Courtesy of Disk Garage

Five years on and they' still around. What is it with these girls? Not only have they outlasted the usual 15 minutes of fame allotted to idoru (idol) groups, but they've accomplished the rare feat of achieving popularity at home in Japan and abroad as well.

Osaka-born Yumi Yoshimura and Tokyo native Ami Onuki formed Puffy in 1995 after meeting independent producer Tamio Okuda, who promptly took charge of their career. Through his own music and that of Puffy and Morning Musume, Okuda has become a central figure in the late '90s J-Pop scene, offering a girl-next-door vision, which contrasts starkly with rival idoru producer Tetsuya Komura's plastic daydream fantasies that dominated mid-'90s J-Pop in the form of figures such as Namie Amuro.

Puffy's first single, "Asia No Junshin," took the techno-dominated charts by storm in 1996, launching a Puffy sensation, which emanated from Japan across Asia. Soon limited edition Puffy dolls were selling in Hong Kong for twice their price in Japan, and Newsweek was citing Puffy as a factor in defining the new Asian middle class.

With the Puffy wave cresting in 1997, it seemed like their allotted period of fame had run out. But the jeans-clad girls forged on, enlisting the talents of heavyweight producer Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five for their 1997 Solo/Solo double CD. Recognizing their growing popularity across Asia, they also included a track sung in Mandarin for their Chinese fans on 1998's Jet CD.

1999 saw the issuing of two new albums, Fever*Fever and PRMX, a remix album featuring contributions from Freddy Fresh and Malcolm McLaren among others.

2000 has seen Puffy take on the US, appearing at the Sony Japan music showcase to enraptured fans of Japan kitsch during the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, and filming their DVD Run Puffy Run in a road trip across North America.

The Very Best of Puffy appeared in July 2000, an appropriate retrospetive on a five-year career, which, even as the girls approach 30, has shown astounding longevity.

Puffy play Shibuya Kokkaido on October 30-31. See listings for details.

400: Cornelius

393: Mikidozan
391: Shelter 10th Anniversary
389: The beautiful losers

387: Junpei Shiina
383: Umekuichi
381: P'ez
379: Boredoms
377: Dai Sakakibara
375: Dreams Come True
373: eX-Girl
370: Pizzicato Five
368: Dub Squad
366: Buffalo Daughter
364: Phew Phew L!ve
362: Fumio Yasuda
360: Boom Boom Satellites
358: Kei Kobayashi
356: Cool Drive Makers
354: Bird
351: United Future Organization
349: Audio Active
347: Ondekoza
345: Misia
343: Brahman
341: Puffy
339: Ryukyu Festival 2000
337: Rappagariya
335: Lisa Ono
333: Air Jam 2000
331: Feed
327: Tenkoo Orchestra
325: Wrench
323: Sadao Watanabe
321: Dry & Heavy
319: Bonny Pink
317: Sakura Hills Disco 3000
315: Aco
313: Rovo
311: The Mad Capsule Markets
309: Coldfeet