Sports Hochi reports that AKB48's 18th single, "Beginner," will have an initial shipment of 1.03 million copies for its release on October 27. Although not likely, this gives it the opportunity to sell one million copies in its first week, which has not happened since Hikaru Utada's 1999 hit "Addicted To You."
This is a record initial shipment for AKB48. In addition to the group's expanding popularity, "Beginner" has also been attracting a lot of attention because of its controversial music video. Directed by Tetsuya Nakashima ("Kokuhaku", "Kamikaze Girls"), the video had to be edited for television due to its theme of violence. As a result, it was recently decided that the unedited version will only be available through the mobile download service Recochoku.
AKB48's sales have been very strong so far this year. Their last two singles consecutively sold more than half a million copies in the first week, making them only the third female artist to achieve that (the other two are Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki).
Early sales indicators are positive. According to the PR office of music store Tower Records, reservations for "Beginner" surpassed AKB48's previous single "Heavy Rotation," even though the reservation period this time was shorter.