Tuesday, June 24, 2008

All Because of Live - Merchandise and More!

Puffy have announced some of the merchandise they'll have available on the "All Because of Live" tour coming up next month. Ok, anybody in Japan want to pick me up some of these pins? Supposedly some of them are autographed!

They'll also have a bag available, which I don't care about but maybe some of you do - you can see it on the staff blog (modeled by Ms. Yumi) here. I wonder about the tour shirts...

I'll be doing what I did last tour - and what I plan to do for all tours - and round up the various show reports I find around the net. I know, you're wondering why I don't do this for all the festival and one-off shows too. Truth is there usually just aren't that many for those shows, and it kinda doesn't seem enough to justify a post on. Plus, I'm lazy. But I'll do it for the full tours, where I can make a more fleshed-out single post out of all the various reports.

"All Because of Live" is a mini-tour, though, so I may add a few of the festival shows onto my show review roundup as they come in too. I'll be starting on July 8.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ami's Brian Setzer Hot Rod Guitar

I posted in the midst of a drunken stupor a while back about Puffy's guitars - they really can play, you know. (Who am I still trying to convince?) Well, I didn't even realize I had this video - this is Ami showing off her Gretsch Brian Setzer Hot Rod to Setzer himself. She says she bought it because it's so beautiful, even though it's too big for her.

And what the heck, even though it's not my favorite song, I've left their performance of "Tokyo I'm On My Way" tacked on afterwards.

I like how soft-spoken Setzer is; he even sounds a little nervous! The guy's a legend and he acts like that. Sounds like he's even trying his hand at a little Japanese at the beginning of the clip.

By the way, you too can own a purple Gretsch G6120SH Brian Setzer Hot Rod guitar, for the reasonable sum of just $2,450.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Puffy on Taiwanese TV?

Unfortunately, not the real Puffy, but a pretty funny parody of them - in a "so bad, it's good" sort of way. And if nothing else, this proves that Japan has no monopoly on cheesy talk shows. In fact, I don't think I've heard so many things go "boing!", "whoop!" and "splat!" in probably the last 30 years. That's some old-school comedy.

Credit to PuffySaidGo! for finding this. It's been up for 8 months already and only has 32 views!

I have a feeling the people playing Puffy got confused as to who was supposed to be who. (I say "people", not "girls" because that would be inaccurate.) You'll see why. The one playing "Yumi" is actually kinda cute, though.

The actual Puffy segment starts playing at about the 1:50 mark, but I think it's worth watching the whole thing.

Kind of unfortunate how it cuts off right in the middle, eh? Oh well.

btw, I'd never seen the video for the Chinese version of "Kore ga watashi no ikirumichi" before - fun to see the real Ami and Yumi both wearing New York Rangers jackets.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where's Honeycreeper?

Just throwing this out there. Maybe I'm just impatient, I don't know. But it was in October of last year - eight months ago - that a US release of honeycreeper was first officially hinted at. In November, I received an email about their US tour signed by Epic Records - their once and future US record label. Ami and Yumi themselves more or less confirmed a 2008 release on that same tour, telling fans at the US shows to watch for the album this year.

Well, it's June, and no further word has been heard. The goodwill from those US shows - intended to help promote the album - has probably faded by now. Meanwhile, PUFFY are obviously busy gearing up for a new album as they release a series of summer singles. My guess is that the new album will hit Japan right around October-November, as it did last year. That leaves them a very short window to promote any US release of honeycreeper, as they'll no doubt be busy touring in support of their new album in Japan after its release. It would also just seem strange for them to be splitting time promoting a brand new album in one territory and a year-old album in another.

Did something happen in between that US tour and now? Is the US honeycreeper release now off the table? I really don't know, and I wish I did. I do know one thing - Puffy and Girlie Action, their US publicity agency, parted ways a while back. That's not a good sign. I haven't been able to figure out to this point who, if anybody, is currently representing them.

Of course, Puffy's US releases have always been kind of irregular, and if they're not planning to actively promote the album here, they may still just be taking their sweet time. Heck, they could even dump honeycreeper and whatever the new album's called into US stores on the same day and call it done. I obviously don't think that would be a very effective strategy, but it's only so thin that Puffy, their staff and their allotted budget are going to be able to spread themselves these days.

Every day that goes by without an announcement, though, causes me to lose a little more hope.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Puffy Site Refresh

These site refreshes are coming so fast these days that I almost can't keep up anymore. They've moved on quickly from "All Because of You", haven't they? Especially considering it's almost two months until the release of "My Story". Even their US site is behind!

New imagery for a new single. Which apparently features lipstick for some reason. Hmmmm, I wonder why... Oh, that's right - it's an ad for a cosmetics manufacturer.

I know, I'm a little jaded. I'm getting old. Must everything be an ad these days?

If I come across this TV ad anywhere, I'll post it. Not sure if it's out yet. Nobody's uploaded it anywhere yet that I can find. I'll keep looking.

UPDATE: Puffy have posted a very large version of that new photo on their MySpace page for download to your collection. It's so large that the Photoshop compositing is a little too obvious, but they still look as good as you'd expect given the copious use of high quality Kanebo cosmetic products :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who are PUFFY fans? YouTube will tell us!

Preface: take this with the proverbial grain of salt. It's interesting, but by no means definitive. This is not a scientific survey; use for entertainment purposes only.

YouTube has begun providing some pretty detailed stats to video uploaders. They didn't used to have this; when you uploaded a video, you kinda just had to guess who was watching it based on the number of comments and the kind comments you were getting. Then they added the "linked sites" feature, so you could at least see how many people were linking to a video from an external site and how many clicks were coming from there. But now, they've got this "Insight" feature that shows a whole host of stats and demographics of people watching your videos. Some of these stats are based on IP address, so they should be pretty accurate. Some are based on what people say when they sign up for their account, so they're probably not accurate at all.

I am not a huge uploader, but I've put up a few Puffy videos to help illustrate some posts here, if nobody else has posted a video I wanted to use first. Pretty much all I upload are Puffy-related videos (ok, and some videos of the July 4th NYC fireworks a couple years ago, which have been watched by about four people). So all I need to do is look at my overall account stats to see who is watching my videos and get a snapshot of the current state of Puffy fandom. Read on to see what kind of people your fellow fans are.

I don't make it easy to find my videos. You can't just stumble across them. I only really want to embed them here, so I don't really care who finds them on YouTube itself. So the people who watch my videos are actively seeking them out, one way or another; they're the hardcore fans. Still, most of my videos have at least several thousand views, so the sample is not overly small.

This is what YouTube is telling me about Puffy fans:

First, overall my videos are around 10 times more popular in Japan than they are in the United States. No other country even really registers.

Overall gender split
Male: 64%
Female: 36%

Age range for both genders
0-18: 23%
18-25: 8%
25-35: 12%
35-45: 22%
45-55: 28%(!)
55-65: 7%

Interestingly, the age breakdown between male and female is pretty different. These numbers won't add up to 100 - YouTube divides them as percentage of the total. (So you need to add both male and female together to get 100.)

Age range for males
0-18: 11%
18-25: 4%
25-35: 6%
35-45: 17%
45-55: 21%
55-65: 5%

Age range for females
0-18: 13%
18-25: 4%
25-35: 5%
35-45: 6%
45-55: 7%
55-65: 1%

The largest percentage of males is age 45-55, while the largest percentage of females is under 18. That's not something I would have predicted. I can drill down by country too, and maybe not surprisingly most of the teenage girls are coming from the United States (where the "HiHi" cartoon was aimed at that demographic).

In fact, here's an interesting juxtaposition:

US gender split
Male: 60%
Female: 40%

Japan gender split
Male: 69%
Female: 31%

The percentage of teenage girls coming from Japan is only around 3%, while in the United States, it's 20%. Clearly, Puffy's overall audience in Japan is older than in the United States... though the age difference is concentrated on one gender (females). Additionally, they just have more female fans in the US than in Japan, where their main audience seems to be mostly men around the same age as (or slightly older than) Ami and Yumi themselves. They seem to just have an extra set of new female fans under 18 in the US that just doesn't exist in Japan. Of course, I don't know the overall internet gender split in Japan, so maybe there are just more guys on the internet there. (In the US, the split is right around 50/50.) And they still have way more fans overall at home than they do here.

I do think it's interesting that despite all the younger- and female-skewing marketing around the "HiHi" show, still a majority of their US fans seem to be older males. Hey, I'm in that male 35-45 bracket myself (on the lower end!).

I may as well mention again that people do lie on web site registrations, and maybe Americans lie more than Japanese. (I have no proof of that, it just fits the stereotype.) So either all or just one side of these numbers could be way off.

In terms of actual video views, there aren't a lot of surprises. They rank like this (these are just the videos I've posted, and YouTube only lists the top 10):

1. Asia no Junshin Live
2. Music Lover's Medley
3. Music Fighter 01/12/08
4. Destruction Pancake
5. Basket Case Live
6. Hey! Hey! Hey! 500th episode special
7. Nantettatte Idol
8. Beef
9. Circuit no Musume '08
10. Akai Buranko

You can probably predict that Basket Case is a little higher ranked in the US than in Japan (it's #4), and the Music Lover's Medley is about 10% higher in Japan than in the US (though still #2). Nantettatte Idol also ranks higher in Japan - it's #6. Of course, some of these rankings would probably be different if I didn't obfuscate the titles and I added better tags. I purposely don't do that, because you never know what's going to attract a DMCA takedown request these days. The age of clips also plays a role, with older clips accumulating views over time, although most views seem to come when a clip is first posted. I also pretty firmly believe that the thumbnail photo of the video makes a big difference - both of the top two videos in that list have nice, clear close-ups of Yumi singing. Unfortunately, YouTube only lets you choose between three thumbnail images, and sometimes it just doesn't pick any good ones.

Generally, though, it seems like the video views for the ones I've posted are pretty much what I'd have predicted - the older stuff is more popular in general, the more obscure stuff is more popular in Japan and the cover of an American song is more popular in the US.

So what can we learn from this? Well, I dunno. It's not like I'm posting this with an agenda, I just love statistics.

But I do think that it's possible their US record label might be a little surprised by the age and gender breakdowns, and I know I was surprised that male fans in Japan outnumber females by more than 2:1. So, you know, take that for whatever it's worth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PUFFY on PopJam

Aaaand, we're back. Sorta. My house guests have moved on; hopefully I haven't missed any big Puffy news over the past few days. (I threw that single announcement up in about five minutes on my way out to Coney Island the other day.)

Anyway, here's a somewhat random video to celebrate my return. It's Puffy on PopJam from a year or so ago. The performance of "Hataraku Otoko" was posted previously on YouTube by somebody else, but they had cut the little interview that came afterwards for some reason. I've now restored it. And the commercials too! (Ok, you don't care about those, but I just didn't bother cutting them out.)

I know, it's not much, but it's something.

Here you go:

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Single Announced

Seems like only a couple weeks since "All Because of You" hit the streets, but PUFFY's already announced a new single.

August 6 - 2006 "My Story"

There will be a special edition with a DVD - Volume 2 of the Shibuya AX honeysweeper tour show - as well as a regular edition again.

No other details yet at the moment. The original Japanese title is in katakana, so it's probably going to be sung in Japanese.

UPDATE: The song is written by the Merrymakers, with lyrics by Puffy.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

PUFFY Sales Numbers

Credit to TBB at the Puffyamiyumiworld.com forum for this; he did the work of finding it and initially compiling it into a readable list (actually someone else - see the comments below). I just cleaned it up a little here. I've looked on Oricon's web site and I can't figure out how the hell to extract this, although it's gotta be in there somewhere. Anyway, I figured not all of you read the forums and this is definitely some interesting info.

Domestic Japan sales of all of PUFFY's music releases to date, at least according to Oricon:

96.05.13 1,188,820 Asia no Junshin
96.10.07 1,566,060 Kore ga watashi no ikiru michi
97.03.12 701,490 Circuit no musume
97.04.16 881,280 Electric Beach Fever
97.12.12 345,500 MOTHER
98.03.14 387,280 Ai No Shirushi
98.08.29 163,860 Tararan
98.12.12 117,670 Puffy de Rumba
99.04.01 46,470 Nichiyoubi no Musume
99.06.09 45,640 Yume no tameni
00.04.05 31,150 Umi Eto
00.09.27 29,760 Boogie Woogie No.5
01.04.25 24,250 Atarashii Hibi
01.12.05 11,690 Aoi Namida
02.02.06 12,580 Hurricane
02.11.20 6,657 Akai Buranko /Planet Tokyo
04.02.11 13,365 SUNRISE
05.07.13 6,679 Hajimari no Uta/ Nice Buddy
05.11.16 *,855 HiHi
06.04.12 2,608 Mogura Like *
06.05.24 *,*** Tokyo I'm On My Way
06.09.20 11,938 Hazumu Rizumu (with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra)
06.11.22 3,426 Hataraku Otoko *
07.07.18 2,864 boom boom beat/Oedo Nagareboshi IV *
07.09.05 *,***Kuchibiru Motion/ Oriental Diamond **
08.05.21 4,694 All Because Of You

* First week sales, missing/unavailable data.
** Missing/unavailable data.

Onuki Ami
97.07.02 166,550 Honey

Yoshimura Yumi
97.07.09 281,360 V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N

96.07.22 892,000 amiyumi
98.04.01 1,223,000 JET CD
99.06.23 239,000 FEVER*FEVER
00.10.12 55,000 SPIKE
02.02.20 80,000 THE HIT PARADE
03.01.22 17,000 NICE.
04.03.31 7,000 59
05.05.11 8,000 Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi
06.06.28 19,000 Splurge
07.09.26 12,268 honeycreeper *

* 2 week total, 4 weeks unaccounted for.

Other Albums
00.07.05 369,000 The Very Best of Puffy/amiyumi jet fever
07.02.14 32,000 Hit&Fun

It's possible amiyumi actually sold 1,892,000, not 892,000, although I'd believe either number, really. But the way the data was originally formatted makes it look like there should be another number there. The lower figure matches up better with the single sales numbers, though.

At first glance, it's a pretty depressing drop-off over the years, although you can see that they've come back a bit since the ridiculous sales of 59. Talk about a future collector's item! And if Splurge - as great as it was - only managed to sell 19,000 copies, then honeycreeper's probably about where it should be. But both seem like they should be a lot higher.

Thing is, do people even really buy CD's anymore? First of all, as far as I know, this chart doesn't count downloads or ring tones or anything of that sort. Music has become such a multimedia business these days that, as CD sales have dropped across the board (not just for Puffy), a lot of artists have made up for it in other ways. And the music still finds its way out there and into public consciousness.

Second, Ami and Yumi have become sort of general celebrities over the years, known to a younger generation less for their music than for their modeling or their commercial endorsements or their TV appearances. So they've managed to keep themselves in the limelight in ways that don't rely on their musical talents.

Third, this is not a chart of worldwide sales, which would be no less interesting. Oh, I doubt their US or Chinese sales are going to amount to a whole lot, but the US is a big country - HiHi might have done quadruple its Japan sales here. Even Nice might have done double.

I think we'd all like to see PUFFY selling a million copies of their latest album again, but let's face it: probably not gonna happen. "Puffy mania" was a fad that ran its course from about 1996-1999, and now they've settled in to sales figures that are probably a bit more natural for the type of band that they are. And they're definitely out of that downright scary period of 03-04. No wonder they gave up the indie rock look!

Oh, by the way - little heads up. I'll be entertaining guests over the next few days, so you may not see another post for a little while. Or you may, you just never know.