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Make no mistake — taking over Japan is exactly what AKB48 has achieved in recent years.

The girl group dominates the charts to a level never seen in countries like the US today; in 20, all top five positions in the Oricon rankings (Japan's equivalent of the Billboard chart) were occupied by AKB48, and the band has sold over 20 million CDs in total.

," which went on to sell close to 2 million copies at 1,600 yen (around at the time).

The election ceremony takes place at the legendary Nippon Budokan, home to historic performances by the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

I'm not sure I know any Japanese people who would admit to liking AKB48, let alone owning any of their CDs.

In fact, I don't know too many people in Japan who buy music at all — and who can blame them, at around a pop?

I didn't know what to do, so I decided to shave my head without telling other band members or my agency.Minami Minegishi had just been accused of having a boyfriend."As an original member of AKB48, I am supposed to set an example for the junior members," she continues.All of this means a demographic otherwise marginalized in Japanese society has been granted with extraordinary buying power in pop culture, catapulting AKB48 to success far beyond their limited appeal. David Marx of Neojaponisme proposed in a series of essays, Japan has undergone a cultural shift to a point where "normal" people just don't buy music, leaving the hardcore otaku to exert their dominance.Now, as journalist and ethnographer Patrick Galbraith told The Verge last year, it's all too easy to stereotype otaku culture.

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