Bradcat’s Place Focus… Game Bar Continue

Everyone knows that video games are the life blood of Japan, after all it’s where they came to fruition in the early 70’s. So when people come to Japan, it’s totally natural to have an uncontrollable urge to visit an arcade. The bright lights of the local Namco/Sega arcade are enough to draw any one in. But what if you don’t want to pump ¥100 coins into the machines for a mere 3-4 minutes of fun? What if you want to kick back and relax whilst playing video games?

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You head on down to “Game Bar Continue” (ゲームバーコンティニュー) in the Chuo-ward of Osaka (approximately 5 minutes walk from Shinsaibashi station). Located on the 5th floor in a side street, this little paradise can easily be missed if you aren’t looking for it. As you exit the elevator you’re always greeted with a warm welcome, regardless if the bar is empty, or rammed shoulder to shoulder.

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There are a few other “game bars” scattered around Osaka, all offering different prices for drinks and charges for the games. At Game Bar Continue you pay a flat fee of ¥500 to play the games and then ¥500 for most drinks (some of the special drinks are ¥700) but you can stay for as long as you like! Game Bar Continue is open from 6pm-5am most nights (depending on how many customers are in the bar). As you can tell from the photos, it’s a very chilled place so you can easily lose track of time.

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You’ll find a vast range of video game consoles spanning over three decades, including (but not limited to); Super Famicom (AKA Super Nintendo) x3, PS2, Neo Geo, N64 x2, Playstation 3 x2, Wii-U x2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and many others. Not only do Game Bar Continue cater for the avid pixel junkie, but they have a colossal selection of board games too, many of which I’ve never seen before in my life. The entire bar is elegantly plastered in video game history too, from retro handhelds, to a (mint in box) Tamagotchi!

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Yes, that is a “bucket” of Super Famicom (SNES) games

The staff are Nisshi, Tomo, and Tenten (I’m yet to meet Yuzu and Deremai) who are always on hand to serve you another drink or snack. If there is a game you’re dying to play, all you need is ask, and they’ll leap into action to grab it for you. On my latest visit, I had an incredible urge to replay Metal Gear Solid 3 after recently smashing my way through Metal Gear Solid 5. Sure enough, they had it, and within minutes I was parachuting my Naked Snake into the jungle. *ahem*

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The bar is quite big and seems to be separated into three sections, the main bar, three tables (for board games) and a side room for those wanting a little more privacy and their own party area. I’ve found on each visit there are a mix of people; those who want to block everyone out and just play video games, and those who want to be a little more social. That’s why this place is so fantastic, you can do whatever you like and not have to worry about anyone else.

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On a previous visit I went with the intention of scoping out a new photography location. The owners have kindly said that I’m welcome to use the bar as a photography location shoot for my fashion photography. However, whilst taking some test photos, I was tapped on the shoulder and asked “Do you like board games?!” before I knew it, I was sat with Takashi, Shu, “M”, Koisei, and Chandai playing “Game of Life” (as it was one of the only games amidst a treasure trove of Japanese board games that I recognised).

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Feeling thirsty or a little peckish? Game Bar Continue offers a small snack menu and a vast array of alcoholic drinks and cocktails. You’re given a complimentary bowl of mixed nuts when you arrive, but you may want to peck at something whilst gaming into the early hours. Here are just some of the basics on offer:

Beer menu
[ビール]
キリン 生一番搾り(Kirin Ichiban) 650円
シャンディ・ガフ (Shandy Gaff) 650円
レッドアイ (Red Eye) 650円
カンパリビア (Kanparibia) 650円
(and loads more!)

Food menu
[フード]
MIXピザ (Mixed pizza) 800円
ソーセージ盛り合わせ (sausage platter) 700円
ラージャン麺 (Rajan noodles) 600~円
ピクミン麺 (Pikmin noodles) 600円
チャーハン (Fried rice) 600円
(and loads more too!)

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So if you’re ever in Osaka and fancy a little R&R&R (Rest and relaxation and retro) make sure you head down to Game Bar Continue. A little heads up for tourists, you might want to brush up on your Japanese as you won’t find any English speakers here! But you came to Japan for the immersion right?!

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Address:
Game Bar Continue 中央区東心斎橋1-12-19-5F, Osaka, Japan 542-0083
Website: http://gamebar.jp/index.html
Facebook: Game Bar Continue Facebook Page
Twitter: Game Bar Continue Twitter
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Bradcat’s J-Music Focus… Osaka Shunkashuto (One Year Later)

Last year I introduced you to Osaka based idol group Osaka Shunkashuto, at that time they were getting their foot in the J-pop door, and slowly pushing it open. One year later, that door has been slammed off it’s hinges as Osaka Shunkashuto are quickly becoming the hottest idol group to come out of Osaka.

When we looked at Osaka Shunkashuto last year, they were fresh out of Soezimax’s “CampFire” (similar to KickStarter in the West) campaign to help fund his vision of producing a female idol group with a fusion of rock and roll and idol group elements, including music videos featuring a lot of military hardware. Since then, the girls underwent vigorous military weaponry training so their movements in the music videos would seem authentic. Soezimax held a mini-audition to help decide which of the girls handled their weapon in the most authentic manner. That accolade went to my favourite member, Yuna!

Weapon handling audition for PV

There’s an extensive list of videos on Soezimax’s channel documenting the recording of the E.P and the music video. Some awesome Japanese actors were used (森崎正弘、大澤竜、松本大貴、市原厚樹、前田耕陽) and from the behind the scenes videos it’s easy to see everyone had a great time filming. The girls (along with Soezimax and his crew) worked incredibly hard around that time as they produced not one, but two main music videos. On top of that, inbetween shooting, they also made cover versions of popular songs too! Talk about having no days off! Here are the two music videos which were produced for the E.P. The first being a slow love ballad (Moshimo Aetanara), while the second is slightly heavier (Dawn of My Lifetime)…

もしも逢えたなら – 大阪★春夏秋冬

DAWN OF MY LIFETIME – 大阪★春夏秋冬

If you have time to watch some of the behind the scenes footage (links are provided after each music video) you’ll see lead vocalist Maina practicing her English. Maina is known to be a huge fan of ONE OK ROCK and her inspiration is clear in each music video. She’s constantly trying to improve, and for a 17 year old, her English ability is outstanding, I can only imagine where she will go from here.

As some of you know, in April last year I was able to visit Japan for three weeks. During this time I was able to check out many musicians in the Tokyo area such as Outside Dandy, BARBARS, and Sugar ‘n’ Spice. While I was in Kyoto, Osaka Shunkashuto announced they’d be playing a show at Yao shopping centre (their usual performance venue) in Osaka, however I wasn’t scheduled to go to Osaka until the following day. My friend Bob (whom I was traveling with) questioned my sanity when I put forward the idea of traveling from Kyoto, to Osaka for a few hours, see Osaka Shunkashuto, return to Kyoto, only to return to Osaka the following morning…

So off we went…

Osaka Shunkashuto – I Want You Back (cover) performance from Yao, April 5th 2014

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Here I am, meeting Mana, Anna, Yuna and Eon. Unfortunately Maina and Rina had to leave for a radio broadcast which is hosted inside the Yao shopping centre. If you get the chance to visit Yao, then do so. It’s an incredible structure which is home to hundreds of shops, a huge arcade, and event stages. They have their own radio station which broadcasts live via U-Stream too.

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I also had the pleasure of meeting the managing team behind Osaka Shunkashuto, who are an adorable married couple who also speak fantastic English. They were kind enough to allow me to spend a little more time with the girls than other patreons, and gave me some goodies, along with this (somewhat blurry) photo of me with Mana, Anna, Yuna and Eon.

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I was also lucky enough to meet Yuna, my favourite member of the group. She’s just as funny as she is in the videos, and just as sweet. I took some Omiyage for the girls in the form of Cadbury’s chocolate (very British) and an adorable Kumamon teddy which I’d won in Kyoto the previous night during my outing with fellow J-Blogger “Sakura Panda Tea Time“. The girls were very grateful that I’d traveled to see them.

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Yuna signed a photo of herself for me (in English too) while Eon practiced her English speaking skills with me, informing me “I study English, because I am smart”. Very cute and equally as funny.

Here, the girls share their experiences of the music video filming and E.P recording. If you listen around the 3:00 mark, (English subtitles are available) I get a special mention for attending one of their live shows, which they seem to be very grateful for. I felt very privileged that Soezimax included this in the video.

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New member of Osaka Shunkashuto, Runaちゃん!

In November 2014, Soezimax made a huge announcement via YouTube. It would be the addition of a new member called Runa who would become the youngest member of the group at just 14 years old. I imagine this must be terrifying for her, to join an already established group, however judging from recent videos and Twitter posts, she seems to be settling in just fine.

Since the start of 2015, both Soezimax and Osaka Shunkashuto have worked tirelessly for the next chapter in their careers. Not only have they been producing more music videos featuring cover versions of popular songs, but also they’ve finished yet another E.P bringing the number of recordings up to three!

カメレオン少女 – 大阪☆春夏秋冬

Osaka Shunkashuto continue to expand their live shows as more recently they’ve started moving away from Yao, and into smaller live houses. There are a number of new videos showing the girls performing in Tokyo to substantial audiences which a very energetic vibe to them. With the direction of their music constantly evolving, the girls seem to be focusing on the rock and roll elements with catchy guitar hooks, galloping bass lines, and uptempo drum beats. This energy spills over into their dancing and performances.

Osaka Shunkashuto performing live in Tokyo

It’s been an amazing 12 months for the girls. I’ll continue to support them in any way that I can, from retweeting tweets, to writing articles such as this. The girls were recently enrolled in a competition to support ONE OK ROCK, based on the number of votes gained determined the winner of the support slot. The girls finished 7th out of hundreds of entrants, which was very impressive! I can only imagine their ranking if we could get them more supporters here in the west.

So come on everyone, let’s help these girls continue their growth in popularity and maturity. You can follow them on Twitter by checking out their profile page here. Don’t forget to subscribe to Soezimax’s YouTube channel as he releases videos on a regular basis

ショーンと大阪!春夏秋冬でした!

Video

Bradcat’s Personal Focus… Kyoto and Osaka Video

Music: BARBARS – おやすみなさいおつきさま

Following on from my previous video…

Between April 2nd – April 12th I was lucky enough to visit Kyoto and Osaka during the peak of Sakura. With Bob “Colddrago” Jones at my side, we had some great times in just some of the following places:

Gion
Kinkaku-ji
Ginkaku-ji
Arishiyama
Kamogawa River
Kyoto City
Osaka City
Kyobashi
Namba
Tennoji
Umeda
Yao

Artists / Musicians featured in the video:
Osaka Shunkashuto
Milkyhat
Halmi
BARBARS