Nogizaka46 (Japanese: 乃木坂46?, Nogizaka Forty-six) is a Japanese female idol group produced by Yasushi Akimoto, billed as the official rival (公式ライバル kōshiki raibaru?) of the group AKB48.
Nogizaka46 was named after the place where the SME Nogizaka Building, which houses Sony Music Japan’s office, is located in. Their producer Yasushi Akimoto also said that the number "46" was chosen as a direct challenge to AKB48.
The formation of Nogizaka46 was first announced on 29 June 2011, when it became the first group to be labelled as the "official rival" to the group AKB48. This is unlike other groups related to AKB48, like NMB48 and SKE48, because these groups are created as AKB48's sister groups. Even their name "Nogizaka46" also carries the meaning that "even with fewer members than AKB48, we won’t lose".
The final auditions for the group was held over the weekend of 20–21 August, where 56 finalist competed for the 36 available places. Overall, 38,934 people applied to join their auditions. The list of the 36 selected members was announced on 22 August. In a surprise announcement, it was also announced that another 16 girls would be joining the group as a provisional “senbatsu” member.
Nogizaka46 have their own variety show on television, hosted by the comedian duo Bananaman, which started to air on October 2, 2011. This variety show is entitled Nogizakatte, Doko? (乃木坂って、どこ? Lit: Where is Nogizaka??), and is aired on the main television stations in the TX network; mainly TV Tokyo, TV Osaka, TV Aichi, TV Setouchi, TV Hokkaido, and TVQ Kyushu Hoso.
On June 25, 2012, Nogizaka46 took part in Yubi Matsuri, an idol festival produced by Rino Sashihara from AKB48. The concert was held at Nippon Budokan before a crowd of 8,000 people and featured such girl groups as Idoling!!!, Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku, Super Girls, Tokyo Girls' Style, Passpo, Buono!, Momoiro Clover Z, and Watarirouka Hashiritai 7.
On April 7, Nogizaka46 began a radio program. This program is entitled Nogizaka46no, No (乃木坂46の「の」 Lit: Nogizaka46's No?) and produced by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting. On the final leg of their national tour 「真夏の全国ツアー2013 FINAL!」 Nogizaka 46 announced their upcoming concert at the famed Tokyo Nippon Budokan which will take place on December 20.
In April 2012, the choreography for Nogizaka46's second single, "Oide Shampoo", has been the subject of criticism. When the music video for the song was published on YouTube, it became a hot topic on the Internet, receiving negative response from many viewers. As part of choreography, the girls lift their skirts over their faces, fully exposing their petticoats. Some commenters found the video obscene and stated that they felt uncomfortable watching it. Some also found that the dance was sexually suggestive.
On February 24, 2014, AKB48 group's big team shuffle, a.k.a. "AKB48 Group Dai Sokaku Matsuri", was held at Zepp DiverCity in Tokyo. It was announced that Rina Ikoma would join AKB48's Team B, much to the audience's shocking surprise reaction. Also in the same event, it was announced that Rena Matsui from SKE48's Team E would hold a concurrent position with Nogizaka46.
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
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