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Here’s your chance to breathe the rarefied air of AKB48, Japan’s highest-flying idol mega group.

Many people would say that crane games, also called UFO catchers, are the best reason to make a trip to a Japanese arcade. Sure, they can be maddeningly difficult, but there’s nothing like the thrill of victory as the stuffed animal or deluxe figure that’s caught your fancy drops into the prize redemption slot.

Of course, the problems are that sometimes you don’t have time to go to the arcade, and even if you do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll have the prize you’re looking for stocked in their machines. So to rectify that problem, smartphone game developer Brangista Game has created Kami no Te (“The Hand of God”), a virtual crane game that you can play on your phone.

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With multiple perspectives and some sort of simulated 3-D physics, it looks like Kami no Te is attempting to be a fairly convincing stand-in for an actual, physical crane game. And unlike those odd pachinko and slot machine simulator mobile games, you can win real prizes by playing Kami no Te, which are shipped to the mailing address you provide.

The paid version is priced at 100 yen (US$0.91) a play, but you can bypass that fee by agreeing to watch an ad first. But even those low barriers of entry aren’t Kami no Te’s greatest strength. No, that would be the involvement of the game’s producer Yasushi Akimoto. Akimoto is also the producer for idol mega group AKB48, which allows for the synergy of the first prize being offered by Kami no Te: cans of air collected from a live appearance by AKB48.

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During the group’s general election for its 45th single, 30,000 canisters of air were collected from “above the stage” where the idols appeared. These have since been decorated with one of 272 photos of vocalists, with one in 10 being personally signed by the idol whose likeness graces the can.

This puts winners in a bit of a bind. On one hand, the contents of the can represent the tempting promise of being able to, however briefly, breathe the same air as the idols themselves. However, opening up the can means that all of that air is going to escape. Granted, the truly dedicated could then reseal the canister, but that would mean mixing that sweet, sweet AKB48 air with the mundane air of fans’ own homes, and would any true supporter of the group be satisfied with such a diluted concoction?

But even as they ponder that dilemma, Kami no Te is already looking into new ways to commercialize air that’s come into contact with AKB48, as it’s considering such member-specific variations in this theme as:

● Air from the dressing room where Jurina Matsui was trying her hardest to remember her lines
● Air from Mayu Watanabe’s bedroom as she blow-dried her hair while humming
● Air from when Rino Sashihara appeared on a variety show
● Air from above the stage where Sayaka Yamamoto played guitar

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After all, with fans’ demand for AKB48 paraphernalia seemingly limitless, the smart thing to do is to sell them something with an essentially infinite supply.

Casey regrets to inform you that even if you follow him on Twitter he can’t send you a “can of air from the desk where Casey writes for RocketNews24.

Source: Kami no Te, Brangista Game via Jin
Top image: Brangista Game
Insert images: YouTube/【公式】神の手チャンネル, Brangista Game