「覇者たるもの」 (Hashataru Mono)
“What Makes a Ruler”

It’s big climactic battle time.

Faith in Comrades … But Not Blind Faith

Twice in this episode, characters spoke of their faith in one of their comrades, that they would come out alive, but both time it was not a blind faith. First was Kuon, about Haku. second was Haku, about Oshutoru. I really liked how they didn’t have that blind “faith in my nakama” nonsense that other anime have. Mind you, if Fairy Tail throws that out, it fits and I like it—but this ain’t Fairy Tail. Acknowledging, even with just their expressions, that their friends might not make it through circumstances beyond their control fits the tone.

Competing Philosophies

What’s the duty of a ruler? To protect the state, or to protect the people? The people, obviously. A lot of times the goals coincidence, but if you do something for the system that victimizes the people, it’s quite possible that you’re doing things wrong. (Grays abound in that statement, so don’t get wrapped up in the minutiae.) After all, nations are ideas. They don’t, precisely, exist. But people do, and they should be fostered and protected by the people whose job it is to govern.

I liked that Vurai and Oshutoru had different governing philosophies, and that they were both taking their own path—and that those paths necessarily came into conflict. At least the show and its characters are finally saying something. That’s more intellectually stimulating than the aimless wandering we’ve had up to now.

Giant Angry Monster Slugfest

The actual fight, though, wasn’t too interesting. It was all light and sound, little substance. Oshutoru kept taking shots like a bitch, and he tsunami’d the people he was claiming to protect, and water attacks always seem lame even if water kills many more people than fire does in human experience (floods, tsunamis, storms, drowning at sea, drowning in the bathtub, etc). Then came the idiot ball moments—Nekone refusing to run had me frustrated, but nothing was worse than when the Kamunagi of Chains just casually mentioned that they can shut down this whole fight several minutes after they should have said as much!

Look, I know the twins aren’t exactly the most … person-like characters. They’re more dolls than people, which is worrisome on several levels. But it was clear the writers were hamstringing Oshutoru unnecessarily, so that he had to get beat up before the twins locked down Vurai. Imagine if instead Haku, Nekone, and the twins were being attacked by Vurai’s soldiers the whole time. They could know about the twins’ ability to lock down a mask much sooner, but be frustrated at not being able to do it because they’re under attack, dammit, and the twins wouldn’t leave their master even if they could break away! (Which, for the purposes of this rewrite, they can’t.) Then they finaly break free, and they rush to lock down Vurai, and everything proceeds as it does. Then the timing would have worked, and instead of it being frustrating because they just stood their like goobers, it would be frustrating (in the good way) because we have the answer but we can’t get to him, dammit!

The only downside with that is that it’s more expensive to animate. Suck it up, says I. Good art isn’t cheap.

Oshutoru Might Be Dead, & Vurai Probably Isn’t

I was surprised when Vurai, by all appearances, got killed. I thought he was going to be a factor in the next game. Then the rubble shifted on his body, and I’m sure that asshole is alive. Oh goodie. I would really prefer people stay dead when they die.

As for Oshutoru, he’s still throwing out death flags. Why the pointed look and mysterious sparkles (his devoured soul flowing out?), followed by Nekone crying? Hopefully it’s just her feeling guilty for having caused him to suffer the injury that almost killed him. (Me, I blame Yakutowaruto, the reckless bastard.) That’s probably it. I hope that’s it. Because if they try to kill him after the fact, I’ma be pissed again.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Big climactic monster fight between Vurai & Oshutoru. Also, Haku doesn’t burn when he’s on fire #utaware s2e24

Random thoughts:

  • When Vurai accused Oshutoru of wanting to control Anju like a puppet, he winced like that was his plan. I don’t feel like that’s his intent, but if that’s the case, some bad animation decisions there.
  • Do something, Karura and Touka! Touka is even back in her combat outfit. Do anything dammit!
  • Gotta respect Raikou for wanting to kill the weakened victor. Not, like, condone it. It’s a dick move. But respect for the player who knows how to play the game.
  • It’s impressive how the twins were introduced a full twelve episodes before this, yet they still didn’t adequately foreshadow why the hell they were in the story. It’s like they planned it all out, but forgot to even hint about it other than their title.
  • Apparently Haku doesn’t burn when he’s on fire.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay, Deadpool: Tonal Balance Through Non-Linear Storytelling, and Through their own flaws.

Full-length images: 33.




    1. I might be optimistic here, but I think that rather than dying, the scene implies that Oshutoru will never be able to walk with his injured leg again. And Nekone cries because she feels guilty for his injury.

    2. Why do you think she started crying? She was not crying at the start of the scene. She was healing him.. but something she saw, let her start crying…

      Yes, i am mean boy. But you can not close your eyes and pretend to see not the truth

      1. I think he is dead. And for,

        “Then the rubble shifted on his body, and I’m sure that asshole is alive.” .. Vurai is dead too.

        The picture indicates, when using this power.. it comes with a price. All that is left.. that is dust.

        Sooo… I do not agree with this review 🙂 Sorry.

  1. I had hoped that the series would actually surprise us by Oshutoru NOT dying, especially with himself stating that he needs to live but looks like he’ll have his final moments next week in order for Haku to “get stronger” or something.

    The twins’ Ryaaku spell that sealed Vurai’s mask really felt like a sudden asspull. Pacing problems that probably don’t exist in that form in the game.

    Seeing Karura and Touka I had the same reaction. What the hell are these top class fighters doing? Nothing, of course.

    1. @Boingman: There’s actually a valid reason for Karura and Touka not participating. Unless I’m mistaken, they are Tusukuru spies in Yamato = no reason for them to break cover. This isn’t their fight/in line with their duties – at least not yet. That being said, why the cameo appearance in the first place? Maybe they do something next episode.

      1. Yeah, I know.
        But it felt so random. Them helping next episode after witnissing what happened this episode, would make this a bit more bearable.
        btw. wonder what’s up with Raikou. Mikazuchi doesn’t dare going against his orders.

      2. @boingman: Oh, I agree it was quite random, and they better do something next episode or that cameo is totally WTF random. As for Raikou, that guy’s been the “fiendishly plotting behind the scenes” type for quite a while. He had sort of that evil character “now dance for me!” moment back when Yamato was pawning the barbarians. Lately, he’s totally been the guy pulling the strings behind the insurrection attempt. As for Mikazuchi, not sure why he doesn’t want to go against his older brother. Loyalty? Fear?

      3. Agreed. Unless they do something next episode, that cameo was pointless, and even then they probably could have acted without the cameo. We haven’t forgotten they’re there.

        I don’t think Mikazuchi can openly go against what the rest of the council says without being in open revolt himself. Maybe he thinks it’s better that he still be on the inside, or he’s too uncertain to make a move right now.

      4. No reason to break the cover? There was a whole WAR with Tuskuru, a coup d’etat, your daughter in law is in danger. How many other reasons are needed to take action unless for the sake of the script?

      5. @Solaris:
        Re. Yamato in general:

        (1) Yes, there WAS a war – past tense. An invasion in which Tuskuru successfully repealed Yamato. AFAIK, only thing of significance Yamato did was Haku’s actions to take out the supply depot (there’s your scripted action with the protagonist saving the day). Yamato struggled to beat Tuskuru with the emperor (stable gov’t) and all eight pillars. Now Yamato is weaker (see below).

        (2) It’s important to note that the war was the emperor’s pet project, and he’s dead. There’s a power struggle going on with Yamato = no imminent threat of war for Tsukuru. Furthermore, there’s nothing to suggest that the next ruler of Yamato has any plans to start the war again even after the political dust settles. HOWEVER if Tuskuru agents muck around in Yamato’s internal powers struggle, that could very well give reason for Yamato to start hostilities with Tuskuru again. Now if the rightful ruler Anju requests help, then different story in terms of getting involved, though Tuskuru may still decline to act.

        (3) From a military standpoint, the longer Yamato’s internal strife continues, almost surely the better for Tuskuru. Yamato is weakening itself (and see above how Tuskuru held it’s own with Yamato at full strength). Their (supposedly) most powerful general/mask user Vurai is (I hope) dead, and we saw that you can’t freely transfers masks (pretty sure only the emperor could bestow a mask though perhaps that changes if the wearer dies). Oshu who’s just as powerful (maybe more) than Vurai is likely dead. Munechika was defeated by Tuskuru and is MIA or KIA. Yamato’s in a MUCH weaker position now than it was when it unsuccessfully attacked Tuskuru before, and again, a trend likely to continue.

        TL:DR = IMO there’s absolutely no reason for Karura and Touka as Tuskuru agents to get involved with Yamato’s internal power struggle, but conversely, there are very good reasons to sit on the sideline, gather & report information, and see how it plays out.

        Re. Kuon (personal reasons):

        (1) Kuon’s in danger? How? She’s on a boat to the safe haven place – already past the Yamato naval blockade. No danger whatsoever.

        (2) Even if she was in danger, there’s this whole deal. Kuon is MORE than capable of taking care of herself. She’s quite possibly one of the most powerful characters given her latent abilities.

        (3) Having “mommy” set off to rescue Kuon undermines the whole coming of age/now an adult & you’re on your own plot line that the story spent time setting up (not to mention unnecessary given the above).

      6. Daikama, thank you for the answer, but re you really trying to make a reason out of this mess? The script made no sense at all from the third episode or so. It’s so full of ass pulls, deus ex, plot holes, unreasonable choices, dull moments, useless episodes, unexplained events that anything we can say now has so little sense.

        Karula and Touka are there just for the sake of fanservice (meaning to appeal 1st season fans). They taking action, giving out maps or admiring pillars of light from afar is just for the sake of being there, but they’re simply useless.

  2. One more to go. That’s pretty much where I am with this show. Honestly, IMO the whole battle felt too scripted without any real tension. Worse, the show fell back on the twin writing evils of ass-pull and convenience. The first is by far the lowest hanging fruit – Haku is indeed immune to fire because… why the hell not at this point? Only one more episode left so why bother with attention to details? *sigh*. Then there’s the twins “mask off” power where I indeed had the thought “NOW you bring this up!?” How convenient – both in timing and limited effect.

    The idea of the “Chains” (twins) being some sort of “emergency safety valve” for mask users running amok is actually a good idea. The execution/presentation, however, leaves something to be desired. Putting the convenient timing aside, it’s certainly more “sort of kind of, but not entirely” than I would have thought. OK, Vurai is “un-monsterized” but some of the mask’s powers were still there. Perhaps some might think I’m persnickety with this, but if I try to take things seriously and put myself in the shoes of the Emperor (who made the masks), well, I’d want my “safety valve” to work completely. So JMO, but the “sort of kind of but not really” result just makes the fight feel all the more scripted, perhaps trying to add “tension” to a fight which didn’t have all that much to begin with.

    It also lets Oshu get the killing blow (maybe – see below on that) rather than the twins finish the battle. It also gives Haku a chance to something actually useful (can’t leave out our protagonist), and uh…show off his fire immunity. *sigh, again*. Heck, even gives Nekone a chance to make her own contribution. So all “is” dotted, “ts” crossed, and boxes checked. Huge deal? No, but I do think it could have played out better than it did with a modicum of effort.

    It does seem like Oshu is dying/dead (can’t see why else Nekone starts crying, though Haku seemed oddly nonchalant about the whole thing). But please, please do NOT have Vurai still alive after this. Look, we all saw his Terminator eyes go dark, and this isn’t a Terminator movie where he/it should be able to rise again after some emergency circuit rerouting. If that guy is still alive, then WTF!?!? in caps, bold and italics. Surely, the writers can do better than that. No, wait. I’m not taking that bet.

    The rest was OK I guess. I had a similar thought to Stilts’ comment about collateral damage. You’d think someone like Oshu would care about that. Oh, those pesky details again. Vurai’s “rationale” does fit with his character (survival/rule of the strongest), but his repeated claims of doing the “Emperor’s will” (said that at least twice I believe) were pretty laughable IMO. Right, so…. you’re doing the “Emperor’s will” by, at the very least, deposing his designated heir to the throne if not adding regicide on top of it. Yep, nothing but loyalty there. [/sarcasm]. I do give him some credit because if he did become Emperor, then he would indeed be following the Emperor’s will. Quite the simple solution. It’s just all the usurping and regicide before that. Damn, details once again.

    Even if Vurai does survive, good luck with the rest your usurping, “just doing what’s best for Yamato” cohorts. I believe their plan was to kill the winner of the fight anyway. Having the “pillars” start to scheme and backstab themselves in a power grab could make for an interesting story line, but alas, only one episode to go and we need to set up for Season 3 – Where the Story Actually Plays Out™

    1. The Emperor is already giving his trust into Haku’s hands. He gave these “Fail save” Chain sisters into his command. And Haku now decided to use it. it is not that he realized it from the start. But perhaps even the sisters noticed that the City would be destroyed in their Battle, so they gave him the wisdom of this Fail Save, and he used it (the inner monologue let me assume this)

      Haku is already playing into the cards of the Emperor

      also, with the masks chained, they save Budget, too

  3. The one thing that I kept thinking throughout that entire fight scene was

    Man, this might actually be entertaining if I actually gave a crap about any of these characters.

  4. I think I share the same sentiment of some of the other viewers when I say “Just one more episode.”
    Which is really a shame, since I really loved the first series. It’s just like you said before Stilts. Maybe the reason Itsuwari No Kamen doesn’t give us a lot is because it’s an Utawarerumono series. Maybe it’s just a middle stuffing that serves as a build up for the next series. In which case, perhaps I could be forgiving if the next series is much greater, but until that happens (when it happens), I won’t be looking back at this series with deep fondness.

  5. How convenient that the two magic girls that have been following them around all of this time just happen to be able to seal away a masks power and how INCREDIBLY inconvenient that they decided to wait mid giant monster battle to inform anyone of the fact. Neither of them thought it might be a little bit important to mention this the second they ran into Vurai?

  6. The only thing I can think of them not mentioning the chains until now, is simply because those chains can only be used after the masks are used.

    Also… One more episode before how it probably plays out is how I think it will play out.

    Dorian S.
  7. In terms of Oshutoru probably dying, there was also the attempted warning from Nekone about him using the mask’s power while he was in his already-injured state.

    As for the twins, the only teeny tiny break I’m willing to cut them for the uber-convenience of their mask-sealing ability is the fact that…well…they’re pretty much just drones who don’t seem to throw out information unless someone somehow prompts them to.

    “Why didn’t you tell us that before?!”

    “Because you did not ask.”

    …something like that I guess. Otherwise, for an episode that is obviously meant to be more climactic, tense, and so on, because of everything else this episode and last episode, it just falls flat on its face.

  8. Interesting I figured out the “Chains” could take out a mask user when Vurai full power punch was blocked by them way back in the destruction of the boarder town. The only thing I was surprised by is that their ability was weaker than the Onkamiyamuki in shutting down mask users.

    Now they could not do the shut down move until the troops were removed from the field of battle by all the power attacks. Otherwise the troops get engaged in killing or capturing them. But that would have been more realistic if they had said so at the start of the battle. But like in Heavy Object this week doing things the right way lowers the drama, I’d rather have it done right than the more drama way as the unrealistic way it done I pick up on. In heavy Object they could have had the villain launch a cyber attack by radio before the hero’s reach the radio transmitter but instead the hero’s had the idiot ball and not take out the transmitter instead confronting the villain in the building he was transmitting from so they could have a dramatic send out attack with the hero’s in the room.

    Recently read easy on how Samwise is the real hero of the Lord of the Rings and after reading it I have to agree. But the fact that Sam is always putting himself in the subordinate role to Frodo, being just the servant often, Frodo overshadows Sam even though Sam is the only one not seriously tempted by the ring and Frodo does not succeed without Sam. Here the “Chains” needed someone to conflict with that they would have been free to show their personality of faithful servants by choice but still having a identity. Now I agree with Stilts the I live to serve personality bugs us somewhat even though we know people do exist with that personality and are only content when they can serve.
    Some jealous interaction from the other girls with the Chains with the Chains snarking back inferences how fun the sex with Haku was would have been great, unfortunately this second series borrowed from the first and leaves the hero’s sex life unstated even though it is clear at least with the Chains he is getting some. Or at least some Kuon pinning down that the Chains really freely loved doing what they did in a chat, they sure had the time to put something like that in by removing some fluff. (Bonus points of Kuon then jumped on Haku to mark a claim but a show with plenty of boy on boy inferences was so tame on the boy girl stuff.)

    1. @RedRocket: “OT”, but in regard to what you said about Samwise in LOTR – yes and no. From what I’ve read, Samwise was written as a British WWI “batman” type character in his relationship to Frodo (Tolkien drawing upon his WWI experience). No question he played a key role in the outcome, but stating that “Sam is the only one not seriously tempted by the ring” is a superficial analysis. Aragorn for one wasn’t tempted (unlike Borormir), but putting him aside, the comparison errs because it ignores the massive difference in time each were ring bearers. It was how many months for Frodo vs. what, hours for Samwise? Just not an “apples to apples” comparison, especially since the ring eats away at you mentally the longer you wear it.

      Back on topic, I agree that this episode definitely went for “increased drama” which is why I used the term “scripted” in my post above. Frankly, that not only includes the timing of the twins “BTW, we can ‘shut down’ the masks”, but also the fact that they could not shut down Vurai’s mask entirely. It’s one of those “storytelling decisions” IMO. An entirely logical/realistic (no “idiot ball”) portrayal could be too short & perfunctory (i.e. boring) of an outcome (then again, a good writer would make the setup avoid that). On the other hand, go for too much fake “drama” and that can backfire as well. IMO, ideally you keep it as logical/realistic as possible, but if you still need to add “drama spice”, then be judicious in how much you apply so as not to unduly challenge a viewer’s/reader’s suspension of disbelief.

      Oh, it also helps if the story builds up some “credit” with viewers/readers along the way in the event the story does push things too far. That’s one problem with Itsuwari no Kamen. It’s long past used up any credit it might have had with me (thanks to the first season), so I’m not in a forgiving mood to let stuff slide anymore.

    2. @RedRocket

      Having the characters act reasonably or raising the tension/drama is a false choice. The characters ought to do the reasonable thing (except in comedies or with character reasons for the bad decisions, obviously), but you should also have the tension/drama. The key is to cut yourself off from the easy (stupid) paths, and then say: “What’s left?” You might have written yourself into a corner, but often there’s a way. Ya just gotta get more creative about it.

      Of course, that’s hard and time consuming. It can be screwed up even by solo writers of prodigious skill. Writing a script by committee raises the chances of fzcking it up.

      @RedRocket @daikama

      The whole “Sam as the hero” discussion is interesting, though like daikama, I don’t entirely buy it. Or rather, claiming he’s the “real” hero seems pointless to me. There’s no real hero. All those who act heroically are heroes, and both Frodo and Sam are both point of view protagonists at different times.

      That doesn’t mean Sam isn’t awesome. He is. The fact that he bears the ring for any amount of time and gives it up is impressive, even if daikama is right and it doesn’t have as much time to eat away at him. I just don’t think there’s an answer to this issue. Asking the question opens up interesting lines of thought, though.

      And aye, daikama. It’s a useful thing to have some benefit of the doubt in the reader’s mind. Alas, Itsuwari no Kamen squandered much of what Utawarerumono gifted it. The third game(/anime) might gain some of that back out of optimism, but it’s going to have to earn most of it itself.

      1. Upon thinking this is sort of what real hero means as well. Sam and Frodo were a team and both great hero’s. I went skimpy on the essay arguments of which one was Sam was the last scene in the books the argument in part being a story component one. I am more in to say both were great hero’s it just that normally Sam is ignored compared to Frodo when his deeds were roughly equal at least. Aragon knew he could not touch the ring not the trial of actually having the ring and giving it up.

        Very good point on committee writing and writing under pressure. I also seen the error in multi book series where the author forgets things that were pointed out in earlier books making the drama later false. Sort of want to say, hey have a group of smart fans who can nit pick but also suggest creative ways around the blocking elements that don’t blow it with unbelievable tricks. Another name for this type of fan, good fanwankers.

      2. @Stilts: Re. LOTR, I think you have the right idea – heroes (plural) because the LOTR is very much a collective effort. It’s also a story with a lot of “butterfly wings” or “domino” effect going back all the way to The Hobbit and Bilbo not killing Gollum when he had the chance. If you delve into the story, it’s quite amazing how Tolkien is able to have so many cause & effect threads feel so utterly natural (apposite of “scripted”). All the characters stay in their lanes (though it is also arguably a very “black and white”/”good vs. evil” story without any significant “gray” characters). I agree it’s impressive that Samwise can wear (not just carry) the ring and return it to Frodo, but I don’t think that diminishes the others resisting the temptation to obtain it (e.g. Gandalf, Galadriel, Aragorn and even “lowly” Faramir who could have derailed the entire quest had he been the same as foil/brother Boromir). There is wisdom in what they do (IIRC, Galadriel says “she passes her test” or something like that when offered the ring). So yes, a number of “heroes” who all play their necessary part in the outcome.

        As for this show/series, you raise a very good point about Season 3 and going into that. IMO, this season did not do Season 3 any favors in terms of garnering interest and benefit of the doubt (“credit”). Season 3 will have to earn its own way.

    3. I agree on the foreshadowing on the twins’ power; with a title like “priestesses of chains” (not 100% exact but close enough I believe), having blocked Vurai before and the kind of person the emperor is/was I thought them being able to fight the power of masks was pretty obvious. Their role really wasn’t hard to guess from the few hints given (and ironically enough, them being so uncharacterized makes it kind of obvious in hindsight they were a kind of plot coupon). However, the foreshadowing happened too long ago it was easy to forget. And the twins’ magic being near useless for much of the second half of the season didn’t help there.

      The scene was still stupid with how long the twins took to mention it, even if it does somewhat fall in line with how furniture-like they are. Also, I would put some of the blame on the emperor for never telling Haku why he gave them to him. Considering he should have known the kind of character those two are, he really should have said something…

  9. In the games Vurai never even approved of Anju being Empress at all. To him Mito was the one and only Emperor of Yamato who could never be replaced by anyone else. In addition, Vurai was led to believe Oshutoru’s guilty of his crimes, proving Vurai had no other ulterior motives of his own.

  10. Question for those who’ve played the game: is Haku being fireproof a reference to an in-game mechanic? I remember the first game had elements for each character with strengths and weaknesses, so if Haku resists fire then I guess that kinda explains that scene. That’s the only semi-logical reason for that, and even then it would be a bad justification for anyone who hasn’t played.

    Seemed pretty clear to me that Oshutoru is dying, and Haku is probably the only one there who doesn’t realize it. Felt like Oshutoru didn’t want a sappy ending, so he’s gonna reach his end while having a laid-back conversation with Haku, either fading into glittery dust, or Haku waiting for a response and finally looking over to see him dead.

    1. he do not resists fire… it is more simple (well in my minds conclusion)

      Show Spoiler ▼

      inside is my conclusion and speculation

  11. https://randomc.net/image/Utawarerumono/Utawarerumono%20Itsuwari%20no%20Kamen%20-%2024%20-%20Large%2042.jpg

    it was rubble shifting on the mask, rather than Vurai’s body
    (which itself mysteriously disappeared)
    maybe someone will come to pick up his legacy?
    (though I would presume Emperor should have at least the sense to DNA-code masks for sole user)

    that aside I am more interested in other generals out there – Raikou, our resident chessmaster looks like very suspect for the poisoning of the princess
    especially as he casually mentioned finishing off the survivor of the fight and explicitly forbade
    Mikazuchi (who seems most decent of the bunch) to stop the fight (in order to save civilians)…

    With Oshutoru fugitive, Vurai KIA and Munechika MIA that leaves 7 possible pretenders to throne.
    Atui’s and Kiuru’s fathers dont seem suspect at the moment, as does Mikazuchi.
    Dekoponpo is too incompetent to be mastermind of the poisoniong plot,
    That leaves apart from The Chessmaster, The Mysterious Poet Speaking in Riddles and one more region-commander not present at the moment.

    Kamunagi of chains really got short end of the stick in this series, saddled with doll-like servile personalities, skimpy fanservice outfits, and now I am afraid they might even be dead (we have not seen them recovering after battle with Haku and rest)

    1. Mikazuch is the last one of these 4 Element Mask users. So, do the other Generals also have Masks of their own? Do not they begin to fear or envy the power of the last mask User to get rid of an possible next Emperor candidate?

      we are entering the after death of Carl the great, where internal power struggles destroy his legacy

    1. Well, they get rid of (the best) 3 pillars, Haku has an harem and Kuon is OP and pervy.
      “Luckily” instead, the gay magician and General Idiot are still there.
      Looks all right to me. :/


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