When a handful of Japan’s wannabe starlets made a plea to their limited fan base to send them as many plastic bottle caps as possible, it was generally assumed that nothing much would come of it. However, imagine our surprise when, keen to see their favorite idols hit the big time, passionate fans stepped up to donate over 100 million caps towards their case.

In Japan, fans with this level of dedication are known as “aidoru otaku”, meaning idol or star fanatics. Their enthusiasm often goes beyond the boundaries of casual fandom and enters into what can only be described as the realms of what some might deem obsessive. Even so, you’ve got to admire their team spirit- that’s an awful lot of drinks to consume!

Around 100 million bottle caps in just two weeks!

Small-time idols looking for a chance to up their status were given a chance by their registered agent to collect as many eco-friendly caps as possible in return for a leg-up to stardom. The initiative was all part of a major debut selection process named “Eco Cap Collection Program”. In short, the idol who collected the largest amount of caps, in return for their efforts, was given a the chance to debut under the guidance of Japanese company Hyadain. In total, around 100 million caps were collected, which weighed in at a whopping 2.3 tons!

Unsigned stars looking for a big break

The contest was open to anyone registered with the Alice Project talent agency, regardless of age or experience. For many potential stars existing on the lower strata and finding it hard to make ends meet, such a chance is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Talent office flooded with caps

During the initial drafting stages of the eco-cap collection program, no one foresaw just how well it would go. In actual fact, as soon as the contest went live, the talent office was inundated with so many caps each day that it became almost impossible to get any work done. As a temporary measure, a nearby theater which the talent office owns was used as a “cap storage room”.

Polio vaccine for 1,150 people

But why bottle caps? Collecting 860 caps generates enough revenue for one polio vaccine. This time around, the total amount of caps collected was 98 million nine thousand (based on a 1 kilogram = 430 pieces calculation). In other words, the amount of possible vaccines that would be produced as a result of this most recent venture totalled in at 1,150.

Even two trucks couldn’t carry all the caps in one go!

The caps were collected by a special contractor. However, when it came to gathering them up on the day, even the two dispatched trucks weren’t enough to carry the 2.3 tons of weight. Subsequently, the whole recovery process took considerably longer than originally estimated. Lesson learned: never underestimate the sheer power and dedication of Japan’s aidoru otaku!

[ Read in Japanese ]