With over thirty members, you'd think it'd be no biggie if AKB48's 17-year-old Yumi Wakatsuki was M.I.A. Yet, this weekend when she didn't show at a Gran Turismo 5 event, people began wondering whether her absence wasn't merely because she was under the weather. People began wondering if she had been benched for one of the most unspeakable things a young idol can do: Kissing a guy.
While AKB48 is located in Tokyo's geek center Akihabara, Nogizaka 46 is located in Tokyo's SME Nogizaka Building—home of the group's label, Sony Music Entertainment Japan. It all feels very cool and impersonal.
"Cool" and "impersonal" would not describe a slew of leaked sticker pictures that featured a then-15 year-old Wakatsuki and her 27-year-old boyfriend. For the hardcore (and blissfully naive) fans, it's bad enough when the inevitable idols-and-the-their-boyfriends photos leak. Worse here, because Wakatsuki's companion was almost thirty—and she was still underage.
The photos leaked onto Japanese bulletin board 2channel and featured Wakatsuki doing more than her infamous finger trick (above). In the stickers, she didn't just pose and prim with her male companion, who was described as being "27 years-old", "short" and "kind of fat (lol)". The person responsible for the leak, who referred to him or herself as "a friend of Yumi", seems to be anything but, describing Wakatsuki as "a total bitch", being into wrist-cutting, and getting plastic surgery.
The photos, taken on arcade sticker machines, feature Waktsuki and her boyfriend embracing and kissing, with notes like "head-over-heels for five months" and "always together". The photos were probably meant to be private, but somehow came into the possession of Wakatsuki's "friend".
This isn't the first time Wakatsuki has apparently had scandalous sticker pictures leak. This fall, photos that supposedly depicted her making out with some dude in a sticker booth appeared online.
IDOL KING - Yasushi Akimoto knows how to make idols. During the 1980s, he cut his teeth as a songwriter for idol group Onyanko Club. Since then, he's created AKB48 and numerous AKB48 spin-off groups. Earlier this year, he created Nogizaka 46, AKB48's "official rival". That's right, Akimoto created an official rival—no doubt, he's eventually create official rival spin-off groups, too.
In year's past, when seemingly innocent photos like these have leaked, the idol has either been suspended from the group or removed entirely. Likewise, fans tend to jump ship.
It's not only boyfriends, but things like smoking and drinking. Former Morning Musume idol Ai Kago was booted from that group after repeated infractions that involved underage smoking and being photographed walking from a hotel with a married man. (Kago is currently making the leap to pornography.)
This weekend, when Wakatsuki didn't appear at the Nogizaka 46 Gran Turismo 5 promotional event, a spokesperson told Mainichi that her absence was for "various reasons" and are carefully checking to looking into the photo leak.
Idols are supposed to be pure. It's similar for teeny-bop idols in America. (Remember Britney Spears virginal declaration?) They're not supposed to have boyfriends like regular girls do. That's because they are not regular girls. They're idols. Sometimes, like many of us were, they're stupid teenagers. And sometimes, they're just totally normal. What idol fan wants normal?
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(Top photo: 乃木坂って、どこ？ | TV Tokyo)