AKB48 Rumored to End Swimsuit Gravure Photos for Underage Members
posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Confusingly to some English speakers, manga magazines such as Hakusensha's Young Animal and Shueisha's Weekly Young Jump often feature bikini-clad girls on their covers. Despite the word "young" in their titles, these magazines visibly target a postpubescent audience. Nevertheless, the covergirls posing in swimwear for risqué photos for these and other publications may themselves be underage. Rumors spreading through the idol industry in Japan say that may be about to change.
The Nikkan Cyzo website reported in December that a source in the publishing industry said AKB48 members in high school or younger will no longer pose for gravure photographs while wearing swimsuits. The source said that the idol group's management notified some members of the editorial departments of manga and gravure magazines. A page on Shogakukan's website promoting an AKB48 2018 calendar currently features an image (seen above right) of members in bikini tops.
The source said that a change in the policies of AKB48's management means that only members 18 years of age and older will appear in swimsuits in the future. The source added, "Even if there is a plan for all members to wear swimsuits, high school and younger members will wear swimsuits with very little skin exposure."
The rumored change may be the result of concerns related to child pornography. The source said that because AKB48 is also popular overseas, foreign media may recognize members under 18 appearing in swimwear for suggestive gravure photos as child pornography. The source noted that concerns about the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo may also have impacted the reported decision.
The source said that the change is currently limited to AKB48. For example, Avex Pictures sells gravure images of high school senior Yūno Ōhara and fellow high school senior and Super Girls member Nana Asakawa. The source believes that Hello! Project plans to continue releasing swimsuit gravure images of its idol group members. Second-year high school student and Morning Musume member Maria Makino, as well as third-year junior high school student and member of the Angerme and Country Girls groups Musubu Funaki have modeled for swimsuit gravure photos for manga magazines.