Ami Onuki (大貫亜美), whose nickname is “Jane”, and Yumi Yoshimura (吉村由美), nicknamed “Sue”, were scouted by two different talent agencies and put together in 1995, and soon PUFFY-Mania would begin. PUFFY-Mania is a term that was used by the Japanese media to refer to the craze for all things related to PUFFY, from key-chains, to CDs. It began in 1996 and continues to this day. PUFFY-Mania reached its peak in 1998 to 1999, following the release of the Jet-CD and the Jet-Tour. Their first release “Asia no Junshin” (“True Asia”) sold a million records and their success continued with several more full-length releases (totalling 14 million sales in Japan).
They hosted their own weekly TV show, “Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Puffy”, with guests such as Lenny Kravitz, Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford, and rock band Garbage.
Their music has been largely a collaboration between producer Tamio Okuda (奥田民生), American singer-songwriter Andy Sturmer, formerly of the band Jellyfish (who is referred to as the “godfather” of PUFFY, for naming the band), and Ami and Yumi themselves. Ami and Yumi’s vocals are likened to U.S. vocal sister group The Roches. They often sing whole songs together with harmonies and their sound borrows heavily from The Beatles and other artists such as ABBA, The Who and Carpenters. Their genre is usually defined as J-Pop/J-Rock (more specifically it can be categorised as shibuya-kei). Both Ami and Yumi themselves have openly admitted that their music is hard to put into just one genre because of the many different influences.
After 2000, they have been less in the limelight in native Japan with their TV show winding up in 2002. Instead, they have set the compass for the USA with promotional tours, releasing previous Japanese releases and two such songs were the theme songs of Teen Titans and SD Gundam Force. They have also done a cover version with Cyndi Lauper of her hit Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
The duo have their own animated series in the U.S. on Cartoon Network called Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi which premiered on November 19, 2004. The show features animated versions of Ami and Yumi. Although they are voiced by American actresses, the real Ami and Yumi star in short live-action segments taped in Japan. The show also features some of PUFFY’s music. Sony has released a companion album to “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi” in the U.S., comprising of most of PUFFY’s Japanese hits, some rarites, as well as, of course, the Teen Titans theme. Two DVD compilations from the series - Rock Forever and Let’s Go! - were released in the United States on November 26, 2005. Cartoon Network’s Japan service started airing episodes of the series (in English with Japanese sub-titles) in 2005. In October of that year, TV Tokyo began airing a Japanese-dubbed version of the series, which eventually also went to CN Japan on January 8, 2006.
Puffy AmiYumi made an appearance and performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2005 where they were also represented by their own Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Falloon (float with balloon elements).
On January 16, 2006 Ami and Yumi were appointed goodwill ambassadors to the United States as part of the Japanese government’s campaign to encourage tourism in Japan. They kicked off their 10th anniversary tour in Japan on April 14, 2006. They started touring America with the PuffyAmiYumi Tour ‘06 Splurge! Splurge! Splurge! on the East Coast starting July 8, 2006. This tour ended 19th July 2006, coinciding with the premier of their new televison show, Hi Hi PUFFY Bu. Their next tour is for Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival, which began 30th July, 2006.
The group is known as “Puffy AmiYumi” in the United States due to legal conflicts with rapper and producer Diddy, who had previously used the name Sean “Puffy” Combs.
Edited by IRONICtypo on 20 May 2011, 19:30
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