“I Prefer Dianna Agron Over Einstein” : Is Charm Valued Over Cleverness in Japan?

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“I Prefer Dianna Agron Over Einstein” : Is Charm Valued Over Cleverness in Japan?

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Recently, the lyrics from HKT48‘s “Einstein yori mo Dianna Agron (meaning : I prefer Dianna Agron over Einstein)” from the Type-C version of their 7th single “74 Okubun no 1 no Kimi he” (release date: April 13) have become the topic of debate.

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The controversy of the title and lyrics of the song lit up because Dianna Agron was one of the actresses who played a character from the hit TV series “glee” who is very beautiful and talks about how girls would rather want to be like her instead of being intelligent like the famous physicist Albert Einstein.

The burning debate was about whether this was an appropriate characteristic for young Japanese women to admire, to just be cute. And yes, this is always on the table of debate, especially between men and women. Whether females being cute and vulnerable would be seen as more attractive to men than being independent and intelligent. It probably didn’t help that the lyrics for the song were written by Yasushi Akimoto, the 60-year old male lyricist and producer of AKB48 and their sister groups (including HKT48) who is also married to Mamiko Takai, a former idol who was a member of Onyanko Club, another group he produced.

AKB48, SKE48, NMB48, HKT48, Nogizaka46 song's lyrics are written by Yasushi Akimoto.

Yasushi Akimoto

Is this just because of there are more female idol groups trying to impress male fans and one of the most popular groups sings it to legitimize this debate? But in fact, not all female idols would sing and act as if they are just being cute and vulnerable. There are many self-producing, independent idols, working hard to make it on their own.


Nama Ham and Yaki Udon is self-produced idol group that composes their own music, designs their costumes, merchandise, and choreography, and even negotiates their own performances. Making their debut in 2015, they sold over 1,000 tickets to their 2nd one-man live at Akasaka BLITZ on March 2, 2016.

Independent Women: Self-produced Idols With Skills Beyond Just Singing and Dancing

We can see that they are not just part of a system where everything is handed to them, but rather figuring out on their own how to be stronger and more independent from the system as well. Being a Japanese female, these are brave and risky actions, which make me want to support these young women. After all, this is the 21st century, and women now have to live on their own to make it. There is a Japanese four-character idiomatic compound, “Saishoku Kenbi (才色兼備)” to compliment women who are both smart and beautiful. Therefore, there is a perfect term to describe women in Japan who both have brains and beauty.

But the question still remains. Why do Japanese men still prefer Japanese women who are cute and vulnerable and are intimidated by the women who are independent? I have asked my editor, friends, international classmates, and underclassmen who have shared their opinions about the topic.

…to continue reading

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Grad student in Tokyo. Born in Tokyo, raised in New York, studied in London. My interests lies in Tokyo's urban street cultures and girls cultures,rock music, fashion and manga. Just livin' it up :)

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