A candy commercial in Japan set fans of supergroup AKB 48 atwitter last week when it appeared the iconic 61-member all-female act had added a 62nd member, one Aimi Eguchi. But looks can be deceiving. After conspiracy theorists and fans spent a week swapping fervor, curiosity, and eventual skepticism across the Nets, the truth came out: Aimi Eguchi isn’t real. She’s a composite of the “best features” of six other AKB 48 members.
So which one is Aimi Eguchi? See if you can pick her out in the ad:
So maybe it’s not so difficult knowing what you know beforehand, since she’s kind of front and center. But you have to admit it’s difficult to tell. The skeptics apparently began to catch on when it turned out her name could be pieced together from the letters of the candy company in the ad, the specific candy being advertised, and the company’s theme song (though that itself requires a mental leap). Further, her bio listed her as a track and field competitor, and the company’s slogan is “Hitotsubu 300 meter” (no idea what that means, but it sounds like track-and-field-ey).
Then there’s the fact that you can piece Aimi’s face together from the faces of the other six girls in the video below. Take a look:
So a candy company made a fake 62nd member for a group already a bit crowded with real talent. That’s not so mind-blowing, particularly in Japan where singingand dancing robots and hologramshave been embraced by audiences. The really interesting questions is: will fans of AKB 48 accept Aimi--even clamor for more of her--knowing that she’s not real? As Peter Murray asks on Singularity Hub: is the world ready to embrace celebrity personalities that aren’t persons?
Those that do will have to learn to do without the embarrassing Weinerisms and Sheen-esque meltdowns that make celebrity-following so much fun (unless they are scripted, of course). And those that refuse to accept these kinds of unreal personas? Well, there’s still the other 60-plus members of AKB 48 to obsess over.