The recent theft of costumes and props from an AKB48 set highlights an interesting behavioral pattern. Viewed in a harsh light, it might be seen as a kind of voodoo, a ritual shamanism: obtaining relics of important people so as to be nearer to them and draw upon their power.
Mainichi Japan concludes its article on the incident with a tell-tale quote: “We intended to sell the items after getting tired of looking at them.” At once the frivolity of the exercise is laid bare: having no practical use for girls’ clothing or specially made signboards, all the boys really could do is look at the objects.
AKB48, an Akihabara-based idol group, had their US debut at Webster Hall following the New York Anime Festival. While initial enthusiasm for their preview performance was great, the Sunday evening show time coupled with the location – across the city from the convention – thinned the crowd of con attendees considerably. Not to be deterred, AKB48 had cleverly rallied a separate fan base of non-conventiongoers, and a large throng of overwhelmingly middle-aged men clutched email printouts rather than tickets in line.