Tag Archives: Manga

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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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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Pop Team Epic (Anime of the Year)

Type: Is this a joke?

Synopsis: No really, is this a joke?

Pros: Pop Team Epic is…Pop Team Epic started as…f#$% it. Pop Team Epic is weird as s#$%.

Cons: Whether or not you like Pop Team Epic will depend on what you think is funny. There are 6 main types of skits. First, regular skits based off the manga. Second, Bob Team Epic, which uses disturbing looking animation that will haunt my nightmares until my last breath. Third, a lovely 3D runner in french. Forth, 8-bit bumpers that parody video games. Fifth, puppet shows and songs. Sixth, the rest. Apparently, the show had various animation studios and voice actors work on it throughout production. The show is actually 15 minutes, but it runs for 30, repeating the episode with different voice actors. The next episode preview is actually parodying love comedies that looks surprisingly disconcertingly interesting to me with “Hoshiiro Girldrop,”

Watch it?: Pop Team Epic isn’t a meme anime. It’s a sh#$post entity given life by our collective consciousness. (5/5)

MVP: Alien Cat

GET OUT OF MY HOUSE ALIEN CAT!!

Best Episode: Not ever going to try (too hard. too weird. f##$ you.)

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My Hero Academia (Season 3)

Type: UNITED STATES SMASH

Synopsis: It starts with U.A. High going on a school trip to the woods that ends with several children being injured and one kidnapping. It continues with several U.A. students attempting to interfere with a complicated and sensitive rescue operation. It finally ends with U.A. giving an exam that give minors licenses to get into fights with maniacs. Hogwarts don’t look so bad now, does it?

Pros: My Hero Academia season 3 kinda fixes every problem I had with season 2. Real talk, given all the hype around season 2, I was a little underwhelmed with the second season. I wasn’t really a big fan of Stain, and the tournament arc was just a tournament arc to me. But this season, man, this season was all that, and a bag of chips. This season had a lot of the hallmarks of the superhero genre that I love. Finally getting out of the school setting, this season explored the world more, and gave more context of what it means to be a hero in this world. We finally get to see Deku actually save a person from a super villain using his superpowers. We see the “death” of an important hero at then hands of a truly evil being. We see how the world reacts to this. However, the most important things this season does is explore the concept of how heroes inspire heroism in others. Over and over again, we see how the heroic actions of certain characters influence other characters to act the same. This, I think, is the true purpose of a hero. To inspire others to be heroes. To show others that they can be a better version of themselves. To show us that even in the darkest, most dire hour, there’s still someone who can save you with a smile on their face, even if that someone has to be yourself.

Cons: The season has a weird non-ending. Like, it doesn’t really have a cliffhanger per say, but a “until next season” sort of ending. Not a fan of that. I like bookends. The show also ends of another school related battle royal. Not a fan of that either, but it does set up a killer final battle for the season. This season also got me to catch up on that manga, which I had been meaning to do for a while now. So it’s actually a pretty good season overall.

Watch it: Honestly, I think it’s the best season yet (4/5)

MVP: The animation directors

Dude, the fights were sick this season!

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “One For All” (I mean, how could I not!)

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Attack on Titan (Season 3)

Type: Oh my god! That’s opening!

Synopsis: What the hell was that!?

Pros: We WILL get to that. Believe me. As for season 3 of Attack on Titan: a lot of things happen. Very quickly in fact. This season of Attack on Titan mainly focuses on a power struggle between the Scouts, the Government, and the Royal Family. It’s only about 12 episodes, but well a lot longer. Like season 2, this season focuses less on the main trio of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, and instead focuses of Krista and Levi. This is the season that expands on Krista and Levi’s backstories, respectively. They’re stories aren’t intertwined (they aren’t long lost twin or anything), but certain characters play important roles in both their pasts. We also get more backstory involving the origins of the titans and the walled city the series takes place in. This season isn’t as action packed as before, but it’s actually a major turning point in the story for various reasons.

Cons: Did you SEE that opening!? What. were. they. thinking. It was one of the most generic, bland, and out of tone openings I’ve ever seen. It’d be like if Evangelion opened to J-pop song. It’s be like if Cowboy Bepop opened to anything that wasn’t jazz. It’s be like if Attack on Titan opened to an uplifting tune about the past and grasping the future. Oh…it did. Huh….man, 2018 was the worst, wasn’t it?

Watch it?: Luckily you can just skip the opening (4/5)

MVP: Krista

Truly a historic performance

Best Episode: Ep. 6-7 “Sin” and “Wish” (We’re in the endgame now)

 

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Devilman Crybaby

Type: A good netflix anime!?

Synopsis: This must be the work of the DEVIL!!! (SPOILERS AHEAD)

Pros: Devilman Crybaby is an adaptation of the 1970’s manga Devilman, which was only like 20 chapters. The anime was released in 2018, and kinda set the tone for what to expect for the year. Ya know, with the apocalypse getting stated and all. But any hoo, the anime is about mild mannered crybaby named Akira whose taken to a sex n’ drug party by his best friend/life partner Ryo. Feeling like the party isn’t living up to his standards, and not wanting Akira to think all drug fueled orgies are lame, Ryo liven things up by going on a murders spree to summon actual demons. Akira ends up merging with one, and the plot kinda goes from there. The main draw for most people will be all the hardcore sex and nudity. And the stellar animation style. I guess. Helmed by Masaaki Yuasa, the anime has a unique and surreal art style that oozes creativity. This is one of those animes that you can just tell the animation crew had enjoyed working on. They really got to flex their talents. Sure, a lot of that went into the sex and gore, but also in the running animations, the family meals, the playful scenes between Akira and Ryo. It’s a visual masterpiece. There’s no getting around that. It’s also a creative showcase. Yuasa and his writers clearly had more freedom on Netflix than with traditional broadcasts. And I’m not just talking about all the breasts and blood. There’s literally a scene where a dud straight up raps for 30 seconds. Speaking of rapping, the show did a good job and modernizing a relatively short mange from the 70’s. Though I suppose since political corruption, public hysteria, and the power of scapegoating haven’t really changed in 50 years, we should really call it a tragedy.

Cons: And Devilman Crybaby is a tragedy. Almost to a predictable degree. By that I mean that Akira/Devilman have to face a new demon of the week every episode. This show also like to add a new story elements to each demon. Which sounds good on paper, but makes the entire story go by really, really, really fast. So some of the emotional punches won’t land depending on your attachment to certain characters. Miki being possessed by a demon is one thing, Akira’s parent’s both dying in the same episode they premiered in is another. Can’t miss someone you barely just met. Some story developments also cross that line from sad to EDGELORD. Aside from Akira’s parents, Miki’s family are also killed. Miki’s little brother turns into a demon that eats his mother. His father, unable to kills his demon boy, is killed by soldiers while trying to protect him. This was a little too much, and I preferred their manga fates more. In the manga, it’s Miki actually dies with her family at the hands of a murderous mob of humans. Not by having a weird running fantasy by the river. In fact, that whole scene worked a lot better in the manga because we don’t actually get to see Miki’s last moments. Like Akira, we only see Miki again when her entire family’s corpses are being paraded on spikes. The shock of that image works a lot better than in ep.9 due to the surprise of it. And out of every episode, I think ep.9 is the only one that suffered due it’s statues as an anime. Because it’s the only episode that feels like a stereotypical anime episode, and Miki is honestly the most anime characters in the series. She’s the typical good at everything. Which is kinda a shame. Not that I wanted her to be like her manga counterpart. That Miki was lame. Literally became Akira’s love lore groupie after his transformation. But I kinda wish they had kept some of her more lascivious qualities. For example, in the early parts of the show Miki is involved with a way older journalist. We don’t know what the nature of their relationship is exactly, though she does feel comfortable enough to shower in his house, but the implications were enough to add a layer of complexity to Miki’s good girl persona. But after that, Miki becomes just “the girl” to be honest…You know, for being one of the best anime of the year, I probably should have talked about things like religious metaphors and the nature of good and evil and all that. But enough people can and have analyzed every episode. SoI’d rather still complain about Ep.9 and Miki’s character. To summarize: The show sometimes goes too fast, some deaths and revelations seem unimportant, ep.9 is generic and dilutes an iconic moment, Miki could have been better, the English voice cast is a little wooden, and there is seriously a LOT of sex and violence in this. I cannot stress this enough. A LOT of sex and violence.

Watch it: I’d like to mention that I preferred Akira and Ryo’s characterization in this. Akira still remained a pretty good guy after becoming a devil man, and Ryo was more analytical (instead of being Mr. and Mr. Tough Cool guy in the manga) (5/5)

MVP: The animation

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS SHOW??

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “I Need You” (A lazy answer, I admit, but if your going to start, you should start here).

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Love Tyrant

Type: It’s amazing how quickly they abandon their original premise.

Synopsis: The show is about a notebook that makes couples, not corpses. No! It’s about three new angels how have to foster love or lose their souls. No! It’s about a generational divide between mothers and daughters. No! It’s about a socipath corrupting a young cupid. No! It’s a harem. Wait! It’s all these things and more!!!

Pros: Love Tyrant is a manga based anime with a bit of a muddled plot. The gist is that the cupid Guri creates a love contract with a boy named Seiji, which eventually includes the yandere Akane and her obsessive sister Yuzu. The humor comes from the mixing of these four very different personalities, with Seiji playing the straight man. The show emphasizes the “comedy” part of love-comedy more so than other shows. It gives Love Tyrant a bit more of a unique taste than it’s fellows in the genre. My particular favorite running joke was the characters forgetting what the premise for the show was (i.e. that they have to make couples or lose their souls). I also liked it when Akane violent rage played off against Guri’s playful personality. In fact, Akane and Guri’s over the top personalities make them some of the strongest characters I’ve seen in any harem. Each of the females main cast have interesting backstories involving a struggle between heaven and hell and a family drama, with Seiji acting as an audience inaugurate whose along for the ride, which is what a good harem show should try to shoot for.

Cons: As stated above, you do forget what the original premise is. It’s not crucial to the show, but still. The only episode that really follows the premise is episode 2, so of course it’s the weakest episode. I highly recommend skipping that episode (it involves a student-teacher relationship, which makes it unfunny and icky). And the show doesn’t really break the love-comedy mold. It just stretches it to add more irreverent humor. Stabbings, parodies, boys-love, the show is just a very funny harem show. Oh! And I forgot to mention one of the best characters in a show of great characters: Shikimi. Shikimi is the primary antagonist of the show, and is so delightfully evil, it’s great! Shikimi is Akane’s cousin, and almost always steals the show with her manipulative personality and sadistic nature. The show makes you feel scared of her, but also strangely attracted. The only real bummer is that the show may not get a second season, which sucks because the next story arc fully introduces and explores Akane, Yuzu, and Guri’s mother.

Watch it: The manga’s great too! (4/5)

MVP: Shikimi

While Akane is best girl, Shikimi can’t not be the best.

Best Episode: Ep.10 “I’m Here to Stay the Night x I’m… Growing Up, Too” (slumber party!)

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Masamune-kun’s Revenge

Type: The kind you shouldn’t think too hard about

Synopsis: Because really, a show where our hero’s mission is to essentially seduce a girl for the purposes of cruelly breaking her heart is something a sociopath would do for sexual gratification.

Pros: Ok, to be fair for what is stated above, our protagonist Masamune has a reason for doing this, immature are it may be. When he was younger, Masamune was “rejected” by his childhood crush Aki “because of his weight.” I use quotation marks because we all know this is a big misunderstanding. And if you didn’t, well, sorry. Masamune dedicates himself to becoming physically attractive in order to launch his “dead of love” plan, where he’ll make Aki fall in love with him and then dump her like she did him. Two interesting story points come from this. One, Masamune’s reactions to being treated differently because he’s good looking, which the show doesn’t really play with enough. I know that this is because Masamune doesn’t really blame others for his previous appearance and unpopularity (he was a bit of a snob), but a little social commentary would have been nice. And two, Masamune’s incredible inexperience with girls makes him flustered every time he gains a step forward in his seduction plan. That were the comedy in this love comedy comes from. So while this in no way revolutionizes the genre, it’s a funny little show with a novel gimmick.

Cons: The show has pretty typical light novel slight ups, which is weird because this is based on a manga. Are we finally reaching the convergence points where light novels and manga become one!? By saying this, I mean that characters aren’t really explored all that much. For example, we don’t really get to know a lot about Aki despite technically being the main heroine. All we know is that she’s rich, eats a lot, is a mega tsundere, and hates all men because her childhood crush left her without saying goodbye (I’m sure that’s in no way related to our main story, let’s just forget I mentioned it). She’s know as the “cruel princess,” because she enjoys rejecting all would be suitors harshly, but the show also tries to make her out to be a kind girl at heart. Like, she’ll call your penis small, but she’ll also pay for your therapy bills. She’s portrayed inconsistently is what I’m saying. And at 12 episodes, the show only really covers one story arc, the Neko Fujinomiya arc, were a pretty girl comes to vie for Masamune’s affections while not being completely honest with him. Masamune’s suspicious of Neko’s true intentions are suppose to mirror that of Aki’s towards him, but he doesn’t really learn anything from it. In fact, by the end he decides to double down! Which is weird, because in the dub he literally says “if this girl wasn’t such a liar, we could have had something real.”  Of course, being a girl in an anime, Neko’s motivations are more innocent than Masamune’s (she was sick, which is why she was so secretive). Still, it’s a funny light show if your in the mood for that.

Watch it?: Yeah, but never forget that this is a show were a teenage girl is being emotionally manipulated into having feelings for a boy for his own selfish satisfaction. (4/5)

MVP: Masamune

You’re a psycho, but your misadventures entertain me.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “It’s Not You” (Does Masamune go for the busty girl who totally wants to jump his bones, or stick to his plan to traumatize a chick that dumped him with he was 10? Anime is sometimes exhausting.)

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Tsugumomo

Type: When your mom’s friend starts to hit on you.

Synopsis: In Japan, there’s this myth that if an item is possessed by a spirit, it gains self-awareness, often with the caveat that the item has to be 100 years old. In anime, characters often use anthropomorphized items as weapons/lover, especially when their human form is a cute girl. However, this become a bit awkward when the demon items are passed own the generations, and they start to tease you with their naughty bits.

Pros: Tsugomomo is what you would call a great commercial for the manga. I say this with no malice. In 12 episodes, the anime sets up the plot, the world’s rules, and provides you with enough sizzle to want more. In the show, a young man inherits his mother’s obi, a sash, that is actually a demon possessed item (a tsukumogami). They end up fighting together against the recent increase in evil tsukumogami and spirits. Of course, the obi takes the human form of a cute girl and Kiriha, whose power level determines her body shape. So she can become a mature beauty, or loli jail bait, but either way she’s still a flirty hot head. The protagonist, Kazuya, is surrounded buy spiritually inclined women, from a chibi-God to a well-endowed servant, to a thirsty child hood friend, making this a harem show as well. And boy, they do take advantage of that. And it always, ALWAYS, caught me off guard. I mean, just don’t expect that many blowjob jokes in a anime manga series, yet here we are.

Cons: In 12 episodes, you only get an introduction to the world. In a lesser show, the “read the manga” ending would be irksome. But this show is of a quality that it can get away with that. It has the right mix of action and comedy to keep you entertained. The only this it doesn’t do well is drama. Because the show is pretty light hearted, both in tone and art style, the more dramatic moments don’t land. For example, in one episode Kazuya and Kiriha have to stop a wig tsukumogami from attacking students. The big reveal was that the tsukumogami is possessing the dead corpse of a young girl who killed herself after her friends mercilessly bullied her for liking a boy. Pretty dark stuff, but none of it has any impact because you still have Kazuya and Kiriha bickering like an old married couple. So don’t watch this for the stakes. Watch it for the fun stories and characters, serviceable action, curb ball episodes, and moments that make you say “did I just see that!?”

Watch it?: I’m probably ganna read the manga later (4/5)

MVP: Kiriha

I loved that her speech patters where so formal, yet so rude

Best Episode: Ep.8 “A Certain Day in the Kagami Household/The Super Popular Fragrance” (a silent episode and and echii episode, what more could anyone ask for!)

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