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Japanese Mega Girl Group AKB48 to Launch Vietnam Sister Group SGO48 This Year

Are you a big fan of Japanese mega girl group AKB48? Now you can be part of the collective right in Saigon.

The management of Japanese all-girl mega-band AKB48 announced not long ago that in 2018 it will form a local branch of the group in Ho Chi Minh City, called SGO48 – the SGO stands for Saigon – reports Mainichi.

For the uninitiated, AKB48 is a massive entertainment phenomenon that has taken Japan by storm since its establishment in 2005. The group is currently the highest-selling musical act in Japan (link is in Japanese) in terms of singles sold. Instead the conventional girl group concept, AKB48 follows the “idols you can meet” format with its own dedicated theaters and teams of performers that are able to deliver shows on stage every day.

AKB is a shorthand for Akihabara, a district in Tokyo where the group’s first theater is based; 48 is the number of original members when AKB48 first debuted. They are divided into three teams of 16 and perform every night alternately. That was in 2005, now the original AKB48 boasts some 140 members.

Video via YouTube channel AKB48.

With the establishment of SGO48 in Vietnam, AKB48 continues to further its influence on Asia as a whole and Southeast Asia specifically. At the moment, there are seven foreign sister groups of AKB48 – both active and in planning – in Jakarta, Bangkok, Taipei, Manila, Mumbai, Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City, in addition to five Japan-based sister groups.

According to Mainichi, SGO48 aims to debut by the end of 2018, with local auditions already underway starting from this month. It might be fascinating to see how the group will play out in Vietnam, as J-pop hasn’t managed to win as much heart in Vietnam as its South Korean counterpart. Moreover, the concept of massive girl groups with a dedicated theater is completely foreign in the country.

While local fans who aspire to be on stage might be eager to sign up for an audition, tempted by the prospect of girl domination, the politics behind AKB48 are more than meets the eye.

Contractually, members are not allowed to date; one member who was caught leaving her boyfriend’s house had to shave her own head due to shame. However, as members grow older, they’re allowed to “graduate” from the group.

AKB48 has also been the subject of controversies in the past due to the age range of the members (13 to 22) and sexually provocative lyrics in a few songs. This is especially serious considering some of the girls are still teenagers.

[Photo via Dau Bao]

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