What is "AKB48"?
As the name suggests, AKB48 basically consists of 48 girls, with occasional slight increases or decreases in the number.
AKB48 was launched by the producer and famous songwriter Yasushi Akimoto in 2005.
AKB stands for AKiBa, or Akihabara the town in Tokyo now known as the home of the "otaku" or geek.
The concept of the group is "Idols you can actually go and see," and they even have their own live performance venue in Akihabara.
*AKB48 live performance venue:
AKB48劇場(AKB forty eight gekijou)
One of their unique features is that they're divided into several groups and take turns to give concerts at the venue almost every day.
So, the concept is true you can actually go see them.
AKB48's live performance
Another unique thing about AKB48 is that they face annual elections by fans since 2009.
Because they have so many members, only the top 21 members selected in the election get to appear actively in the media.
Of course, the very top members get to play a central part of the group.
At first, AKB48 seemed somewhat like a girl group for otaku only, but they've become more and more widely accepted in the last couple of years.
This year, they've appeared in all kinds of media including TV shows, dramas, commercials, radio, photo collections, and so on.
However, most people only know the faces and names of the top three members or so, unless they're very big fans of AKB48.
The members probably have to work hard since they are always competing with the other members to be, or to stay, at the very top of the group.