The universe shifted on the afternoon of Sunday, May 25, when a young, unemployed man attacked two members of the all-female idol collective AKB48 and a male security staffer with a folding saw during a fan event in the city of Takizawa, Iwate Prefecture. Or, at least, that's how the media reacted. Some outlets were slow on the uptake. Fuji TV's early morning news show "Mezamashii" tweeted it would be covering the story in detail the next day, and some were offended by the casual tone. Fuji apologized and quickly assumed the proper gravitas befitting an incident whose import affected the direction of Japanese show business.

It was clear from the earliest reports that the victims of the attack were not seriously hurt, but later the man who was arrested reportedly told police he wanted to carry out a random killing, so the outcome could have been much worse. The police conjectured that the attack was indiscriminate. Apparently, the man went to the event mainly because there would be many people there.

This is significant because it means AKB48 wasn't the specific reason for the attack. The injured members were not victimized by a twisted fan, though the possibility can't be completely ruled out until a thorough evaluation of the attacker's motives is made. If he had been enamored of the group, then the assault would have called into question the whole "AKB business model," with its focus on bringing fans and idols into personal contact (the former can meet the latter if they buy a CD). Without that model, AKB would not be the cultural and economic juggernaut it is.