Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Papapapa Puffy origins, a live performance, and Yumi with straight blonde hair!

Yeah, there's a lot going on in this video.

If you've been following Puffy long and hard enough, then you're familiar with their variety show "Papapapa Puffy" (or パパパパパフィー, if you prefer) that ran from 1997-2002. But perhaps you've wondered who came up with such a ridiculous title for a major network television show, and why it ever got greenlighted. Well, your answer is below.

One of the longest-running, most influential music shows in Japan is "Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ", a sort of comedy/variety/performance show hosted by the duo known as "Downtown". The great thing about this show is that it's funny even if you don't speak Japanese, because rarely do the musical guests just sit and talk (or play) - they have to actually do stuff. Utada Hikaru, for example, was coerced into showcasing her basketball skills during one of her many appearances. I love the show and always have; before there even was a YouTube, it was one of the few Japanese shows we used to get during the "international hour" on one of our local cable access channels. So I've been watching it since very close to the beginning.

But I'd never seen Puffy's 1996 visit when Downtown suggested they have their own show called "Papapapa Puffy", and I'll bet a lot of you haven't either. Well, last November, Hey! Hey! Hey! held a gigantic 500th episode spectacular complete with basically every major pop artist alive and in the country at that moment. As part of that special show, they did sort of a retrospective with some of the artists. Puffy was one of them. Video below, more commentary and a rough translation to follow:

High-quality version here.

Think there will ever come a time when people get tired of hearing Puffy sing "Asia no Junshin"? I'm not convinced the band is actually playing - I think it's a recording (though the girls are obviously really singing). They do look amazing, though. I doubt you'll see that hair style and color on Yumi again - she had this style for just a week or so and changed it immediately after this show.

The first part of the video goes back to that 1996 appearance (and man, do they look and sound different). Downtown were making fun of the girls and how quiet and shy they were at that time; they make fun of all of their guests. But the gag was they did a little role reversal and Puffy were supposed to be interviewing them on their new show "Papapapa Puffy", and, well, the rest really is history.

When that clip is over, Yumi talks about how they didn't really even expect the show itself to last a year. (I like the part where Ami says "CM!")

I'll have more on Papapapa Puffy in the coming days.

By the way, I should mention the Gosperats for those that don't know them - they're the group of guys in blackface sitting behind Downtown during the present-day interview segment. I always feel a little uncomfortable whenever I see them, though I know the intent is innocent. But I suppose it'd be like a present-day American wearing a bowl-cut black wig and fake buck-teeth or something like that - you'd know they didn't mean it seriously and were just portraying a stereotype, but I'd still expect that a Japanese person might be offended. Anyway, they're so obvious in the video that I thought I should at least acknowledge the potential for controversy. Though most Japanese obviously think nothing of what they do.


  1. This was an awesome performance (I was the one who posted up the vid, Yumi looks so cool so I had to)
    I wish she went back to this syle she looks a lot like Ayu did around the same time (except Ayu had the straight blone look a little later)

  2. Eh? I posted the vid, which came on a DVD direct from Japan.

    Or maybe you posted it before me and I just posted a duplicate :)

    I didn't see it up there before, but I may have missed it.

  3. Oh right
    yeah this is what I posted up
    I just cut part of the talking and the performance from the episode, same as what you did I guess.

  4. Oops, I didn't realize this was there already :)

    Took me a long time to trim and encode this too!

  5. haha nah thats cool
    the high quality version looks great anyway

  6. Japan is so racially homogenized that racism "technically" isn't a problem, it seems.

  7. I really want to see more of PaPaPaPaPuffy. It's too bad stupid YouTube is taking down most of the videos because of "copyright claim." I was able to favourite the links into a PC file, the few I found anyway. I am able to understand most of what they are saying in the show and it's fun to translate. I wish some TV station would at least show re-runs.

  8. This show rox my sox! I think it's so much fun, especially the theme because i love nehorina hahorina. PaPaPaPaPuffy! :D