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「毎日楽しいの為に」 Flawless Passion

大阪(日本橋) Osaka (Nipponbashi) – June 7th, 2012

After me and my friend’s wallets were sucked completely dry the first time we went to Osaka on April 28th, we knew that we will want to visit again to see the other places that we didn’t get to. The day has finally come to go again, but unfortunately, the same friend from before couldn’t come along this time, due to running out of money. It can’t be helped. After all, the study abroad program ends tomorrow and he has done well to spread his budget out. I actually wanted to plan the trip for tomorrow, since June 8th is my birthday. However, the farewell party was of course also on the last day of the program, which is why this trip is a day earlier. This time, I am accompanied by another study abroad classmate, in addition to being guided by two Japanese students from Seika Univeristy. Because it was my birthday, they offered to guide me and my classmate around Osaka.

We took trains from Kyoto to Osaka and part-way, we had to switch lines at Umeda. We popped out right next to Yodobashi Camera and I snapped a quick photo as we walked towards our next train. You can see how massive the store is and you can buy a whole bunch of different stuff here. I always just go straight to the Toys & Hobbies floor though.

Somewhere along the way in one of the stations, we came across a candy shop. For my friends, various kinds of candy in there was nostalgic apparently. After they bought some, we continued along. On the surface, we headed towards a shopping arcade.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what is the name or the location of this shopping arcade because I don’t know either. There is a bunch of people and shops, so it appeared to be a well known place.

Some addition photos of the shopping arcade. I was standing on an intersection of 3 streets and took a photo looking towards each.

So apparently, my friend took us here to eat noodles for lunch at this store.

On the left are some signs right outside the store entrance advertising some featured meals. On the right is a photo of the interior space.

Here is what me and my friends ate. I chose a simple and cheap plain udon. It was delicious, although I did wanted more. I should stop cheaping out on food.

After we all finished our meal, right before we moved on, one of the Japanese students told me that this takoyaki shop here was quite famous. I didn’t buy any though.

Turning around and taking a look at the shopping arcade we just walked through. I wonder if that giant sign in the middle is the name of this arcade.

Continuing on, we reached this street. On the right hand side of the street, you can see the Namco arcade center building, which is where we headed to next.

It appeared that this Namco game center was having a collaboration event with the Monogatari series. I wish that I had one of these flag displays to take home. There were also Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost posters and display stands all over the place.

The 1st floor of the building was just filled with crane games with Nisemonogatari goods. It was difficult to not take the bait.

Also on the 1st floor right next to the escalators, were these Gundam Tri-Age machines. I think the cards are nice, but I never bothered to play it. I’m certain that you don’t get to control anything, unlike Gundam Extreme VS. On some of these tables, there were some abandon cards, so me and my friend took them.

Taking the escalator to the 2nd floor, the first thing you will see is a display of figures. There are various kinds of figures, but they are all trading figures of some sort. Generally, I’m not a fan of trading figures though.

The photo on the right is from the 1st floor, but as you can see, not all everything here was targeted for male customers per say.

On another floor was the floor of arcade games. Here are some Fate/Stay Night fighting games. I’m really bad at fighting games by the way.

This place also had a number of different racing games. I also really bad at racing games, so I just watched while some of my friends play a couple rounds of Initial D.

The only arcade game that I really played was this, Gundam: Senjou no Kizuna. What’s so special about this is that you sit inside of this large pod and play using control sticks. The large screen is actually on a curved surface and it gives you peripheral vision, which is actually really cool and useful. Not only is it immersive, but it lets you see enemies on the corner of your eye.

All of us played together via local co-op play and it was a lot of fun. You are also provided with headsets inside and you can talk with other players playing this game inside the store. I just heard a lot of giggling from my classmate.

This game and the setup itself is not perfect and I can name a number of possible improvements, but this is a good start of what I hope is a taste of what might be possible in the future. I absolutely support this kind of gaming experience.

However, much more popular is Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost, a 2 VS 2 fighting game. I have played Gundam VS Next Plus on the PSP, and while it was fun, I am not good at fighting games as I have mentioned. Taking that into account in addition to having to play with a stick and buttons on a table, I didn’t even bother trying to play this. Put a controller in my hands, then I will be interested.

While I don’t like the genre of this game very much, I certainly like the faster action and the vast variety of mobile suits as compared to Senjou no Kizuna.

Another good looking mech combat game was Border Break. I didn’t play it but I should have given it a try. Later on, further down the page, we went to another game center and I took some photos of control sticks, so more on that in a bit.

Exiting the Namco arcade center, we soon arrived in front of this Sofmap building. Does this look familiar? This was the place me and my friend visited on our first trip to Osaka, and this was the block we stayed shopping until all the stores had to close for the night.

These are photos of the area that I haven’t taken before.

This time though, we were able to make it pass that one block into the rest of this street. See that red and white building that says “Game”? That is the Taito game center, which we will visit in a bit.

More interesting was this hobby building right next to us. On another side is a picture of a HG Zaku II. Hmm…I wonder if this building is over 18 meters tall.

This is the entrance to the building. If I remember correctly, no photos were allowed inside, which is why I only have this photo of the entrance. Inside was just heaven for someone like me. They have anything from bishoujo figures (like Nendoroids) to action figures (like S.H.Figuarts) to plastic models of all kinds. Gunpla had a floor dedicated to it. In fact, a giant Gundam fist was placed in a corner of that room and the walls were painted to look like they were punched through. I spent much of my time looking at shelves of complete models on display. When my classmates were moving on, I actually wanted to stay longer, but I knew that I shouldn’t take up their time.

Next to each other were these stores. There has got to be quite a competition going on as these stores sell similar if not the same things.

Before we move onto the Taito game center, which is on the same side of the street just behind a couple stores, we walked into the store right in front of us. The store was called Hero Gangu Kenkyuusho, which translates into something like Hero Toy Research Center. The name sounds serious in English, but it was a store with a focus on tokusatsu, super robots and etc. While I like Kamen Rider, I can’t say that much else in the store interested me. The targeted demographic for the store is probably older than I am.

So next, we walked into the Taito game building. The photo above is the backside where we came out of the building after looking around. You can see that the sky was getting dark, but let’s reverse time for a bit. When I first walked into the 1st floor and tried to take a picture, one of the employees stopped me. Well, this place just lost any future business from me. Especially since the Namco game center is just around the street, I don’t see any particular reason to spend my money here.

Moving on to the 2nd floor, I promptly ignored what happened on the 1st floor and took some photos. There were lots of crane games here as well. For the most part, I just ignore them as they are designed to be unfair and difficult.

On another floor, I spotted this interesting game. It appeared to be an arcade version of Love Plus. For those who don’t know, Love Plus was a dating sim for the Nintendo DS. I played the DS game a little bit, but I couldn’t really get into it. I blame the DS’s jaggy 3D graphics. Personally, I’d be uncomfortable playing the arcade game with random people walking behind you and all. Would you play this game?

Check out this wall of posters for Gundam Extreme VS Full Boost. I like how Gundam 00 gets a decent amount of playable mobile suits.

There were some people battling it out in the game. As you can see, the control method is very much the same as the traditional 2D fighting games, a ball stick on the left and a series of buttons flat on the table surface. I absolutely cannot use something like this. It’s probably as hard as the PC keyboard for me.

Here are some other controllers for other games. On the left is Border Break, which uses what appeared to be a pilot stick with buttons in addition to a mouse. On the right is a game that I have forgotten the name of, but the controller is much more of my style with two stationary pilot sticks.

After looking at Taito games, we continued onto another street filled with stores. Before heading into the building in front of us, there was a computer and electronics store next to us on our left.

I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to computers, so the only things that interested me was a ita-fied laptop and a stand advertising Phantasy Star Online 2.

So inside the building a couple photos above, there were different shops on different floors. From the inside, you can see giant posters pasted on the windows. Even the escalators were surrounded by various posters. On the 3rd floor in front of a store named Lashinbang, there was a wood sculpture placed in a corner. Not exactly certain why. The Lashinbang in Kyoto had lots of good stuff and I was looking forward to visiting this Lashinbang, but this Osaka store didn’t really have much that interested me. The reason is likely that it had a lot more doujinshi than other goods, even though the store was much bigger. Perhaps by being in a popular spot, all the good stuff were sold by the time I got there.

Somewhere along the way, I saw these Zoids posters. Ah, such nostalgia. I really liked Zoids when I was younger and these High-end Master Models by Kotobukiya are a dream come true. The quality of the HMM series is just amazing with refined proportions, greatly increased articulations, and fine mechanical details. Of course, they are not cheap, but I think they are worth the price. I didn’t buy any on this trip, but I did get my hands on a Blade Liger and Liger Zero Jaeger from Amazon JP.

Moving on, I don’t remember what this place was and I think that we didn’t go into it. I just took the photo because I liked the poster.

Here is another store that had really nice posters advertising the store. If you look at the bottom of the photo and look into the store, you can see that the store was filled with crane games and doesn’t really have anything to do with the imagery on the posters.

I’m not sure which store was it, but we walked into a crane games store and all of us were immediately given a coupon for extra tries by an employee. Well, I wasn’t going to buy into that, but my classmate wanted to try to get something and the rest of us gave him our coupons. Long story short, after a number of tries, he used up all the coupons and had to give up. The item he wanted moved less than an inch.

I don’t exactly remember what my friends were doing at this moment, but I found this store and went into it by myself. It was a Gree store that was doing a Zero no Tsukaima exhibition that was opened for 3 weeks. It looked really out of place and it wasn’t a big event or anything, but I’m glad that I spot it.

From the side, you can see a small corner with goods for sale. Most of it were fabric goods, such as t-shirts, tote bags or pillow covers. On the left window was a TV facing the street.

Throughout the store, there were signs saying whether or not you are allowed to take photos of different things. This pop stand of Louise here was photos allowed. I really appreciate those signs so that I don’t have to worry about being thrown out of the store. On two walls were pieces of framed art, of which you can’t take photos of. Actually, you can see some of them blurry in the photos above. Since you can’t see the images with clarity, I think it’s fine since you cannot copy and recreate them.

Most of what you cannot take photos of were special illustrations, which the other side of this display case contained. On this side though, figures of Louise and the art on the DVD sets were being displayed.

I haven’t watched Zero no Tsukaima F yet, but I should really get onto watching that soon. I still have a Nendoroid Louise that needs to be opened!

And before I know it, we ended up in front of Gamers, which was on that one block next to Sofmap. Looks like we have been weaving in and out of the streets and ended up back here in a circle.

As we walked on, the sun started to set and the sky darkened. From this view, you can see the Taito game building on the left and a bit in the distance on right is the Namco game building.

Some random photos of the streets that we passed through.

By now, the sun had set and the city lights up all over. There were a lot of people. In fact, there was probably as much, if not more, people here at night than it did during the day. Something that I noticed from my first trip was that Osaka absolutely has a lively night life.

We are currently at Shinsaibashi-suji. There were a number of people standing around here that would try to get your attention and advertise their store. I am really bad at dealing with things like that. Thankfully, I had friends with me and we didn’t meet anyone that was persistent.

There were lots and lots of shops here. The only particular shop that I remember was one that sold a bunch of snacks and souvenirs. Quite a number of shops sold food or were restaurants. This long street of shops continued on for quite a while.

There was even a store that goes underground like this. What kind of store is this, you ask?

Well, here is a big tank of water with fish in it. You buy an amount of bait and you get to fish indoors. In addition, you get points for each fish you catch and different kinds of fish gives you a different amount of points. At the end of the allotted time limit, you get to pick some prizes depending on how many points you got.

It sounded interesting enough for my friend to give it a go. Quite a bit of time went by and he still haven’t caught any fish. You can’t really see into the water very well and the fish were very crafty at taking the bait without you noticing.

My friends continued to try as I watched, and finally they were able to catch one! In the end, this was the only fish that they were able to catch. Some other people in the store with us were much better than we were and they caught at least three fish.

Continuing on, we reached a beautiful river illuminated by the lights of buildings. Where we went to next was a big department store across the river just off to the right of the photo above. If I remember correctly, there was a floor of adult stuff. Some of weird stuff was on display too, like a soft plastic boob that you can squeeze. Well, it is not a weird thing to want perhaps, but seeing a single round plastic boob on the table sure looked awkward. Me and my friends couldn’t help but laugh a bit.

Walking out of the department store and looking across the river again. This would be a really nice place to just take a walk around. By now though, we were pretty hungry and we all decided to get some gyuudon (beef over rice) nearby.

So here was my bowl of gyuudon with miso soup. I ordered it in tokumori, which was basically extra large as it was the size above large. How you order in the restaurant we went to was that you go to a vending machine next to the entrance in the store and you buy a ticket for what you want to eat. And then you sit down and give the ticket to an employee and you will be served your food when it is done.

After eating, it was 10pm and time for us to return. We are currently at a train station and here we part ways with a friend who doesn’t live in Kyoto. It was fun having him guide us around Osaka. I worry that perhaps I wasn’t able to convey my appreciation very well.

With the remaining 3 of us, we were lucky to have found some seats for all of us on the train. My classmate begin to talk about and listen to Gundam songs. You know, in a crowded train. He lowered the volume, but we still talked and argued a bit. The other Japanese student doesn’t know much about Gundam I think, so I suppose she just went with the flow, which kind of happened throughout the day.

After we parted ways with our friend at a station in Kyoto, me and my classmate walked towards our dorm. Along the way next to a stream, I spotted fireflies! There wasn’t very many of them and I later heard that the time was still a bit early for fireflies. But this couple of them that I saw was the first time I had seen a firefly in person.

Overall, the day was fun seeing lots of new things. For sure, there would have been things I wouldn’t have gotten to if I was by myself. There were some stores where I would liked to have taken my time some more, but we all know what happened on my first trip to Osaka. I also wished that I had more photos of the inside of stores. Chances were that I didn’t take those photos because I wasn’t allowed to or that I didn’t know if I was allowed to. It was nice of the Japanese students to take their whole day and walk us around. I hope that the day was fun for them too.

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