Tickets promised to let fans “Experience what it’s like to be an AKB48 member’s lover.”

It’s pretty common knowledge that Japanese idol singer talent agencies widely prohibits the onstage talent from having any sort of love life. The idol industry largely runs on the copious cash flows generated by the singers’ earnest, girl-next-door auras, and the common logic is that it gets hard to convince guys to buy multiple copies of the same CD in the interest of contributing to their favorite idol’s hopes and dreams if she might actually be getting more personal emotional support from some dude she’s dating.

So it raised plenty of eyebrows when AKB48, the most popular idol unit in Japan, said it was about to start selling “Date Tickets.”

The tickets were offered as a package for AKB48’s upcoming performances at the Hakataza theater in Fukuoka City, which will take place on November 11, 12, 14, and 22. According to Japanese news organization J-Cast News, on September 24 AKB48’s official website began promoting a number of special ticket packages for the concerts, with one description starting:

“Date Ticket. Experience what it’s like to be an AKB48 member’s lover!?”

▼ AKB48’s most recent music video, for the song “Sustainable”

However, the specifies of the service weren’t quite as lascivious as the ticket name and initial explanation sounded. The description went on to say:

“A special ticket that lets you meet up with a different member of AKB48 on each day of the concert series at the theater, then watch with her as the other members perform on stage! After the concert, you can go with her to visit the members who performed.”

As a group with dozens of members, not every AKB48 idol performs in every single concert, and the “date” wasn’t to be held in a romantic or secluded setting, but rather at the theater itself. The “lover” aspects of the service were limited to meeting up with the idol at the concert venue and watching the show in her company, and even then, it’s not like the Date Ticket purchaser and the idol would be all alone, as for each day there were 100 available Date Tickets, but only three AKB48 members (plus, ostensibly, a contingent of security personnel).

Nonetheless, the Date Ticket plan quickly drew an angry backlash from fans who took issue with the suggestive name and marketing, prompting an apology that was posted to AKB48’s website two days later. “We apologize for using language that caused a misunderstanding about the contents of the ticket plan,” the statement says, and the package has since been renamed to the “Let’s Cheer on the Performing Members with the Other Members” package, and no longer makes any allusions to dating or lovers.

Source: J-Cast News via Hachima Kiko, AKB48 official website
Top image: Pakutaso
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