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Friday, August 31, 2007

Oriental Diamond Video Released!

Whoa - only a few days after Kuchibiru Motion, Ami announced today via her blog that both of the single PV's have now been released. These girls are going nuts lately. Take a little break before you guys burn out, man! Anyway, check it out:


Online Videos by Veoh.com

Panda hats!

Anyone who wondered whether the Kuchibiru Motion video signaled a new direction for PUFFY now has their answer. This is absolutely vintage PUFFY here. No surprise there - the song was written by Tamio Okuda and Yosui Inoue, who were responsible for many of PUFFY's early hits. And the band has crafted a video to go along with it that would have fit in with any of their PV's from the 1990's.

I love the Kuchibiru Motion video, but I love this too... and this is a lot closer to what I think of when I think of PUFFY. (It's also a better song, in my opinion.) Ami's blog entry, from what I can understand, suggests that this was intentional - one PV is what you'd expect from them, one is completely the opposite.

Little update: Those of you subscribing via an RSS feed, I've noticed that at least Google Reader does not embed Veoh video properly. Not sure why this is, but I'll have to think about going back to YouTube for that reason. To watch this video, just click through to the blog itself. CONTINUED >>


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SXSW 2000 - PUFFY's first-ever US show

A reader sent in these photos from the 2000 SXSW festival, back when Bill Clinton was president, I was writing about video games for a living and Puffy was still just "Puffy" in America. Seems like so long ago! This was their first-ever US show, and I'm pretty damn jealous of the guy who sent these in for being there. Obviously, not that many people had the privilege.

It's amazing to see how tiny the venue was. Keep in mind this was near the peak of their Japanese popularity, and given their rocket-like early career trajectory, I'm not sure they ever played venues this size in Japan. Must have been quite a new experience for them!








Thanks to Barron for sending these in! I doubt many photos of this show even exist, so it's great to see some coming out of the woodwork. If anyone else has some they'd like to share, send 'em in and I'll add them here. Photos from other shows are welcome too, as long as you've got the show details, ie. where and when, and I'd prefer that you took the photos yourself or at least have permission to use them. If I get enough, I'll start a living post visually archiving the live Puffy experience.
CONTINUED >>


Monday, August 27, 2007

Kuchibiru Motion video released!

Ok, so maybe those shots on the PUFFY staff diary weren't from the new album cover shoot. (Hey, the staff diary implied it.) Because here's the same location in the brand new Kuchibiru Motion video - check it out:


Online Videos by Veoh.com

As one of my co-workers put it, "it's a total fetish video!" Ha, seriously, that's gotta be intentional - and I love the idea. The song is not as immediately catchy as most of their tunes, but it is growing on me. It's a song that requires more than one listen to really get a feel for it. I still think the vocals are a little too hot in the mix; the guitars should be driving this song. I am diggin' the look, though...

What do you all think about the song and video? Leave a comment and let me know.

By the way, I started linking to Veoh (vs. YouTube) simply because the still image they're using for this video looks better. But they win out on video quality too, and purely by chance, their embedded player fills my blog column width perfectly. (Thanks to puffyamiyumiworld.com for turning me on to that site.) So I'll probably continue using them to embed video unless anybody's got any objections. Their file sizes do seem larger, so they might not work as well with slower connections - let me know if you have any problems. CONTINUED >>


Sunday, August 26, 2007

DVD/Movie Review - The Neighbor No. 13 (Rinjin 13-go) starring Yumi Yoshimura

And now for something completely different. While PUFFY's obviously known for their music and maybe their cartoon "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi", two years ago Yumi took a bit of a break from the group in order to test the waters of film, starring alongside Shido Nakamura, Shun Oguri, Hirofumi Arai as the principal actors in The Neighbor No. 13 (Rinjin 13-go). Available on DVD in the US, it's definitely a release I felt compelled to cover here for western fans.

The Neighbor No. 13 is part of a new wave of Asian horror films that combine elements of the thriller genre, splatter films, Hitchcockian suspense and a Kubrick-esque visual sensibility and deliberateness in pacing. These films and their filmmakers have formed a bonafide movement often labeled "new Asian horror" and led by the likes of directors Takashi Miike (who makes a cameo in this film), the Pang brothers, Takashi Shimizu, Hideo Nakata and Chan-wook Park. While these filmmakers all have their own unique style, what they have in common is a fresh new vision of the horror genre. Together, they're doing things with horror not seen before in the west.

This film is directed by first-timer Yasuo Inoue, previously known only for commercial work and music videos but chosen for his visual sensibility. It's based on a well-known Japanese manga by Santa Inoue (no relation), who personally vetted the director and approved of the final film. On the surface, it's a modern-day Jekyll and Hyde story about the long-term negative effects of grade-school bullying on the victims' psyche, and a quest for revenge. The climax, however, throws all that into doubt, and forces a different interpretation.

Yumi plays Nozomi Akai, wife of former school bully Toru Akai (Hirofumi Arai), who many years ago had literally scarred classmate Juzo Murasaki for life by throwing a vial of acid in his face. Nozomi and Toru are both former bōsōzoku (biker gang) members who have given up the life of hooliganism in favor of quiet family normality. They have a young son named Yuki, who they're raising in a small apartment that they've just moved into. Unbeknownst to them, Juzo Murasaki has also just moved into the apartment below theirs - and he's taken a construction job working under Toru.

What follows is a series of grizzly murders as Juzo's alter ego, inhabiting him since the acid incident many years ago, prepares for the main event: revenge on Toru. Meanwhile, Nozomi befriends Juzo, not realizing the history between him and her husband. She leaves their son in his care as she and her husband go out on their first date in years, with predictably tragic results. This in turn leads to the climactic confrontation between Juzo and Toru.

Since you're on a Puffy AmiYumi blog, you're probably most interested in whether or not Yumi's got any acting chops. She admits in the DVD special features that she is not an actor and that she can't compete with the other leads. I honestly think she's selling herself short. For the most part, her performance is naturalistic and believable. There is one exception - a scene in which Juzo's alter ego, played by Minoru Matsumoto, licks Nozomi's face as she stands unaware that he's there. In this scene, she never quite gets into character and almost seems on the verge of laughter - she even flinches a tiny bit when Matsumoto licks her face. This scene really could have used another take.

In other scenes, though, she completely inhabits Nozomi, and even manages to do what a lot of professional actors can't: cry on cue. If you didn't know she was a rock star, you'd never guess she was anything but an actress. Reading about this film on other English-language sites, it seems a lot of western critics don't realize she's not. Part of it may be that she is, by her own admission, playing a character pretty similar to herself. But it's in the scenes near the climax where her character starts to lose it a bit that she displays some real range. (She also does some things that pretty firmly remind her fans that she's not a kid anymore; I'll just leave it at that.)

The other actors have been alternatively either praised or criticized for under-acting. But I think the critics miss the point. The overall style of the film is hyper-realistic - it's not a Hollywood-style horror thriller where everything is over-dramatized, over-stylized and where booming music cues you in to when to pay attention. Everything about this film was purposely shot as you'd expect to see it in real life. That means the actors don't overtly emote (with the exception of a hysterical Nozomi) and it means the murder scenes are shot in a matter-of-fact style that's disturbing in its routine. We see the murders happen as a witness might, confused and without a clear view as regular life goes on in the background, and that somehow makes it scarier.

The climactic scene is shot in the same way. It's awkward - even a little funny - as the protagonist and antagonist chase each other around a science classroom. But again, the scene progresses into deadly seriousness that's made even moreso by the contrasting route that it took to get there. The actual ending of the film throws into doubt much of what's happened up to that point. But don't get it wrong - this is not unsatisfying, it's more of a Mulholland Dr. kinda thing.

The sense of realism extends to the cinematography as well. The visual style of the film captures "real" Japan in a way that I haven't seen many films manage. Even most Japanese films and TV shows are over-dramatized, with too-bright and too-even lighting, clean, big houses and rich-looking accessories. (Or alternatively, they go too far in the other direction and overdo a sense of squalor.) In The Neighbor No. 13, the lighting is fluorescent and harsh, tending towards green - as it is in most of Japan.

The apartment building that serves as the main setting is old and worn, with tiny apartments that are crammed with belongings.

One oddity that the actors actually bring up in the DVD special features is that all of them are covered in baby oil through most of the film. Director Yasuo Inoue explained that this was to prevent the actors' skin from absorbing the light, but the effect is that everybody just looks sweaty - even though the film is set during winter. Probably a first-time director's mistake.

Speaking of extras, there are a huge number of them on the two-disc US DVD release, many of which feature the principal actors in various ways. The extras include a Japanese "making of" documentary, an MTV Japan feature on the film, a documentary on the original manga, a series of interviews from the Japanese premiere, and more. These are really fantastic for Yumi fans - it's not often that we see interviews with her of any kind that include subtitles. It's nice to finally know what she's actually saying! (The film itself is obviously subtitled, but she didn't write her lines - it's not her speaking.) She comes across as humble and funny.


On its overall merits, this is an effective example of new Asian horror, although maybe an acquired taste due to its style and pace. It is quite creepy and disturbing, but slow and shot in a hyper-realistic visual style. For Yumi fans, though, it's really a must-have - there is a ton of her in this DVD set, and in ways you've never seen before. Yumi's been in other films, but only in bit parts, never as the leading lady. And never on a DVD with such an impressive amount of extras.

One caveat about the DVD is that, while it looks good for the most part, the picture is bordered on all sides. This probably seemed like a good idea to deal with the overscan problem on some TV's, but it is incredibly annoying for anyone using a digital set (like an LCD or plasma display). We're just losing resolution, and having to watch a movie inside a black box in the middle of our TV's. Keep that in mind - there's nothing wrong with your DVD player or TV.


CONTINUED >>


Friday, August 24, 2007

PUFFY to appear on Tamio Okuda/Unicorn Tribute

Lots of PUFFY news today - unfortunately, most of it really applies only to Japan. In the span of 24 hours, they've announced their latest tour goods are now available for purchase online (Japan only), they announced a new festival concert date (in Japan), and they announced an upcoming radio appearance (in Japan).

However, there is one bit of news that those in the west can take advantage of, and that's PUFFY's inclusion on two upcoming double CD sets paying tribute to Tamio Okuda and Unicorn on the 20th anniversary of their first album. Both of these sets will feature cover tunes by famous artists in Japan. There's no actual track listing yet, but PUFFY will appear on both sets. Now, they've obviously covered both Tamio Okuda and Unicorn many times in the past, so it's possible that they will not be recording new tracks but will instead just recycle some past material. We'll have to see.

Some of the other artists appearing alongside PUFFY that you might recognize include current Okuda prodigy Kimura Kaela, Sparks GoGo, Glay, Chemistry, Grapevine, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Yosui Inoue, and Kazuyoshi Saito, among others.

The CD's will release on October 24, and they should be available at your favorite import/export retailer such as CD Japan or YesAsia. The titles to look for are, imaginatively enough, Unicorn Tributes and Tamio Okuda Covers.

The original Japanese announcement on PUFFY's site can be found in their info section. CONTINUED >>


A sneak peek at some upcoming posts...

I'm gonna figure out a way to get this permanently in the sidebar, but I know I've got a few people who come here to read my longer, non-newsie posts so I thought I'd just list the next few I've got in the works:

  • DVD/Movie retro-Review - The Neighbor No. 13 (starring Yumi!)
  • Book and Video retro-Review - Run! Puffy! Run! (I'll cover both formats in one post; should be fun!)
  • Music Review - Oriental Diamond/Kuchibiru Motion
  • Music Review - honeycreeper

I can't say with certainty that they'll be in that order, but I can say with near-certainty that the first of them should be coming this weekend.

CONTINUED >>


Thursday, August 23, 2007

MySpace blog update - send PUFFY a comment!

PUFFY's staff today updated their English-language MySpace blog, letting everybody know about their new ANA TV commercials. No big whoop, and hey, I'm not big on MySpace (I do have an account there), but they're also asking for comments on the commercial and the song ("Oriental Diamond") being promoted within it. Could just be an innocent way of getting people more interested in their blog, but you never know who might be reading these things. Watch the commercials, put aside your MySpace hate for a minute, get on over there and tell them what you think!

The MySpace blog post is here. CONTINUED >>


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More on The Gap's "Classics Redefined"

I'm hardly the first to talk about this, and it's not even the first time I've done so myself, but I felt like I should at least give PUFFY's GAP ad a full post rather than just relegating it to the bottom of another story. I am using it as the basis for my header, after all (I'll be rotating that as time goes by) - thought I should probably repay the favor by giving some free advertising in return! It also gives me an excuse to toss up a few more photos.

First, here's a fairly high-res shot of PUFFY's photo for the ad campaign - all of the campaign photos were shot by famed portrait photog Annie Leibovitz.

You can click through to a larger version, although Blogger does recompress a bit. You can download a better-quality version directly from The Gap's media site here. Unsurprisingly, PUFFY are at the bottom of the list on that page, and they aren't being emphasized in the US campaign. I'm not too offended by this - they're not as well known here as some of the other celebrities in the campaign, and I think it's pretty amazing that they're being used at all.

The PUFFY staff posted a photo similar to the one below on their web site (actually it's almost the exact same angle, there's sort of a little nook you can stand in there and take a photo), but I work literally down the street from this GAP in New York City so I thought I'd take another picture of it myself. This is how the image is being used to promote street traffic to their flagship stores:

It looks quite impressive up close! I purposely tried to get some people in the photo for a sense of scale. It's practically Mount Rushmore! (Not really. But it's big!)

And just to make this complete, I'll repost my crappy cell phone photo of the shelf standees they're using inside their regular "mall" stores - this is from Long Island, NY:


The campaign is set to run through Fall 2007, so enjoy it while you can! CONTINUED >>


PUFFY in All Nippon Airways TV ad - now with video links!

UPDATE: The "panda hat" photos below are actually from the Oriental Diamond PV. Obviously, PUFFY didn't want to give this away in advance, instead just using them as a tease. (They did the same with the photos for Kuchibiru Motion.) You can see the Oriental Diamond PV here.

One of life's great mysteries has been solved. Earlier, I posted this photo from the PUFFY staff diary:

The text describing it in the original blog post was a bit cryptic.

Here's another one:

Apparently, it's got something to do with ANA's "Fly! Panda" campaign, for which PUFFY shot a TV commercial. (The commercial is mentioned at that link too.) ANA painted one of their 767's to look like a panda for trips to China (photos here), and they apparently coerced PUFFY into dressing up in panda hats for the shoot. I can't wait to see this commercial, but it hasn't hit YouTube yet. I'll post it here when it does. It hasn't yet aired nationally in Japan, so not many people there have even seen it yet.

Here's a shot from the ad sans-headgear:

And now we've got the full video available on ANA's web site. Click here, and you'll see links for two separate ads, both in 15 and 30 second varieties.

I see no panda hats. CONTINUED >>


Blog FAQ

For all your explanatory needs, here's a list of Frequently Asked Questions about this blog and its author (aka me). This is not a PUFFY FAQ - I may think about taking a stab at that sometime later. Consider this a "living" post - it'll change as the blog changes.

Q: What is this blog about?

A:
As it says in the header, this is a blog about the Japanese rock/pop/punk/disco/metal duo PUFFY, aka Puffy AmiYumi.

Q:
Seriously, what is "amiyumidas"?

A: When I created this blog, I went through all the standard PUFFY subdomains I could think of and they were unsurprisingly all taken. puffy.blogspot.com? Taken. puffyamiyumi? Taken. amiyumi? Taken. (Annoyingly, none of these blogs are actually Puffy-related!) I needed to come up with something unique to the blogspot domain. So I raided Puffy's marketing materials, and one of the products that jumped out at me was a sticker they'd made that said "amiyumidas" as an obvious play on "adidas". That's all it is - a little play on a famous brand name. (In fact, here you go - a t-shirt bearing the same name.)

Alternatively, "amiyumidas" would mean "born from amiyumi" in Greek, so that's sort of appropriate too, I guess.

Q: Why start this blog?

A: I'm obviously a pretty big PUFFY fan. My wife is too! And with her being native and me having a pretty heavy interest in Japan, we're pretty immersed in Japanese pop culture anyway. So it's easy to get completely caught up in an act like PUFFY even as an American, and I definitely have. After seeing them live for the first time, I wrote up a show report post on my more general, somewhat random personal blog. (It's now here, under the show reports link to the right.) That sort of opened the flood gates. Eventually, it was clear to me that I needed a separate blog... even if it did pull me over firmly into "fanboy" territory.

There also aren't very many English-language fan sites dedicated to PUFFY on the net, and that seemed like a problem in need of a solution. Right now, it's really just me and the three sites linked in the sidebar. We all hopefully do different enough things that we're all relevant.

Q: What is the "mission" of this blog?

A: Generally, to help promote PUFFY to a western audience, although I'm happy to have readers from around the world.

Specifically, I want to do two things here:

1. To aggregate and filter all the latest, relevant PUFFY news
2. To bring you in-depth reviews and show reports, going backwards and forwards. (In other words, I'm reviewing old stuff I missed the first time around too!)

Eventually, I'd love it if this were something of a resource archive of reviews for all PUFFY releases in all formats. Gonna take some time to get there, though. My aim is not to make an organized discography of all PUFFY releases with release data and info; the blog format isn't right for that, and the two other fan sites out there already do it well. I won't post about a release unless it's either news or a full review.

And while I'm probably not unbiased, I'm also not going to be afraid to criticize PUFFY when it's called for. Though I'll always be nice about it :) I know even celebrities are real people too. And whatever PUFFY do in the future, they've already given me years of enjoyment, and that's not something they could ever erase.

Q: Sounds great. How often do you update?

A: As often as there's something worth writing about, coinciding with me having the time to do it. During heavy periods like just before and after album releases or during tours, that may be pretty much every day - sometimes even more than once per day. But during slower periods in between releases, I'll probably have to scrounge for things to write about and it may not happen nearly as often.

Q: Where do you get your news and info?

A: The news posts come from a combination of PUFFY's official sites, Japanese-language community sites, mainstream Japanese news sites and gossip sites. I try not to rely on other fan sites, although I will credit them if I ever find a story to cover through them. Obviously, my reviews are all original, and it's not like PUFFY are sending me promos... I'm buying all the stuff I review.

Q: What's your policy on pictures/screen grabs/photographs?

A: I generally try to take my own photos/screen grabs when possible. All of my reviews feature my own scans and grabs. That gives me no claim over copyright, though (all images are still copyright PUFFY or their record label), so as far as I'm concerned, you're free to use them if you'd like. My only request would be if you could, just out of pure politeness, give me some sort of a credit or link back from wherever you're using them. But obviously, I have no legal authority to force you to do this.

I do occasionally post my own photos here, and I retain copyright to those. But see below for my stance on fair use; again, I'd just appreciate your letting me know if you're going to use one of my photos on another blog or for some other fair use purpose.

I do use images I've found elsewhere myself. I will also give credit when appropriate. Some images are either old or they're just "out there", ie. they appear on many different sites and it's impossible to track down the original source, so in those cases there's no point in crediting anyone.

Generally speaking, images on this blog (and others like it) fall under the "fair use" provision of copyright law, as they're being used for the purposes of criticism, comment, and news reporting - three purposes specifically mentioned as codified fair use in section 107 of US copyright law. You can read the fair use provision of US copyright law here.

Q: Why start this blog now? Why not 10 years ago when they were at the top of the charts?

A: For one thing, I don't put much stock in what music's popular and what isn't. It's not about that for me. For another, I honestly wasn't too familiar with PUFFY until just a few years ago - I'd known about them since 1996, but didn't really pay much attention back then. I'm almost ashamed to admit that it was the publicity surrounding the initial launch of "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi" that got me to visit their web site and listen to a few of their recent song samples. It was mostly out of curiosity; I was surprised they were still around at all, let alone getting a new American cartoon. But from then on, I was hooked. I guess I finally just fell victim to their marketing machine.

I also think they've only gotten better with age. Don't get me wrong, I love their early albums. But their more recent albums are just as good as, if not better than their output in those early chart-topping years. So why not blog about them now?

Q: Who are you, anyway?

A: I'm just some guy living on Long Island and working in New York City. I'm happily married, own a house, have a cat who's much too fat. I've got a steady job working on the web site for a TV channel. I spend part of my weekends going out and doing fun stuff and the other part barbecuing and working on my yard. I also have been known to play guitar, and I've recently started recording music again. (If you're wondering why there are so few people in my photos, it's just for privacy.) I'm basically a regular dude in his mid-30's with enough free time on his hands to maintain a few hobbies, although my musical interests do otherwise lean towards the dark side. Some of the other bands I'm into include My Bloody Valentine, Foo Fighters, Fluke, Coldplay, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Evanescence, Orbital, Slowdive, Chapterhouse, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. You might wonder where PUFFY fits in with all that, and they do act as kind of a counterbalance to the rest of my tastes. But not all of their songs are happy songs either - I kinda like it when they take the mood down a notch or alternatively get all loud and noisy.

Q: Who's your favorite, Ami or Yumi?

A:
Both :)

Q: Do you have any connection to PUFFY, Sony Music, Ki/oon Records, Cartoon Network, Tofu Records or Hit&Run?

A:
None. But I would if given the chance. Hey, I never said I was trying to be independent!

But that's what I am. For now...

Other questions? Feel free to leave a comment or email and I'll answer either there or here in the main post. CONTINUED >>


Friday, August 17, 2007

Honeycreeper Update

Short but sweet today...

After injuring her right index finger earlier this month, Ami has let us know via her first blog post in a couple weeks that "honeycreeper" is officially done. Guess they're just waiting for the stars to align properly before releasing it.

Wish I could translate the whole post for you, but alas, my Japanese skills are just not what they could be.

Here's hoping that sprained appendage continues to heal, Ami... CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fun Clips Fun Club DVD Review

As one of the only PUFFY DVD's still in print and therefore somewhat easy to come by, I thought it might be relevant for some of you to take a look back at FUN CLIPS FUN CLUB. This 2005 release includes nine of their promotional videos dating to around 2002, and in one of the few really good extras on any PUFFY DVD, about that many live clips as a "bonus track" on the disc.

Since this is a clip collection, I thought I'd take it song by song and spend a paragraph or so on each video. I'll talk a bit about the live material separately. First, the main track listing:

1. Boogie Woogie No. 5
2. Atarashi Hibi (Brand New Days)
3. Aoi Namida
4. Hurricane
5. Akai Buranko (Red Swing)
6. PRMX Turbo
7. Sunrise
8. Teen Titans Theme
9. Joining a Fan Club

Here's the bonus live material:

5/24/2004 Shibuya O-East
Invisible Tomorrow
Umi Eto
Tokusuru Karada

8/14/2004 Rising Sun Rock Festival
Ajia no Junshin

8/28/2004 Setstock '04
Wild Girls on Circuit

10/10/2004 House of Blues (L.A.)
Joining a Fan Club

10/29/2004 Club Quattro
Beef

While the live material is all from 2004, the videos span a number of years and show quite a transformation both in PUFFY's music and look over that time period. Track by track:

Boogie Woogie No. 5Still one of PUFFY's most popular songs, this collaboration with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra is one of PUFFY's most slickly-produced, densely-choreographed videos to this day. Shot against an all-white background, it's a singing, playing, dancing extravaganza.


Atarashi HibiShot in the style of an 8mm home movie; one of PUFFY's many low-budget videos without much of anything to do with the song. Ami and Yumi ride bikes, walk around, and generally traipse around the countryside. They both look very young in this video; younger than they usually did at this point. I really like this video; it's got its own charm. Makes me feel relaxed.


Aoi NamidaThis is a serious song and it's treated as such in the video. Both girls look quite a bit older in this than they did in Atarashi Hibi, probably intentionally as they're meant to be sort of a "mentor" for a troubled school girl. PUFFY spend time in the girl's house, at a train station and out at the beach as they tell her what's what. Not one of my favorite songs, but maybe one they wanted as a single for its subject matter. Yumi had apparently just dyed her hair brown, but it hadn't yet grown out from the spiked style of, well, Spike. It looks a bit awkward.


HurricaneLots of choreography here, and another slick production. Not one of my favorite songs but definitely one of my favorite videos. Basically PUFFY singing and dancing around an extremely windy room. There's a lot of humor in their performance, their dancing is probably the best I've seen, and they both look great. Watch for the shot of Yumi singing "Let me show you a magokoro" - it cracks me up every time.


Akai BurankoThe sole representative here from the album Nice (unless you count the Teen Titans Theme), and apparently shot for the most part during their "Rolling Debut Revue" tour of 2002. Includes lots of concert and backstage footage, edited together with gusto. This is a great example of a "live" video for a recorded song - it really injects some energy into it. This was shot during PUFFY's "indie rock" period, when they were wearing a lot of ratty cargo pants and punk band t-shirts and not doing much with their hair. I actually wish they'd kept on like this; it gives them a bit more street cred, at least in the US. Not a very mainstream look in Japan, though.


PRMX TurboLike the song itself, this video is sort of a mashup of past stuff, re-edited and sped up, slowed down or with new effects added. Kinda neat if you're feeling nostalgic, but not really something you're going to re-watch a bunch of times. There does seem to be some footage included that was probably shot for the early "Run! Puffy! Run!" long-form video but didn't make the cut, so that's one thing to keep the interest level up.

Incidentally, the station they're waiting at for the 1 train above is one station away from the one I use twice a day :)


SunriseA controversial video not coincidentally from their least popular album "59". Either you think this video is postmodern avant-garde brilliance or you think they've lost their minds. The song is nice, and it served as the theme to the anime SD Mobile Gundam Force, but the video's got nothing to do with that. Instead, it features Ami and Yumi collecting garbage. They don't sing... well, not much anyway. They don't dance. There's no band. It's similar in tone to Atarashi Hibi, but with better production values... and more garbage. I think it's brilliant.


Teen Titans ThemeA throwaway cartoon theme song but with a cute video. A much different style than most of their videos, seemingly intended for the same audience as the "Teen Titans" TV show - young American kids. Guitar Wolf makes a guest cameo that probably none of the video's target demographic will get the reference to.


Joining a Fan ClubPUFFY's cover of Andy Sturmer's Jellyfish song is treated as light bubblegum pop in the video, which, judging by the girls' outfits, is themed after their characters in the "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi" cartoon. It feels a bit fake. Still, it's a fun video in which both girls engage in a slow-motion water balloon/food fight - one of the cool things about them has always been their ability to laugh at themselves. By the end of the video, they're both covered in pie.

The progression from track 1 to track 9 is pretty stark. Their early videos - and I'd say "Atarashi Hibi" is the last in that style - were all pretty naturalistic. Ami and Yumi looked like regular girls, and the videos were shot with very low budgets - purposely like a student film or home movie. That's part of what made them popular in the first place; the public could identify with them. By track 9, everything seems a bit more calculated - there's a lot more obvious marketing going on (in this case, of the cartoon), and the mood is a lot less natural and a lot more geared to one particular targeted demographic.

The live material is a great bonus - almost too much of a bonus to be considered one. The Shibuya performance, especially, warrants its own full-length DVD - and I wish we'd gotten one. Could this have been footage from an abandoned project? It seems like a pretty complex production for just three songs. (This was also the performance used in the opening credits for "Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi".) In any case, it's "Tokusuru Karada" that's the standout of this show - they really look like they're having fun. Not to mention both of the girls' hair styles, which are as distinctive as they've ever been.

The other clips are more hit and miss. It is nice to see them perform in daylight, and without the benefit of a light show at some of these large festivals - it's just a bit of a change from the standard concert DVD. But as I know firsthand, they're better at night and with their own dedicated crowd on their side.

The House of Blues clip is odd in that the audio is not very good... and "Joining a Fan Club" is not really among their best songs. I'm sure it was included because it's really a clip of Cartoon Network's New Year's Eve countdown - it was used to ring in the New Year in 2005 - so it has an air of importance.

However, their cover of Tamio Okuda's "Beef" totally rocks. This is not a song they've ever done before to my knowledge, and it's not on any PUFFY album. This is a driving rock song in the Steppenwolf vein, and they're obviously into it - and they work it out.

I don't even know who the guitar chick below is, but I have to give her props for playing lead on a left-handed Fender Jazzmaster. That's hardcore:

The DVD is region 2, and as much of this footage is several years old, it's non-anamorphic 4:3. It still looks pretty good, though, although the concert footage varies in quality with the venue.

This was the first PUFFY DVD I bought, and I have to say that it was exactly what I was looking for. Japanese music DVD's can be expensive, so I wasn't sure I wanted to spend all that money on one single concert performance (which are by nature little snapshots in time) or alternatively on just a bunch of random videos. This DVD gives you a bit of both, with some really interesting stuff, although a few of the clips are a little disappointing. It also obviously only covers a few years worth of videos and a few 2004 shows. For me, it was enough to convince me I wanted more - a jumping-off point for the rest of their DVD collection. I'm now on a mission to acquire them all, and that's still in process. I'll bring you more reviews of both new and old DVD's coming soon!
CONTINUED >>


Monday, August 13, 2007

RSS Widget - Get PUFFY updates anywhere!

Alright, this is pretty cool. I made an RSS widget that acts as a blog reader that you can embed anywhere. Put it on your home page, your desktop, your own blog, your MySpace page, wherever. Of course, I still recommend a real RSS/Atom subscription for yourself - it just reads more cleanly - but hey, I'm all about options. The content will be updated whenever I put up a new post. See? If this post is at the top of the blog as you read this, it should be at the top of the widget too.

Grab it below!



By the way, yeah I know I've got a javascript error on this post... but the widget works. CONTINUED >>


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Kuchibiru Motion shoot - PUFFY Staff Diary

I'm probably not going to repost every little update to the PUFFY staff diary here, but I will when there's something interesting going on. Over the past few days, they've been posting some pictures from the Kuchibiru Motion video shoot. Keep in mind they only ever post little thumbnails (probably to discourage people like me from re-posting them), so this is as big as the originals are:


Couple observations. Aside from the fact that they look fabulous, there's a definite late 70's vibe going on here. They look totally disco meets glam, and whatever house they're in (and it does look like somebody's house, doesn't it?) is stuck in a definite time warp in terms of decor. I'd almost expect some avocado green appliances in the kitchen. But the scene itself looks oddly reminiscent of Splurge. Intentional? Probably. It was only last year, after all.

According to the diary, it was really hot that day and there was no air conditioning because of the electricity requirements of the lights. Everybody was sweating. I know Japanese summers - they're freakin' tropical, man. So I can empathize.

To close out, I have no idea what's going on here, even after translating the accompanying text:

CONTINUED >>


Tour 2007 "honeysweeper" dates announced!

PUFFY have announced the first tour dates in support of their new album honeycreeper. The tour has been officially dubbed "honeysweeper", which strikes me as pretty clever (or an attempt at one of the few remaining unique Google search terms).

Unfortunately no US dates yet. But after their last video message for western fans on puffyamiyumi.com, in which they promised to return "soon", I'm still hopeful they'll sandwich some dates in here before the holidays. Notice there's about a six week gap in November/early December in these tour dates - although for all we know, that could just be a well-deserved vacation! They've been working hard lately.

Here are the announced dates, with English translations following:

【PUFFY TOUR 2007 honeysweeper】

■10月19日(金) 渋谷C.C.Lemonホール OPEN 18:15/START 19:00
料金 ¥5,000(税込)
チケット一般発売日 8月25日(土)
問い合わせ先 ディスクガレージ 03-5436-9600

■10月26日(金) 広島クラブクアトロ OPEN 18:00/START 19:00
料金 ¥5,000(税込) ドリンク代別
チケット一般発売日 9月29日(土)
問い合わせ先 夢番地広島 082-249-3571

■10月27日(土) 福岡ドラムロゴス OPEN 17:00/START 18:00
料金 ¥5,000(税込)/ドリンク代別
チケット一般発売日 9月29日(土)
問い合わせ先 キョードー西日本 092-714-0159

■12月14日(金) 名古屋ダイアモンドホール OPEN 18:00/START 19:00
料金 ¥5,000(税込)/ドリンク代別
チケット一般発売日 10月20日(土)
問い合わせ先 JAILHOUSE 052-936-6041

■12月16日(日) 大阪なんばHatch OPEN 17:00/START 18:00
料金 ¥5,000(税込)/ドリンク代別
チケット一般発売日 9月22日(土)
問い合わせ先 夢番地大阪 06-6341-3525

Additional date!
公演日:07/12/19(水)
会場:SHIBUYA-AX
開場:18:00 /開演:19:00
1F立見: 5,000 円(税込)


Translated text:

*PUFFY TOUR 2007 honeysweeper*

October 19 (Fri)
Shibuya C.C. Lemon Hall
OPEN 18:15/START 19:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.)
Ticket sales start on August 25 (Sat)

October 26 (Fri)
Hiroshima Club Quattro
OPEN 18:00/START 19:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.)
Ticket sales start on September 29 (Sat)

October 27 (Sat)
Fukuoka Drum Logos
OPEN 17:00/START 18:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.)
Ticket sales start on September 29 (Sat)

December 14 (Sat)
Nagoya Diamond Hall
OPEN 18:00/START 19:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.)
Ticket sales start on October 20 (Sat)

December 16 (Sat)
Osaka Namba Hatch
OPEN 17:00/START 18:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.)
Ticket sales start on September 22 (Sat)

Additional date announced!
December 19 (Wed)
Shibuya-AX
OPEN 18:00/START 19:00
Price 5,000YEN (tax incl.) CONTINUED >>


Friday, August 10, 2007

Welcome to the new blog!

Just a quick shout-out to welcome you to the new home of my PUFFY-related musings. They now have their own home in my small collection of blogs.

This is still a work in progress. If you came here from my other blog, it took me a couple of weeks to get that template to where I want it and this will be no different. I've got some things I want to fix here, but I just need the time to figure out how.

Update: Already done a lot. New header graphic, wider format, a few new page elements. I'll keep working on it!

But you should hopefully see some more frequent updates than you did on my main blog, because now I'm free to post whatever I want about them, no matter how minor an update. So check back often! Or better yet, subscribe to the blog feed. CONTINUED >>


Thursday, August 9, 2007

PUFFY make the cover of "InRed" magazine

I have no idea what this magazine is - probably fashion - but PUFFY made the cover of this month's issue. Click here to visit the mag's web site... if you care about fashion magazines. CONTINUED >>



 
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