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Monday, December 31, 2007

Nantettatte Idol - This is how you do a cover song!

There's nothing worse than a band covering a famous song and either doing nothing original with it, or just sapping all the energy right out of it. You want to hear some bad cover tunes? Go check up YouTube for Celine Dion's "You Shook Me All Night Long" (AC/DC), Sheryl Crowe's "Sweet Child o' Mine" (Guns 'n' Roses), Britney Spears' "Satisfaction" (the Rolling Stones) or Korn's "Another Brick in the Wall" (Pink Floyd). These covers will literally just suck the life right out of you, and probably make you dumber while you listen.

PUFFY are cover masters. They know how to take an old song and make it rock. They've been doing it for years. They've even got a whole album of cover songs in The Hit Parade. But none of that amounts to a hill of beans in the face of a song that's never even made it onto one of their albums: their totally awesome cover of Kyoko Koizumi's 1985 pop hit "Nantettatte Idol". Unbelievably, it was not on YouTube before today.

Normally I'd just show you PUFFY's video, but you've gotta see the original first. It's a perfectly adequate 1980's pop song, more than a little kitschy these days, though it was extremely popular and is still well-known and liked today.



For their Spike tour, PUFFY enlisted Lolita No. 18 guitarist Enazo to help out with their updated, much harder version. She's a big reason why this works. She's awesome. Ami even cedes her the honor of the trademark bunny hop at the end! Here it is:


If you want an indication of how popular this song still is, and you want to know what inspired this post, for 58 years the most mainstream of all Japanese TV networks, NHK, has been putting on a pop music show to ring in the new year. This year (ie. last night), there was a medley by idol group AKB48, "singer" Leah Dizon and this other chick whose name I can never remember but who has a blog with a bunch of pictures of herself sticking dead bugs all over her face (yeah, she's a weirdo). Anyway, skip to 4:19 in if you don't care about the rest:


Not as good as PUFFY's version, I'm afraid!

Incidentally, PUFFY famously declined an invitation to this show early this decade and haven't appeared on it since. (This year, they did a radio show instead.) Other major stars have also refused, including Kimura Kaela and Utada Hikaru. In every case it's been big news, and the reason for the refusals probably has something to do with it benefiting NHK more than it benefits the artists, who mostly all get lost in such a long and varied lineup. CONTINUED >>


Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Happy Puffy New Year!

New Year's is a pretty big family holiday in Japan, with lots of cooking and eating and exchanging of money going on. No doubt Ami and Yumi celebrate it just like everybody else, so don't expect a lot of news from Japan over the next week or so. But let me be the first to say "Happy New Year, Ami and Yumi!" on behalf of all your fans from the US.

We here in the US celebrate New Year's a little differently - with a whole lot of alcohol, but also bunch of resolutions, predictions and other whatnot for the coming year (as we say "good riddance!" to the last). So it seems like high time for me to make some predictions for 2008. PUFFY had a pretty big year in 2007, with a new album release, a major tour, and a slew of TV ads and appearances, along with several magazine covers and a bunch more feature articles and interviews. Seems like they were everywhere this year; if anything, they're ramping up their workload as they get older. I never would have predicted it myself.

With that in mind, here are a few prognostications for 2008, broken down as I see 'em. Grab yourself a beverage, 'cause this is gonna be pretty epic:

Safe Bets - these things are happening, and you can quote me on that:

  • Honeycreeper will get a US release. We know this is coming - both their publicity agency and AmiYumi themselves have said so. No date has been set and it doesn't seem like any promotional materials have gone out yet, but this one's still a given.

  • A new PUFFY CD single release in Japan - and a song not from honeycreeper. In Japan, singles are released before albums; unlike the US, where one single is usually released as a teaser, followed by the album and then several more singles. So most Japanese bands use the single to keep themselves in the public eye, releasing two or three or even more as one-offs while they work on a new album. (Those songs are then incorporated into the album.) PUFFY's no exception to this, and in fact there's only been one year in PUFFY's history when they didn't release a new single: 2003, the year Ami's daughter was born. There's almost a 100% chance, then, that we'll have at least one new song from PUFFY in 2008.

  • New commercial endorsements. PUFFY's ad deals rarely seem to be long-term or exclusive, with a few exceptions (Daihatsu ran several years, Lavshuca seems to be ongoing). But one thing's a constant: there are a lot of them, going all the way back to the start of their career. As long as Ami and Yumi manage to stay public figures, it's no stretch to say they'll pop up in yet more marketing campaigns in 2008. (And that could be where the aforementioned new single comes from.)
Flip a Coin:
  • Honeycreeper scores a US hit. Not a major one - I think that's pretty unlikely - but get the right song played on the right radio stations, and I think PUFFY could have a top 40 track on their hands (and a top 100 album). I think there are several songs that could do it, too - especially either of the English-language Butch Walker tracks, both of which are "modern rock" radio friendly. I actually thought they had a better chance of this with "Security Blanket" from Splurge, but they've still got a decent shot with "Ain't Gonna Cut It" or "Closet Full of Love".

  • Some sort of major DVD release. I'd actually put the chances of this as slightly better than 50/50, because it's also become a rarity for a year to go by without a DVD from PUFFY, and they've got a lot of material stocked in the vault. Since 2000, the only years without a DVD were 2003 and 2004, and again, those were relatively light years for PUFFY as Ami spent more time with family. For 2008, PUFFY could do a live DVD from the Honeysweeper tour, or they could go with a long overdue "clips" collection - or some combination thereof. Myself, I'd love to see them throw all of the "Hi Hi Puffy Bu" series episodes on whatever DVD they do release, though that's probably one for the "we can dream" category.

  • PUFFY will do a return US tour, this time covering the East, or even the entire country. This isn't unprecedented - PUFFY did a "mini-tour" of the US in late 2004, then returned after the release of HiHi in early 2005 for a larger East coast tour, and finally again in late 2005 for a full West coast tour. When you consider the fact that honeycreeper will be getting a 2008 US release, and combine that with Ami's recent comments about wanting to get back out on tour as soon as possible, I think it's about even money that they'll be back here pretty soon.

  • One or more members of their current, "temporary" touring band will become permanent, replacing long-standing band members. This actually may be a little hard to call even if it does happen, but it's pretty amazing that Puffy - which is really just Ami and Yumi - have managed to keep together the same band for more than 10 years. It seems like more and more of them have other commitments that keep them from spending much time on PUFFY, though, and the last two years have seen a lot of lineup variations. Of course, given that PUFFY's recording and touring band have always been more "traditional" members than "official" members, it's not like we'll be seeing any definitive announcements.

    Personally, I'd love to see Enazo join the band full time.
Long Odds - but some of these you'll want to root against anyway:
  • Ami and Yumi join Facebook. Well, why not? One thing I've always thought was strange about PUFFY is how forward-thinking they are when it comes to communicating directly with their fans but how backward they are in terms of the use of existing technology to do so. Ami has a well-known blog, the staff maintains a blog, the band has an English language MySpace page. They're obviously trying. Ami is constantly exhorting fans to write to them, but there is no obvious way to do so - her blog software does not support comments, and there's no email link. Their web site has a "BBS", but it seems to be strictly one-way - the band never post there, and the format is barely readable. The MySpace blog only serves as a dump for their English-language posts from the real staff blog.

    Facebook is even better for bands than MySpace at allowing the fans to keep up with what they're doing (the "news feed" thing, which MySpace is trying in vain to catch up with), and it obviously allows for two way communication. Now, this prediction isn't just for the band to sign up - I'm talking Ami and Yumi themselves. Do they have time to sit there reading and responding to fan mail all day? Probably not - but then, that's why it's in the "long odds" section. I do think they would if they could.

  • A new album in 2008. It's not quite as crazy as it sounds. Consider the fact that PUFFY have fifteen albums to their name in eleven years. No, they're not all original studio albums (though nine of them are), but even if you discount the compilations, remixes and greatest hits releases, that's still a pretty impressive pace that averages to almost one album per year.

  • Coinciding with the above, PUFFY will begin producing their own albums. This one is pretty out there; it's almost unheard-of for a band like PUFFY in Japan. But I get the sense that Ami and Yumi both want to stick around in the industry long after their own music is gone, and establishing themselves as producers in addition to pop and rock stars would be one way to do it. I also think the multiple "guest producer" thing from the last two albums has just played itself out by now, so I'm betting they'll go to more of a single producer setup for the next album regardless.

  • A PUFFY breakup. As one of their biggest fans I hate to say it, but it seems like every year now I'm on a perpetual PUFFY death watch. Not because I want it to happen, of course, but just out of a sense of realism. Being a year older than Ami, I just have a hard time understanding how they can maintain this accelerating pace into their mid-30's, while also raising kids (well, a kid) and trying to maintain relationships, and all without succumbing to physical exhaustion. It's hard to overstate for people who haven't gotten here yet how different things are physically in your 30's vs. your 20's. It really is all downhill once you hit the big 3-0. It's a huge change, because you start having to think about your physical limitations rather than your potential. PUFFY are only two people, and they've always said that as soon as either or both of them stop having fun, PUFFY ceases to exist.

    It's a different situation than most bands, where four or more people might feel more of a collective responsibility to stay together, and where one member quitting doesn't usually mean the end. PUFFY are becoming increasingly unafraid to talk in interviews about a time that comes after PUFFY, and neither seems to have any qualms about walking away when that time comes. They aren't committed to this thing forever. And of course, their record sales aren't what they were ten years ago, when they were massive pop stars.

    Obviously, I hope it doesn't happen, and I doubt it will in 2008. They seem to be having more fun now than they were even a few years ago. Perhaps they've finally settled into their role in the industry in the post-"Puffy mania" era.

  • Yumi gets hitched. Though maybe she's just decided after her prior experience than she isn't the marrying type, so who knows. Whatever makes her happy, I guess. I'm sure it's not for lack of chances. But this is one of those perennial "maybe this year" things, so I include it here.

  • PUFFY gets another TV show. It's been a long time since "Pa Pa Pa Pa PUFFY!" went off the air, but they've also had "Saku Saku Morning Call", "HiHi Puffy AmiYumi" and "HiHi Puffy Bu!" In fact, I don't believe they've ever gone more than a couple years without their own TV show. Now that both "HiHi" shows have ended their runs, there's obviously a hole there waiting to be filled.

    They are great hosts that are comfortable in front of the camera and fun to watch, and it's not like TV execs don't know it. If they want a TV show, they could probably get one, though coming up with a new and creative idea at this point wouldn't be easy - what's left for them to do?
Well, that's about all I got. What about you? Any predictions I've left off my list?
CONTINUED >>


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New official Honeysweeper tour photos

PUFFY seem to have a long-standing policy of only posting the tiniest of images on their official blogs, probably to prevent people like me from doing exactly what I'm about to do. In the past few days, they've finally relaxed a bit and started posting some real medium-res shots from the last date of the Honeysweeper tour at Shibuya AX. I wonder if it means anything that these shots are all coming from that show - think a DVD might be possible? Who knows - don't get your hopes up yet. In the meantime, here are the new photos (click each one for a slightly larger version):




You can get the story that goes along with these at the official blogs - the Japanese blog is more timely, but everything's being eventually translated into English too.

Incidentally, they have also now posted official set lists from the Shibuya AX show to both of those blogs. And if you missed my somewhat innocuous link in the Honeysweeper tour post, be sure to read Ami's thoughts on the tour there as well (just scroll down on the English blog link, or visit Amigator for the original Japanese). Really wish Yumi would write something once in a while too! How about it, Yumi? CONTINUED >>


Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's December 25 in Japan, soon to be in the United States too. My wife and I are getting ready to have our own little celebration (I'm actually trying to cook a roast for dinner for the first time in my life) before we head out to my mom's house tomorrow.

This is always a stressful time of year getting ready for everything and picking out presents for various people, but I love it anyway. It's definitely one reason I've posted fewer updates this month. But I hope all of you have a great Christmas or (belated) Hannukah or whatever else you celebrate. If you're at all interested in what I've been up to this holiday season, feel free to check out my other blog - I've been posting there a lot lately.


By the way, I gotta say that Puffy's tree is probably one of the worst I've ever seen! This scene always makes me laugh.

They need to take a class or something. CONTINUED >>


Sunday, December 23, 2007

PUFFY at FACTORY Live

A couple of months ago, PUFFY recorded a performance for Fuji TV at FACTORY Live, which I had planned to watch and report on when it aired. But no such luck! I never did manage to see it, or get a recording of it. So I was happy to find this when it turned up:


I do believe this is at least part of that performance. Not much for me to say about it as all I know is what's in this video. So you may as well watch it yourself.

Thanks to PMJ2 (again) for posting this! CONTINUED >>


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bad news!

Just a little rant here. I'm pissed!

This is what my phone used to look like:

And this is what it looks like right now:

Something appears to be missing.

I don't know how this happened. I guess they drove away.

And right before Christmas, too. :( CONTINUED >>


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Honeysweeper Tour Report - Final(?) Update

Photo taken 11/17/07 West Hollywood - Key Club by John Wayne Maioriello

UPDATE 1/14: This is more than likely my final update to this post. Whew! As always, feel free to let me know if there are any show reports out there that I've somehow missed (or that haven't been written yet), but I'm no longer going to be actively searching for more. I think you've got plenty to get through here as it is. This last update has one new show report from Osaka as a parting gift.

I will do this same thing for future PUFFY shows and tours, so don't think this was just a one-time deal. PUFFY's next scheduled show is at Green Power Live 2008 on February 19, so I'll be posting whatever I find on that as well (in a new post). And of course, any future tours will get another post like this one.

Don't forget to take a look at PUFFY's own official Honeysweeper blog (in either English or Japanese) for their own running report from the road. Ami has also now posted her thoughts about the overall tour (again, in English and Japanese).

Continue on for the the full show report extravaganza and the North America set list.

If you've got a tip on a show report you've found around the net, or you want your own linked here, you can also leave a comment or send me an email.

Since I couldn't attend any of the North American shows myself this year (I'm an East Coaster), I thought the next best thing would be to compile all the Honeysweeper tour show reports I can find into one post. The Japan reports are obviously mostly in Japanese - if you're an English-only speaker, you can try running them through an automatic translation service like Google Language Tools. Reports from the US shows are mostly English.

And if you haven't already, feel free to read my own past show reports from Irving Plaza in NYC 2005, and the River to River Festival in NYC 2006.

I'll put this post back at the top of the homepage as each show concludes and new reports get added.

Without further ado:

10/19/07 Tokyo/Shibuya C.C. Lemon Hall (渋谷C.C.Lemonホール):

10/26/07 Hiroshima Club Quattro (広島クラブクアトロ):
  • Shigeo Naka's blog (PUFFY's tour guitarist) (Japanese) (日本語)
10/27/07 Fukuoka Drum Logos (福岡ドラムロゴス):
  • Shigeo Naka's blog (PUFFY's tour guitarist) (Japanese) (日本語)
  • Minamin's blog (Japanese) (日本語)
11/11/07 Vancouver, BC Richards on Richards:
11/13/07 Seattle, WA Moore Theater:
11/15/07 San Francisco, CA Slim's:
11/16/07 West Hollywood, CA Key Club:
11/18/07 Anaheim, CA House of Blues:
11/25/07 Sapporo ZEPP LEAGUE "Doubleheader" Tamio Okuda vs. PUFFY:
12/01/07 Yawatahama Lyceum (八幡浜市文化会館):
  • None found! Let me know if I've missed any...
12/14/07 Nagoya Diamond Hall (名古屋ダイアモンドホール):
12/16/07 Osaka Namba Hatch (大阪なんばHatch):
12/19/07 Tokyo/SHIBUYA-AX:

By the way, the Zepp Doubleheader is not technically part of the Honeysweeper tour, but as it falls right in the middle of it and has generated its own share of show reports, I may as well include it.

Here's the North America set list. Figured I'd post it as it differs a bit from the Japanese list. (From Cerahbes and others)

Boom Boom Beat
Nagisa ni Matsuwaru etc.
Kimi to Ootobai
Kichiburu Motion
Tokyo I'm On My Way
Youkai Puffy
Radio Tokyo
Closet Full of Love
Jet Keisatsu
Joining a Fan Club
Teen Titans
Oriental Diamond
Circuit no Musume
Red Swing
Mogura-like
Basket Case
Hi Hi

Encore(s):
(Rock 'n' Roll Radio)
Asia no Junshin

The first encore was not played at all dates. It also sounds like Asia no Junshin closed one or two shows, with Circuit no Musume being the encore.

I waited to post that until the NA tour was over - they didn't want the Japanese set list posted (I guess just for the sake of surprise), so I figured the same might be true here.

Check back soon after each show for updates. I can't promise I'll be glued to my computer screen immediately following each date, but I'll post new links as soon as I can!

Photo taken Seattle 11/13/07 by Kevin/rise888 - used with permission

CONTINUED >>


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ayumi - The real history of PUFFY

You might get the idea from this blog sometimes that I consider myself some sort of PUFFY "expert". I don't. Some of my info might occasionally be wrong, some of my opinions you might disagree with. That's fine - I'm just doing this for fun, and to support one of my favorite bands who I feel don't get the attention they deserve in this country, or even in Japan anymore. But I am doing my best to tell their story.

Two advantages I've got are having a little disposable income and being married to a native Japanese speaker (who's a fan herself - though not quite as hardcore). So I buy plenty of stuff from Japan, and if there's something I don't understand, I can get it translated pretty easily. One of the items that fits in that category is the "Ayumi" 10th Anniversary book, which has developed a reputation as kind of a "bible" of PUFFY to the band's fans.

This book was released last year and serves as a retrospective on PUFFY's career. But it is not a secondhand biography - it is a series of interviews with both Ami and Yumi along with those closest to them (Tamio Okuda, etc). So there is not much question of misinterpretation or other inaccuracies. It's all straight from the horse's mouth.

Most people in the west who know Puffy AmiYumi at all have an idea that they were artificially created in 1995 through some sort of alchemy by Sony Music executives. The story goes that Sony advertised separate talent searches that year and at some point, somebody at the record label had the bright idea to pair these two girls together. Tamio Okuda was brought in to produce and the rest is history. I myself bought into this - hell, it's on their official US web site bio, it's in the liner notes of An Illustrated History, and for a long time, it was on the US Wikipedia page for the band. (I've since fixed that.) It's been regurgitated in nearly every introduction of every US interview or review (such as this one at IGN). Who can blame anybody for believing this when it's the story told by PUFFY's own record label?

Problem is it's not true.

At best, it's a mistranslation, or a gross oversimplification. Most people in Japan know the real story, but it's rarely been told in the west. So here it is, paraphrased from Ami and Yumi themselves. I may have a detail here and there wrong; just let me know if so and I'll correct it:

--------------
When Ami was in high school, she had a rock band named "Hanoi Sex" (a play on "Hanoi Rocks"). In her sophomore year, the band entered the Sony SD Audition. None of the members really thought they would pass (as Ami's said, she just wanted to see the rejection letter), but they did. They then passed several higher-level auditions as well and were signed to the record label.

It's no secret that Ami was born in 1973. Being a sophomore in high school would have put the year of that SD Audition at around 1988. She was probably signed to Sony sometime around 1989. In other words, she has been part of the Japanese music industry for nearly 20 years now. 1995 my ass! She put a lot more than a year's worth of blood, sweat and tears into her career before PUFFY took off.

The band kind of futzed around for a few years without doing much (and without Sony doing much for them), as Ami attended a kind of technical school to learn to sing and perform better. Meanwhile, the rest of the band dropped out one by one, either to go to college or just because they were never all that serious about the music. Eventually, only Ami was left. Sony encouraged her to stay. She was serious about music, so she accepted - though she didn't have a whole lot of faith either in herself as a solo artist or in Sony. She began taking English lessons as a fallback, hoping to land a job as a flight attendant. (She says she found out later that she was too short, or she'd probably be serving drinks at 30,000 feet right now!)

A bit later than Ami, Yumi entered the Chotto Sokomade audition being held by Sony Music Artists. She entered solo, without much of a musical background. She was a high school dropout seemingly without much of a future, so she had nothing to lose. She says she entered this audition when she was "around 18", which would make the year 1993. Like Ami, she passed the audition, and became an employee of Sony Music Artists. She moved completely on her own from Osaka to Tokyo. (For Americans, this would be like a teenager moving from Chicago to New York, without much help and with no friends or family in the new city.)

The two girls saw each other off and on at the Sony Music offices, where neither did much of anything but wait around and collect a paycheck. Ami at this point had already met Tamio Okuda at a SPARKS GO-GO concert, and he was in the process of producing her debut solo CD. Ami initiated contact with Yumi, seeing her sitting alone on a window sill with her laptop computer one day and thinking she looked cute. They didn't connect initially; Yumi wasn't very sociable, so after a terse little chat, Ami left her alone.

They saw each other again at a concert after-party (which concert I don't remember, or maybe the book doesn't say), where they finally hit it off. They realized how similar they were as people, and how similar their situations were at Sony, where they both felt alone and somewhat neglected. This time, they became good friends and they started hanging out together whenever they were in the office.

At some point - and this is probably where the 1995 date comes from - they asked Sony to pair them together as a duo. Neither were confident in their solo abilities and both thought being a duo would take some of the pressure off. As they were already signed to the label separately, they needed permission to sing together. Sony had the foresight to agree.

The one major part of the story I'm missing is when manager Kaz Harada became involved. I guess I just haven't asked my wife to translate that far :)

But it obviously was fairly early in the process, as Kaz was there when Ami and Yumi were recording their first album as a duo. At this point, they were resigned to calling themselves "Crazy Virgin", which was supposed to be a "clever" play on words when abbreviated in Japanese. ("Kureba" - also the kana way of writing "clever". Oddly enough, there's a guy named "Kreva" making hip hop music in Japan right now... when written in katakana, his name is spelled "Kureba".) Nobody seems to remember who came up with this name, but Ami thinks it was another person on the Hit & Run management team. She says that at the time, they didn't think they could say "no" to anything. This is why so much of their 2006 10th anniversary merchandise carried this name - it was a joke on what might have been.

Anyway, Andy Sturmer - who was an existing friend of Tamio Okuda's - also happened to be in the studio with Kaz and the girls one night during the recording of "AmiYumi", and he threw out the name "Puffy". Supposedly, Kaz sat in a corner the rest of the night just mouthing the word "puffy" over and over, unable to get it out of his head.

The rest, as they say, really is history.

Why am I telling this story? For one thing, I think the girls themselves deserve a lot more credit for their careers than they're often given. But maybe just as importantly, PUFFY don't have a whole lot of "street cred" in the US right now. It doesn't help when people think your band was formed by a bunch of record executives sitting around looking at photos of cute girls as they play star-maker. That puts you squarely in Britney Spears/Jessica Simpson territory, which is not where any serious musician wants to be. It was not that easy for PUFFY. Ami's got a legitimate rock band background, and her band was signed to Sony the same way half the bands in either the US or Japan are. She spent literally years toiling away at Sony before catching her break. Yumi's got less of a music background, but she moved to Tokyo and entered the industry all on her own - she did all the work. The girls met completely by chance, and they decided to make music together. Not even Tamio Okuda's involvement was preordained. None of this is any different than any other band - the only difference is that as luck would have it, both girls were already signed to Sony when they paired up.

If you're wondering, Ami's solo album was released later as half of solosolo. That work wasn't wasted. But yes, her half was recorded much earlier than Yumi's - before PUFFY even existed. Ami was on her way as a solo artist. Yumi may have been too, eventually. But neither individually would have probably had the longevity of both together. One thing you can credit Sony with is recognizing their chemistry.

I may as well say a little more about the book - no point doing a separate review. It's well worth the investment even if you don't have a live-in translator. There are tons of photos, both publicity and candid. There's also a complete listing of all official PUFFY merchandise ever made, up to the book's publishing date of course. It's a definitive reference.


I was at the show pictured below - NYC 2005:

There's even a tongue-in-cheek tabloid-style photo section that contains baby pictures and other pre-PUFFY stuff. I honestly haven't been able to bring myself to rip this section open (it's sealed), but it's there.

You can see why this is considered the "PUFFY bible" - despite the fact that they say at one point, "everything in this book is a lie"! Yeah, they're a couple of comedians.

You can still order the book from YesAsia or Amazon.
CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The PUFFY Wallpaper Post

I'm looking for some low-hanging fruit to post as I wait both for more actual news and for some time to do some longer reviews, and I figured it was about time to do the obligatory desktop wallpaper post. It's something I actually get asked for a lot via email. I don't know how many of you have ever actually clicked the photo slideshow on the right, but all of these have been in there all along :)

Now, the other fan sites linked in the sidebar have their own wallpaper sections too, and they have some different stuff. So check them out too. I'm going to use this post to collect all the "official" PUFFY wallpapers that I can find - and I've got a few that I haven't seen anywhere else. They've long since been removed from PUFFY's official site. If you have any older ones that I missed, let me know and I'll add them here.

All of these were either created by PUFFY themselves or officially sanctioned by them. A few of them originally came in more sizes than I have, but I unfortunately never downloaded them (I wasn't planning to re-post them four years ago). Still, nobody else is hosting some of these right now, so it's better than nothing. Anyway, here we go - hit the link(s) under each image to download:


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I'll add more here as PUFFY make them and/or I hear about them.
CONTINUED >>


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tamio Okuda sings Oriental Diamond

Puffy Love on the puffyamiyumiworld.com forums found this, and I thought the rest of you might be interested. Here's Tamio Okuda singing the latest song he's written for Puffy, "Oriental Diamond":


The text description from kinusekkenn says it's a b-side from the 「無限の風」 or "Mugen no Kaze" single (that title translates to "Infinite Wind" in Excite), which you can find for sale from, among other places, HMV and CD Japan. It's listed as a demo on the CD, so this was most likely what he gave to Puffy to guide their own recording.

The guy can definitely hold a note. CONTINUED >>


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Official San Francisco Set List

Why rely on a potentially faulty human brain to keep your fuzzy, alcohol-clouded memories of Puffy's 2007 North American concert tour alive? One of my readers was kind enough to send in a scan of the official set list that was taped to Puffy's monitors at the San Francisco show at Slim's last month:

If you click the image, you'll be taken directly to the photo on thewilyfilipino's Flickr, where the original is housed - along with a bunch more images from other concerts, some of which may interest you. (Who knew the Human League was still around?)

A translation/romanization for those of you who cannot read the Japanese:

boom boom beat
Tokyo I'm on My Way
Nagisa ni Matsuwaru etc. (Electric Beach Fever)
MC
Kuchibiru Motion
Joining a Fan Club
Teen Titans Theme
MC
Moguralike (Mole-like)
Kimi to Ootobai
Radio Tokyo
MC
Closet Full of Love
Youkai Puffy
MC
Oriental Diamond
Basket Case
Jet Keisatsu (Jet Police)
Akai Buranko (Red Swing)
Hi Hi
Ajia no Junshin (True Asia)

encore:
Circuit no Musume (Wild Girls on Circuit)

I'll be adding this to the main tour report post shortly. CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Slow news week...

So I was surprised to find it's been five days since my last post. There are gonna be times like this, no getting around that. When Puffy are in-between albums, I might go a week or two in between posts occasionally. Don't think I've forgotten about the blog in those times, I'm just going with the ebb and flow of Puffy news. (I've also been pretty busy.) I know some of you guys visit here every day.

I'm still trying to get my hands on the FACTORY performance that aired at the end of last month in Japan, but I'm not sure that's gonna happen at this point. We'll see. I'm also still looking for some Ehime show reports for the Honeysweeper tour post, but haven't run across any yet. I'll let you all know if I do.

I'm thinking that this weekend I might finally hook up my old Japanese PlayStation 2 and get some screenshots from Puffy no PS I Love You. So that's something to watch for.

Until then, I'm just waiting for some ideas to pop into my head of posts I can write on these in-between days. The girls are probably off in Hawaii or wherever they go for vacation while they rest up for their next show on December 14, so we've definitely got some time to kill. I'll see what I can come up with in the meantime. Just as soon as I get over this holiday office party hangover! CONTINUED >>


Thursday, November 29, 2007

honeycreeper vs. honeycreeper: first and second pressings compared

Japan gets all kinds of crazy bonuses with "first pressings" of CD's. Designed to entice you into buying on day one and driving chart position, these extras can be anything from trading cards to special packaging to full-length live DVD's or any combination thereof. PUFFY are no exception to this. They've done picture discs in the past, they've done trading cards, and now with honeycreeper, they've gone and changed the cover art. Above you see the first pressing on the left, second pressing on the right. Far superior photo on the left, don't you think? But wait, that's not all!

It's not just the front, but the back too:

There, I actually think the second pressing comes out slightly ahead, although both girls are cut off a bit.

The CD's themselves look exactly the same (and are), though the jewel case itself is slightly different (check the nub in the middle):

Probably no significance to this, though. It's not like Splurge, where the first pressing felt noticeably chunkier and better quality than the second.

With the different back cover art comes a different obi. The first press obi is a bit bigger:

Let's take a look at the insert. The first pressing included a special 26 page insert chock full of photos (it was advertised as 28 pages, but that apparently included the front and back cover). I wasn't sure what to expect from the second pressing, but while it did lose a few photos in the process of being cut down to 14 pages, they managed to squeeze in more than I would have expected. And the quality is, again, exactly the same.

Pages 1 and 2 (first pressing on top, second on bottom):

The photo there in the second pressing appears later on pages 5 and 6 of the first pressing. But in order to fit in the titles above, they had to do a pretty weird crop of it - what is Yumi looking at?

Pages 3 and 4:


Pages 5 and 6:

There's the photo from page 1 and 2 of the second pressing. This crop looks a lot more natural; Yumi's looking at a magazine.

Pages 7 and 8:


Pages 9 and 10:

Ah, here we have the first shot that the second pressing's going to lose. That shot of Yumi above is only in the first pressing booklet.

Pages 11 and 12:

Ditto for this shot of Ami.

Pages 13 and 14:

And here's where the second pressing booklet ends.

Pages 15 and 16:


Pages 17 and 18:


Pages 19 and 20:

Another shot cut from the second pressing.

Pages 21 and 22:

And another.

Pages 23 and 24:

And another.

Pages 25 and 26:


Back cover:

The back cover of the inserts are slightly different because it's just a continuation of the front cover artwork.

If you buy honeycreeper today, you're going to get a second pressing CD. It's the second pressing that was sold at their concerts in North America; I know because that's where mine came from. So, all you collectors out there, be on the lookout on the used market. This one's easy to spot because the front and back cover are so clearly different. I doubt first pressings of this disc will ever be really rare, although some may want to hold onto them because of those great photos.

No word yet on which cover or insert the 2008 US release will use. There are good arguments either way from a marketing standpoint. It's worth mentioning that most US PUFFY releases have had completely different (usually worse) inserts than their Japanese counterparts, though, with fewer pages and less color. Even 14 pages is a lot for a US CD release. Don't even count on the same cover artwork theme; it could change completely. (Don't count on them getting the same treatment as Tofu gave them.)
CONTINUED >>



 
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