Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Puffy at COUNTDOWN JAPAN 0809


The past two nights, Puffy has been helping ring in the new year as part of the annual COUNTDOWN JAPAN music festival. By a happy chance, the festival takes place in both Osaka and "Tokyo" (really Makuhari), so with performances in each city, both girls got to play in front of sort of a home crowd (though Yumi calls Tokyo home these days, and Makuhari is not actually Tokyo).

The COUNTDOWN web site has now posted a "quick report" on these shows, and the official blog has posted a set list. Since it's currently only in Japanese, I'll romanize it here:

(Woops! Now in English too! Well, still..)

1. Nagisa ni Matsuwaru etc.
2. Circuit no Musume
MC
3. Hiyori Hime
4. Hi Hi
5. My Story
MC
6. Nichiyoubi yori no Shisha
7. boom boom beat
8. Tokyo I'm on My Way
9. Asia no Junshin

Song 6 is a cover of a High-Lows song - they're a Japanese punk band. That's the song where Ami busted out her White Falcon, while Yumi sang solo. (No pictures, unfortunately!) So, another new surprise. I do like the fact that they're trying some different things each time they go out these days.

Here are the links to the two "quick reports":
12/29 - Osaka - Planet Stage
12/30 - Makuhari - Galaxy Stage

The text says they're starting a winter break today, so we may not hear much from them over the next few weeks. I'll be watching anyway... and I've still got my New Year's predictions coming up! CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Official Site Refresh?!

Why, it seems like only a few weeks ago that Puffy last updated their official site. Now, we have this:


So it's obvious at this point that that's a new photo. I think it's pretty neat how it looks like it could be ten years old, though. They look as young as they did back then, especially with the straight hair and matching outfits.

On the other hand, I still think the deleted background is just odd. It looks sloppy - they couldn't afford to sit them in front of a nice background? What was behind them, a garbage dump or something? They couldn't hire a nice studio? It's very distracting, it's such an obvious cutout. And I'm being blinded by all that pink and white.

Also, what exactly are they promoting here?? This is the first time I can remember a completely blank photo in that space since their last full redesign about two years ago. They went from promoting the book to promoting... nothing in particular. I'm sure the "Hiyori Hime" single will be listed there soon.

If you missed it (and care), Puffy's also got a desktop calendar now for sale in the "Goods" section, featuring photos from the "Tsukiichi" shoot. CONTINUED >>


Monday, December 22, 2008

AmiYumi set to play their own instruments again?

Not since 2000's Spike tour have Ami and Yumi attempted to play their own instruments at a recorded or televised live show, something they did pretty regularly in their early days. Well, no real information was given out along with this, but the following teaser photo was just posted on Puffy's staff blog showing rehearsals for the upcoming year end COUNTDOWN JAPAN 0809 show slated for 12/29 and 12/30 (I guess those are the days they're actually performing):


That's Ami with her Gretsch White Falcon as her purple Brian Setzer Hot Rod sits in the background. Clearly, something is afoot! I don't see why she'd have these at rehearsal if she wasn't meaning to play them. (And I don't see why her staff would point it out.)

It's interesting that she's said before that these particular guitars are too big for her to actually play.

No similar photos of Yumi were posted, so not sure if it's just Ami or not. But I can't wait to see this either way. CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Year-end Wrapup - looking back on 2008's predictions

Back in early January, I made a series of predictions for what we'd be seeing from Puffy in the new year. Much as I'd probably like to forget some of them, I thought it'd be fun for you guys, at least, to look back and see how accurate I was. It's mid-December, so I strongly doubt you'll be hearing any major new announcements from Puffy until next year. (Of course, I have been wrong before, as you'll soon see!)

I labeled these "safe bets", "flip a coin" and "long odds" - obviously in order of most to least likely.

Let's break it down:

Safe Bets

  • Honeycreeper gets a US release. Nope! I call shenanigans on this one, though - it's not my fault. They announced it. Ami told us herself at the US shows. Epic Records sent out an email. Their publicity agency sent out a PR blast. It was all over the place. It was official.

    What the hell happened? Your guess is as good as mine. I blame the economy. Or George Bush.

  • A new PUFFY CD single release in Japan - and a song not from honeycreeper. Yup. Two of them - "All Because of You" and "My Story", with another - "Hiyori Hime" - announced for early next year.

  • New commercial endorsements. Yup. New endorsements and ads featuring their music from Kagome and MOW. Also, technically "new" but really more "back to the future", Yamaha re-signed with Puffy for a new promo for their Vox and Vino, an endorsement deal Puffy had in their early years.

Category prediction batting average: .666 (oOOoOOOoo!), but with an asterisk. It should have been 1.000.

Flip a Coin

  • Honeycreeper scores a US hit. I kinda lose by default on that one, eh?

  • Some sort of major DVD release. Well, I was half right on this. I think when all is said and done, you'll be able to call the Honeysweeper tour DVD being given as a limited edition single bonus a "major release", given that I think we'll see the whole show come out eventually. Not all this year at this point, though, obviously.

  • PUFFY will do a return US tour, this time covering the East, or even the entire country. Well, this is why I called it "flip a coin", you know. Kinda depended on getting honeycreeper out here, as so many of these predictions did.

  • One or more members of their current, "temporary" touring band will become permanent, replacing long-standing band members. I said in the original post that this would be a tough call to make, and it is - especially since Puffy hasn't had a major tour or album since I wrote that post. However, their "TV" band, at least, has been pretty stable, and their touring band has often featured Kawanishi from Jetki on drums, replacing the increasingly busy Takashi Furuta. Impossible to know if this is really permanent, though, or if they even really have a "permanent" band anymore - especially as their touring band and TV band is often different.

    I did say I'd like to see Enapou (née Enazou) full time, and she has appeared on pretty much all of Puffy's "live" TV appearances, but did not play in the actual live band during 2008.

Category prediction batting average: I'm gonna give myself .250 on this category (half right each on two of four). Which is significantly worse than flipping a coin :)

Long Odds

  • Ami and Yumi join Facebook. Ha! No, at least not officially. But they are updating their MySpace page again, which had been left to rot for some time. So that's something, at least.

  • A new album in 2008. Oh, so close! Puffy themselves have talked about a new album and have released a steady stream of singles, but it looks at this point as if we'll have to wait until 2009.

  • PUFFY will begin producing their own albums. Incomplete on this one - no way to know yet. As doubtful as ever, though, especially as they have not self-produced any of the recent singles (which will likely appear on the album when it does come).

  • A PUFFY breakup. Thankfully no. But their financial situation is obviously not what it once was, so there will always be a chance that either they or their record label will decide it's all no longer worth it. Even then, though, they may still exist as Puffy, just not as a band. They're still fashion icons for thirtysomething women in Japan, and they're friends, so why not?

  • Yumi gets hitched. Nope. There were rumors, but they don't seem to have materialized. All you single guys still have a chance!

  • PUFFY gets another TV show. Nope. Though Yumi has hosted various shows by herself, including Girl Pop Factory 08.

Category prediction batting average: .000. Now them are some long odds!

I'll do this again at the end of this month - I've already got some more predictions I'm mulling in my head. Maybe I'll do a little better next year! CONTINUED >>


Is this anything?

The debate rages! New photo or old?


As I say at the forum thread linked above, I swear I've seen this before - but maybe I'm wrong. Is this a new photo taken specifically to promote the Genji anime? Might it end up being the single cover for "Hiyori Hime" as NejiPooshon speculates? Or is it simply an old PR photo that some news organization dug up to attach to an announcement for the upcoming anime series?

To me, Ami's hair style is all wrong (Yumi's is plausible) and what's with the oddly cropped-out background? This borders on being a Photoshop Disaster! It definitely lacks the polished look of Puffy's recent PR and other photos. And the straight hair looks quite retro to me. (Though other things about it do look new, like Yumi's blonde streak and bangs.) CONTINUED >>


Sound Style Scans at Sumairu Puffy

I still haven't gotten back over to my local Japanese book store, but luckily somebody who goes by the name of 投稿者 泥んこ水 at the Sumairu Puffy BBS has posted the Docomo Sound Style scans. I'm reposting here, but be sure to check out that site once in a while, as there are some dedicated fans over there doing a lot of work like this:

CONTINUED >>


Monday, December 8, 2008

InRed Scans

The promised InRed scans. One of Yumi, one of Ami. They look amazing.



They're pretty striking photos in real life. This is a semi-large format magazine (same size as many Japanese fashion mags), and these are full page photos. See here:


My lens cap is next to Yumi for size comparison.

The next page has a short interview, where they do talk about both "Tsukiichi" and the just-announced single "Hiyori Hime", so this is obviously part of a well-planned advance marketing campaign. CONTINUED >>


Docomo Sound Style. Son of a...


So I was literally just at Asahiya and Kinokuniya bookstore looking for that InRed issue (found it! Scans coming later), and I trudge all the way back in the sub-freezing weather only to find this site as soon as I return. Then I remember seeing "Sou... Sty..." in the corner of a magazine in the rack, with those the only words visible (being blocked by another magazine to its right) and with the image covered by the rack itself. Argh! If only I had known...

I'll see if I can make another trip back to the store tomorrow. I'm not even sure it's the correct issue, but now I need to check.

Honestly, this might be my favorite picture of them together in quite a while. I know it's not a fashion photo, or a high-end shoot or anything, but maybe by chance, they both look their best up there.

I'll hopefully be able to scan InRed tonight. It's only a two-page spread, then an all-text interview of some sort (probably focused on fashion, so not too interesting to me). The photos are big and beautiful - a computer screen isn't going to do them justice. CONTINUED >>


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Next single announced!

PUFFY announced today that their next single is coming February 25 (as I figured, more than a month still to wait!) and will be a collaboration with fellow pop star Shiina Ringo.

New Single "Hiyori Hime"
2009.02.25 In Stores!!
Limited Edition: KSCL 1343 ~ 1344 / 1500 yen (tax incl.)
Normal Edition: KSCL 1345 / 1,223 yen (tax incl.)

Track Listing:

1. Hiyori Hime
2. DOKI DOKI
3. My Story variation by agraph

The song's also going to be the theme for the anime "Genji monogatari sennenki", which is apparently an adaptation a pretty well-known story and probably will be pretty popular. So, a pretty nice coup for Puffy all the way around.

The "limited edition", like the last two singles, will come with another DVD of live songs from the "honeysweeper" tour. Apparently only four songs again, which is not what we were promised - and that makes me wonder if there's not still more that they're holding back for some reason (*cough* album bonus *cough*). The track list of the live DVD:

1. Kuchibiru Motion
2. Hataraku Otoko
3. Jet Police
4. Asia no Junshin

In case you're wondering what we're still missing from that performance after these three singles, it's a pretty long list and would make a great future bonus:

Hayai Kurima
Teen Titans Theme
Umi Eto
Mogura-like
Basket Case
Closet Full of Love
Yokai PUFFY
Hi Hi
Radio Tokyo
Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?

Bear in mind that all of these were obviously filmed - they didn't just turn all the cameras off in between songs every once in a while. So high quality HD footage of these songs exists, though it may or may not have been edited already. Several of those songs are unavailable on any other live DVD. That last one has never been recorded by PUFFY anywhere else at all. So it would obviously be great to have it at some point. CONTINUED >>


Friday, December 5, 2008

Puffy InRed Cover

Here it is - the January 2009 issue of InRed Magazine.


If I find any pictures from the interior spread, I'll post them too. Most likely, they'll show up at the Sumairu Puffy site once the magazine hits newsstands. CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

But enough about me...

I'm just curious about a couple things. This will help me tailor my content a little better to what you want. Hopefully the sample size won't be embarrassingly small - please vote if you have a minute! I hope my Japanese readers can understand my poll questions too.








For that last one, I'm sure some of you would love to have an "all of the above" (because I'm just that great at what I do), but it would really be more helpful to me to know what sort of content you're most interested in. Obviously, I will keep doing everything, but if it seems clear that people want more or less of one type of thing, then I'll do more or less of that thing.

Also feel free to leave some comments here on what you like/dislike about the blog, or what you'd like to see in the future.

If you're wondering where this is coming from, there's been a noticeable drop in traffic over the past six months or so and I'm trying to figure out a) how to stop it, and b) whether it's something I'm doing (I hope) or just generally dwindling interest in Puffy (I hope not). I know that over the past six months or so I feel like I've been struggling to find stuff to post about - there's been kind of an extended lull now with only snippets of what would have been minor news in earlier years (like the book release, or a new TV ad).

Anyway, I hope to get some good feedback from this. CONTINUED >>


Monday, December 1, 2008

Tsukiichi extremely mini review!


So Puffy's got a new book out, a fact you probably know by now.

I, unfortunately, can't read much of it, which makes it a little hard for me to review. It's a collection of essays written for the SMA mobile service - they're really more like blog posts. Mostly trivial stuff, from the sound of it - stories about what the girls do on their days off, what their birthdays are like, etc. It's all written by them, so I'd still be interested to read it if I could, but c'est la vie. One of these days, I'll learn Japanese.

Unfortunately there are not very many pictures, which is disappointing if you're an illiterate like me. There is exactly one two-sided page of color photos. Here it is:



The rest of the book is black and white, including the photos, and they all come from the same photo shoot. Oh well. I'm a sucker for any new photos of them so I'm happy enough for that, but I'm left wanting for more.

The quick verdict is that this book is probably not worth your money if you don't read Japanese.

If anyone would like to post a basic summary of each of the essays somewhere, I'll be glad to link to it here. I only got the gist of a few of them before my translator went to bed for the night :) CONTINUED >>


Puffy Official Site Refresh


The latest official site update. They seem to be promoting "Tsukiichi" a little more heavily than I would have expected - makes me think that any new music is probably still at least a month away. They really do seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time in the studio lately - it's been at least several months already, by my count. Not to mention the meetings. They've gotta be planning something more than a book signing tour...

Nothing much new to the site besides the homepage, although there are a few earlier things in there that I had missed (an "All Because of You" special, and some tour goods). In fact, many of the sections are coming up broken for me, although they may be fixed by the time you visit.

By the way, I did get the book today. I'll write it up a little later, but honestly, it might be something that most western fans are going to want to pass on. It's pretty text-heavy. CONTINUED >>


Tsukiichi almost here...

I'm forever impressed by both the fulfillment centers of Japanese online retailers and the speed of EMS shipping. I pretty regularly nowadays receive my stuff from Japan on or even before the release date. That's probably earlier than some of you guys that are actually in Japan!

Anyway, it is probable that I'll get this book tomorrow (really today), and luckily enough, I'm taking the day off. If it does get here tomorrow, I'll post some scans and thoughts within the next 24 hours or so... CONTINUED >>



 
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