08 September 2011
Beware the Miichan-Influenza!!
What's this, a prolific Miichan-Influenza is taking over the internet?!! A number of AKB48 CD jacket art photoshopped to have Minegishi Minami's face replacing every member's face recently appeared on the internet.
Here's some particularly lovely specimens from the evidence:
What's more, the virus appears to have spread as far as their TV shows! The September 2nd episode of Shukan AKB48 ended with a slideshow timeline of Miichan's photos rather than their usual preview, and the September 5th episode of Nemousu TV had its opening taken over by Miichan's face. And in the September 7th episode of AKBINGO!, the usual Aitakatta opening sequence was replaced with Miichan's face and voice.
Not only this, but the virus appears to have also infected the PV for AKB48's newest single, [Flying Get]. Is this the ushering of a new era for AKB48, soon to be renamed Miichan48? Is it a marketing ploy to kick off a solo career for Miichan (following in the footsteps of fellow teammate Sasshi last year when she changed her name to Sashiko?) Maybe my love of Miichan is just causing me to hallucinate these things?
As it turns out, to my disappointment, it's none of the above. As announced in a September 6 press conference, it's in fact a clever publicity campaign for Kaspersky Internet Security. It appears that Kaspersky has hired Miichan as the CM face character for their new security software to be released in 2012. During the press conference, Miichan herself appeared (in secret agent disguise, no less) and explained what was going on with the Miichan Virus.
You can view the press conference here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdUM6uOynuY
Miichan said, “I deeply apologize for the trouble I’ve caused to the world.” She continued, “Those pictures were originally made as a hobby when AKB48’s singles were released. I started making them starting with ‘Beginner‘, then showed member Kojima Haruna, who said, ‘It’s funny’, so I’ve been making them ever since. Over time, I was really happy as I got better at it.” She concluded her speech by saying, “I didn’t think it was a bad thing. I don’t know how it happened, but with this, I want to study more about security.”
As far as the Kaspersky CM goes, Miichan mentioned, “I think it turned out to be something you can laugh at, and my face is all over the place to the point where you’ll get sick of me. So I hope everyone will learn more about Minegishi."
She then ended the conference by stating, “Now that I’ve come this far, I can’t go back. I want to make everything Minegishi.”
The CM will begin airing on September 9, when Kaspersky will simultaneously begin their “Kaspersky x AKB48 Minegishi Flying Get” campaign. As part of the campaign, everyone who purchases the software will receive an mp3 present, “Minegishi Original Flying Get Full Version MP3“. Additionally, 1,000 lucky customers will get a chance to win a DVD that contains the Miichan-only version of the [Flying Get] PV.
Meanwhile, on the campaign website now features a Flash app allowing users to change the faces and names on various websites into Minegishi, as well as the CM, making-of clips, and posters.
I think this was a cute strategy for publicity, although perhaps I am biased :-P I can see why perhaps non-Miichan fans may have been distressed by it... although I would hope not by much, since it clearly looked like a harmless joke! Also... that's some good photoshopping, if those are in fact photos she did herself!!