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63 reviews in total 
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Actually Rather Clever, 15 May 2015

Five Nights at Freddy's or FNAF as sometimes shortened has taken the gaming world by storm it seems as a breakthrough hit of 2014 and a new darling of the independent scene. The game a simple point and click survival game seems pretty simple but has enough layers of complexities to make it interesting.

With all the buzz and hype surrounding it and a very passionate and vocal fanbase around it, it's no doubt causing enough of the love-it-or-hate it rift among gamers, with some saying this is incredible and other saying it's the worst thing to happen to games. Here is my take. Yes I do enjoy these series of games and this one caught me by surprise.

Survival Horror games lately have been something of a dying breed as the technology of games has improved incredibly the need of suspense has gone with it. Flashy graphics, high quality animations have subverted the need for old time spooky feelings. FNAF however is survival horror at its very basic because all you can do is survive.

While it is easy to write FNAF off as simply a game of nothing more than cheap jump-scares and it has plenty of them, the suspense of the game lies in playing with your auditory senses, before the robots come to scare you and your reflexes as you use only a few basic measures to keep your self alive. You don't walk around, you don't blast away zombies or other monsters, you sit and you open and close doors, check cameras to keep tabs on your foes and hold out enough power. It doesn't sound the most riveting but its the simplicity that captures the imagination. It's a very back to basics form of gaming that's been lost in the era of highly bloated budgeted games.

The scare factor wears off as the nights progress and FNAF becomes less of a scary game and more of a game of luck and stress management, especially when you delve into the extremely difficult mode by setting all AI program levels to max. Your patience and your tolerance for loud screeching sounds will be tested and for someone like me who has never been a fan of purely luck driven games somehow I managed to still find it enjoyable.

FNAF can scare you, bore you or just catch your imagination with the absurd amount of lore surrounding this game. Fans have really elevated a simple concept with a horrifying in-universe back story and Scott Cawthon has been all to happy to oblige by expanding on this and giving just enough taste of mystery and suspense to keep us coming for more.

Creatively Bankrupt, 29 April 2015

Roger Ebert famously wrote on the movie North how much he "hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it."

That sums up perfectly how I felt about Dragonar Academy. I hated this series so much I had to write a quick review about how utterly disgusted I was when the series began. Now months later here's a re-write giving a little more detail about why this show is truly as terrible as it is even though the rest of the reviews are throwing roses to it and it somehow managed a shockingly high 7.8 score.

Dragonar Academy is awful. If you're the type to enjoy shows like these then maybe it's for you but if you are looking for something even remotely entertaining stay away from this garbage. Dragonar Academy was produced by newcomer C-Station and directed by Shunsuke Tada of the Tsubasa Chronicle video series and Kuroko's Basketball.

I didn't have high expectations going onto this but I was curious and much of my morbid curiosity stemmed from the fact C-Station was once apart of Bee Train, a studio that many have come to hate over the years but I still remain a fan today for their vast and highly imaginative works. By 2012 however it seemed Bee Train made a quiet retreat from the business with it's aged founder and director likely retiring and this sub studio breaking out on their own.

Anime is full clichés that never seem to die and Dragonar Academy is so packed full of them it shows just how void this show is of any shred of creativity or imagination. Count them, Giant bouncing breasts on all women characters, naked magic girls showing up from nowhere and mood swinging characters and that's just scratching the surface of all the stupid tropes that are ripe and abound in this series.

As C-Station's first produced effort, it's a marginal failure on just about everything it sets out to do. Taking from probably equally lazy source material, the scripts written by Noboru Kimura are shoddy and thrown together with no thought or effort behind them. Many tropes from Mai-Hime, which Kimura wrote the manga for, are present in this it feels like deja vu all over again. Basically this amounts to being a fantasy slapped into school setting for no good reason.

There's a large cast of cookie cutter characters that will bore you with just how uninspired they are. We have Ash Blake, typical do-gooder-main character, Silvia whom feels like she might have some depth but in the end is only a shallow attempt at depth, her loyal maid servant who clearly is supposed to be clever and in on some grand scheme and Echo the dragon, a girl with no concept of any of our silly "Human Standards" as an excuse for her to be brash and walk around naked when the producers feel like it. This show is a cliché of clichés and this is barely forgivable from a group of first time creators but this comes from several long time animators.

Topping off this we're treated to many moments of soft core tentacle porn, a trope you thought would have died out in the 80s but somehow has found a modern revival. Between Ash being molested in his dreams and given oral sex and the moments of tentacle molestation of our characters I'm surprised the producers didn't just opt to make this a porn and call it a day. There's so much fan service and tentacle action you'd swear that ARMS Company the makers of Queens Blade and Elfen Lied were the ones animating this series.

The series animation and art is just as lazy with ugly looking dragons to top off the grossly exaggerated character designs. One would think with a show centered all around dragons it would be the one thing you could get right. Half the time you won't see any dragons and it will be mostly focused on whatever lame slice-of-life scenarios ripped from every other show of it's kind. The dragons are oddly colored and look like they're stained in hard water spots you'd find on a mirror and the character animation is laughable. I'll admit I do like some of the designs namely of Anya and Silvia but that's about it.

The music was about the only thing memorable about it, at least the score was, the theme songs were typical J-pop song that feels the need to shore-horn in the entire cast for some odd reason. I can't imagine every seiyu in Japan has singing talent, yet it seems every anime that features a pop opening has to use its cast for some reason; another thing that really needs to go away.

Dragonar Academy has to be the most uninspired, unoriginal, unimaginative, most creatively bankrupt show I've seen. With its cast of clichéd, cookie-cutter-anime stereotypes, terrible character designs terrible animation and over the top pointless nudity and sexual content it wouldn't surprise me if it's source material was just as lazy. Beating down dead tropes that have saturated the market of the last several years alone and still going. This is a show that would barely make the grade for a crappy one episode direct-to-video, forget a 12 episode season.

Perhaps it's not fair to compare or expect C-Station to be the successor to a studio I adored which made most of its work with the very auteur director Koichi Mashimo but it goes even beyond Bee Train now as we are seeing the potential end of Studio Ghibli and in this era of remakes, reboots and horrid stuff like Dragonar Academy we need these creative forces more than ever but as long as the otaku keep running things expect more light novel adaptations but hopefully those will have a little less soft core and a little more plot.

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Mediocer Attempt of Being A Dark Edgy Answer to Card Games, 28 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With the overwhelming success of Puella Magi Madoka Magica it was inevitable that the copycats were going to start coming. Then enter the Wixoss series a series not only built to push merchandise but also be the dark and edgy answer to card game and tournament based shows the way Madoka Magica was for Magical Girl shows.

Produced by J.C. Staff the and split into two series, the first series known as Selector Infected WIXOSS delves into a popular card game played by teenagers known as you guessed it, WIXOSS. The second series then picks up shortly after the events of the first series to delve deeper into the psyche of the games and the girls who play them. At least it would if this show had a good script.

The plot of WIXOSS is a fairly messy. From the unanswered questions about our main character to why the game only seems to appeal to girls and to wishes and what it means to lose your wish. While I do feel this was a series made to capitalize on Madoka's popularity it still does enough to stand on its own without being too much of a copycat. But it's definitely not as tight as Madoka in scripting.

Mari Okada is a pretty weak writer, most of the stuff I've seen by her is really bland and this series isn't much different. It seems like she has a lot of great ideas but those ideas for whatever reason just pitter out when executed. Frankly, a lot of this series comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.

So many times you get moments building up to something only to amount to nothing. It's rather ironic because this series actually is kind of a slow moving one. It's nice to see a show build on its atmosphere and take its time but somehow in all that it doesn't do much to develop its main character. Take for example Ruuko, it's apparent she was abandoned by her mother for some odd reason but it's never explained why. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal but there are a few scenes that actually show her mom saying something cryptic about Ruuko. Character ambiguity is fine, but don't tease and hint like there's something important only to not pay it off later. Even Akira doesn't delve into her history and use it against her like she does with Yuzuki and Hitoe. It's a shame because that certainly would have made for a good episode and a good duel to have.

And given that the character Mayu was neglected and abandoned wouldn't that have been a very interesting parallel to delve into? Instead of the entire back story of the random author who served only to give MORE exposition? We learn more about the supporting cast than our own main character! Many times problems like these come out through short season lengths but the Wixoss series had TWO seasons and much of Spread Wixoss already felt padded out. Much of the dialog ends up getting muddled down in trying to explain the rules of the game but I don't even think Okada understands the rules herself. There's also a pretty gaping plot hole with Hitoe bouncing back from her own tainted wish.

The animation is nice…mostly; the character designs are pretty good the art direction is all right but the battles are nothing special because there's so few of them and when we do see them it's mostly one firing an attack and the other absorbing the blow. For a show about card game battling in a supernatural parallel universe, it surprisingly features very little card game battles. Yeah it's refreshing to not see battles stretched obscenely long, especially considering this series was made to promote the game but they always seem to be over in just a few moments or worse we cut away before the action can start only to come back when it's over.

The bright spot of this mediocre series is surprisingly is the music. The theme songs in either season aren't anything memorable but I really do like the original score by Maiko Iuchi. It really adds to the overall atmosphere building suspense, tension and mood. I really want to find this OST because this is really one of the better scores I've heard in a long while. It's a dark psychedelic electronic score and it meshes so well into a series.

The two WIXOSS Series are OKAY at best. It does some things nice like not dragging card battles out for many episodes at a time and the music is really good. I do like much of the cast but Ruuko in particular could have really used more development and some of the battles could have gone on a little longer.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Fun Little Side Story, 2 March 2015

Spinning a movie off from an ongoing anime series is a popular trend and has been for ages. Cardcaptor Sakura being a series that has drew in wide appeal naturally was destined for a big screen treatment of it's own back in the series run. This movie, Cardcaptor Sakura the Movie is set sometime in the middle of the series making this story act as an interquel to expand on the ongoing series. One difficult aspect about making a movie from a serial adventure of the week is making it worthwhile and the Cardcaptor movie delivers on the worthwhile aspect. The main series of Cardcaptor Sakura is about Sakura capturing a set of magical tarot styled cards and ensuring their power remains sealed.

This movie story tells it's own unique side-quest adventure scenario featuring Sakura, her best friend Tomoyo, her older brother Touya and her childhood crush, Yukito going on a trip to Hong Kong. True to the style of Cardcaptor Sakura's story this trip is no luck of the draw but the will of the universe and fate itself. This gives a sense the real sense of being fresh and original and doesn't let the movie feel like a slightly longer episode.

The pacing can be a bit on the slow side, Sakura sees the same dream several times as a means to build a sense of foreboding this may dissuade some and feel a bit like padding.

The animation is of high theatrical quality for the era and still looks very good today. The lighting and color tones are softer and darker compared to the brighter television series but it looks very well done especially on later Bluray remasters. Studio Madhouse teamed with famed Studio Ghibli for the film's special effects and visually it's an impressive marvel of animation for the late 90s. Fluid cinematography adds to the overall energy of the film.

The acting is about what you might expect if you are familiar with the series. The original Japanese cast returns and they do the job all the same as the series which was good as it is for the kind of show it is that is a silly, bubbly and upbeat series. The English dub is best avoided but if you do need to watch it dubbed seek out the mostly uncut version which features the story intact but do keep in mind the names are all Westernized. The heavily edited and trimmed down "Cardcaptors the Movie" is best avoided all together.

A relatively short film, the Cardcaptor Sakura movie will provide joy to fans of the Cardcaptor Sakura series. Obviously for first time audiences with no knowledge this won't be the movie you'll want jump into of course if you are a fan and this has passed you buy it's never too late to check it out.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Powerful, Heartbreaking and Sweet at the Same Time, 18 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Giovanni's Island" takes cues from other acclaimed movies such as "Grave of the Fireflies" and "Barefoot Gen" telling a wartime movie from the perspective of a child. This film is set in the first two years following Japan's defeat and surrender in World War II and how the Soviet Union occupied the northern island and with troops have come their families. This evolves into a a story of childhood friendship between brothers Junpei and Kanata who give their names as Giovanni and Campanella from "Night on the Galactic Railroad" by Kenji Miyazawa and a Russian girl named Tanya. What evolves from there is a seemingly simple story of a boy-meets-girl friendship crossing cultural and language barriers. For the first half, the second half of the movie goes into the deportation of Japanese residents and the boys desperately wanting to find their interned father. While the story does divide into two different plots it still keeps the emotion and power going.

The magical feeling between the children's relationship is captured with the visuals as the boys emulate and recite their favorite story of "Galactic Railroad" showing all the imagination of small children. Playing with the train set for the first time just gives that magical feeling that will leave you feeling uplifted.

The heartbreak and tragedy all come out in the second half of the movie as the boys lose their father as a prisoner, are forced to deport their home and eventually little Kanata dies of a serious illness. But the movie rebounds with a uplifting ending of seeing the older survivors return once more to their old homeland to be given their diplomas for primary school and we see Junpei unite with Tanya's daughter and grand daughter.

The film is visually striking being a very stylish hand-drawn animated film even with hand drawn and painted backgrounds. The character designs are all unique and will bear a resemblance to those of Studio Ghibli's work. The imagination and fantasy sequences are beautiful and will capture your own imagination.

Personally I would have liked to have seen a little more time with Junpei and Tanya. We get a fair amount of time with them but the second half of the film they are torn apart. It's understandable but I think that portion of the film could have been a little shorter. We never did get any real closure on the fate of Junpei's father either.

The film goes the extra mile by using real Russian and Japanese dialogue intermixed with each other but at times it seems the characters understood each other just a little too well.

"Giovanni's Island" is a very inspired and impactful post-war character drama with a few minor flaws but otherwise it is a wonderful film that will tug at your heartstrings quite a bit I know it tugged at mine.

Sonic Boom is a Sonic Bust, 14 November 2014

*This review is based entirely on the Wii U* Sonic Boom has roared onto the Wii U and 3DS for this fall complete with a TV Series to tie in. While the TV series proves to be entertaining Sonic Boom on the Wii U proves to be an overall frustrating Sonic game in the latest of a long string of flops for the ever struggling franchise.

"Rise of Lyric" is the first produced effort by newcomer Big Red Button founded by veteran game makers from the studio Naughty Dog. As their first run out the gate is a near marginal failure.

In Sega's attempt to spin off Sonic in a separate direction we're treated to a sling of character redesigns from Yuji Uekawa's character designs from the earlier 3D titles. These new designs aren't bad so much as how they are used in the game. The game's graphics are pretty primitive for a next gen console, while the Wii U is given flak for being comparably underpowered compared to PS4 or Xbox it shouldn't matter as Sonic Team has proved before you can push a marginally underpowered console to full potential we saw this in the Sonic Storybook games for the Nintendo Wii before it.

The game suffers from terrible lag and constant frame rate issues. Even though Sonic Generations had frame rate issues too they suddenly don't look half as bad compared to Rise of Lyric. This is especially frustrating when you are surrounded by a host of enemies or on a long stretch of running.

Speaking of running, Sonic does very little of running in this game, as mostly he moves at a very leisurely jog. Speed sections are limited to long stretches of track that don't offer anything interesting except the occasional side path. Speed sections are few and far between as most of the time you'll be exploring the over sized hub worlds. This Sonic game tries to incorporate elements of modern platformers not typically seen in a Sonic game with a large hub world and side quests These large worlds are horribly confusing due to the bland design of them and the lack of any kind of map, quest system or just simple hint bubbles. When given an objective by an NPC it's your job to eventually find where you need to go.

The stages themselves are incredibly platform heavy but most of the time I can't tell whether I'm in a stage or just another hub area because the transitions are so choppy and there are no title cards indicating you are in a stage. No creative names like Speed Highway or City Escape before it, you're just suddenly in a new area with no explanation.

The platforming sections aren't terrible, after all Sonic was born as a platforming and speed oriented game and I've actually missed some of the platforming aspects in recent games, however like games since Sonic Unleashed most of the stage platforming is a 2.5D perspective instead of a full 3D experience.

Rise of Lyric does have a nifty aspect of rotating you through the roster of characters, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy in a similar style to Sonic Heroes before it. This is an aspect I did find enjoyable for the most part. The AI can be really stupid at times the as they won't help you in combat but stand around like an idiot. There's also a shoehorned in vehicle section where you float on a river in a hovercraft. Guess they missed the memo that nobody liked the vehicles in Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic the Hedgehog 2006.

The story isn't really much, it's a retread of the Monster of the Week scenario but there is surprisingly no effort into developing this whole new universe BRB is trying to establish. Perhaps they want you to watch the TV series but the series episodes are only 11 minutes long so don't count on development there. Perhaps they want you to read the tie in comics by Archie instead. Though Sonic has never been the best with storytelling anyway so it's not a big deal. I gotta say I do like the overly cheesy jokes and snarky charm of Sonic. It takes me back to my childhood days of watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog which was filled with those quips. Shadow the Hedgehog and Metal Sonic appear in this game but I think they were added as afterthoughts as they appear once and disappear for the rest of the game and their designs aren't terribly different either.

The music is perhaps the worst in this game. Sonic has always had great music but Richard Jacques writes music that might befit a Sonic movie but is forgettable in a video game. No rock or rap tunes to be found just a cinematic sweeping orchestral score that's not very good anyway.

I've compared Sonic Boom to a lot of previous games because well that's what it does, it rehashes a lot of old ideas from older games only badly. 2.5D platforming and combat styles from Sonic Unleashed, rail track running in the Sonic Storybook games, the team-up mechanic seen in Sonic Heroes and random vehicles from Shadow and Sonic '06. This game is not nearly as bad as the botched Sonic '06 but it shows Sega needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel and make a decent game in the vein of the classics or the Adventure games. This game is not worth the $50 I paid for it and I don't have any confidence in the 3DS game either.

10 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Loads of Fun, 9 November 2014

Sonic Boom is the first Sonic TV series we've had in quite a while and it bursts onto the scene with full speed for Cartoon Network. The series is simple, short 11 minute episodes of various goofy misadventures of Sonic and his friends with schemes cooked up by Dr. Eggman. The series probably bears more resemblance to the original weekday afternoon Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog over the more plot driven serials of the Saturday morning Sonic the Hedgehog series, Sonic X and Sonic Underground before it.

The show is full of silly quirky comedy and the CGI animation is very well made though it does suffer a few moments from stiffness or poor lip synch.

The characters retain much of their personalities, Sonic is his usual cocky self, Tails is the dependable sidekick, Knuckles is still a little dumb. Amy however seems to have developed from an obsessed fangirl stalker with a crush to a new persona giving a little more depth to her.

This series would probably be more entertaining and have more action if it were full half-hour episodes or at least two 11 minute segments in a single half-hour-episode but as it is, kids will still find it an enjoyable experience. Cartoon Network's horrible time slot probably will hurt the series overall chances but there are plenty of ways to check it out and when you get a chance you'll be entertained.

Tiny Brains (2013) (VG)
Lovers of Portal and LittleBig Planet Will Love this, 23 August 2014

Tiny Brains provides challenge and charm for puzzle game lovers and has a little platforming action. When you take a mind teaser like Portal and wrap it in the multi player charm and fun of Little Big Planet you will get a great experience with Tiny Brains. Some puzzles will probably prove to be a bit frustrating as you proceed with lots of trial and error to figure out the key to solving it.

The game is relatively short and could be finished within a single sitting or two at most. Tiny Brains will make for a great party game to spend time with a group of friends in an afternoon or evening and will have enough humor and fun to make it enjoyable.

"Avenger" (2003)
Mediocer Sci-Fi with decent start but no payoff, 4 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Being the BEE TRAIN fan I am I decided to buy Avenger in the complete collection form while at an Anime convention. I don't think it was a total waste of money but still it wasn't and won't ever be a personal favorite from them. It has their trademarked styles which I love, but the execution and ultimate conclusion left me dissatisfied. I wouldn't write Avenger entirely off like I would some other animes, if you are bored and looking for a short anime maybe you want to give this a try. If you are looking for a short or moderate length anime with a deep story line, than this isn't for you. Overall Avenger is a series where you might want to turn your brain off and just watch it, which is ironic considering how hard this show tries to be deep and philosophical.

The story is the usual post-technological apocalyptic world that we've seen in countless Mecha animes, so you may be surprised that there aren't any giant robots in the obvious setting. The idea is fairly unique having it on Mars instead of Earth was different from the usual ways of doing things, but not different enough.

The story features again a mopey female character who has been long exploited and has a chip on her shoulder to work out. She also has this adorable little doll, who is actually human, who travels by her side. And of course you have the macho can do mechanic. The characters are fairly typical and predictable; there aren't any surprises there aren't any unique traits they're pretty strait forward and one-stringed.

The writing is pretty dull and uninteresting, the battles are few and far between for something that is suppose to be about gladiators but most of the time it's traveling and fleeing from little Minion Dolls that are out to capture them. Overall there aren't a lot of surprises or unique revelations that we already could have probably guessed by now and the series gets bogged down in a lot of exposition by Volk and Westa.

Music was better than I was expecting though clichéd and poorly used at times I can't say I'm much of a fan of Ali Project, I've had fun with their Noir Opening as well as their one composition for the My-Hime Video Game but at the same time this is the same pair that couldn't pull of .hack//Roots. The pair has made some memorable compositions in this show and their themes are rather typical including the second ending theme which is a half-way rip of a classical piece of music; "In the Halls of the Mountain King. The music was more fitting in this atmosphere than their music for Roots but it wasn't anything breathtaking or groundbreaking and it wasn't entirely new for them.

Mashimo has a much more solid direction handle on this than say Blade of the Immortal but I think it could have been more. I wasn't going in expecting a whole lot, and I didn't come out with any surprises. This is a short and pretty typical straightforward Anime that is very much in BEE TRAIN's style. The color pallet by Makiko Kojima is fairly cosmic and expected for a show of this genre and the cinematography is dark and dreary and depressing.

The ending was probably the worst I've ever seen in any shows where Layla suddenly stops giving a care about Nei despite through the course of the series how close they are. I'm fairly forgiving of endings but this made absolutely no sense to me, and totally changed all that was established at the last minute. Then again there really weren't any rules of the universe set up.

Avenger is mediocre at best. So okay it's just average and not worth putting much effort into. Hardcore sci-fi lovers will be put off with the lack of explanation in a series that's far too ambiguous and fantasy lovers won't get it.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Merely Good, 2 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pokemon Origins is getting a lot of praise mostly because of the comparison to the ongoing anime, Pokemon. Unlike the ongoing series which follows the adventures of Ash Ketchum from Pallet Town and his Pikachu, Pokemon Origins is a direct adaptation of the original Pokemon games, Red, Green and Blue and follows the adventures of Red from Pallet Town and his rival, Blue.

What this mini-series show case has going for it is a great cast, great animation by an assortment of great animators including OLM, the company that's long been apart of the Pokemon anime franchise, and it's direct telling of the games as opposed to the loose inspiration seen in the running series. If you played the originals or the remakes you can get an appreciation for this somewhat but a lot of the appreciation is riding high on nostalgic value and how night and day it compares to the ongoing TV series.

No doubt Origins is or would be superior however it's unfortunately severely limited by it's short length. With only four episodes at less than half-an-hour a piece it crams a 20 hour game into roughly 100 minutes which doesn't leave much of the game to be seen and mostly adds to being a glorified recap than an actual telling. A series like this would have benefited from a slightly longer running set of video projects or better yet a full half season for television.

Gyms are skipped over and most of the story is quickly told through quick narration bytes with only some small key events left in for good measure. We get to see the haunting Lavender Town in full glory and are treated to a full proper battle with Boss Rocket Giovanni.

The sudden introduction of Mega Charizard X Evolution from Pokemon X cheapens the old time feel of the original games and seems tacked on so unnecessarily to promote the latest game.

Pokemon Origins will give you a quick nostalgia binge if you played the original games but will leave you wanting more even though we likely never will. For those who didn't play Generation I or the subsequent remakes and for strangers of Pokemon they'll likely not be engaged by the choppy plot line.

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