Tag Archives: English Dubbed

Armitage III

Type: Is this a rip-off?

Synopsis: Because this OVA came out in February 1995, while the Ghost in the Shell movie came out in November 1995. BUT, the Ghost in the Shell manga was published in 1989. So I don’t know if Armitage is a omage to the GTS manga, a product of the cyber punk trend in the mid-90’s, or a desperate cash grab at a more popular movie coming out 8 months in the future. Either way, it’s not that memorable.

Pros: Armitage III is a cyber punk story where an android questions what it means to be alive. Super original, I know. The basic story starts with a murder of “The last country singer in the Universe,” who turns out to be a robot. This starts Armitage, a cop and android, down a path of intrigue and philosophical questions of technology and society. This is all pretty by the numbers by now, but what I actually really liked was the setting of this OVA. This story takes place in Mars, where a “Third series” of robots who could give birth were secretly introduced to help with the low birth rate in order to increase the population and make Mars more autonomous from Earth. But then Earth pressured Mars to get rid of the robot women for moralistic and political reasons. Whether these robots who look, act, feel, and can reproduce just like humans deserve this type of treatment is what the anime ask you to decide. That type of political sci-fi is right up my alley.

Cons: I mean, in a world where Ghost in the Shell exists, is this OVA even worth paying attention to? Apparently not, given that I found this anime on Funimation, while Ghost in the Shell got a live action American adaptation starring Scarlet Johansson. So I guess the real winner is Armitage III. The story itself was fascinating, and I loved, loved, LOVED the old school cyber punk animation. But the characters really bring the story down. Armitage’s too cutesy, and Ross is too boring. And the 90’s English dub is…the 90’s English dub. Still, as an artifact of 90’s anime, it’s an interesting watch.

Watch it?: I still haven’t watched Ghost in the Shell! (3/5)

MVP: The backstory

I really should watch Ghost in the Shell

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Bit of Love”  (I’ve just been delaying it so long, it’s starting to get a little awkward).

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The Vision of Escaflowne

Type: That time Isaac Newton was thwarted by a Japanese teenager

Synopsis: And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling defiers of fate, and their dumb dragon mecha!

Pros: First off, much better than the movie. In fact, the movie is super bad in comparison. This anime is all about a girl that is wisked away into a new land full of knights, and beastmen, and giant robots. One of the strongest things I can say about it is that it’s all very romantic. I don’t mean “romantic” as in a love story, through that is here, but as in the classical definition. There are chivalrous and handsome knights, byron-esque antagonists, evil Empires, dragons (in a sense), and various kings. It made the anime feel like I was watching a classic adventure story. And since this was made in 1996, it kinda is. The show’s premise is that the protagonists are on the run from the evil Zaibach Empire while going Kingdom to Kingdom trying to convince anyone to help them fight back. Along the way, we explore various aspects of the main and supporting cast, from their past to their presents and futures. The show has strong character exploration and character growth. The anime is a shojo  adventure story. This doesn’t take away from the action. Every episode or two has a fight scene with Escaflowne, the DRAGON MECHA. But it also explore the emotional turmoil each of the characters face from obvious things like losing an entire country, to smaller things, like your crush flirting with other people. What you get as a result is an anime is great action and great character work that I would argue belongs is the pantheon of great 90’s anime, right along side Cowboy Bebop, DBZ, and Evangelion.

Cons: I actually knew nothing about Escaflowne before watching this. I watched the movie too long ago to remember it, and it has very little to do with the actual anime anyway. After a few episodes, I realized that this obviously a shojo story. For instance, Hitomi is a pretty, but not too pretty, high school runner who was working on getting her first kiss before being sent to a magical land by a abrasive, but ultimately caring, prince. Along the way, she also meets a handsome older knight, forming a love triangle. She also develops a friend group where she’s the moderate, not as pretty or naive as Princess Millerna, but also not as cutesy or bratty as Merle. They get into fight over the boys of the series, with Hitomi obviously being the object of jealousy for her friends. And, of course, Hitomi solve’s all her friends problems just by caring, because she’s that good of a friend. It’s all very shojo (or at least very anime, because a male protagonist would get the same deal). But that’s what kept me going. You get to see what every character is feeling after important events, and each main character experiences a character arc, where they aren’t the same person as their first introduction. Well, except maybe Merle…no, even she learns to let Vann go. Because without all the interpersonal drama, this anime would be convoluted and generic. I still have no idea what the hell was going one with the Emperor’s fate alteration machine, or the whole Mystic Moon (Earth) vs. Gaea origins thing. Like, who came first? Was it us or them? The show kinda loses itself in the whole divination angle, but that’s only one aspect of an otherwise amazing show. It’s the kind of show where you could explore every episode by itself. There’s actually a lot more I’d love to delve into (like Allen and Faulken’s story arcs), but I’d rather you watch this show. It’s that good.

Watch it?: One of the few anime I would recommend taking your time on. Don’t binge. Enjoy the ride. It’s worth it. (5/5)

MVP: Allen Schezar

Handsome. Chivalrous. Brave. Skilled. Give him a Doctor’s License and I can bring him to meet my mother.

Best Episode: Ep. 10-13 The Fried Arc (a little bit of everything that makes the show great)

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly

Type: HD Remake

Synopsis: A long time ago, the author of a popular fighting manga made fun of super buff/macho characters to take the wind out of his fanbase. Years later, that same author decides to take on that same character archetype to pad out his retirement fund. The result? A pretty good interpretation all things considered.

Pros: Let’s address the Elephant in the room. Yes, Broly has been a fan favorite ever since his inception. He’s been in every non-anime release for Dragon Ball since his debut movie. And no, I don’t think the original Dragon Ball writers knew exactly why he was so popular, which is why all his subsequent animated portrayals were bad. Just the worst. Remember Bio-Broly? Because I DO. Anyway, in this movie the writers for Dragon Ball Super give something to Broly he was sorely lacking: a personality. You see, the original Broly movie was more of a Pegasus film, with Broly sorta just being there for the fight. But in this, Broly is given his own supporting cast and backstory, while staying true to the original film. The start of the film also works to canonize a few Saiyan story lines into the main continuity. Frieza is there. Bardock is there (and yes, he does the thing). Flippin’ Tarble gets a mention! Later in the movie, the fight between Broly and Goku/Vegeta is set up well enough, and the resolution worked well to protect everyone’s status. And hey, Gogeta joins the fight!

Cons: This movie is far and away better than the original. That being said, no one really explains why Broly is so strong. He just is. This would be find, except that this movie happens after the tournament of power, where Goku and Jiren surpassed the levels of gods with the multiverse at stake. So having some random dude push Goku to his limit created a bit of dissonance. And the fusion stuff reeked of fan service/marketing. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool that Gogera became cannon, but still. The movie also does retcon a few small details from the Story of Bardock, but honestly, it was nothing too controversial. And hey, Goku’s mom is here!

Watch it?: Best Dragon Ball hyperfighting you’ll see

MVP: The first half hour

Someday they will join you in the Sun Kal–I mean Kakarot.

Best Moment: The POV fight segment (I personally liked the early story stuff, but let’s be honest, everyone should watch the POV segment).

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Robot Carnival

Type: Animation showcase

Synopsis: This movie is a collection of animated shorts revolving around robots in some way.

Pros: Since this is a collection of different mini-movies, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what’s good and what’s bad. It all depends on your perspective. But overall, this is a fun little group of experimental films. A lot of the films are also lack a lot of dialogue, so almost everyone can watch this. And if your a fan of robot centric fiction, or films like the AnimeMatrix, then this is the film for you.

Cons: If you need a plot, then this isn’t the film for you. Again, you might end up liking some of the shorts more than others. I personally liked “Star Light Angel” and “Presence.” The films do vary in tone, but most lean towards to dramatic and serious. Don’t go looking for something super funny every ten minutes.

Watch it?: If you got an afternoon to kill, or like animation (4/5)

MVP: Old school animation

It just feels more real, ya know?

Best Moment: The girls having fun in “Star Light Angel” (I thought they were having fun gay times!)

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King of the Hill (April Fools Day Special!)

Type: Slice-of-Life Americana

Synopsis: The anime focuses on a father trying to deal with the asinine world that surrounds him. His son is a well-meaning otoku in training. His niece is a ditzy neet who can’t go home because her “trailer flipped over.” His best friends are a gun nut, a foodie, and a hentai. And his neighbor considers him his rival for some reason. At least he has his wife…who sometimes goes yandere at the prospect of anyone being better than her. It’s a taihen life, I tell ya h’wat.

Pros: The main difference between Japanese anime and American anime is the audience. Anime, in general, tries to appeal to a younger demographic overall, and a younger male demographic specifically. So even anime meant to appeal to “adults” really appeal to 14-35 year olds who share the same mentalities. That’s why most anime characters are under 30 years old. American anime is a lot of stratified. An anime is either for children or adults, no middle ground. So you get shows like Spongebob or Gumball, which are meant for kids ages 5-11, or shows like The Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers, which is meant for people 24-50. That’s why a show like King of the Hill mainly stars adults in their mid-40’s, and deal with mainly adults subjects. No fake adult like stuff like sleeping around or spreading gossip, but real stuff, like infidelity, financial issues, self-identify, raising a family, and propane and propane accessories. King of the Hill’s strength is it’s realist take on absurdity. A situation where one of the characters feels depressed about letting himself go after high school can escalate into the main characters dodging tank missiles during a war game. A feeling of unease in a marriage can wind up with a character falling to her certain death off a plane. You can, and several people probably can, analyze almost every episode of King of the Hill and find multiple topics of substance. Every King of the Hill story could be filmed in live-action, but it reaches its full potential thanks to animation. It’s a satire of American society during the 2000’s, without ever losing respect for the people that had to live through it.

Cons: That’s not to say that King of the Hill is perfect, or that American anime is superior. For one thing, American anime can’t escape the yoke of comedy. Unlike Japanese anime, which explores almost every genre, American anime only deals in humor. Even bleaker shows like Rick and Morty or Moral Orel still are categorized as dark comedies. King of the Hill probably came the closest at dealing with serious issues in a non-condescending way. That being said, it did so because it was never all that wacky or laugh out loud funny. It was expertly written, don’t get me wrong, but it never really penetrated the zeitgeist like other shows. Some characters also verged on annoying, to the point of polarizing the audience. Peggy Hill’s arrogance was funny at first, but then it became obnoxious. Same with Dale’s paranoia and selfishness. Even Hank’s stubbornness became an issue. I remember one late episode where Hank effectively blackmailed his minister to guarantee reserved seating for his family during sermons. What the hell was that!? I would also like to contradict myself a little by pointing out that despite adhering to realism, the show never aged any of the characters and ended up showing at least 4 Christmas episodes and 3 Thanksgiving episodes. I wish we could have seen Bobby transition from middle school to high school, but the show didn’t want to lose Bobby’s voice actress by aging up his voice. The show also tended to forget certain characters in the later season, namely Connie and Luanne, who got less and less screen time in the last 2-3 seasons. However, despite it flaws, it was still one of the few American tv shows, period, that showed a realistic portrayal of a working class family at the time. And whether you noticed it or not, King of the Hill was always there, and a lot of us wished it always would be.

Watch it: Yep. (5/5)

MVP: Hank Hill

“I hope I never make it to L.A.!” (real talk though, he’s probably one of the best example of how positive and negative masculinity can interact in a person).

Best Season: Season 4 (Miss Liz, Connie’s first period, Peggy and Cotton’s therapy, Randy Travis, just a good combination of all time great episodes) (p.s. Hank! There’s a little state between Hollywood and San Francisco called California, come visit! It promise it’s not all Hippies and Buzzfeed!)

 

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Ping Pong: The Animation

Type: It’s like mini-Tennis

Synopsis: How come Mini-Golf doesn’t get the same respect? Is it because it’s a little goofy? Are we SO afraid to be silly that we can’t endorse something built on fun? Because no one, in the history of Earth, has ever enjoyed Ping Pong. Even the boys in this anime don’t seem to enjoy it. Well, Peco does. Everyone else treats it more like a job, obsession, or personal mission statement. God, Ping Pong sucks. The game, not the anime, which is actually pretty great.

Pros: The big hook for this anime is that it was directed by Masaaki Yuasa, the director behind stuff like Kick-Heart, The Tatami-Galaxy, that one episode of Adventure Time, and 2018’s Devilman Crybaby. The guy’s know for having a unique style to say the least. And that’s the best way to describe this anime. It’s not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it is unique. There is not other anime out there like it, and that’s surprising given that it follows the sports anime cliches pretty closely. But since it’s based on a Manga, that’s not surprising. The story follows Peco and Smile, two friends on the school’s ping pong team. The arrogant Peco is beaten one day by the new imported ace from a rival school. Humiliated, Peco quits the team for a while, leading his coach to focus on Smile, a talented but reserved person. The story follows their and their rivals’s growth as individuals, using Ping Pong as an analogy for life, like any other sports anime. Peco learns the value of humility and hard work. Smile learns to accept vulnerability and desire. And other players learn other things, like accepting your limits, being part of a team, or learning that fun and drive aren’t segregated concepts. The story’s not complicated, because it focuses on the character’s inner turmoil and conflict, and uses the “dramatic showdowns” to further along the character’s emotional arc.

The animation is the other hook this anime has. It uses a sort of rougher sketch style that accentuates the character’s movements and stances to enforce exaggerated realism. No one really moves or looks perfect. In fact, sometimes characters move and stand oddly. Which is exactly how people move and stand in real life! Everyone in this anime looks different, moves differently, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. For example, Peco moves loosely, while Smile is stiff and a bit uncomfortable. But amazing, both of these character’s postures change to reflect their growth at the end of the series. Seriously, you can compare how each character stands to check how the events of the story affected them. Despite looking obviously drawn, this anime may also be the most realistic looking anime I’ve ever seen. (P.s. A great example of this is the killer opening). I honestly thought this was made in 2017, it’s that good looking.  It looks weird enough to scream ANIME, but is well made enough to say Anime. In fact, this is one of the few anime I’d recommend you introduce to any of your non-anime friends or family members.

Cons: I know I talked a lot about stances, but for real. This anime does stances right. Speaking of stance, one draw back about this anime is that there are a lot of still frames where characters just stand around and talk. Or a lot of jump cuts to static action scenes. Classic cost cutting measure. Another thing, I’m aware that I made fund of Ping Pong at the start, but I actually didn’t mind it in this show. The exploration of Ping Pong was entertaining. My personal research (the internet), revealed the Ping Pong is actually pretty ping overseas, particularly East Asia, Europe, and Africa. Not being from there (USA #1!), I don’t really get it, but I liked it nonetheless. I fact, this anime made me realize something: I don’t really hate sports anime. Every sports anime I’ve watched for this site has been enjoyable. I think I only hate The Prince of Tennis. Yeah..Screw you Prince of Tennis!

Watch it: Literally the most fun you’ll have with Table Tennis (5/5)

MVP: Dragon

I’m really glad he mellowed out in the end.

Best Episode: “Yes, My Coach” (the real turning point, though honestly almost any of the episodes could be watch by themselves and be marveled at. It’s that good.)

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Yuri on Ice

Type: Yeah, I know.

Synopsis: What can I say, a man has needs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pros: This anime is actually the story about a figure skater staging a comeback back into the international competitive male figure skating scene. That’s about it. Yep. Nothing else…expect for it’s status as watershed anime that proved that same-sex male relationships can be part of a commercially popular anime. I mean, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Free!, but Utena was about lesbians, and Free didn’t really have any romance in it. Not so with Yuri on Ice! The main relationship is between Yuri, a struggling figure skater, and Victor, the current world champ who takes an interest in him. Victor plays the goofy flirt while Yuri plays the sensitive shy one. They have a fun dynamic that can turn surprisingly emotional at times. Their in a relationship in all but name (they even trade rings for crying out loud!). In fact, the relationship transitions from idolization to emotional support fairly organically. Outside of that, the show has pretty good humor. The various skaters that are introduced get defined pretty well, especially for a 12 episode series. The sport aspect means you get to see different figure skating routines every few episodes. And as a guy that’s never been interested in figure skating in his life, I found the routines fun to watch. I really liked the one’s that used non-orchestral music. (p.s. I liked the opening song. I’ve heard it before and thought it was an actual rock song)

Cons: Here’s the thing about sports shows, it needs to have sports in it. Meaning that a large chunk of the show will take place during the game/meet/fight, etc. But anyone’s who’s ever seen a sports anime know that it’s more interesting to see the characters train and interact before competing against each other. I did say that I like the routines I saw during the show, and I meant it. The animation used for them was extremely impressive and fluid, and everyone on the animation side should be proud of themselves. That being said, the show tends to repeat routines, especially for Yuri and Yurio. And the show also jumps very quickly between competitions, only giving 1-2 episodes between them, so a lot of the show takes place in a skating rink during game day. So what you have is an anime that spends the first 6 half establishing Yuri’s hometown friends and personal motivations, then rushes the last half with competition after competition that all start to blur with each other. I mean, I didn’t even know that this show technically covers a whole year until I reread that episode descriptions for this review! (p.s.s. I also wish that Yuri and Victor’s relationship wouldn’t have a hint of ambiguity to it. The show’s 99% there, and it would be hard to argue that they’re not gay, but that extra 1% of honesty would have been nice).

Watch it?: One of the IT shows of 2016 (4/5)

MVP: Victor Nikiforov

He loves his boyfriend, job, and dog. I respect that.

Best Episode: Ep.3 “I Am Eros, and Eros is Me?! Face-Off! Hot Springs on Ice” (you can actually see that transformation from cutlet bowl to world class athlete)

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Nanbaka (Season 1 and 2)

Type: Don’t let the great promotional art fool you! It’s really kinda bland.

Synopsis: For real. I actually started watching this for about 6 episodes, them stopped for about month to watch other, better anime. That’s how much this show failed to keep my attention. I even caught up on regular shows I haven’t seen in years before picking this up again! (I’m talkin’ Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 3 and 4, Bob’s Burgers season 7, Victoria season 1, and Steven Universe season 5)

Pros: On paper, this anime is a comedy with an all male cast. Something in line with shows like Hetalia. It’s selling point is that you get to watch all these cute boys do silly things while deciding who’s the best husbando. It also has great advertisement art work. And in all honesty, the show excels when it focuses on the slice-of-life aspect of living in an anime prison. The comedy comes from the fact that the prisoners treat Nanba Prison like a dorm stay rather than a punishment. Instead of having to deal with the real world, they get to relax and hang out with their buddies. Sadly, this goes away rather quickly.

Cons: This show has a tone problem, and you can really see the manga aspects of this show early on. The show starts as a comedy show, but turns into an action drama at about episode 4. The thing is, the show know this. It acknowledges that this supposedly silly show has some dark elements to it. After all, all the prisoners are in prison for a reason. But it’s adherence to drama and action really takes the show down from a quirky comedy to just another generic anime. The only real dramatic stuff I like is the brief flashbacks into the character’s past. I feel that if the story really wanted to inject drama into this “comedy,” then the backstories were enough. It would make the audience sympathize with them and understand why they enjoy prison life so much. The first season mostly focuses on Jyugo, while also introducing all 1 billion extra characters. Focusing on Building 13, with 7 characters was enough, I didn’t need the rest of the prison right this minute. Jyugo’s past trauma was all well and good, but making him some sort of scissor man was the moment that this anime officially jumped the shark. I didn’t even now that anime could do that. It felt like the author got a dip in manga 4 weeks in and panicked. The second season is more focused, revolving around the revolt in Building 5, which also has a neat Chinese theme going. I kinda like the idea of alternating between different Prison blocks for story arcs, and this season came the closest to fulfilling that potential. That being said, it also ends in a cliffhanger, so f#$ it.

Watch it?: Maybe if your doing time (3/5)

MVP: Hajime

Maybe we’re all the real prisoners!?

Best Episode: Ep.2 “The Inmates Are Stupid! The Guards Are Kind of Stupid, Too!” (this is suppose to be a comedy anime!)

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Shonen Maid

Type: Boy Maid

Synopsis: He’s a boy who’s also a maid. That’s the joke.

Pros: The basic story is really just Cinderella, only with a boy and nicer guardian. In the beginning, young Chichiro’s mother WORKS HERSELF TO DEATH, leaving the 4th grader to fend for himself. He manages to escape grave poverty thanks to his rich Uncle, who happens to run into him on the same day. Understandably emotional over the death of his only mother, and wary of an extended family that never lifted a finger to help him, Chichiro is hesitant to accept the kindness of strangers. Blood relative not withstanding. So his Uncle does what any sane person would do, and takes advantage of Chichiro’s almost manic desire to clean by hiring him as his maid. Not butler, because Maid outfits are cuter. Most stories revolve around Chichiro getting use to his new life and his new family. This eventually leads to him learning more about his mother’s family, with some hints about why they were estranged. Chichiro’s age actually works well with this kind of story, since it explains why he wasn’t told much about his family, and justifies his behavior. (It also goes a long way to explain his androgynous looks).

Cons: There’s nothing really wrong with this show. It’s a solid story. But there’s also nothing incredible about it. It’s biggest positive/negative is that there’s isn’t any overall conflict in the story. There’s no end of the season fight between Chichiro and Madoka, where they have to reaffirm their love for each other at the end. The biggest conflict is Chichiro feeling a little weird when he discovers that the nice old lady he hung out with was his estraged grandmother. The jokes are all solid. I especially like Chichiro’s adoration of all things cleaning. Chichiro’s slowly developing relationship with Madoka is cute. The only real cringy moments were stories involving cats, or involving a male idol group that shows up sometimes. Both weren’t great. The cat stories were a little too sweet for my liking. And the idol stories felt tacted on.

Watch it: A pretty good, middle of the road anime (3/5)

MPV: Chichiro’s love of cleaning

I also appreciate a good cleaning session

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Those Who Don’t Work Don’t Eat” (he’s a boy, but also a maid!)

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Space Patrol Luluco

Type: To infinity, and beyond!

Synopsis: Wait, wrong space cops. This is actually a story about a normal girl who learns a little lesson about what normal actually means….by having her father be frozen and being forced to work for an understaffed and under trained police force while also sorting out her complex feelings towards her criminal mother and budding sexuality. Normal girl stuff.

Pros: The show is produced by Trigger, everyone’s favorite pseudo-indie anime company. Like, they don’t make millions of dollars, but they can still afford to release season long anime every few years. Anyway, Luluco was their latest anime in 2016. The animation style was a mix between mostly Panty and Stocking and a little Kill La Kill during the action. I think the Kill La Kill song even plays at some point. The show is full of references to other Trigger/Gainax shows, with full blown, and surprising, cameos at a few points. I haven’t talked about the story because Luluco is your typical Trigger side-project farce. Most of Luluco’s adventures are silly stories with a punch-line ending, with the climax being about a girl’s first love. At 10 minutes per episode, it should take you under two hours to finish the whole series.

Cons: I liked the show. Fun plot about space hijinks. It does drags a little in the middle when the Space Pirate shows up, but I’ll forgive it for plot reasons. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very enthusiastic while watching it. Maybe I’ve watched too many Trigger/Gainax shows, but the magic just wasn’t there for me. Which is ironic, considering Little Witch Academia cameos. Speaking of, this really felt like a side project. Something for the team to do while finishing Little Witch Academia, Trigger’s actual next anime release. Luluco felt like Trigger’s Greatest Hits: The Anime to me. The show literally ends by fighting an galactic entity who can’t understand emotions! I don’t know, maybe I’m just a jaded old man who can’t remember what it’s like to be a 13 year old girl in love for the first time. I guess time makes fools of us all…

Watch it?: I mean, JUSTICE, right? (4/5)

MVP: Luluco

She got a space bike at the end.

Best Episode: Ep.11 “I Never Knew” (Legends never die!)

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