I tried to distract myself the entire day, knowing that Rakugo Shinjuu was reaching its end. But then it came, all too suddenly.

First off, I didn’t cry with this episode like in the previous two–but I think that’s more because this was a wholly positive experience that didn’t play much to the dramatics. It was close to perfect, but it wasn’t quite there. I’ll get to that in a moment… but first, let’s talk about that timeskip.

Rakugo Shinjuu loves jumping in time, and it does it better than any other anime I’ve come across. It blends seasons together in seconds like magic, and here we’re transported 16 years later in what appears to be modern day, and it still feels like we’ve only missed a few stops on the bus journey. As last week’s preview gave away, we see Shin as a young adult, and his younger sister, Koyuki, who has her mother’s looks and her father’s energy. As for Shin, the first thing that struck me was how uncanny the resemblance was between him and Yakumo in his youth. More on that in a bit…

Likewise, it was a treat to see middled-aged Yotaro and Konatsu, who seem even more in love than ever before. As you’d expect in an epilogue episode like this, we are caught up to speed with where these characters are now, and it all feels so well-earned, like Konatsu being the first female rakugo performer, or Yotaro transitioning from the Sukeroku name to becoming the 9th Yakumo. I did wonder whether Konatsu would take the 9th Yakumo place, but as Yotaro points out, it’s perhaps better for both names that one becomes the other–that they live on forevermore as one and the same. Not only have our characters changed and risen in the ranks, but rakugo has finally entered the modern world, and it seems to be reaching new highs. As Yotaro points out, there are over 150 performers–young and old, male and female, from the east and west–and together they’ve made sure the art form didn’t die with the man who was so keen to take it with him to the grave. But Yakumo can take pride in his selfish wishes knowing that change did not occur until he passed on. As long as he lived, rakugo did not change. He stood in its path, and everyone waited, out of respect and love, even when others were prepared to move on. It wasn’t until passed away on that porch that rakugo could truly flourish and reach new heights.

Seeing Shin perform was another treat I was hoping for. Short lived as it was, it’s clear his listening to Yakumo’s recordings on his smartphone pays off in his rakugo, as he carries himself in much the same fashion. He may not have found a rakugo this is his quite yet, but seeing his first major performance like this was more than a enough. If I were to be picky, I’d have Konatsu get to perform in front of the crowd, as the theatre is finally up and running again and things are feeling oh so familiar. But instead we get treated to one final performance of Shinigami, this time by Yotaro, who seems like the least likely to take on such a challenging and serious story. But as I expected from the moment he began, Yakumo appeared just as Miyokichi did to him, leaving Yotaro dripping with sweat, staring up in awe and horror. Thought there was a gentleness to Yakumo’s appearence, and it all ties in nicely with his own experiences leading up to this performance.

While this episode delivered a lot that we could have predicted (and wanted), Matsuda still being alive is not one that I was expecting. We were lead to believe he died and joined Yakumo in his final trip in the afterlife, but Matsuda must really have fallen asleep, as here he mentions the dream specifically. So that means that for a brief moment he did get to say his goodbyes, which also links the dreams in the Rakugo world to the afterlife, which is as interesting as it is confusing. But I’m glad Matsuda is still kicking (aged 95!), because with Yakumo now gone, who is more fit to reflect on the events of the entire series but the man who lived through both generations and lives to tell his memories under the evening cherry blossoms. The links to the past and present was so touching, and for a moment we were shown a peaceful time in what was otherwise plagued with inevitable tragedy. The two eras coming together in one final image is just what I wanted, and needed. I want to say it was perfect, but there was one reveal early in the episode that dampened my mood and prevented me from being completely in love with what we got.

It was all but revealed that Yakumo is in fact Shin’s father. After weeks of people suspecting that things weren’t as they seemed, it turns out to be true. But who saw this coming? Not many, I suspect. I thought it would be Yotaro’s aniki from the double-length premiere, not the man who raised Konatsu and was a father figure to her. I’m not going to lie, I am left a little disturbed by this information. It taints the relationships that we’ve established and grown familiar with, from Yakumo, to Konatsu, to Shin. For the first time in the series, I don’t like what we got. There has never been a moment where I had such an adverse reaction to a reveal, and having it come in what would have been an otherwise fitting and beautiful finale was a bummer. But to the series credit, this didn’t come out of nowhere. Rakugo Shinjuu is excellently written if nothing else, and there were hints throughout the series that many of us simply chose to ignore because the possibility of it seemed so absurd. When Yotaro confronted Sukeroku’s spirit in the first season’s finale, he mentioned that his best friend must hate him for what he did to his daughter, which likely refers to getting her pregnant. There was also that scene with Yakumo and the gangster boss when they mentioned the favour he had done for him, which I never read into… until now. Finally, there’s the scene early in the second season where Konatsu is lying with a young Shin and crying over Yakumo, which means so much more knowing that they’re the real parents, and explains why Yakumo loved the kid as much as he did. All things considered, it makes sense. It really does. But that doesn’t mean I like it. I would rather it remain subtext and have theorists debate it in years to come rather than have it affect the mood of this last episode. Never did I expect Rakugo Shinjuu would get the Usagi Drop treatment….

But thankfully, things end on a lovely note. Anytime we cut back to the cherry blossoms, it feels just right, and having Yotaro stand under them and say the final words about rakugo: “Something this good could never go away!”, is about as perfect of a final scene as we could ask for. It strikes to the core, and proves that all along this dying artform was never going to meet its end. Yotaro never believed it for a minute, and seeing it come back into popularity (as seems to be happening in real life), is as good as note to end on as any.


ED2 Sequence

Final Impressions:

I feel like I’ve run out of words by this point. The past two weeks were behemoths that took me to places few anime have gone before, and I had to much to say. With the death of Yakumo, it feels like the series truly ended last week (or perhaps even the week before). If it did, I would have been fine with that, but getting this epilogue is like a sweet desert to send us off in the best of moods. As mentioned above, the revelation of Shin’s true parents is the single issue I have with the series, but it’s enough that I unfortunately cannot call it my favourite anime ever, as I was prepared to do. Even so, this second season has been as close to perfection as possible, with each episode surpassing the last. It shouldn’t have been possible, but somehow my already high expectations were exceeded.

Where do I begin in wrapping up the series as a whole? What can I say that I haven’t already? It bares repeating, but Yakumo is still in my eyes the best anime character I’ve come across. His arc ended last week, as we chronicled his life from early childhood to his afterlife, and I don’t expect to find anything as epic, grand, emotional, and layered as we witnessed here. Kumota Haruko’s writing paired with Omata Shinichi’s directing makes for an experience like no other. I’ve showered both with praise of the the past year, and I’d just like to say once more that these two are tremendous talents that only make the industry a more exciting place. It goes without saying, but I’ll follow anything either is involved with, if only to see if I can come across something as exceptional as Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu once again.

It’s rare for something to be so grand and epic in scale, yet intimate and detailed with each passing moment. Rakugo Shinjuu found that balance, and it never lost its edge. I remember being blown away by the one-hour premiere over a year ago now, and somehow, I managed to fall in love with the show even more than I thought possible. It should go on record as one of the best anime has to offer. The subject matter may seem too niche for general audiences, but excellent storytelling surpasses boundaries and demographics. This is a true gem, a sheer miracle, an anime that justifies the medium’s existence. This couldn’t be told in any other way to the same effect, and being able to watch that unfold weekly and talk about it with you all has been a blessing.

I usually have so much to say with it comes to this series, but somehow I’m having difficult finding the right words to articulate my feelings. All I know is I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This has been the best show I’ve had the privledge of blogging on Random Curiosity. Every week it hit me, affected me, made me ponder, transported to this other world, this foreign artform, and fall in love with it. Week by week by week. I love Yakumo. I love Miyokichi. Sukeroku, Matsuda, Yotaro, Konatsu, Shin and now Koyuki. Experiencing their stories and baring witness to their lives has made my own more fulfilling. It’ll be a long time before I come across anything as moving, as beautiful, as close to perfection as Rakugo Shinjuu. And truthfully, I’m content with that. Here are the final words I can muster:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is finally over, and it’s one of the greatest anime I’ve watched. It managed to make every characters’ story important, as we explored a tragedy in backwards motion, bringing an obscure Japanese artform to life with some of the best directing I’ve seen. It never failed to impress. It’s a story that spans nearly a century; it’s epic in scope, but the beauty lies in every detail of this family’s legacy. But perhaps most daring of all, and befitting of its subject matter, Rakugo Shinjuu lied to us. It told the life of a master storyteller, and his many layers unravelled week by week, always prepared to give us more than we anticipated. Yuurakutei Yakumo lived a tragic life, and we witnessed it all from start to finish, and further beyond. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is a masterpiece, truly.

Thank you all for reading what I’ve had to say. It’s meant the world to me.


  1. It’s hard to find words that haven’t already been said about this series, so I’d just like to thank you, Samu, for covering both seasons of Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu here, on RC. Your reviews were always thoughtful analysis filled with love for this series and they were always entertaining to read. This was a great ride from start to finish and I do hope that we will see more shows that are this outstanding in the future, too.

    Faolin Eye
    1. I really appreciate that, thank you. I had so much to say, but after 25 episodes I think I’ve covered just about everything there is. Though probably not, there’s likely more layers I’ve yet to uncover. It’s a true gem.

  2. I was only began to suspect Shin’s true father as of last week with the preview and how much he bared resemblance to the young Kikuhiko (by the way how fitting it was for him to inherit the name!) Not so much in the bathhouse scene but now that you mention it, it does make sense! The reveal was rather shocking but I cannot hate it because it was something Konatsu wanted, oddly out of revenge against Yakumo (just like her mother). But I do get how you feel, it’s still rather weird. Nonetheless, this was the most beautiful series I have ever watched. Hands down a favorite that I will remember years down the road.
    The Cherry blossom scene, which connected all three (4?) generations really struck me. Couldn’t help but cry. Watching these three abandoned children, plagued by inevitable tragedy, build a family. Watching the family flourish and carry on their legacy. Oh shoot. Crying again.

  3. I agree with you Samu, this is truly one of the best anime I have ever seen, and I have no words for how much I loved this series. Thank you for blogging it as well! I loved reading your posts after watching each episode, and seeing how you interpreted the occurences in each one.

    As for the reveal of Shin’s parents… I also agree that it was a surprise and did spoil some of the dynamics in Konatsu and Yakumo’s relationship, but in hindsight I can’t say that it wasn’t very Shouwa Genrouku Rakugo Shinjuu-esque? For a series that explored the complexities of human nature and our relationships, it seems somewhat fitting for them to throw a curveball like that right at the last minute. Also, it ties in Yotaro (now Yakumo) saying “In life you run into all kinds of things you can never say. Us humans are hopeless things, aren’t we?” Although Konatsu all but reveals the truth of Shin’s heritage to Sensei, she does tell him that she will never pour water on the father-son relationship between Yotaro and Shin. In a way it shows how far she’s come in terms of her feelings towards Yakumo and Yotaro? She may have bore Shin out of spite initially, but he became the driving force for Yakumo’s will to live, and the uniting force for their family. I think I’m just babbling at this point, but basically even in this final episode we are reminded that although mistakes were made, through careful consideration of those involved a happy ending can be achieved?

    1. So true. Without Shin, Yakumo wouldn’t have the will to live, and they (Konatsu & Yakumo) were able to make amends by the end. The ending just live up to its reputation. I’ve been getting all the hints about this season 1. Konatsu neither confirmed nor denied Shin’s paternity but even if it’s Yakumo, so what. At least a part of both, Sukeroku and Yakumo will live on and not just in rakugo.

  4. Honestly what surprised me the most was why didn’t I notice it sooner? After that reveal and looking at shin more closely it makes so much more sense, but it doesn’t help how icky I felt after the reveal. It totally changes the dynamic between Konatsu and Yakumo and I dislike that I have to re-contextualize that relationship. Then again Yotaro did say that some things are better left as secrets so perhaps that is where the truth will remain. While I do not want to justify Yakumo after this reveal, but it just further displays how complicated of a person he was and that even after his death we are still finding out more about him even though its not the greatest of lights. He was a flawed person that express every human emotion throughout the series so in that respect he is so worthy analysis.

    In the end Yakumo and Sukeroku are forever tied together whether in rakugo, their love for each other, or their family relationships. It brings genuine joy and annoyance (in regards to Konatsu and Yakumo) to me that the love between these two created a family that will live on for generations. I mean this episode didn’t really feel like a finale it felt like there was still more to tell so I guess that is a fitting “ending” for rakugo there is always a story to tell that is never unending.

  5. Really did not expect them to pull an Usagi Drop at the end there. Granted I always suspected that Shin’s biological father wasn’t really the gang boss, I had thought it would turn out to be Yota’s aniki instead.

    Still, this will definitely go down as one of the best anime I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and one of the best that the medium has to offer imo.

  6. “There are things that are meant to be a secret.”
    That’s one thing I have proved from watching this spectacular anime. It’s a spiral of secrets and stories of wonderful people from the past to the present. I am so happy that it ended well, no loose strings, all tied up well. I’m so happy that I was able to watch this anime. This is one of the anime that I will watch again and say, “Ah, this long ride called life, it’s so fun to watch.” This is not watching an anime but watching a person’s life pass by and appreciate the beauty and brings through secrets, stories, culture and time. Thank you, Samu. I enjoyed reading your entry every week. I am looking forward to the next story that will unfold on the same level as this one. The best anime of the season closed it’s curtain, it was the show of the decade that touched all of our hearts and made us say, “Something this good could never go away.”

    Nyurufufu no fu
    1. It is indeed poetic that both Konatsu and Yotaro are now taking secrets to the grave, much like Yakumo himself. It’s fitting, so I can’t completely hate this development, because it makes so much sense.

      And thank you!

  7. It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve started watching anime on regular basis, and since then I watched tons of better and worse shows. Over that time I got my best of the best picks, but now Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu simply surpassed them all. I am neither really good writer nor speaker, so I don’t think I can find better words for describing my feelings towards this show than what was already mentioned in the main post and comments below. So this won’t be too long from me.

    I need to admit, I wasn’t completely convinced when the second season started, as the first one was already my best pick of the year and obviously I got my expectations higher than ever. I was worried how it will handle things after having such an amazing first part. But not only my expectations were met, the Sukeroku Futatabi-hen even exceeded them by miles and especially these last three episodes managed to produce something I’ve never seen before. Overall, it’s been just a really unique and pleasant experience. Not only a magnificent story, but also a complete one – which is important for me, since I am becoming sick of these one cour shows, just having a role to be an ad for a novel or manga, leaving an open ending and not concluding anything in the end.

    Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu told a beautiful and complete story of a man, who fell for Rakugo and devoted his life to it. Because of his fate, personality, attitude towards other people and rakugo itself, following his life was more captivating than one could imagine. That delivered one of the best main characters in the history of anime and I say it with no single doubt.

    That’s all from me, thank you Samu for covering this and last season, I don’t think there was anyone better to cover it than you. As always it was even greater pleasure to watch this piece of art with following your posts, even though I didn’t involve myself into discussions as much as I would like to. Shows like these just prove to me, that anime is getting better and better these days, despite of what some people may say.

  8. First, I really want to thank you for taking the time to document this masterpiece. If it wasn’t for your posts, I never would have decided to watch the show on a weekly basis. I was originally going to binge watch this last year, but after the first post went up, I had to watch it weekly. This show is surely something special. It has officially cemented on my top five anime of all time.

    I feel like last week’s episode should have been the ending. This episode surely felt rushed compared to every other episode in this series. I’m very disappointed we couldn’t hear Konatsu do rakugo, but it was a blessing to see Shin followed in his parents foot steps. Speaking of Shin, I’m honestly not surprised Yakumo is his father. I was convinced he was ever since the scene with Yakumo trying to apologize at the grave. Viagra must work wonders.

    I am disappointed Matsuda is still alive. Although I love him, it felt fitting for him to die when Yakumo did. He’s watched three of his masters die, and since he’s been with Yakumo this whole time… yeah. It pains me to see him still alive without him. Let alone living sixteen years past his death.

    But overall, I absolutely love this show. Everything we had until the ending was perfection in my eyes. This series as a whole gets a 10/10 out of me.

    1. Thank you! It means a lot to know my posts pushed you to watch it weekly. Likewise, everything leading up to this finale was perfect, and it only just fell short of it in the end. But still, what a series.

  9. Shouwa really is a piece of art! Samu, thank you so much for your insight! This was a good ride, I can only hope another show will come and be as special as this one was for me. Either way, I’ll love Shouwa for a very long time. 🙂

  10. now we FINALLY KNOW how old matsuda is. At last!!!!!! I was starting to wonder if he was immortal or somesort.
    I also loved how Yotaro was showing off his fully colored tattoo during the opening parade.

    Truly, Samu, thank you for blogging this show every week, it was truly a joy to not only watch the episodes but see your reviews, and the comments of others in the discussions here. I nearly did not even watch it until seeing your post for the premiere! Boy am I glad that it changed my mind.

    As for Yakumo being revealed as Shin’s father, I agree it is quite a curveball to get thrown at us at the last moment. At the same time, it is also perfect in just how much it changes some things- giving myself an excellent excuse to re-watch the entire series again to see how this changes how I perceived Konatsu’s and Yakumo’s interactions. I think it testifies to how well put together Shouwa Genroku is put together that one brief scene can change so much yet make it more obvious in hindsight how the previous episodes had hinted at this.

    It truly has been a wonderful 24 episodes.

  11. – Matsuda’s “death” was a lie
    – The nonsensical revisionisms regarding Sukeroku’s and Miyokichi’s deaths
    – Yakumo literally banged his best friend’s daughter that he himself raised in the most insane and unnecessary twist of all time.

    Well, still a great show but… I don’t even know what to say. The second half was a mistake and I don’t think I’ll ever want to rewatch it again.

  12. I recently read an article in ANN that really describes why incest (or inter-family relations) is something prevalent in anime, and while I guess this still leaves a bit of distaste to the viewer, I think context of Japanese culture is fairly important to understand (and given that Rakugo Shinjuu is also historical, things like Yakumo being the actual child of Shinnosuke might make a bit of sense).


    And also a link to Japanese Incestual Relationships in history:


    1. And it also fits the series context’s of having so many of these secrets that they would never talk about! So while distasteful, I honestly don’t think of it as the series making a mistake

    2. Interesting reads. At the very least Yakumo and Konatsu weren’t blood related, but it’s still irksome to think about. It’s not the first time it’s happened in anime, and it certainly won’t be the last.

      1. We may not like it, but is not like we couldn’t understand how they did it.
        For us, readers, was unnecessary, Yotaro would certainly guarantee that Rakugo would survive. But for them both, it was the only way to tried to save Rakugo and keep the two rakugokas alive. Japanese culture kinda of accept that some people are “special”, so even with Yotaro there wasn’t the same thing, he isn’t “special” like the two masters.
        Konatsu and Kiku wanted the heritage of Sukeroku, Miyokichi and he to continue,so the made a kid, just that and continued to be daughter and fathers. It’s a very particular thing that happened.

        Again, for us readers/watchers it really wasn’t necessarily, but it’s a japanese thing.

        And Samu… you’re going away to?
        Parting with a high note…
        Don’t know what to say.
        Take care.

  13. Never did I expect Rakugo Shinjuu would get the Usagi Drop treatment…

    Exactly. The father insinuation really downgrades the show for me… It runs against the characterization of both parties we’ve been seeing through the series. Oh, the yakuza subplot would make no sense now. Good job, Yota for making a scene and fighting for the future of Konatsu’s child – all of that was for nothing, it seems. So yeah, I’m not buying it, it seems so random I can’t treat it seriously.

    When Yotaro confronted Sukeroku’s spirit in the first season’s finale, he mentioned that his best friend must hate him for what he did to his daughter, which likely refers to getting her pregnant.

    I’ve always thought he meant clipping Konatsu’s wings – never letting her practice rakugo, which she so loved? Then (because Yakumo was a shitty father substitute) she was on a path of failure and damena onna, getting pregnant outside of marriage (and possibly with a yakuza member) until Yota saved her, by always standing by her side and supporting her.

    explains why Yakumo loved the kid as much as he did

    Come on. Now you’re simply stating that blood bonds are somehow “better” and more precious than relationships we choose for ourselves. Yakumo dearly loved Sukeroku and Miyokichi and it would be only natural for him to extend that love onto their grandson? He definitely got softer with age, took an apprentice even though he had never done it before etc.

  14. I certainly wasn’t expecting Shin’s parentage to be so blatently discussed and solved! Especially given the way other secrets on the show were revealed only after going through many loops and layers! I’m a little surprised since grown up Shin’s outfit and glasses made me think of Mangetsu initially.
    While Yakumo x Konatsu is a strange pairing (puts into perspective why he saw Konatsu as Miyo when he collapsed… and why Konatsu said “I’m a slave to my blood after all”…), I think that labeling their relationship as being father-daughter is a little much. Sure Yakumo was her legal guardian and gave her shelter, food, clothes and so on but from my point of view Konatsu has only ever considered one person her father aka Sukeroku. I also question whether Yakumo ever saw Konatsu as “his” child but rather always as the child of his lost lover and lost best friend. The “hate” for Yakumo that Konatsu constantly declared must have prevented any true parent-child bond to ever form. That being said, the juxtaposition of the parent-child relationship between Yotaro and Shin to that of Yakumo and Konatsu makes for an interesting contrast. In my opinion it emphasizes the idea that bonds (outside of blood defined ones) between two people exist only if they are reciprocated from both ends. If a man and a child are related by blood there’s no way by choice to deny it. For a man and child not related by blood they have the freedom and choice if and how that father-child bond might form.
    This brings me back to Yotaro’s comment after the gang boss confrontation where he says something like “as long as you both wanted it then it’s fine”. I see Yakumo and Konatsu getting involved as the culmination of their angst against each other and in a strange way, the reason why they both were finally able to move on from the tragic past. Strange, yes but fitting that Shin has both Sukeroku and Yakumo lineage in him. That also plays nicely with the idea of “Sukeroku becoming Yakumo” as being the best homage to those two men. At the beginning of Shin’s life he was “Sukeroku” to all those around him as Yakumo was still alive. As an adult after Yakumo’s death he finally becomes “Yakumo” to all those around him and as such, “Sukeroku to Yakumo” lives true in both Shin AND Yotaro, giving them an additional bond (perhaps almost as undeniable as blood bonds) as father and child.
    Anyhow, I’ve never commented on here before but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed following your coverage of both seasons Samu! Thanks for the great screenshots and thorough reviews. The passion you had for this series really came through and convinced me to give it another go after letting the first season go on the back burner! Thanks for your hard work and dedication! Best wishes!!

    1. Ooh, I also meant to say that Shin has not only Sukeroku and Yakumo lineage but also Miyo lineage! Which is fitting since we all know how central of a figure Miyo was to Sukeroku being Sukeroku and Yakumo being Yakumo. If anything, what better of a way to wrap up a love triangle tragedy…!

  15. First of all, I think we should consider that Konatsu never directly stated that Yakumo is Shin’s father. She could be purposefully deceptive towards the sensei, who-remember-has a penchant for dramatizing and overthinking, especially when it comes to Yakumo. Although I will admit that Shin is the splitting image of Bon, that could also be the author messing with us, because his hair is still similar to the gang boss’s. From the quality of the writing of the show, I don’t think it’s as simple as the characters are making it out to be. They even ended the show with, “some things are better left unsaid,” which I think applies to the audience as well as the characters. Also, impregnating his best friend’s daughter is completely out of character for Yakumo, who holds himself to the highest esteem and discipline, and who also refused Miyokichi’s advances even when she practically threw herself at him. Anyway, even if Yakumo is Shin’s father, it wouldn’t change the way I see him and Konatsu. They both obviously had their reasons for doing what they did, and this show wonderfully illustrates the complexity of human relationships.

  16. Regarding the “revelation”… I think the fact Konatsu refuses to confirm or deny the suggestion is pretty important, and taking it for granted as truth is the wrong way to go. Here we have a character who has spent much of the series poking his nose into everything (even if he isn’t a bad guy by any means), trying to pry out a secret. By refusing to answer clearly, I feel like Konatsu is saying “you can question it as much as you like, but it really doesn’t matter, and I won’t satisfy you by giving an answer”.

    Similar to the debate over the previous episode about whether there the afterlife and the supernatural canonically exists – it’s just another means to tell the story and make the audience think. But I’m convinced that for these questions, there is no real answer – they will always be a secret, which fits with a lot of what was said in this episode.

    Maybe Matsuda knows though. He’s seen it all.


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