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5:00 PM on 01.10.2014

Review: Oreshura

Oreshura, or Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru, is an elaborate reimagining of a simple idea. Short for "My girlfriend and my childhood friend argue a lot," the shortened name makes marketing and looking up the s...

Jeff Chuang


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Review: Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers photo
Review: Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers
by Chris Walden

I was really excited to play Saint Seiya: Brave Soldiers, as it seemed like a great way to finally learn all about this famous, zodiac-inspired series. While I had some knowledge of the show from the odd video and passing mention, I'd never put any time to watching or reading Saint Seiya. It's a shame really, as I'd heard some good things, but just didn't have the time to get acquainted with a whole new series. This is why I was excited to play Brave Soldiers

This game doesn't attempt to be a balanced tournament fighter. Instead, it joins games like Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution and the Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi series in the "good, dumb, party fun" category. Which isn't a bad thing, because pitting itself against popular, competitive fighters would have been a recipe for disaster for Brave Soldiers. Instead, the game seeks to sacrifice combat depth for a huge cast of characters and crazy special moves. Now, I can get behind that, but unfortunately, the game falls a bit short of its goal.

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Review: The Wind Rises photo
Review: The Wind Rises
by Jeff Chuang

Hayao Miyazaki's latest movie, The Wind Rises, is a story about a historic person: the project lead on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane. It's decidedly unlike the imaginative, family-friendly adventures that Studio Ghibli is best known for. Instead, this is a film for adults, with deliberate pacing and lengthy decisions that reflect the gravity of the subject matter.

The aging animator has called it quits (again) after his movie debuted in France, so this may very well be Miyazaki's last full-feature film. I say aging, not only because Miyazaki's particular style and exacting needs over his animators and his animation process gets harder on him as the years go by, but also because he is a survivor of World War II: a first-person witness to the events that happened behind Japan's battle lines. It is in that way which The Wind Rises documents the legacy of someone whose creations were bore out of his imagination, but with deadly consequences.

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Review: High School DxD Season 1 photo
Review: High School DxD Season 1
by Jeff Chuang

Sometimes, companies like FUNimation license certain titles that meet a certain kind of demand. And there’s no beating around the bush for these shows: sex sells. Although these fanservice-heavy anime rarely feature actual sex; usually, it's just some nude scenes and sexual humor. High School DxD is one of these titles.

Unless you are a connoisseur of fanservice anime, however, you might not know that a lot of these types of shows go beyond the fanservice. In fact, it's with that in mind that I say High School DxD is surprisingly on the more ambitious end of the spectrum, due to its somewhat unusual harem setup. Of course, the hot and sexy bodies are the main course; the feature that attracts most viewers to the show. Remove these sensual elements and the nudity, however, and what's left to see in High School DxD?

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Review: Rising from the Ashes by Dr Akiko Mikamo photo
Review: Rising from the Ashes by Dr Akiko Mikamo
by Kristina Pino

One of the very best experiences I've ever had traveling in Japan was visiting Hiroshima. It is one of the most peaceful places on the planet, and the message that beautiful city conveys to all who pass through is one I'll never forget. It's difficult to describe how it feels to walk through its Memorial Peace Park and Museum, or put to words how the silence there is at once haunting, yet comforting.

Hiroshima today is a beacon of hope and peace, and a city that celebrates cultural diversity (and, might I add, amazing food). Its local people have every right to be angry and bitter about their history, yet they remain vigilant in their mission to push aside any feelings of resentment, and instead show the world that it's important for us all to strive to understand each other.

The book Rising from the Ashes by Dr Akiko Mikamo perfectly exemplifies this message and conveys the story of her father, who is still alive today, and his experiences starting from the morning the bomb dropped.

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Review: Godannar Complete DVD Collection photo
Review: Godannar Complete DVD Collection
by Pedro Cortes

The robot genre has changed in many ways over the years. For one thing, the stories have become more complicated, incorporating social commentary in an effort to appeal to wider audiences beyond children who are impressed with shiny metal things. Writers will (usually) attempt to give their characters motivations that extend past hot blood, bromances and revenge. Animation has also generally improved, making it possible to have more complicated robot designs that can do more than occasionally leap into the air and drill their flaming limbs into the gooey innards of their opponents.

Godannar is what happens when you get kids that grew up watching those old robot shows and put them in a position of creative power. In a desire to pay homage to the best of classic giant robot shows, the creators also added a good plot, meaningful character development, a solid budget and voice actors that know when to go for camp and when to play it straight.

Oh, and several metric tons of fanservice.

 

 

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Review: Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of The Titan photo
Review: Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of The Titan
by Salvador G Rodiles

On paper, Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of The Titan may sound more like a chore than anything else. The concept of having to map out every nook and cranny of a dungeon sounds like something that shouldn’t be a main feature in a modern game. Developers can give players the option to pull up a map whenever they need to see where they are, so forcing people to map out their own games is seemingly redundant, and menial by comparison.

However, despite my somewhat negative introduction to the Etrian Odyssey system, drawing your own maps can actually give you a surprising feeling of accomplishment. In case you've never played any of the Etrian Odyssey games, each installment in the series focuses on exploring labyrinths filled with unspeakable horrors, with a party of characters made by the players themselves. By unspeakable horrors, I’m talking about the monsters and bosses that lurk in each area. Just like other dungeon crawlers, this series doesn't hold your hand, so you’ll have to become intimately familiar with your characters and their capabilities.

Since Etrian Odyssey IV is my first entry into the series, you might guess that I suffered a painful experience that left me in tears long before I finished the last dungeon. That said, join me below to see how I fared with Etrian Odyssey IV’s hardcore gameplay.

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Review: Pandora's Tower photo
Review: Pandora's Tower
by Salvador G Rodiles

Just when you thought that the Wii has sang its last song; the system breaks free from the chains that control its life. Formally known as the last piece of the Triforce in Operation Rainfall’s goal, Pandora’s Tower has achieved its link with North America! Despite the game being part of the group’s goal, I doubt that XSEED’s decision was affected by their actions, due to XSEED's amazing track record in localizing many great niche titles.

Interestingly enough, Pandora’s Tower is also one of Ganbarion’s first original titles, since they were mostly known for making the JUMP Stars fighting games and a couple games based off of One Piece – such as the Grand Battle games and the Unlimited series. With that introduction out of the way, let’s venture into the Thirteen Towers to save a young girl from a deadly curse.

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Review: Phi Brain volume 1 photo
Review: Phi Brain volume 1
by Jeff Chuang

Over the years that I've been an avid anime viewer, I ran across my fair share of strange shows. Some of them are very remarkable, in that usual freakish Japanese way that all of us are familiar with. Then there are the plain weird ones. Phi Brain is squarely in the second category.

This anime-original TV series is not your garden variety late-night TV anime, but a story about a young man and his love for puzzles--from keychain puzzles to jigsaw puzzles to word puzzles to anything vaguely resembling a riddle. How will he and his rag-tag gang reveal the mysterious puzzle of God and the equally puzzling story to Phi Brain? 

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Review: Tales of Xillia photo
Review: Tales of Xillia
by Chris Walden

The Tales of series has been a rather odd one for me to dip into. From Symphonia to Vesperia, and to some extent the Abyss as well, these games have reeled me in with their gorgeous artwork, interesting premise and quirky battle systems. For a short time, at least.

Even though these games were plenty fun, none of them managed to keep my attention long enough to develop much of an interest the series. This is definitely down to how easily distracted I can get, whether it’s a new game or a shiny car to chase, there’s usually something that will block me from getting further in a game than I might have liked.

So this was a genuine worry of mine as I popped Tales of Xillia into my PS3. Praise had been pouring in ever since the Japanese release (if you can even remember that far back,) so of course I had to put some of my time into it. Xillia became the shiny new toy that distracted me from a hundred more runs through Rogue Legacy, for better or worse, and had all my attention over the past couple of weeks.

But did it last?

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Review: Black Lagoon Roberta's Blood Trail photo
Review: Black Lagoon Roberta's Blood Trail
by Tim Sheehy

Black Lagoon remains one of my guiltiest pleasures. The series shares so much in common with v-cinema, from its harsh take on the human condition, to its unapologetic depictions of violence, and buried beneath, stories worth telling -- twisted, though they may be. It's almost as if Takeshi Mikke and John Woo had a love-child.

To that end, I've spent the better part of three years anxiously awaiting the domestic release of Roberta's Blood Trail. When FUNimation announced their license at Anime Expo 2010, nobody really expected to have to wait so long for just five episodes, but wait I did, and patiently at that. Was it worth it? Find out after the jump.

 

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Review: Attack on Titan Volume 1-5 photo
Review: Attack on Titan Volume 1-5
by Elliot Gay

It's nearly impossible to go to any bookstore in Japan without seeing a display of some kind for Hajime Iseyama's Attack on Titan.

A break out success, Iseyama's manga series about giant humanoid monsters doing battle with soldiers who can soar through the sky has taken the manga world by storm. The currently ongoing anime adaptation from Wit Studio is undoubtedly helping to push manga sales, bringing in more fans than ever before.

Unsurprisingly, Kodansha Comics USA has been translating and publishing the original manga series in NA. With both the anime and source material now available to English speaking fans, it seems like there's nothing that can stop the Attack on Titan train.

Is the actual series any good though?

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Review: Shakugan No Shana S photo
Review: Shakugan No Shana S
by Salvador G Rodiles

No matter where I go, I just can’t get that Flamed Haired girl off my back! Thankfully, she’s here for a short time, so the ‘shut ups’ won’t be as frequent. Compare to the movie and the TV series; Shakugan No Shana S focuses on a series of stories for people who have kept up with Shana and Yuji’s adventures so far.

Before the heat gets to rough, let’s break through the flames to evaluate Shana’s specials that take a break from the usual conflicts found in the main series. 

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Review: Dragon's Crown photo
Review: Dragon's Crown
by Josh Tolentino

Fittingly for a game clearly patterned after classical fantasy role-playing games, Dragon's Crown has walked a long, eventful road towards release. Beginning life as a Dreamcast game and after being punted between multiple publishers and incarnations over the last decade, Vanillaware has finally managed to bring its baby to term on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, ready to be played - and judged.

After all this time and effort, has Vanillaware's quest succeeded? Or did Dragon's Crown fail its saving throw?

The short, role-playing-themed answer for that query is "No". The slightly longer, still RPG-themed answer, is "In fact, it rolled a critical hit." 

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Import Review: Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient Chapter 01 photo
Import Review: Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient Chapter 01
by Elliot Gay

Corpse Party has been on something of a roll lately. With an anime OVA in the works, multiple successful manga series, and a new Vita game scheduled to hit later this year, there looks to be no end in sight for the horror franchise.

Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient is the first numbered sequel in the entire franchise. The studio behind it, Team Grindhouse, is primarily made up of the people who put together the first Corpse Party. Being an indie circle, they're releasing Dead Patient in an episodic format. As of this writing, chapter one is the only portion available.

With the original creators back behind the wheel and a story that takes place at the far end of the series timeline, does Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient live up to the excellent original game?

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Review: Class of Heroes 2 photo
Review: Class of Heroes 2
by Brad Rice

Class of Heroes 2 is a game with a "wouldn't give up" story. Back in 2012, the game failed to meet its Kickstarter goal. Despite all that, MonkeyPaw Games and GaijinWorks promised to continue working on the game. They finished the title, releasing it initially on the PlayStation Network Store, with physical copies to follow later.

The original Class of Heroes, released in June of 2009, saw a 61% average score -- our own Destructoid gave it an 8.0. Colette cited the sheer volume of game to play and the details to master as plus points, but took some issue with the game's high learning curve.

So, how did the sequel turn out, after all the trouble it went through -- and most importantly, will it be worth your money? Find out after the jump!

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Review: The Idolmaster Shiny Festa photo
Review: The Idolmaster Shiny Festa
by Josh Tolentino

When it arrived on the App Store in April, The Idolm@ster Shiny Festa made waves among English-speaking gamers, but unfortunately not for the reasons publisher Namco Bandai was hoping. 

Rather than celebrating the first-ever of an Idolm@ster game, fans and the uninitiated alike gawped incredulously. Many were confused that the game had been ported from PlayStation Portable to iOS for its English-language debut, but most were stunned by the app's asking price of $54.99 for each of Shiny Festa's three versions. In an ecosystem where most users balk at the prospect of paying more than a dollar or two for anything, Shiny Festa commanded a price point more common for a triple-A console blockbuster.

But is it worth it?

That's the question I tackled, alongside fellow Japanator staffers Jeff Chuang and Elliot Gay after we each purchased a version of the app. Was the ticket to Shiny Festa money well-spent, or has buyer's remorse has set in?

This is our discussion.

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Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV photo
Review: Shin Megami Tensei IV
by Tim Sheehy

The long wait is finally over. With almost a decade since the last official installment, Shin Megami Tensei IV has finally made its way to store shelves and, for the first time in the history of its core series, the pockets of gamers everywhere. Following the trend set by its predecessor Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, this latest entry brings the series to the handheld market.

Perhaps a bold move, considering the depth of game play its fans demand. That depth,  coupled with its mature themes and difficult game play begs the question as to whether the game can meet our expectations. I'll give you a hint -- it does.

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Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3 photo
Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3
by Jeff Chuang

The third season of Natsume Yuujinchou is where the story shifts into the next gear. In similar fashion, NISA's Natsume's Book of Friends Season 3 Premium Edition ups the ante by becoming a Blu-ray/DVD combo release.

This NISA premium line carries, in usual form, two thinpaks and an artbook. But how does Takashi Natsume's third time around hold up against the test of time? Does the series get better? Or worse? Click on.

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Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Season 1 & 2 photo
Review: Natsume's Book of Friends Season 1 & 2
by Jeff Chuang

NIS America has been the go-to guys when it comes to Natsume Yuujinchou, or Natsume's Book of Friends. With season 4 done on the air and the subsequent home video release on the horizon, it's a good time to go back and take a look at the beginning of this well-loved series about a boy and his monster friends.

Click on and take a look at this two-season set, the bonus goods, and why you might want to have them in your collection. And if you are a first-timers, click on find out what this continuing TV series has to offer and why it has seen four seasons (and hopefully, more)! 

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Review: Shakugan No Shana: The Movie photo
Review: Shakugan No Shana: The Movie
by Salvador G Rodiles

The moment of truth has arrived, people! It looks like I have crossed path with a certain flame haired hunter that’s been mentioned around these parts in the past. Compare to her previous appearances, she has decided to take the form of a movie, which focuses more on the main essentials of Shakugan No Shana’s first arc. Thus focusing on Shana and Yuji’s first major battle against the Crimson Denizens that threaten the innocent lives of Misaki City.

As we do our best to protect our power of existence, join me below as we take a look at a burning adventure that stars everyone’s favorite red haired tsundere. Also, expect to hear ‘shut up’ many times during your journey through the realm of Shana.

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Import Review: Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryoiki no Deja Vu photo
Import Review: Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryoiki no Deja Vu
by Elliot Gay

I doubt anybody ever expected 5pb.'s science adventure game, Steins;Gate, to ever reach the level of popularity that it did. While the original game has yet to see an official English release, in Japan it's playable on pretty much every gaming platform available. Hell, I'd argue that the iOS version is the best way to experience Steins;Gate.

The anime adaptation produced by White Fox is where most English speaking fans got their first taste of the franchise. While not exactly bursting at the seams with production values, the anime series did a good job of taking what was special about Steins;Gate and bringing it to life within the limited TV anime structure. 

With the original game having blown up into a multimedia franchise, it's not shocking that it ended up getting a sequel film.

This begs the question: was a sequel even necessary in the first place? Perhaps not.

I'm damn glad we got one though.

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Review: Saya no Uta photo
Review: Saya no Uta
by Chris Walden

It's not unusual for us to review visual novels, regardless of whether they are family friendly titles like Cherry Tree High School Club, adult-rated stories like Conquering the Queen, or those that remind you that you aren't a heartless human being, like Katawa Shoujo. Because of this, it's really hard to grasp what the content of a visual novel is going to be like until you play it, if you have no prior knowledge of it. This is the situation I found myself in with Saya no Uta.

"A visual novel called Saya's Song. Sounds like a romance to me. Maybe it'll have a dash of erotic scenes thrown here and there, but it'll be one I finish with fuzzy feelings."

That was probably my first mistake. Hit the jump for the first scene you see in the game, as well as my thoughts on why you should check it out.

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Review: Persona 4 Official Design Works photo
Review: Persona 4 Official Design Works
by Pedro Cortes

The Shin Megami Tensei games are known for their engaging stories, deep gameplay, complex demon fusing/summoning systems, etc. You know that when you play any of these games that you'll get a polished, solid experience. However, one aspect that I love about these games is the music and art, especially with the Persona offshoots. Persona 3 & 4 have some of my favorite character designs, not only within its generation but across my experience in the medium.

So when a company releases an artbook that contains not only the game renders of the characters from Persona 4, but also preliminary sketches and insight from the art director of the game, you can bet that it's something that I'm going to be into. Guess what guys: I'm really into it and you should be to. Hit the jump to read my thoughts on the US release of Persona 4's official art book.

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Review: Mikunopolis in Los Angeles  photo
Review: Mikunopolis in Los Angeles
by Pedro Cortes

The best concert films go out of their way to replicate the experience of actually attending the filmed event. While nothing will ever nail what it was like to hear the pounding speakers and experience an event with hundreds of people, you can get close with good editing and sound design. It also helps when you have a performer that's able to nail every aspect of their performance and keep their crowd pump up the entire time.

So what happens when you host a concert featuring the most popular virtual idol since Sharon Apple on stage with a dozen or so live musicians in front of a crowd full of otaku? Well, you have yourself a pretty good concert flick for , that's what. Hit the jump to find out more!

 

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Review: Blood-C photo
Review: Blood-C
by Pedro Cortes

When I watched Blood C in Summer of 2011, I thought it was a show that had a lot of promise. It started out with the distinct feeling that something wasn't right in an idyllic town that was being pressed upon by nightmarish beasts. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to the promises you thought it was making by delivering tons of boring exposition and drama that has little pay off. 

A year and a half later, I get another chance to take a look at the show, as Funimation has put it out for all of us horror fans in the States. One thing that was a disservice to the show was the long wait between interesting battles and revelations, which dragged things out way too much. With the entire set at your disposal, you can power through the bad to get to the good. Well, that's the general idea anyway. Do the best parts of Blood C hold up? Well, hit the jump to find out!

 

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Review: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi photo
Review: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi
by Kristina Pino

Kojiki is the title of an old Japanese text which attempts to explain where the islands of Japan came from. Among other things, it recounts the stories of the gods and their part in creating the land.

I found that, while reading Keith Yatsuhashi's Kojiki, a modern novel that is by no means an adaptation, though somewhat related (like a distant cousin), curious co-workers around me all asked if I was reading the old book. These myths, the stories of the gods, are so ingrained in history and culture, that it makes the title even more fitting for its content. 

Initially, Kojiki follows the story of Keiko Yamanaka as she tries to figure out what she will do with her life following the death of her father. He leaves her with some vague instructions and a death poem, a camera, and a one-way ticket to Japan. Once she gets there though, she starts to realize that the ominous warning of spirits she was left with is more real than she gave it credit for.

Suddenly, Japan is a battleground. 

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Review: 100 YEN: The Japanese Arcade Experience photo
Review: 100 YEN: The Japanese Arcade Experience
by Chris Walden

It's saddening to admit that because of my age, the arcade boom in the west was long over before I was playing games. The idea of hanging out in a smoky room filled with bleeps and hums may not be too appealing to most people either, but it's an atmosphere that I wish I could have experienced back in its heyday. Instead, I have to rely on trips to the coast (where arcades seem to have survived in some capacity) or visit places like Japan to get that fix.

Seeing how commonplace arcades are in Japan can make you wonder how they died out abroad in the first place. Learning about where it all started is certainly an intriguing topic, and it's this that 100 YEN: The Japanese Arcade Experience aims to show its budding viewers.

Documentary films are a guilty pleasure of mine, and whether it's something video game related like The King of Kong, or the astounding-yet-disgusting Supersize Me, they're sure to teach you a thing or two. I've very recently finished Jiro Dreams of Sushi, so this film certainly had a lot to live up to.

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Review: Happy Family Plan photo
Review: Happy Family Plan
by Salvador G Rodiles

Every day, I have counted down the hours until I get the chance to officially review a live-action movie or series for Japanator. All of the sudden, that day has come, and it appears in a form that I did not expect. Using an actual game show from Japan as part of its premise, Happy Family Plan gives an unemployed father the opportunity to win a vacation that could change his family's life for the better. 

The film may not be related to what I usually cover on here, but Happy Family Plan does come together as an enjoyable story. Let’s prepare for the game show as we take a look at the blueprints to create a plan for happiness. 

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A Look At: Ahoge Chanbara photo
A Look At: Ahoge Chanbara
by Elliot Gay

Developed for iOS devices by M2, Ahoge Chanbara is a story of justice, love, and the ahoge way. It's a tale of revenge, redemption, and a stirring reminder of what makes us human. It's an experience that pats you lovingly on the head, only to tear out a giant chunk of hair as if it were some grotesque spoil of war. 

Ahoge Chanbara is the weirdest, and quite possibly funniest game I've played all year.

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