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Happi Distraktions

The Best of Anime in 2016 (part 2)

So continuing off from last week, here are the individual awards for lesser known categories. A niche category, if you will. No hating this time, just love for certain things that I thought deserved some recognition from the anime that aired this past year.

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Best Character Designs: Kiznaiver

Courtesy of Mai Yoneyama, the character designs in Kiznaiver are very pleasing to the eye, each one distinct and with enough information tacked to the character to give off the kind of personality they possess. Nico’s childish pigtails and mismatched socks reveal her playful nature, Tengan’s dyed hair and bright yellow shirt proclaim his loud and boisterous personality, and so on. Much like how the opening reveals much of the characters’ personality within the few seconds each one appears, the same can be said of their character designs.

 

Best Eyecatch: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

Eyecatches can be as simple as the show’s logo tacked to the lower left side of the screen; some shows don’t even bother going through the trouble of animating an eyecatch. This is not the case Tanaka-kun is Always Listless. Every episode has a different eyecatch that is relevant to the episode’s plot featuring cute chibi versions of the main cast. Often times, sound effects and additional voice acting accompany these brief scene transitions, from Miyano’s hyper active yelling to Ohta’s encouraging “Hang in there.” They’re all adorable to look at and each one puts a creative twist to an often overlooked aspect in anime.

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Best Next Episode Preview: Tales of Zestiria the X

One of the best aspects of the Tales Series is the without a doubt the skits. Skits are brief segments that pop up at certain points in the game, often adding more characterization, world building, or highlighting the relationships that certain characters have or develop with each other; though more often than not these tend to lead to some of the most hilarious moments in the games. For the anime adaptation of Tales of Zestiria, ufotable decided to utilize these skits as the next episode preview, adding in even more silly punchlines for both old and new fans to enjoy, thus making each episode’s next preview segment an enjoyable enough watch to patiently sit through the credits and wait for (which shouldn’t be too difficult, since the ending theme is actually pretty nice).

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Best Romantic Relationship: Luluco and Nova from Space Patrol Luluco

Luluco’s romance with Nova got off on a shaky, unsure start; but the payoff to all of Nova’s indifference and Luluco’s panicking eventually led to the best written romantic plot I’ve seen in an anime in a long while. It takes time to develop, which is understandable given their young age, especially since this is the first time Luluco’s held romantic feelings for someone. Nova’s lack of response to Luluco’s bashful advances are also justified when it’s later revealed that he comes from a race of aliens that don’t comprehend emotions. But in the end, Luluco’s determination allows her unrequited love to be reciprocated. The eventual devotion the pair eventually shares with each other and the way that their feelings are conveyed make that typical “power of love wins all” cliche actually work, making the final battle scene in the finale that much more satisfying to watch.

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Best Platonic Relationship: Haruta and Chika from Haruchika

Chika and Haruta’s relationship is one of the few in anime (or any form of media for that matter) where a pair of close childhood friends can remain close without any sort of romantic tension ever developing; and it’s a rare but wonderful sight to see. The pair share a closeness akin to a sibling-like relationship, though their peers are quick to assume that their relationship may be something deeper. It’s not; and both parties are often quick to dispel any such assumptions. Indeed, their relationship often stays within the boundaries of close friends and never goes beyond that and probably never will. How am I so sure, you ask? Because the first episode established that Haruta is about as straight as Ellen DeGeneres riding a unicorn over a rainbow.

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Best Recurring Extra: Mila Babicheva from Yuri!!! on Ice

Mila doesn’t show up often, but when she does, she makes good use of her screen time. From her relaxed, sibling like relationship with Yurio off the rink, to her sillier, teasing side when commenting on some of the more…interesting performances of her colleagues, Mila seems to gain more and more fans each time she appears. Here’s hoping she gets more focus in later episodes.

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Best One-Shot Character: Hidaka from Natsume Yuujinchou Go

I have a weakness for cute creatures, and this giant owl-like yokai hits all the marks on my personal cuteness meter. Every time it utters its catchphrase “I super-love”, it makes my heart melt, especially when its lonely backstory is revealed. Natsume Yuujinchou has always succeded in creating lovable characters that the audience can instantly sympathize with in the span of twenty something minutes, and Hidaka is no exception. I can’t help but feel a little jealous of Natsume for getting the opportunity to be hugged by such a large, fluffy youkai.

Best English Dub: Dangan Ronpa 3

BE WARNED: THE ABOVE VIDEO CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE DANGAN RONPA FRANCHISE

I could give this award to 91 Days, which brought back the casting director for Baccano!, and anyone who’s watched the English dub for that should know that he’s no slouch when it comes to perfectly recreating that old American accent from the Prohibition era. I could give it to Yuri!!! on Ice, another good, solid dub that featured believable Russian accents and a few edits to the script that improved upon an already well-written narrative. Instead, I’m recognizing this. Now, I’m not saying the casting is perfect. I still think Greg Ayers makes for an awful Monokuma and I still feel that the casting for the games fit the characters better than their anime counterparts (barring the few who kept their game counterparts’ voice actors). So why am I recognizing this, you ask? Because this dub is hilarious. I don’t know what the script writers were on when they wrote these lines, but it definitely helped to improve some of the more lackluster writing the show’s later half is known for. Thanks to this dub, we get classic lines like: “Kamakura, Kamakura yas queen”; “We live and die by the meme”; “I feel like he’s getting gayer with age”; and the best line: “Yeah, I don’t get this either, pretty sure I died.” So, thanks for the laughs, FUNimation.

Best Expressions: Haikyuu!! Season 3

Mob Pscyho 100 and Show By Rock # were all tough contenders to beat, but once again Haikyuu!! revealed that it hasn’t quite played all of its cards yet. While the latter two shows definitely had some memorable expressions, Haikyuu!! managed to keep the silly expressions coming with each new episodes, even having characters with typically calm dispositions like Suga pull a weird face. There’s only one episode left before this season wraps up, but I have no doubt that there will be more reaction worthy gifs to be made when the final episode airs.

Best Mascot: St. Valentine from WWW.Working!!

This was probably the hardest for me to decide with so many adorable pets and creatures to choose from. The cats from March Comes in Like a Lion, Makkachin from Yuri!!! on Ice, Antaro from Shounen Maid, the tanuki from this same show…But in the end, I chose a caricature of St.Valentine to take this spot. This St.Valentinte is presented in the form of a tiny old man in priest garb giving advice (usually in the matters of love, usually not all that good) to Daisuke, the show’s protagonist. I don’t know what it is about him, but seeing his permanently relaxed expression and hearing him give all kinds of weird advice to Daisuke made me like him a lot more than I expected to. Watching him dance his little jig in the show’s ending theme after each episode just made me love him even more. So there you have it, all those cute pets got beat by some dead old guy.

 

How to make vegan Blue Berry Cake by Peaceful Cuisine: Video/Recipe recommendation.

Sometimes I think it’s necessary to break out side of the box and go against expected traditions and I believe Thanksgiving deserts can be one such area.

I’ve posted about Peaceful Cuisine before, but as a refresher, Ryoya Takashima hosts the channel. He used to work professionally as vegan chef and has since then made his YouTube channel, where he takes on a unique approach to making his recipe videos.

I’m not a vegan, but I am always interested to try different\healthier alternative recipes to broaden my pallet and food horizon.

Anyhow, back  to the recipe…Blue Berry Cake! The “cake” is not really a traditional cake, but more of a custard type cake, such as cheesecake, or chess cake and I’m definitely going to make this for the holiday. As stated above, I  want to bring something a bit different to the festivities this year and I believe this cake is the candidate.

Go ahead and try it out for yourself! Recipe and instructions in the video (obviously)


			

Games to Look Forward to Next Year

Or more specifically, games that I’m personally looking forward to that will be releasing next year. Anyone who’s been reading my posts long enough should already know that I’m anime trash, so if you’re fond of JRPG titles, be sure to check out the titles below!

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Persona 5; ATLUS; PS3/PS4

Persona 5 has been delayed. A lot. At this point, Persona fans are just hoping that the game will make an appearance at some point next year. Thankfully, all of these delays hasn’t made the hype for this long awaited game die down. There’s a lot to look forward to in the next Persona game: an improved battle system, gorgeous graphics, a catchy jazz-inspired soundtrack, and appealing character designs; this game has a lot to offer so it’s no wonder fans of the series are anxious to get their hands on it. Now if only Atlus could stick to their release schedule instead of announcing a new release date every few weeks.

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Tales of Berseria; Bandai Namco; PS4/Steam

Tales of Berseria brought up a lot of hype with it’s announcement, the biggest one being that it has the series’ first solo female protagonist. Awful as her outfit may be, Velvet’s already made a pretty good impression personality-wise through the brief 2-episode special that was inserted in Tales of Zestiria the X. It also brought back a lot of mechanics from older entries that fans have been wanting to see again for years, including cooking, waiter mini games, and *gasp*; are those in-game costumes?! You get them from beating a mini game?! You don’t have to pay for them?! *Ahem* So, yes, there’s a lot to look forward to in Berseria, especially for older Tales fans, so I definitely look forward to picking this up…when I get a PS4.

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New Danganronpa V3; Spike Chunisoft, PS Vita/PS4

Much like Berseria, the latest entry in the Danganronpa franchise has the first female protagonist in its main series (I say main because the franchise has had female protagonists before, just not within the main numbered games). Now with a new set of quirky, talented students, new murder mysteries to solve, new game mechanics to spice up class trials, even more Monokumas than before, and an entirely new setting (or so Kodaka claims), New Danganronpa V3 has a lot of fans excited and ready to shout out “That’s wrong!” when the game releases next year. With its January release in Japan, hopefully we’ll be seeing this entry in English sometime in late 2017.

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Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns; Marvelous / XSeed; Nintendo 3DS

Originally known as Harvest Moon, this franchise was renamed Story of Seasons when licensing rights transferred from Natsume to XSeed. There are still titles going by the name Harvest Moon produced by Natsume themselves, but if you’ll notice, the quality isn’t quite up to par compared to previous entries in the franchise. Story of Seasons, however, retains the charm the series is known for and will no doubt continue with this next entry. It follows a similar format to Tale of Two Towns by giving the player the option to live in more than one town, three this time, as the title states, all of which feature its own culture, festivities, and set of marriageable candidates. The most ground breaking new feature, however, is the fact that the protagonist actually has a family here, a mother, father, and little sister. That’s right, you have parents now! And a sibling! Oh, and XSeed is giving out a capybara plush as a pre-order bonus. How can I say no to that?!

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Atelier Shallie Plus; Gust / Tecmo Koei / NIS America; PS Vita

Yet another franchise best known for its laid-back atmosphere, this particular entry is actually a remake of the original that was released roughly two years ago. It offers the player the choice of choosing between two female protagonists, both of whom are nicknamed Shallie. The remake offers new costumes, dungeons, bosses, characters, and an expanded story line that promises to answer the questions left hanging in the original game. This is especially helpful, since this entry acts as the finale to the Dusk trilogy, reinforced by the fact that it brings back Ayesha and Logy as playable characters, both of whom were absent in the original game save for a brief cameo. I haven’t played the original since I knew that a Plus remake was inevitable, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how this entry ties up the Dusk trilogy.

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Akiba’s Beat; Acquire / XSeed; PS Vita/PS4

I have never played Akiba’s Trip and have absolutely no intention to ever so much as touch it. Akiba’s Beat, despite being a successor to that game (thankfully) seems to have no ties to it other than sharing the same setting. What got me excited about this game was how the gameplay seemed to combine the Tales Series‘ combat system with the Persona series, and based on the preview videos I’ve seen, it’s looking like the battle system will be just as fun to go through. And once again, XSeed is offering an adorable plush of the game’s mascot character as its pre-order bonus. You’re killing my wallet here, XSeed.

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Summon Night 6: Lost Borders; Bandai Namco / Gaijinworks; PS Vita / PS4

Last year, Gaijinworks did the unthinkable. It localized two PSP games and released actual physical copies of them. One of those games was Summon Night 5, which I’m currently playing through. Despite its age, the game play is still a lot of fun and having multiple endings, two protagonists (a male and female), and four partners to choose from at the start of the game give it a lot of replay value. Summon Night 6 will undoubtedly feature that same amount of replay value as well as improved graphics, mechanics, and a full English dub, and as soon as I’m finished with Summon Night 5, I’m sure I’ll be itching to revisit the world in this game.

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Project Diva Future Tone; Sega; PS4

When I was in high school, longingly looking at playthroughs of Project Diva on YouTube, I never would have expected that any of the games would ever be released in English. Now, a few years later, Project Diva games have been consistently localized and with each new release in Japan, a localization announcement is sure to follow. Future Tone offers new songs, modules, improved graphics, and new mechanics that’s sure to get rhythm game fans and Vocaloid fans alike brimming with excitement. While I am excited for it, I’ll probably hold out a bit longer in case a Vita port is announced, as I find that these kinds of games tend to be easier to play on portable devices.

 

The Best and Worst of Anime in 2016

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENDINGS OF DANGAN RONPA 3 AND ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM

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Best Show: Mob Psycho 100

Well animated, well directed, and well written, Mob Psycho 100 was the definite show to beat for this season. I was never once bored throughout its run, and despite its crudely drawn character designs, Studio Bones managed to pull out all the stops in making this an attractive-looking show with some of the best fight scenes of this year. Even when some of them made some bad first impressions, I also found myself quickly taking a liking to its cast of quirky characters, especially Mob, who embodies a lot of positive characteristics that I wish more shounen protagonists displayed. If you can look past ONE’s…interesting art style, then Mob Psycho 100 is a show that I can easily recommend to anyone looking for a show with great animation, fighting scenes, well written characters, and a kick butt soundtrack.

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Best Comeback: Natsume Yuujinchou Go

Natsume Yuujinchou is a rarity within the shoujo genre. It has a male protagonist, zero chances of any romantic relationships developing, and it’s a long running show that’s reached five seasons, a rarity not just for shoujo anime, but anime in general (unless it’s a widely popular, long running shounen anime like Dragon Ball or Naruto). But there’s a reason for Natsume Yuujinchou‘s unfaltering popularity. It’s incredibly well-written, and even after several years of going through Natsume’s rural town and meeting new yokai, author Yuki Midorikawa always finds new ways to tug at the audience’s heart strings. It’s a sweet, pure (and I mean this in every sense of the word) series, and watching the first episode of this season felt a lot like coming home and being tucked in warm blankets and handed a warm cup of tea.

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Biggest Disappointment: Rewrite

Key Visual Arts is well known for having the ability to turn your typical harem visual novel into something more, something with substance, as its previous entries, CLANNAD, Air, Kanon, and Little Busters! can attest to. Those shows had depth; they featured characters that could be sympathized with and likable protagonists who had their own stories to tell and had characterizations outside of the typical “random guy suddenly has all these girls falling for him for no reason” personality dating sim protagonists tend to get slapped with. Rewrite has none of these. It tries though. It tries really hard and ultimately fails. The animation quality is lacking, Kotaro doesn’t make for an appealing or likable protagonist like his predecessors were, and even after their back stories are revealed, the girls maintain their cookie cutter cliched personalities. Oh, and the girls’ uniforms are absolutely ridiculous.

 

Best Studio: Studio Bones

During this past year, Studio Bones never once let up on the quality that this studio is known for, even when My Hero Academia and Bungou Stray Dogs aired simultaneously. Every show they’ve adapted have been an absolute treat for the senses featuring gorgeous visuals, talented voice actors, and outstanding musical scores. They’ve managed to faithfully adapt the art styles for all of the shows they’ve taken on and brought these characters to life in the best ways possible. I definitely look forward to seeing more of their shows next year!

Worst Studio: Emon Animation Company

I recall sitting down to watch the first episode of Hitori no Shita Outcast…and then immediately dropping it after watching an opening that failed to get me even the slightest bit interested in the show. Emon Animation Company is unique in that it’s a collaboration between Chinese and Japanese animators. It’s also unique in that all of the shows its produced have been absolutely terrible. The animation isn’t bad, not outstanding by any means, but it’s passable. No, what makes the shows produced by this studio so bad is how bad the writing is. I had the displeasure of sitting through two of their shows this season. Bloodivores was so bad that I actually started to feel sick while watching it. Cheating Craft, while not quite as bad, lacked anything in its first episode to convince me to keep watching the show. It also had some of the most terribly sung opening and ending themes I’ve ever heard. So thanks to those horrendous experiences, I now know for sure to stay far, far away from any shows produced by this studio.

Weirdest Popular Trend: Re-imagining Western Historical Figures

I could talk about how there are anime that turns historical swords into pretty boys, or  how Donald Trump recently made a cameo in a children’s anime…Instead, I’ve decided to talk about this: re-imagining western historical figures in an anime format. Seeing historical figures in anime isn’t anything new. I’ve seen the Shinsengumi turned into pretty boys more times than I can count, Oda Nobunaga had three anime centered around him in one year, there’s a number of shows set in the Edo period that have historical figures make frequent appearances… But those are all Japanese historical figures. This year, however, saw more anime that featured authors, composers, and founding fathers that the western audience would be more familiar with. However, how accurately portrayed they are all depends on the show they’re in. If there’s one thing I can’t stop getting a kick out of, though, it’s hearing anime!Fitzgerald call everyone “old sport”.

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Biggest Cliffhanger: Tales of Zestiria the X

Tales of Zestiria‘s anime adaptation ended in the spot where the plot really takes off in the game. It ends with the introduction of two key characters: a new party member and what will eventually be the final boss. Thankfully, ufotable has already confirmed that the story will continue in the winter 2017 season, but until then, anime only fans will have to wait for about a month longer until the end Sorey’s journey. Here’s hoping the next cour will have better pacing.

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Most Unexpected Ending: Dangan Ronpa 3: Hope Arc

Kodaka’s always been good at writing unexpected twists and the Hope Arc definitely delivered on that front. However, whether these twists were good or bad depends on who you ask. In this grand finale, we finally learn the fates of Hajime’s comatose classmates: SURPRISE! They’re all alive and well, looking exactly like they did about four years ago with minimal changes to their appearances. Kyouko manages to cheat death, Ryota is easily forgiven for nearly brainwashing the entire world, and Hope’s Peak Academy is rebuilt with Makoto as its new Headmaster. I still have mixed feelings about the way this ending was handled, but at the very least, we do manage to get closure for the Hope’s Peak Saga. Even if we may never know who the Thirteenth Branch Head is…Actually, no, I’m still upset about that particular plot hole.

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Most Disappointing Ending: Erased

Erased tried to condense eight manga volumes into twelve episodes, resulting in poor pacing, plot holes, and the reveal of the killer being poorly executed. Erased started out strong with high production values and a wonder musical score courtesy of Yuki Kajiura. It had strong opening and ending themes rife with clever uses of foreshadowing and symbolism. It had a strong opening episode and some gorgeously animated scenes. For all intents and purposes, Erased should have succeeded as a mystery anime. But due to the aforementioned poor pacing, the writing quality starts to take a dip in the later half where the plot should have picked up but ended up progressively getting worse and worse. If you have any interest in this series, do yourself a favor and just read the manga.

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Most Satisfying Ending: Assassination Classroom

The anime adaptation may have skimped out on a number of chapters that focused on the supporting cast, but the anime managed to one up the manga in one aspect: emotional value. Studio Lerche took full advantage of everything the manga adaptation couldn’t utilize during its emotionally charged final chapters: voice acting, music, and of course, animation. Watching Koro-sensei’s students tearfully bid Koro-sensei farewell became even harder to bear as an insert song that has the students’ voice actors singing their graduation song plays in the background; not at all helped by the way that they tearfully say “present” as Koro-sensei takes roll one last time. Jun Fukuyama did a masterful job, switching from his usual silly tone of voice to a more sombre one as he comes to accept his death and finally dissipates into a golden light, which makes for an even more tragically beautiful sight when animated.

Neon Bunny: Artist Recommendation

Ok, this time I had to also share another fav of mine. I’m straying from the k-pop scene to share share you some Neon Bunny, a Korean indie artist. Her electrobeats had my falling in love with her stuff first listen, and her voice is so dreamy too. And I fall so easily for dreamy sounding things. I’m not a music expert or anything, but you’ll definitely be missing out on a musical experience if you don’t check out her stuff. And if you share the same dreamy music tastes like me, you’ll 100% enjoy at least one song by her.




Love Aimee.

Wonder Girls: Artist Recommendation

The Wonder Girls made their return during the summer with their single “Why So Lonely”. Even though the song is slightly past its time of hype making my rec way overdue, I can confidently say there is no wrong time to listen to the Wonder Girls. This girl group will hold a special place in my heart because they’re the ones that got me into the wonderful world of k-pop. They’re like a classic girl group alongside Girls’ Generation.

So I’m just gonna dedicate the rest of this post to spamming the glory that is the Wonder Girls…I’m not sorry at all.





They are such a throwback group. Some of these songs are oooooold. Plus they do use lots of retro concepts.

Aimee ♥♥♥

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies: Recipe Recommendation

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner and obviously there will be a ton of cooking going on. The typical suspects for thanksgiving deserts are pies, usually being of the pecan and pumpkin variety. I think it’s time to switch it up this year with Pumpkin Whoopie Pies! an interesting take on the pumpkin pie desert, these “pies” are incredibly easy to make and provide a simple but nice presentation for the table.

The recipe is brought to you  by Vonieta Stogner, a user on allrecipes.com and provides clear instructions on how to go about assembling this unique desert.

 

Tip: Instead of spooning the mixture, I find that putting the batter into a piping bag makes for more even distribution of the product. This will make your pies more even and clean looking once you assemble them. 

Check out the recipe here.

Not Drunk Enough – Comic Analysis

Not drunk enough is written and drawn by : Tessa Stone

Not Drunk enough follows a foul mouthed man by the name of Logan caught in a hellish place of  experiments and monsters and fellow trapped humans.The span of the comic generally focuses on the night in question that Logan entered the lab and the experiments went afoul. Though sometimes there are flashbacks to before the night those are rare and far between, essentially everything that’s happened in the comic has happened on that single night.

The characters are for the most part likeable, albeit a good chunk of them are dicks they are dicks within reason in a very tense situation.

The art style has stayed relatively the same over the years no changes too flash or jarring in their style. Yet their art style in of itself is very engaging and suits itself well for the web comic format.

Overall Id recommend the comic, it is engaging, interesting, and fairly creative with characters / personalities / and design. It does feature a lot of gore / blood sometimes as featured below so that should be taken into account, but sometimes the creator censors it a bit.

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