Kotaku EastEast is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

Japan's biggest girl group, AKB48, starred in a new series of candy ads that aren't only raising eyebrows, but also ire. In the ads, the girls passed pieces of Puccho soft candy to each other via their mouths, making it look like they are kissing. The commercial has been getting complaints from parents concerned about kids and homosexuality. Yes, homosexuality!

Late last week, Japanese broadcasting watchdog group the Broadcasting Ethics and Program Improvement Organization reported that the ad received 116 complaints about the commercial and its relation to young people when it ran last month in Japan.

To put this whole "controversy" into perspective: that's 116 people out of 120 million who got worked up enough to complain. The rest of the country probably ran out of fucks to give.

"Kids might copy this," one complained (via Yahoo! Japan). "Passing food mouth-to-mouth like it's a relay is unsanitary and gross," added another. Unsanitary, maybe, and gross, sure. But these parents should be more worried about the cavities candy like this causes! There were other concerns, however, like whether copying this would lead to the swapping of mouth bacteria or even kids going all gay on their parents.

"The commercial may encourage homosexuality," a viewer complained (via Japan Today).

Idols like AKB48 are supposed to be pure and innocent. They're not supposed to date or be like regular girls—they're placed on a pedestal. But AKB48 has always been slightly different from other idols and playing up the sexuality between members is nothing new for the group.


Since the girls are not supposed to date guys (that would make this idols seem like regular girls), they flirt and act cutesy with each other. That way, fans don't feel spurned—like their favorite idol is "ditching them" for some dude. An idol kissing another idol is not threatening for adult fans.

Even before the group conquered the Japanese pop charts, sexual tension between members was sometimes played up the group's concerts. Later, after AKB48 hit huge in Japan, members would frolic, hug, and kiss in some of their videos. Compared to the much of the sexuality shown in Western media, this is tame stuff. Some of these complaints, though, are baffling.


If your daughter is gay, it's not because of this commercial—and whether or not she sees this ad isn't going to change her whether she is attracted to boys or girls. Sexual preference is well beyond the control of candy commercials. Even AKB48 ones.

Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome—game related and beyond.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter