Sunday, September 23, 2007

Puffy Japan sightings - larger than life in Shibuya!

Today was the last day of our Japan trip (and yeah, I'm pretty bummed right now), so we went out and did some shopping. As part of that, we visited some record stores and I got to see how Puffy's being promoted in Japan these days. And the news is actually pretty good!

Just outside of HMV in Shibuya, I saw this:

It was running a loop of clips from both "Oriental Diamond" and "Kuchibiru Motion" PV's. Pretty cool to see them up on a big screen.

For my western readers not familiar with Tokyo, Shibuya's one of the main hangouts for young people not just from Tokyo, but from cities all around the area. These video billboards are all over the place there, advertising many of Japan's most popular artists. They're not just visual, either - there's audio as well. (As you can imagine, it's a pretty loud and obnoxious area.) It's a pretty important way of marketing artists in Tokyo, and it shows that they're still relevant.

At HMV itself, they had the single available as selection #1 at one of the prime listening stations (the first one most customers will come across, in fact). Nice! Of course, there was a giant stack of Kimura Kaela's new live DVD right next to a couple of puny rows of "Oriental Diamond/Kuchibiru Motion", but that's not unexpected these days.

They also had pretty much Puffy's entire back catalog still available in a dedicated section (including their last four or five singles), along with an album of Puffy covers that I didn't know existed. I was tempted to buy it, but held off. I'd visited Yodabashi Camera in Akihabara a few hours earlier and they had literally two Puffy CD's of any kind. So it was nice to see HMV still showing some love.

Also! After seeing nothing on TV in the past week, I've now seen two of the ANA commercials starring Puffy in the past 24 hours - one on TBS, the other on a JR Yamanote Line train. The latter is arguably more important, as it's CCTV on a loop for a captive audience that numbers in the hundreds of thousands every day.

(There are also the obvious orchestrated TV appearances they've got planned to coincide with the honeycreeper album release, but I'm more interested in seeing how many times they show up by chance. That's probably a better gauge of public interest.)

There are times when I start to worry that Puffy might be slowly losing their power in Japan. But while it's obvious that "Puffy-mania" has been over for years, they actually seem to be doing better now than they were in the Nice/59 era - at least in terms of the exposure they're getting. They're still mainstream. And that's great to see.

By the way, I picked up a couple more used CD's at BOOK*OFF in Harajuku - solosolo I needed just for the Obi (my current copy had none), but "Planet Tokyo" is a single I'd been without until now.

I'll be back in New York tomorrow (unfortunately). So I probably won't have honeycreeper for a week or two still - wish I was going to be here two days from now! But watch for my review as soon as I can post it, and I'll be updating again on a regular schedule in the meantime.

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