The passion and loyalty of J-Pop group AKB48′s fans is well documented online, with incidents of disgruntled individuals threatening sarin gas attacks over trifling matters such as the group’s involvement in particular advertising campaigns, and grown men tearing up whenever one of the more popular members is caught breaking the group’s code of conduct by having a secret boyfriend.
Even though these eruptions amount to nothing usually, an incident that occurred this past weekend has prompted an explosion of AKB fan rage online, with many openly declaring their desire to kill a well-known presenter for ‘kicking’ leading member Mayu Watanabe in the head during a live broadcast, reported RocketNews24.
On the variety show Mecha-Mecha Iketeru!, comedian-cum-presenter Koji Kato -- in his role as the 'Exploding Father' -- delivered a kick to 19-year-old AKB48 member Mayu Watanabe as she knelt before him on a set designed to look like a traditional Japanese living room.
Looking at this image alone, you might well be shocked at the force of the kick.
But seen in real time, this 'kick' is actually more of a push, and would probably not have hurt in the slightest.
Watanabe, who's known as Mayuyu to her fans, can also be seen smiling the entire time, which may mean that she was in on the act from the beginning, having already been spun around by her legs and made fun of for the best part of five minutes while the group’s own music plays in the background.
After being spun around and thrown to the floor, Watanabe kowtows before an exhausted, bald cap-wearing Kato in an act of fake humility, thanking him for the honour he has bestowed upon her.
Kato then walks over and simulates kicking the band member’s head, making a ‘boom’ sound for comic effect, while the other cast members feign shock and attempt to placate him.
Whether this was all part of the show or not, dozens of AKB fans positively exploded on Twitter and bulletin board sites immediately after it was broadcast.
Some of them posted tweets such as “Die die die die die die!”, 加藤 Katou (the presenter’s name), 死ね shine (the imperative form of ‘die’) and 殺す korosu (the verb “to kill”), written over and over again.
Of course, there’s a chance that the above Twitter users could simply be a bunch of comic geniuses like the young man who duped the country with a fake rage video late last year and make a tidy profit in the process, but we’re sad to say that’s probably not the case.
Take a deep breath, guys.
We’re sure little Mayuyu is just fine.