Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CQA Mission #2 - new photos, etc.

CQA have posted some tiny little photos of their show a week or so ago to their web site. They're so small that I almost didn't bother mentioning them, but there are definitely some good shots of Yumi in the mix. How cute does she look here?

She's like an adorable little chipmunk.

I'm still desperate to get some of their merchandise. (Nobody answered my earlier plea, not that I really expected anyone to. It was worth a shot.) It's all designed by Artdenka, which is an up and coming Japanese design team specializing in this whole "goth kawaii" thing. You can buy their "Skullbox" toy figure here. You can see more of their t-shirt designs at their Flickr page. Their real web site is under construction, but it's here if you feel like looking.

Supposedly CQA are going to be selling stuff via their web site soon, but most likely it'll be Japan-only. (Update: they started. And yeah, only for Japan.)

Also, another show report from the night, though I warn you that I have no idea what this person's saying. Auto-translation is no help whatsoever in this case. Ditto for this other report, though I gather there's a set list there and that it included some sort of cover of a song by Kyoko Koizumi (though not "Nantettatte Idol"). And I think somebody must be a fan of Spongebob Squarepants, but I won't hold that against them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Puffy on Yowavinalaaaafincha? - also, Enazou, Poni-Camp, Lolita No. 18 and more!

So! Maybe you're wondering if that new Snuff tribute album is worth buying. Maybe this will help you decide:

Honestly, it's not my favorite song on the CD. What is? Maybe this one!

Don't know Poni-Camp? You should! Maybe you recognize this ludicrously cute girl in front:

That's ENAPOu aka ENAZOu aka just plain Ena, former guitarist for all-girl punk band Lolita No. 18, current guitarist and lead singer for Poni-Camp and now semi-permanent "as seen on TV" guitarist for Puffy. I've never seen her do a real live concert as their regular guitarist, but she's always there these days backing up Ami and Yumi on TV, standing around pretending to play along to the pre-recorded instrumental track being pumped in from tape somewhere. Hey, it's a paycheck, I guess.

Actually, the first time I saw her was on this video for Nantettatte Idol - the one time I've ever seen her actually play with Puffy, and she is so totally awesome. I was interested to learn (today, actually) that that's actually Puffy covering Lolita No. 18 covering Kyoko Koizumi! I've never heard Lolita No. 18's version, but it was out a bit before this video was shot.

Enazou left Lolita No. 18 in 2001, seems to have basically taken four years off, then formed Poni-Camp in 2005 and changed her name. She's been around for close to 20 years now. Poni-Camp stuff is kind of hard to find, but - and I can't believe I'm saying this - thank god for MySpace, which has five songs you can listen to. All of them rock! She sings in English, and she does it really well.

Lolita No. 18, on the other hand, is all over the net. Here are a couple of my favorite videos:


Rockaway Beach

That is actually Joey Ramone in the video for "Rockaway Beach" - he produced that album for them, shortly before his death.

Incidentally, Lolita No. 18 reformed with a new lineup and is still around, still led by their founder Masayo Ishizaka but otherwise totally different. But Puffy obviously are still friendly with them, as Yumi's side band CQA shares drummer To-Bu with "new" Lolita No. 18. The bands seem to be joined at the hip.

Puffy on the CDTV 15th Anniversary Special

Couple nights ago, Puffy appeared on the 15 year anniversary special of TBS's CDTV (aka Countdown TV) alongside other major names including Ayumi Hamasaki, a reunited Southern All Stars, Glay, Kumi Koda and others. The special itself was four hours long - it was a pretty major TV event. Puffy appeared both in a short interview segment and later for a "live" performance, although like all of their TV appearances lately, it's obvious the band isn't really playing.

Here they are, watch it while it's hot:

Higher quality version is here.

If you're wondering what everybody laughs at towards the end of the interview, Ami was talking about about how she wanted to be a flight attendant before joining Puffy. One of the guys asks her "well, aren't you glad you formed Puffy instead?" and she replies with something like "I'm not sure yet."

As for the performance, I wasn't sure whether it was them or the various TV shows apparently insisting on a pre-recorded backing band these days (Enapou's just playing air guitar back there), but I did notice that several of the other bands on this show seemed to be playing really, actually live. So, disappointingly, it seems like it may be Puffy themselves responsible for this.

Seems odd that they'd play "All Because of You" rather than their newer single, doesn't it?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Labels Borked

If you're lucky and have actually seen them working, then you might know that I normally have nice Ajax labels that pop open a little box full of post links at the top when you click one of the post labels/categories below posts or in the sidebar. Well, that broke. And I don't know why. So for now, I've reverted back to Blogger's ugly old style labels. Click one and you'll see. I'll keep working on fixing them, but ugh!

Also, I know the link to Yowavinalaaaafincha? in the top right isn't working either. CD Japan removed it from their site for some reason. I'll look further into that tonight.

Update: See the comments. Snuff tribute link is working again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

M-ON!×HMV 10th Anniversary GG08 Concert Report (translated!)

Thanks to two people for this: 老犬 (Old Dog, or Rouken) for writing the original Japanese, and TofuUnion for translating it to English and sending it to me. I've just cleaned it up a little bit (as much as I could), as TofuUnion suggested I should. I'm not sure about the meaning of everything myself, though, but it's still a lot better than a Google translation!

Anyway, this is a translation of post #2197 at Sumairu Puffy, a report on Puffy's performance at this show/festival/whatever, where they appeared with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

Shinkiba Concert:

First, the set list.

1. Tokyo I'm On My Way 2. boom boom beat
3. That's the way it is. 4. Oriental Diamond
5. All Because Of You 6. Puffy the Monster (Members introduction) 7.
Basket Case
8. My Story 9. Nagisa ni Matsuwaru, etc. 10. Jet Police 11. Asia no Junshin

First appearing was concert planner George Williams. Then came the usual flow of the SE (???) and the show started. Most of the audience were I think Ska Para fans. The audience was so hyped from the first song, maybe more than at a Puffy solo concert. Puffy sang in good voice conditions. It felt really very good.

The most impressive MC was by 175R, very long but more than that. I cannot remember it too well.

"We are glad Ska Para are to play today." and then Puffy looked back to the band members. "Ska Para members must have 2 types of dresses coming with, so could we borrow one of them?"
"Or they can get dressed in our longer dresses? Say, but I only have two pairs."
"I have relatives coming later. It is unlikely, but forget about us, I said."

Yumi asked Ami, "What will you do for your 35th birthday?"
Ami: "Well, drinking."
Yumi: "Why?"
Ami: "Yesterday I got drinking 3 centimeters." (???)
Yumi: "Ah!"
Ami: "and alcohol the day before too."
Yumi: "What? What happened? Hey, if you have personal problems, talk to me!"
Ami: "Well, I want to be an adult drinker having fun, that's all."

"Yeah, Avril came to play live in the Tokyo Dome ... "
Ami: "It was like Atami resort" "Penlight looded like field fires in the distance."

I remember something like that. I think other people will write in their blog, so please see them. Anyway, many times we've gotten good laughs.

It was a shame, Puffy did not collaborate with Ska Para.
Puffy came out at the encore of Ska Para, but they just blew and shook with towels and danced.

"HAZUMURIZUMU" "Neji Potion" "Boogie Woogie № 5". I expected a lot of collaborative songs.

Do they not realize it anymore?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

CQA Mission #2, PUFFY w/ Avril Lavigne, Happy Birthday Ami!

Just a couple little things today, so kind of a tapas bar buffet of a post here.

Hiro from the band Ketchup Mania has posted a little report to her blog about their show with Yumi's band CQA the other night. There's not much about the show itself, but Hiro seems to like Yumi a lot and she's got some cute cell phone pics from backstage.

Try the Google translation of that link - as Google translations often are, it's amusing. "SPANK ME!"

There's a little more detailed of an actual show report from someone at Sumairu Puffy - sorry, I can't figure out how to link directly to a post there, so you'll have to just scroll down a bit. (Or even hit subsequent pages, depending on when you read this.) It's post #2193. It's in Japanese, of course, and no pictures.

Also! Puffy's appearance with Ai Otsuka and Avril Lavigne at the Tokyo Dome for Avril's "Best Damn Tour" was Sept. 16, the day before the CQA show. Most of the reports I've seen around the net naturally focus exclusively on Avril, as it was her show, but I found this little nugget (in English!) that mentions Ai and Puffy played just 5 songs and that there were around 35,000 in attendance. Not a sell-out at the 55,000-capacity stadium. Kind of lends credence to the theory that Ai and Puffy were brought in to try to boost sagging ticket sales in their home market - this stadium's probably just too big for Avril.

And lastly but certainly not leastly, Ami Onuki turns 35 today. Happy birthday Ami! Watch the official blogs for more on that - I'm sure they'll post party bits any second now. (Here's a cute picture of Ami and her balloons at Amigator.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Want! Yahoo Auctions Japan

If you're like me, you probably buy a lot of your older, hard-to-find stuff on Ebay. I check there for Puffy stuff every once in a while, but there's usually not much - I did get my old cell phone strap there, and a couple of my CD's. But since the "HiHi" cartoon went away, the volume has dropped to near zero. Last I checked, there were only about 15 Puffy items in both the "Music" and "Entertainment Memorabilia" sections combined.

Nowadays I buy almost everything Puffy-related through Yahoo! Auctions. Ebay never really caught on in Japan, and in fact they folded operations there a couple years ago in the face of the Yahoo juggernaut. I'm not gonna beat around the bush: in most of the ways that matter, Yahoo Japan sucks big donkey balls. They have some draconian membership and payment requirements, for one thing, and they will never stop spamming you once you sign up. Also, if you live outside of Japan, you need a way around the fact that by default, items only ship domestically. (More on this below.) But the volume of stuff up there is amazing.

As I write this, there are 786 Puffy items on Yahoo, ranging from (of course) all of their singles, albums and DVD's to more esoteric stuff. Some of my favorite examples:

Auction link. Looks to be a near life-size standee. Pretend you're roommates with Ami and Yumi! Here's a link to the version from their original Vox/Vino endorsement if you prefer the girls in their youth.

Auction link. Awesome shirt, and one I've never seen before. They do often really put out some great apparel. I'm not sure which tour this is from - the translated auction page says it's from "a few years ago". Amusingly, the same translation says "the logo is lame now."

Here's a link to another sweet shirt in a totally different style.

Auction link. This doll set does come up on Ebay occasionally, but not very often and it can be hard to get for a reasonable price. (I've tried.) The cool thing about it is that it comes with little guitars and microphones as accessories. And also a bandana!

There are/were at least three doll sets available in Japan. Here's one in the kubrick style. And here's one meant to be more realistic, although to me it looks closer to that awful American set that was out here a while back (but with better clothes).

Auction link. For those most interested in actual music, this is the almost mythical "Do You Puffy?" box set. It's actually not all that rare on Yahoo Auctions - there are two of them up there right now, but I like this one because it's still got its original wrapper. This set had (if I remember right) all of their singles up to that point on vinyl, plus a bonus disc, plus a t-shirt and a couple of other little trinkets.

Auction link. That's actually a shoe box, but I thought the box was funnier than the Puffy-themed shoes themselves. Who else would think of quoting Dirty Harry and the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus in the same tag line?

To bid and win a Yahoo! auction directly, you need the following:

1. Japanese speaking ability or someone who can translate (to communicate with the seller)
2. A Japanese shipping address
3. A Japanese credit card

Some of you might have a friend in Japan with a shipping address you can use. Unfortunately, Yahoo now requires a credit card with a Japanese billing address for payment. This seems somehow against basic civil rights and I have no idea how they get away with it, but that's their policy. Even if you're actually Japanese and have family still in Japan, you can't pay with a US-based credit card.

So what do you do if you live outside Japan and don't speak Japanese? The best option is probably to use an auction broker/deputy service. I have never tried these and can't vouch for any of them, but they're a legitimate business category that I know others have used successfully. Some examples include Japonica, Shopping Mall Japan, and Japamart. Note that I do not endorse these sites! I am simply providing examples so that you can do some further research. If you've had experience with these or other auction deputy sites, leave a comment.

Of course, you will pay both a commission and extra shipping fees at sites like this, so it really isn't worth it unless you buy a lot of stuff at once. But for some, there could be no other way.

There is some hope! Late last year, Ebay and Yahoo signed a deal that would allow cross-border bidding and translation directly through each others' sites. Unfortunately, they seem a bit behind schedule, as I don't see that Ebay has done anything to enable this yet. But maybe soon - I'm watching with eagerness.

Friday, September 12, 2008

About That CQA Show on the 17th...

Seriously, is anyone in Japan going to see CQA on the 17th? Please let me know if you are and would be willing to pick me up a few things. I'll throw in a few extra yen for your trouble! And of course pay for shipping. I gots ta have me some of this junk!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yumi Yoshimura MC's Girl Pop Factory 08

I'd never have predicted it based on Puffy's first TV appearance on Hey! Hey! Hey! way back in 1996, and even through their early "Papapapa Puffy" episodes, but Yumi's actually become a pretty good host and interviewer. She's doing it solo more often these days - maybe setting herself up for a new career?

This was GIRL POP FACTORY 08, which aired on Fuji TV September 5. Some of you might like to watch the Perfume performance, but if you want to skip to the good stuff, Yumi's interview segment starts at about the 2:28 mark:

The thing about both Ami and Yumi is that neither one of them really does that whole cutesy thing that most Japanese female singers do (including Perfume a little bit, so you can see the contrast right here. No, most Japanese girls don't really sound like that! I guess it's supposed to appeal to males and young girls). It's somewhat ironic, given Puffy's reputation in the United States. But they just reject that whole artifice; they seem incapable of acting any way other than naturally. And that's what makes them such good hosts, and so interesting to watch.

There seem to be five parts to this if you want to find the rest on YouTube - I haven't watched them all, so I don't know yet how much Yumi there is in the remaining parts.

Friday, September 5, 2008

CQA Returns!

Picture kinda says it all, doesn't it? Even if you can't read kanji. Hit the Chelsea Hotel site for ticketing info.

For anyone who doesn't know - and I've seen at least a couple new faces around here recently - CQA, aka C Quick Attacker, is Yumi's "other" band. (And that's her holding the blank sheet of paper upon which they've Photoshopped the show date up there.) They're not usually very active, but this is now two shows in the span of a few months - maybe they're all getting more serious about it. They've got a revamped web site, they've got an official blog, and they're putting on some shows. They're like a real band!

They are also now selling a larger selection of "tour" merchandise, some of which looks pretty sweet.

If anyone in Japan goes to this show, I'd be eternally grateful if you'd pick me up some of their merch - I'd obviously pay you for it!

And if anyone knows where to find a sample of their music beyond that little 30 second snippet that used to be on MySpace (it's gone now), let me know and I'll be happy to post it here. The band remains, as far as I know, unsigned.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


You've probably noticed that I don't normally post about every little compilation that Ami and Yumi appear on - the reason being that there are a lot of them, with most featuring songs that have previously appeared elsewhere. These are really like those K-Tel compilation albums with "20 Original Hits!" that you used to see advertised on late-night TV. Not really worth mentioning.

But every one in a while, they record something special for a tribute. They did it for Tamio Okuda, they did it for Cyndi Lauper and now they're doing it for the British punk band Snuff with Yowavinalaaaafincha? - A Tribute to Snuff.

I've heard of Snuff but I can't really say I'm a huge fan - I just don't know them too well. I vaguely remember being sort of into them for a while in high school, which would have been shortly after they formed. But they seem to be one of those "big in Japan" acts that's actually more popular there than here, and from what I've read they've influenced that whole Ken Yokoyama generation of Japanese punks, of which Ami, at least, is obviously a fan (if not one herself). I like it when they do this sort of thing, because it gives you a sense of what kind of stuff they're really into themselves, maybe even moreso than their own music.

Anyway, the song they'll be covering is called "Not Listening" from the album Snuff Said... You can hear the original here.

If I find a sample of Puffy's version, I'll post it.