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The passion and loyalty of J-Pop group AKB48’s fans is well documented online, with incidents of disgruntled individuals threatening sarin gas attacks over trifling matters such as the group’s involvement in particular advertising campaigns, and grown men tearing up whenever one of the more popular members is caught breaking the group’s code of conduct by having a secret boyfriend.

Most of the time these eruptions amount to nothing, and we have all learned to ignore them for the most part, but an incident that occurred this past weekend has prompted an explosion of AKB fan rage online, with many openly declaring their desire to kill a well-known presenter for ‘kicking’ leading member Mayu Watanabe in the head during a live broadcast.

In his role of “Exploding Father” for a live broadcast of the variety show Mecha-Mecha Iketeru!, comedian and presenter Koji Kato was seen to “kick” 19-year-old AKB48 member Mayu Watanabe — or Mayuyu to her fans — while she knelt before him on a set designed to look like a traditional Japanese living room.

Here’s the animated GIF that’s currently doing the rounds online.

mayu gif

Looking at this image alone, you might well be shocked at the force of the kick. But seen in real time, this “kick” is actually more of a push, and would probably not have hurt in the slightest. Watanabe can also be seen smiling the entire time, very likely in on the act from the beginning, having already been spun around by her legs and made fun of for the best part of five minutes while the group’s own music plays in the background.

▼ “Father” clears a space and spins the singer around by her legs.

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▼ The group clap along and the audience cheers.

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▼ Watanabe falls to her knees in a mock display of gratitude.

mayu thanks

After being spun around and thrown to the floor, Watanabe kowtows before an exhausted, bald cap-wearing Kato in an act of fake humility, thanking him for the honour he has bestowed upon her. Kato then walks over and simulates kicking the band member’s head, making a ‘boom’ sound for comic effect, while the other cast members feign shock and attempt to placate him.

Here’s the video in full, though you need only watch the first 10-15 seconds to get the message.

Whether this was all part of the show or not, dozens of AKB fans positively exploded on Twitter and bulletin board sites immediately after it was broadcast:

▼ “Die die die die die die!”

mayu tweets

Even if you don’t read Japanese, there’s very little to process here: it’s mostly just 加藤 Katou (the presenter’s name), 死ね shine (the imperative form of ‘die’) and 殺す korosu (the verb “to kill”), written over and over again.

▼ “I hate that guy!” “I’ll kill him!” “Die!”

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▼ “Die, Kato, die, die, die!”

mayu tweet 3

Now, even we love a little bit of fan rage every now and again–seeing people make fools of themselves by writing irate comments online is always worth a chuckle–but perhaps this is taking fandom a bit too far? Maybe some of these guys are just upset that Kato got to manhandle one of the cuter members of the group and their anger is merely borne out of mere jealousy?

Of course, there’s a chance that the above Twitter users could simply be a bunch of comic geniuses like the young man who duped the country with a fake rage video late last year and make a tidy profit in the process, but we’re sad to say that’s probably not the case.

Take a deep breath, guys. We’re sure little Mayuyu is just fine.

Source: Vippers, Hamster Sokuhou (Japanese)