Topics: wangbiho - Featured Topics | KPoP1
AKB48 was founded as "idols you can meet".  The group's chief producer, Yasushi Akimoto , said that his goal was to create a unique idol group which, unlike other idol groups which perform occasional concerts and appear primarily on television, would perform regularly in its own theater.   [note 1] The AKB48 Theater is in the Don Quijote store in Akihabara , Tokyo. 
The group members' ages range from their early teens to over 20,   and they are selected from regular auditions.   Members are not allowed to date, and must be well-behaved;  any violation of these restrictions used to be punished,  possibly by expulsion from the group.  AKB48 has a system that allows members to "graduate" from the group when they are older and are replaced by trainees who are promoted. Monica Hesse of The Washington Post described the AKB48 audition process as "rolling American Idol -esque". 
In July 2005, Yasushi Akimoto held an audition for a new theater-based idol girl group.  Of the 7,924 who auditioned, 24 were chosen as first-generation group members.  On December 8, 20 members debuted as Team A in the AKB48 Theater  performing PARTY ga Hajimaru yo ( PARTYが始まるよ )  to an audience of seven; attendance quickly increased.   In January 2006, AKB48 cafe waitress Mariko Shinoda joined Team A as a "1.5 generation" member when her popularity with patrons prompted Akimoto to give her a special audition.