Here is Glico’s Papico (パピコ) ice cream commercial starring Mariko Tsukamoto (塚本まり子), the 37-year-old homemaker from Nara Prefecture who passed AKB48’s Otona AKB48 (大人AKB48/Adult AKB48) audition, the goal of which was find a woman aged 30 or up to join AKB48, for the main purpose of appearing in this commercial.
According to AKpedia, Tsukamoto’s hobby (趣味/shumi) and special ability (特技/tokugi) are both “raising children (子育て/kosodate).” So, naturally, her big number for the Papico commercial is called “Oshiete Mommy” (教えてMommy/Tell Me, Mommy). Perhaps her job within AKB48 is to appeal to fans who have, uh, mommy issues. You can see my translation of “Oshiete Mommy” here.
This isn’t the first time AKB48 has inducted a new “member” for the sole purpose of appearing in a Glico commercial. In 2011, a new member named Aimi Eguchi (江口愛実) appeared in Glico’s Aisu no Mi (アイスの実/Ice Fruit) commercials. Eguchi was actually a composite CG character made up of parts of the faces of 6 AKB48 members, and her name stood for “EGUCHI Glico AIsu no MI.” Eguchi looked great in still pictures, but the CM got a bit uncanny-valley:
Aimi Eguchi was unceremoniously “graduated” from AKB48 in 2013, when her official profile was deleted from AKB48’s website. Let’s hope they let Mariko Tsukamoto go a little more gently.