But there’s a comical silver lining that has heartbroken fans drying their eyes.

If you want to succeed as an idol singer in Japan, being a team player is generally going to be seen as a very desirable trait. Japan is already a group-oriented society, and with idol fans showing a strong liking of multi-vocalist groups, flexibility and being able to mesh well with bandmates is pretty much a prerequisite if an idol group is going to have much longevity.

So with that background, perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise this week when the official Twitter account of nine-member idol group Asakusa 45 announced “Asakusa 45’s members have too much individuality, with different musical ambitions, and so the group will be disbanding.”

What was surprising, though, was how sudden the end came. Asakusa 45 just announced its formation on April 1, and April 8, when the tweet was sent out, was the very same day as the group’s very first public appearance and performance.

Making the news especially painful was that Asakusa 45 was off to an auspicious start. Ticket sales for the debut concert, in which two other popular idol groups, 9nine and Babyraids Japan, served as the opening acts, were strong, with an enthusiastic crowd showing up for both an afternoon and evening set. Those in attendance were impressed by how polished Asakusa 45’s stage presence and chemistry was, as its two sub-divisions, one with four members and the other with five, first performed separately, before all nine idols came together to sing the full-member songs “Asakua☆2NIGHT” and “Gate of the Thunder.”

▼ Asakusa 45 waves goodbye

But the amped-up crowd’s cheers came to an end at the end of the evening concert when Asakusa 45 stood before their newly acquired fans and said, with tears in their eyes, that the band was immediately suspending its musical activities, then exited the stage. “No!” cried heartbroken members of the audience, who eventually started up chants of “45! 45!” and “Encore!” Eventually, the idols returned and let everyone in on their secret: the nine members of Asakusa 45 are actually the four members of 9nine and the five members of Babyraids Japan.

▼ 9nine

▼ Babyraids Japan

▼ Asakusa 45 having a song called “Gate of the Thunder” was also a clue, since one of Babyraids Japan’s songs is “Gate of the Tiger”

As mentioned above, Asakusa 45 announced its formation on April 1…because the group is actually a joint April Fools’ joke by 9nine and Babyraids Japan.

For Asakusa 45, each of the idols made up a completely new persona, and apparently a sizeable number of those in attendance didn’t notice the overlap with 9nine and Babyraids Japan, who, again were the opening acts, who were, again, the opening acts. Making that especially surprising is the fact that while neither of the two legitimate idol groups are household names, they’ve got respectably sized fanbases. Babyraids Japan’s official Twitter account has nearly 32,000 followers, while 9nine’s has more than 37,000. Neither group is particularly new, either, with Babyraids Japan forming in 2012 and 9nine having been around since 2005.

That gives cynics plenty of ammunition in their arguments that idol music is so blandly uniform that you can package the same person as two different artists. But on the other hand, from an April Fools’ standpoint, it’s hard not to be impressed by Asakusa 45’s long con, especially when there are so many other gags competing or attention on April 1.

Sources: Niconico News via Jin, IT Media
Featured image: Twitter/@asakusa_45

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s wondering if “Gate of the Thunder” is supposed to be a PC-Engine reference.