A friend of mine who works in the media recently attended a Morning Musume (the idol group that has been dominating the J-pop charts for a few years now) concert, the one that featured the “graduation” of one of its older members (Abe Natsumi), and he was just blown away by the makeup of the audience. I’d talked about the Tsunku (MM’s producer and svengali) phenomenon before, how the concerts were predominately composed of guys in their thirties, cheering on these very young girls (the core group starts at around 11-12, but there are now side groups of pre-pubescent girls also) as they performed. That’s what he said he saw, a crowd that was probably around 90% older men, cheering with wild abandon. It’s worth considering what it is that attracts these men to the MM girls, if it’s carnal or innocent. My friend described what he saw as “the Mouseketeers with a higher tempo,” with none of the sex exploitation we see with American idols like Brittney Spears. The show is quite innocent, and the outfits aren’t particularly revealing. So what attracts this otaku crowd? I wonder if Tsunku purposely tries to pander to this audience. My friend had access to Tsunku as he attended to the girls backstage, where he treated them with respect. It would be interesting to do an interview with some of these MM fans to find out what it is that fuels their passion.