The Legend of Injection".
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: The group's annual Senbatsu General Elections, which determines which members will participate in their mid-year single. The ballot comes with the previous single's CD and fans are encouraged to vote multiple times for their favorite members, so many of them acquire dozens of copies of that single just for the ballots and discard the CDs, causing littering problems across Japan (there are other ways to vote, but this seems to be the most feasible method to cast multiple votes). More industrious fans have devised automatic CD case opening tools to speed up the process and others hold global fundraising campaigns to purchase the ballots. The results announcements are day-long events held in a different city every year, attended by thousands of fans and broadcasted live on national TV and online.
  • 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.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: There was an official online service where fans can combine their own faces with their favorite member's to predict what their hypothetical babies would look like.
  • 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.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn:
    • The 14th generation's Three Musketeers were the girly Mako Kojima, serious Nana Okada, and energetic Miki Nishino.
    • The subunit AnRiRe were the feminine Rena Kato, highly educated Anna Iriyama, and sporty Rina Kawaei.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: After she starred in a Pocari Sweat commercial in Indonesia in 2018, Yui Oguri admirably tried to keep in touch with her Indonesian fans by posting to her social media in their language. Unfortunately, her posts were translated using Google Translate, which is generally terrible at translating more than a few words to and from Japanese. It eventually got better as she seemed to have enlisted the help of a native speaker.
  • 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, almost literally Passing the Torch of being the face of the group in real-life chronological order.
  • 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.
    • Tentoumu Chu! and Dendenmu Chu! consist of members of multiple groups.
    • There's also SakamichiAKB and IZ4846.
  • 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 48 Group.
  • Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: Team 8 is sponsored by Toyota. They have their own website with Toyota branding, sing about the Prius, and did a reality show where they learned to drive in Toyota cars. They even did voice work for Toyota satnav units, which can automatically change the navigation voice according to which prefecture you're in. This doesn't prevent them from having very dedicated fans, who spend hundred thousands of yen to follow them to concerts all over Japan in addition to the usual merchandise and handshake events.
  • Costume Porn: They even released a costume catalog book in 2017 detailing around a thousand different costumes.
    • The MV for "Jiwaru Days" has 3450 costumes arranged as backdrop.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Haruka Shimazaki, for whom the term "salty interaction" (shiou taiou) was coined to refer to her seemingly unenthusiastic attitude toward fans. Rather than being apathetic, though, she was just unwilling to feign a Genki Girl persona, and gladly poked fun at her own reputation on many occasions.[1][2][3]
  • 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".
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: Some of the songs allude to something about the center performer, especially if it's her first time as center.
    • "Eien Pressure" ("Eternal Pressure") and "High Tension" alludes to Haruka Shimazaki's timidness and low tension (excitement). In the MV for the latter, she mostly triggers everyone else into high tension with her Badass Fingersnap, while she herself stays relatively cool.
      When you gaze at me, I feel pressured...
    • Mayumi Uchida and the other performers of "Chance no Junban" are selected via rock-paper-scissors, a game of chance.
    • "Ue Kara Mariko" ("Mariko from Above"), besides being titled after Mariko Shinoda, alludes to her being one of the oldest and tallest members, as well as her strict and domineering character.
    • "Teacher Teacher", about a high school girl Hot for Teacher, is centered by Yui Oguri, one of the few AKB top members in 2018 who were actually still in high school (all the other front-line performers in the song choreography are adults). In fact, it's the first major song centered by a high school student since "Kimi wa Melody" in 2016.
  • Engrish:
    • Since English words are approximated in katakana in most of their songs, the pronunciation and number of syllables can be different than in normal English and may become unrecognizable to native speakers. For example, ponytail became six syllables (po-ni-i-te-i-ru) in "Ponytail to Shushu", placard became five syllables (pu-ra-ka-a-do) in "Kokoro no Placard", refrain became four syllables (ri-fu-re-in) in "Kibouteki Refrain", diamond becomes da-i-a-mo-n-do in "Oogoe Diamond", and pressure became three syllables (pu-re-sha) in "Eien Pressure".
    • In the variety show Yamapi no Kiss Eigo, Minami Minegishi was somehow convinced by the song title "Juujun na Slave" that "slave" means "superior person" and proudly proclaimed that her manager and AKB48 were slaves.
      • When the group were in New York, she struck up a conversation with a middle-aged American man while queuing to enter the Statue of Liberty.
        I'm Japanizu. Yeah! Tokyo! I libu in Tokyo! ... Yeah... I like shurimpu. I don't like tomato.
  • 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.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Mayu Watanabe's collaboration with Nogizaka46 (Mayuzaka46) in 2012, "Twin Tail wa Mou Shinai" ("I Won't Wear Twin Tails Anymore") is about a girl who stopped wearing twintails in order to look more grown up, which she actually did in real life (she turned 18 that year).
    • Nana Okada started having short hair in late 2015 or early 2016, which was later revealed to also be the time she suffered from stress and an eating disorder. She became a Senbatsu regular in 2016 and started to cultivate her ikemen character which is well-received by both fellow members and fans.
    • Ayane Takahashi used to list her long hair as a Charm Point, but cut it short when she turned 20. This was alluded to in Majimuri Gakuen.
  • Expository Hairstyles: The original Kami 7 all had different hairstyles that fit their personae, such as the twintailed classic idol Mayu Watanabe; the dyed and permed Gyaru Girl Tomomi Itano; the bobbed and outspoken Mariko Shinoda; and Minami Takahashi who wore a bow to look both cuter and taller. You could basically tell them apart just from their silhouettes.
    • Nana Okada lamented that the 48 Group of her generation have mostly averted this and look very similar to each other with their straight long hair, and admitted that she keeps her hair short and changes the color regularly to stand out.
  • Fanservice: Many music videos feature them dancing in bikinis. Members of the group appear in gravure photoshoots pretty much every week. Although for what it's worth, members younger than 18 (16 before 2017) are not allowed to appear in anything more revealing than tanktop and shorts and wear one-piece swimsuits when the older members wear bikinis.
  • Fanservice Faux Fight: "Heavy Rotation" features the girls pillow fighting in their underwear.
    A (male) participant in Teens React to J-Pop: This is exactly what every guy thinks a girls' sleepover is like!
    Another (female) participant immediately after: For the record, this is not what sleepovers are like.
  • Foreign Exchange Student: The MV for "New Ship" is about them welcoming a new exchange student, played by JKT member Melody Nurramdhani Laksani (also the first time an overseas sister group member performed in an AKB song).
    "Kalian ngomong apa... saya nggak ngerti..." ("What are you all saying... I don't understand...")
  • 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?
    Beloved rival
    • 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.
    • They have performed a number of collaborations and member exchanges with their official rival group, Nogizaka46, and that group's Rina Ikoma even participated in the Senbatsu Elections in 2014 and got 14th place. AKB members often admit that they listen to Nogizaka's music and that their members are cute.
  • 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.
  • Girls with Guns: The MV for the Surf Rock-influenced Majisuka Gakuen 5 theme song "Yankee Machine Gun" aptly features the performers wielding various small arms.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Team 8's ultimate goal is to perform in all The Forty Seven Prefectures, with each prefecture's rep being the center performer in her hometown. Consequently, all of them are prepared to become center when the time comes.
  • Gratuitous English: "S-U-G-A-R, jump into your racing car, say Sugar Rush! Say Sugar Rush!"note 
    • "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".
      "Tension-sion-sion... MAX! Heat up-up-up... Doesn't matter if our English is wrong!"
    • "Akai Pin Heel to Professor", my goodness.
  • 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. The song "Everyday Katyusha" is about a girl who wears a katyusha, or headband, everyday.
  • Halloween Episode: 2015's elections single is called "Halloween Night". It was released on August, presumably so people have time to practice the dance for Halloween (there are tutorial videos for that too).
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Incorporated in the song "Namida Surprise!".
  • Harem Seeker: The Ambiguously Bi Nana Okada is one. A magazine printed a "harem chart" detailing her relationship with other members and she was granted a harem photoshoot after winning a competition in 2018.
    Naachan: Since I ranked first in this event, having a harem became possible.
    • She's also one half of several portmanteau names: YuuNaa, NaaMegu, NaaYumi, NaaMako, etc.
    • In a January 2019 event in Bangkok where AKB and its sister groups from six countries were gathered, members of the Manila group MNL48 got into a (pretend) fight over which one of them Naachan loves the most, and were also starstruck when Naachan came over to their table during dinner. She also made new admirers out of members from every represented country.
  • #HashtagForLaughs: The song "#Sukinanda".
    Hasshutag, sukinanda!
  • A Hero To Her Hometown: Team 8 members often get jobs from their home prefectures and some are regarded as local celebrities.
  • 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.
  • Important Haircut: Nana Okada cut her hair short in 2016, not long before her hiatus which she later revealed to be caused by stress and an eating disorder. She also entered the Senbatsu for the first time that year and has kept her hair short ever since, and admitted that it helps distinguish her from the other members, most of whom have long hair.
  • 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.
    • Minami Takahashi's iconic accessory is her hair bow. She also usually wears Creepy Cool Crosses accessories, although these are more subtle.
  • 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!)
    Ooya Shizuka: 1, 2, 3, Shiichan! (Ichi, ni, san, Shiichan!)
  • 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.
  • Kid Detective: Tentoumu Chu!'s mini-series Joshikokeisatsu ("High School Girl Police").
  • Kimono Is Traditional: As seen in PVs such as "Sakura no Shiori" and "Kodoku na Hoshizora".
    • Pretty much a given when it's any sort of New Year special or a Coming-of-Age concert.
    • Sakasazaka, nuff said.
  • 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.note 
    • "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.
    • Team 8's signature song, "47 no suteki na machi e", ends with each of the 47 members calling out her home prefecture.
  • 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 
  • Loophole Abuse: While the group's controversial dating ban is well-known and well-enforced, quasi-romantic relationships between members are not frowned upon and often earn the fans' approval.
  • Mascot: Team 8's mascot is a bee named Eito-kun, created by that team's very own Rin Okabe.
  • Mean Boss: General Manager Yui Yokoyama often plays this version of herself in comedy sketches, where she demeans her juniors and is envious of their achievements, and constantly reminds everyone that she's the General Manager and sometimes refuses to answer to anything other than her title.
    In the 2018 The W comedy routine: You know, Oguri-chan, lately you've been full of yourself. Is it because you've been an AKB center? I've been in this group for 10 years and I'm the General Manager, but I've never once been a center! And I'm signed with Ohta Pro too!
  • 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.
  • Memetic Hand Gesture:
    • Team K: The "I love you" sign 🤟 held sideways to somewhat look like the letter K.
    • Team 4: Raised four fingers, for obvious reasons.
    • Team 8: The OK sign 👌 with the thumb and index fingertips touching the head, forming an 8.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: While their songs are mostly about young love and lives of teenage girls, the group have sizable number of fans from all age groups, genders, and nationalities. However, they're notorious for having lots of middle-aged male fans (who can afford to spend the most on merchandise and events), which inevitably raises some Moral Guardian eyebrows. After all, the group does a lot of things with its hundreds of members (group performance, solo performance, handshake events, dramas, musicals, ads, movies, photobooks, talk shows, variety shows, travel shows... you get the idea), so even people who don't initially like their music could get into them.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The annual Janken (Rock–Paper–Scissors) Tournament, which determines which members will enter the Janken Senbatsu and participate in the next single (the logic being that luck is an important factor in an idol's career). Like the Senbatsu Elections, it's held at a large venue with thousands of audience and broadcast live. The members can form teams or go solo, and many appear in cosplay of varying extravagance. A clip from the last "duel" of the 2016 tournament, which features Miku Tanabe crying in joy when she won the tournament and would become the center of a single after years of obscurity, became viral and was covered by the Western media.
  • Music for Courage
    • The inspirational lyrics to "RIVER".
    Just before your very eyes
    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
    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!
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: The MV for "Ambulance" features the girls wearing semi-transparent nurse uniforms.
  • 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 has been at least three Ayakas: Umeda, Morikawa, and Kikuchi.
    • There has been at least four Rinas: 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.
  • One-Woman Song: "Ue Kara Mariko", after its center Mariko Shinoda.
    • The JKT version of "Kimi wa Melody" becomes one since the center happens to be named Melody Nurramdhani Laksani.
    • Subverted in "Everyday Katyusha" since katyusha is what the Japanese call headbands.
  • 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.
  • Passing the Torch: Some aces of the group unofficially appointed their own successors before graduating, such as Mukaichi Mion to Oshima Yuko and Oguri Yui to Watanabe Mayu.
    • General Manager Takahashi Minami also personally chose Yokoyama Yui to succeed her, and showed her the ropes for a year before she graduated. Yuihan later nominated Mukaichi Mion as her potential successor.
  • The Peeping Tom: The MV for "Heavy Rotation" begins with a zoom in through a keyhole.
  • 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.
  • Private Detective: With quite a few Sherlock Homage.
    • In the manga AKB48 Satsujin Jiken, written by none other than Gosho Aoyama, Atsuko Maeda becomes one after her graduation and is faced with a murder case during her last job with AKB. Her office is pretty much the Mouri Detective Agency and she wears the stereotypical Sherlock Holmes getup. The manga is later adapted into a commercial mini-series for Glico.
    • The MV for "Soredemo Kanojo wa" has Yuiri Murayama, also in Sherlock Holmes costume, as one investigating a murder at a hotel with the other fifteen performers as suspects.
  • Product Placement: Some of their PVs are entirely designed for promotional 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).
  • Property of Love: The song "Juujun na Slave" ("Obedient Slave") is a very straight example.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: In her 2018 Sousenkyo speech, Nana Okada invoked this to great applause.
    To all AKB48 Group otakus... Everyone! Please let me say one thing: Please live your otaku lives with pride! ... Many of us AKB48 Group members lack confidence in ourselves and we need your support and love. So please be proud of being an otaku!
  • 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).
  • Redemption Quest: If not outright forced to graduate or resign (i.e. leave without proper farewell to fans), members caught in a scandal are often given a challenging task to make up for their transgressions.
    • Rino Sashihara was sent off to Hakata, Fukuoka to help establish HKT as both member and theater manager, and arguably did quite a good job and won the Elections four times while at it.
    • Minami Minegishi, after previously demoted to trainee status, was promoted to captain of the new Team 4, which members were all newly promoted trainees (technically including herself). Members who started out under her captaincy include Haruka Komiyama (Team K captain), Yuiri Murayama (Team 4 captain), Nana Okada (STU48 captain), and Mion Mukaichi (General Manager candidate).
  • Re-release the Song: "Sakura no Hanabiratachi 2008" was a remade version of the group's original single, "Sakura no Hanabiratachi".
  • The Rival: Nogizaka46 is their official rival.
  • 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. The choreography ends with the duet kissing.
    • 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.
  • Sampling:
    • "Oogoe Diamond" incorporates the hook from the The Magnificent Seven theme, also known as the Marlboro Man song, after the chorus.
    • As mentioned earlier, "Namida Surprise", itself about a birthday, has "Happy Birthday to You!" in the middle.
  • Scenery Censor: Taken to an extreme level of hilarity in the intro to "Ponytail to Shushu".
  • Scenery Porn: The MV for "#Sukinanda" shows off the Okinawa scenery.
    • Most of their music videos have pretty good production values and some are basically short movies.
  • 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.
  • Sibling Team:
    • Team K's Tomu and Orin Muto are biological sisters. They participated in 2018 Janken Tournament as the Muto Sisters team.
      • While the Mutos are the first sisters to be in the same group at the same time in Japan, it has happened several times in the overseas groups.
    • Nana Okada brought along her sister, Rina (who is not an idol or public figure, and not to be confused with the Team K draftee of the same name), to cosplay with her as Ram and Rem from Re:Zero for the 2016 Janken. She also used to show up often in Naachan's Showroom sessions and they once did a session with SKE's Jurina Matsui.
  • 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).
    • "Overture" is played before every live performance and half of it is simply repeating the group's name. Each sister group also has its own 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 as a full member and appointed the captain of Team 4.
    • In an elaborate Mecha Iketeru prank, the scenario was that Minami Takahashi was caught in a scandal and will graduate from the group, and she reveals in the climax that she also shaved her head (actually she wore rubber scalp). Earlier, Tomu Muto also mentioned that she didn't want Takamina to do it, implying that it had become the expected thing to do. Minegishi is mildly offended at both.
  • 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.
    • The group's 15th generation associate themselves with the strawberry, since in Japanese it's a homophone for "one-five".
  • Sugar Bowl: Some of their PVs, such as "Heavy Rotation" or "Sugar Rush".
  • Surprisingly Good English: Yuki Kashiwagi's rendition of "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" in the compilation album Thank You Disney is pretty good.
  • 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.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: They did the song for the Fictional Video Game in Wreck-It Ralph, Sugar Rush.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Overture", the opening song played before the girls enter the stage to hype up both the fans and the performers. The only AKB song not performed by the idols, but by one DJ Taz. Each sister group has its own version.
  • Toros y Flamenco: Featured in Team K's 2nd Stage's Cinderella wa Damasarenai.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Mayu Watanabe is so obsessed with karaage that it became her Twitter handle (@karaage_mayu). Haruka Shimazaki, SKE's Rena Matsui and a few others used to be in the Melonpan Alliance. Miori Ichikawa loves lemons and wanted to become one. Saho Iwatate likes to eat insects. Nana Okada enjoys chocomint-flavored sweets (and favors mint-colored outfits).
  • 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.
    • The 2014 shuffle took this Up to Eleven and involved the sister groups, so the event was announced beforehand. All teams across AKB and its three sister groups were reshuffled, causing general Mind Screw for fans who had to readjust to new line-ups, positions, and transfers everywhere.
  • Widget Series: Saturday Night Child Machine starring Team B.

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