AKB48, the most popular idol group in Japan at the moment, will be singing the ending theme for anime series Dragon Ball Kai.
AKB48 has around 48 members (sometimes it is slightly lower or higher depending on how many members have left or "graduated") split into three teams: A Team, K Team and B Team. The group hit number one on the pop charts last fall with its single "River". Earlier this year, the group's newest single "Sakura no Shiori" hit number one as well.
(Cool for gamers: Last spring, members of AKB48 even cosplayed as Chun-Li at the premiere of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li!)
Dragon Ball Kai is a reboot of the Dragon Ball Z series. It debuted in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the original series. The ending theme has been "Yeah! Break! Care! Break!", sung by Takayoshi Tanimoto. It's a crackerjack tune and perfectly suitable for Dragon Ball Kai.
Along with the anime, there was a Dragon Ball Kai DS game to boot. Unlike most other Dragon Ball games, it is a role-playing game and not a fighting game.
Seven members from the Akihabara-based idol outfit will make up a new sub-group called "Team Dragon" and perform the new ending theme. More details about that subgroup are forthcoming. The new ending theme, however, will kick off on May 2nd, the 55th episode in the series. No word on a new opening theme.
While this is not unusual for AKB (see this AKB48 subgroup singing NHK's kid show Ajirakuru! Mimika ending theme), reaction on the Japanese internet has run the gamut of elated to disappointed — with the naysayers saying that AKB48 isn't a good fit for Dragon Ball Kai.
Personally, I dig AKB48. Their producer is a pop music genius, and I interviewed three AKB48 members (Rino Sashihara, Moeno Nito and Tomomi Nakatsuka) about being schoolgirls and being idols for my book on Japanese schoolgirls, Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential. Interested to see how this ending theme turns out.