AnimeLand Magazine 2014 Miyazaki Issue

These magazine scans are of the January/February 2014 issue of AnimeLand magazine, published in France. Hayao Miyazaki is the cover star of this issue, which devotes 15 pages to the animation legend and his films. In addition to Studio Ghibli, the magazine discusses his work in manga comics and his extensive pre-Ghibli works. Sherlock Hound (known simply as Sherlock Holmes in UK and France) is given an article all to itself, as well as four pages on The Wind Rises.

I really enjoyed looking through these pages. I don't read French very well, and what I do know probably just comes from watching Pepe Le Pew cartoons, but I think anybody can understand the thrust of the articles. The page layouts are very clean and the art assets are suitably colorful. I'm reminded a little of the excellent books Mi Vecino Miyazaki and Antes De Mi Vecino Miyazaki.

Kudos to the Ghibli fan who sent me a .pdf copy of these magazine scans.


Photo of the Day: Shameless Clickbait Edition

In keeping with current trends, here is a poor, shameless attempt at clickbait instead of a long and thoughtful film essay. So here's a pair of nice fan art illustrations of Totoro dressed as Batman and The Joker.

(Fake Game Show Host Voice) Which one is your favorite?

(Seriously, though, I see that Ghibli Blog has generated over 4.9 million page views, which is very nice.)

What The Heck Have I Been Up To Lately?

I wrote and published a bunch of ebooks. You can check them out by visiting my DT MEDIA website.

Toei Channel To Broadcast 4K Restorations of Toei Doga Classics

Hakujaden (Toei Doga, 1958)

Horus, Prince of the Sun (Toei Doga, 1968)

Puss in Boots (Toei Doga, 1969)

Animal Treasure Island (Toei Doga, 1971)

From September to December, Japan's Toei Channel will broadcast new 4K restorations of classic Toei Doga animated features, including Hakujaden, Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon, Wan Wan Chuushingura, Horus, Prince of the Sun, Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island. These films will be broadcast under the banner, Toei Doga Meisaku Anime Gekijo, or "Toei Doga Anime Masterpiece Theater."

According to the official Toei website, this series will coincide with the hotly anticipated daytime drama series, "Natsuzora," a retelling of the animation studio's early days. All of the characters are based on real Toei alumni, including Reiko Okuyama, Yoichi Kotabe, Yasuo Otsuka, Akemi Ota, Michiyo Yasuda, Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki. The drama will appear on the NHK network, which many Studio Ghibli fans will recognize.

In addition to their animated features, Toei will broadcast a 1959 documentary about the making of the studio's second feature, Shonen Sarutobe Sasuke. It should prove to be an invaluable document of the era, even though its portrayal of the making of an animated movie will most likely be itself carefully staged. Hopefully, we will catch a glimpse of a very young Isao Takahata, who worked on the film as assistant director.

Best of all (for me) will be the premier of a new documentary program on Horus, Prince of the Sun that features interviews with the artists and animators, a look at production artwork and more. I do hope the show's creators were able to speak to Paku-san while he was still alive. I would hope that there are some new discoveries to be made about this anime masterpiece. I shared pretty much everything I know for the BD audio commentary track, as well as the supplemental essays and production gallery (and, by the way, you're freaking welcome).

For those of us in the West, the most exciting prospect of these 4K restorations is the possibility of new home video releases on Blu-Ray or Ultra Blu-Ray. Of the classic Toei Doga library, only a handful of films have been released in Europe and America, and continuing rights issues over the domestic (dubbed) versions may complicate matters. As always, such matters can be solved by writing a lot of checks, but the limited appeal of classic Japanese animation may stop such plans cold.

In Japan, the only Toei Doga anime film to be released on Blu-Ray was Horus, Prince of the Sun (which was also released here). Everything else was released on DVD, but nearly all of those titles were simple transfers from LaserDisc. Most of the DVDs were given English fan translations some years ago, but it's nearly impossible to find any of those movies online today.

Needless to say, now would be a terrific time for Discotek or GKIDS to pick up these movies for a US release. Start your email and letter campaigns immediately, kids. Christmas is only three months away.


Video: Hayao Miyazaki Delivers His Eulogy for Isao Takahata

I have found two videos from the Isao Takahata memorial service at Ghibli Museum. The first includes the complete remarks from Hayao Miyazaki. The second video is a news report from Japanese television, featuring clips of other individuals. Unfortunately, there are no English translations available at this time. If anyone would kindly provide a translation of Miyazaki-san's remarks, we would all be very grateful.

Update 5/16: The first video has been pulled from YouTube. Hayao Miyazaki's complete remarks in Japanese are available below. We still need help with an English translation. Much thanks to Infoglitz and Becqerine from Reddit for their assistance.

朴のニックネームは確かではありませんが、主にとにかく午前中に嫌な男ですが、東映アニメーションで働いていてもタイムカードを押した後、私が "Pakpaku"として買ったパンを食べて、彼は彼が蛇口から水を飲んでいたと言いました。それが朴氏になったという噂です。 
朴氏は、彼が95歳になるまで生きると信じていた。私は時間がないと思った。 9年前、医者からの電話がありました。 「あなたが友達なら、タカハタのたばこを止めません」それは深刻な恐ろしい声でした。鈴木さん(鈴木俊夫さん)と鈴木さんは、医師の力を恐れてテーブルを横切ってお互いに向き合っていました。正しい姿勢で話すのは初めてのことでした。 「朴、喫煙をやめてください」と私は思います。 「働き続けるためにはやめてください」これはスズキの言葉です。私は、言い訳や反対が怒って爆発すると思ったが、「朴さん、ありがとう、私は辞める」と朴氏は平凡に言って頭を下げた。そして、朴氏は実際に喫煙をやめました。私は朴氏のそばで、たばこを吸った。 「いい香りだと思うが、まったく吸いたくない」と朴氏は語った。彼は上の俳優だった。結局のところ、私はそれが95歳になる人であると思っていました。 
1963年、Parkは27歳でした。私が22歳の時に初めて会った。私はまだその言葉を聞いた日を覚えています。私は夕暮れのバス停で練馬バスに向かうのを待っていた。若い男が雨の水たまりが残っている通りに近づいて来ました。そこに静かで賢明な見方がありました。高畑功朴氏に会った瞬間だった。 55年前ですが、私はそれをはっきりと覚えています。当時の朴氏の顔はまだ覚えています。 
次回は、東映アニメーションの労働組合の関係者にプッシュされたときパクと出会った。朴氏は副会長である。私は緊張し、悪心に悩まされ始めました。まだ組合事務所のプレハブにいて、私は朴氏と話をして狂った。すべて。私たちは私たちの仕事に満足していませんでした。私はより遠く、深く、より誇りに思うように仕事をしたかったのです。私は何をしなければならないのですか… …パークの文化は圧倒的でした。私は得ることが難しい人に会うことができてうれしかったです。
最初の問題(プレビュー)を見たとき、私は動くことができませんでした。それは感動しなかった、それは驚きに圧倒された。会社のプレッシャーの下で、私は "失われた信仰の森"の場面がかき消されないようになっていることを知っていました。パークはチームと強く交渉し、最終的に各カットの枚数まで約束し、必要な生産日を約束しなければならなかった。当然ながら、約束がはみ出し、朴氏が原稿を書くたびに約束された。朴氏は最後の原稿をどのくらい書きましたか?私も多くの仕事をしていましたが、私は朴氏の闘争に近づく時間がありませんでした。 

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

Photos: Isao Takahata Memorial Service

The following photos are from the memorial service honoring the late Isao Takahata at the Ghibli Museum on May 15. The event was attended by 1,200 people including many prominent filmmakers, producers and actors, as well as family and friends.

Thanks to Huffington Post Japan for posting these photographs online.

Isao Takahata Memorial Service at Ghibli Museum

Isao Takahata Memorial Service at Ghibli Museum

Isao Takahata Memorial Service at Ghibli Museum

Isao Takahata Memorial Service at Ghibli Museum

Today, friends, family and colleagues paid tribute to Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata at a public memorial service at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. The event was open to the public and featured many prominent artists and filmmakers whose lives intersected with the beloved director over the past 60 years. The museum displayed a wonderful floral display in the main hall, and also included a large montage of photographs featuring Paku-san over the years, as well as a collection of his many published books.

Animators and filmmakers in attendance included many alumni from Toei Doga, where Takahata began his career in 1958 after graduating from Tokyo University (he was courted by the movie studio while still a student. Yasuo Otsuka and Yoichi Kotabe were present along with the rest of the old gang. Dutch animator Michael Dudok De Wit, director of the 2016 Academy Award-nominated animated feature The Red Turtle (produced by Studio Ghibli under the personal supervision of Takahata) was also in attendance. Yoshiaki Nishimura, the Ghibli alumni who founded Studio Ponoc, was also present, as was Joe Hisaishi, the music composer whose movie break came in Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. Fifty journalists and 1,200 attendees were present to record the event and pay tribute to a legendary and beloved icon.

Many prominent friends and family paid tribute with spoken eulogies during the service. The most important speaker at the event, of course, was Hayao Miyazaki, who forged a friendship and career with Takahata. Reading from a written text, Miyazaki-san delivered a moving eulogy to his brother, visibly grieving and emotionally shaken, and occasionally fighting back tears. Toshio Suzuki, Ghibli co-founder and Miyazaki's most loyal friend, sat by his side support, likewise overcome by emotion.

Speaking of his friend, Miyazaki remarked, "I always thought that Takahata was going to live until he was 95 years old and when he died, I was very impressed, because I realized that I also have little time left." He spoke of their longtime friendship during long pauses, "I met Paku-san in 1963 while he was waiting for the bus. He was 27 years old and I was just 22. I thought he was a very interesting and intelligent person. I remember it as if it were yesterday."

Miyazaki concluded his statements by saying, "I will never forget the day when Paku-san approached the bus stop and we met. He will be with me all my life."

Much thanks to Generacion Ghibli and 20 Minutos for their reporting and providing translated excerpts from Hayao Miyazaki's eulogy.


Happy (Belated) 12th Birthday to Ghibli Blog

I had completely forgotten that we had passed our Ghibli Blog birthday on March. I kept thinking it was May. Whoops. In any case, here's a cake. Yay!

Ghibli Blog (Conversations on Ghibli) was started on March 2006 and aside from the occasional hiatus has continued ever since. I am still nowhere near my original goal of writing everything there is to know about the Studio Ghibli movies, which is a very pleasant surprise, but I am getting closer than ever.

Meanwhile, the enormous pile of essays and possible directions for my never-ending Ghibli book project just grows higher and higher. I just tell myself to continue writing about all of these great films and television series until all the essentials are covered. Maybe I should write a book like Mi Vecino Miyazaki, which is really solid and looks terrific. Or maybe write a couple volumes of written essays. Or maybe just dump the blog onto print in a massive encyclopedia stack. Or maybe I should just do something simple and with lots of pictures. Oy vey.

In any case, much thanks to everyone for sticking by Ghibli Blog all these years, and thanks to the new fans and followers, especially everyone who has subscribed to the mailing list, purchased or downloaded my books.

The Duality of Marco and Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso

This scene in Porco Rosso shows Marco's true face for a quick moment. Teenage Fio is shocked at the sight, but when he realizes he is being watched, Porco's pig face returns. It's a great moment that gets at the heart of the hero's identity and the movie's themes of being bound to the past and the romance of nostalgia.

Western audiences can never understand why Porco Rosso has a pig's head, and this insistence on literal "realism" in animation is slightly depressing. Nothing about this medium is real. You are looking at pencil drawings and paintings, not actors on a soundstage. You are looking at something that is itself a product of the imagination, and that fact carries a certain surrealism and symbolism in its very bones.

Miyazaki portrays Marco as a pig because it represents his disgust with humanity as a result of his experiences fighting the Great War. He feels disconnected from the outside world, not only those who never had to fight, but those who allowed the war to happen. The war robbed him of his best friend who had just married his true love, and out of loyalty he has stood aside all these years. He has lost his friendships and his very future, and has accepted this as his personal cross to bear, a survival's guilt that manifests in the curse of the pig face.

Much like Howl's Moving Castle, this movie shows us the psychological costs of war and what it does to those who fight. Howl the wizard was slowly turned into a monster that overcame his humanity and identity, leaving him an inanimate creature by the very end. Marco/Porco is likewise split between two identities and has lost his true sense of self. It is only by making a new friendship with Fio that he begins to reclaim his humanity once more.

Marco is deep in his work on the beach, and so he lowers his guard, lowering the mask that he shows to the outside world. We see his true face, or at least the romantic ideal of how he would look, as an older version of the young boy who fought the war. Perhaps he is meditating on that conflict and his vow to kill his rival, Curtis. Porco Rosso has famously vowed never to take another life (a fact that is revealed later), but now he seems prepared to cross that line. But then Fio moves and he is quickly snapped out of his meditative state. Porco is back in character.

The image of Marco also serves as foreshadowing to his story of the great air battle, in which so many pilots were killed, including his childhood friend. It also anticipates the coming battle, which is expected to be a fight to the death. We know why Curtis is fighting. He's fighting to take Porco's place, not only in the skies but at Gina's side. But why is Porco fighting? Is it pure cynicism and detachment, or merely revenge? Is he fighting to hold onto Gina, who he loves yet also keeps at arm's length? Should he still be duty-bound to a friend long deceased? Should he run away with Fio instead? Should he still cling to his own myth and identity? And what if clinging onto that mythical identity costs him everything else? Who will you become once you can no longer be yourself?

All things must pass. This is the major emotional thrust of this movie. This is the lesson that Porco must learn in order to survive, and this shot and scene is where all those threads come together. The climax isn't really the air battle, which ends in a comical cartoon farce. Miyazaki isn't interested in machismo or settling scores. He will instead take the air out of the tires and turn the external conflict into one big joke. It's the internal conflict that matters. There the real war will be lost or won.

Ghibli Riffs: Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso

Studio Ghibli gives itself a rare cameo in Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso, as seen here on the airplane engine. We also see the name "Ghibli" on a passing bus in Kiki's Delivery Service in a quick shot. And didn't Mimi/Whisper also have the studio's name etched onto a grandfather clock? This was definitely a recurring thing for a time, but why it was begun and later abandoned is anybody's guess. They just did it for fun, I suppose.

Ghibli Fest 2018: Porco Rosso in US Theaters in May

Ghibli Fest 2018, the annual Studio Ghibli movie festival presented by GKIDS and Fathom Events, continues its series of theatrical screenings with Porco Rosso, Hayao Miyazaki's 1992 animated adventure. The movie will be shown on May 20 (dubbed), May 21 (subtitled) and May 23 (dubbed). As always, both Japanese and English language soundtracks will be available for the benefit of all fans.

Porco Rosso is a nostalgic romance in the style of classic Hollywood cinema. If you're a fan of Humphrey Bogart, then you'll love this picture. It tells the tale of daring airline pilots and pirates who fly the seas of the Adriatic in the days before the rise of fascism and war, and focuses on a cynical pilot named Marco who has turned his back on humanity, a hotel owner named Gina who is Marco's lifelong friend and love interest, and a young airplane engineer named Fio. Thrown into this mix is a brash American pilot named Curtis who sees himself as Marco/Porco's rival in the skies and in love, and who always reminds me of Errol Flynn.

There are thrilling action scenes of airplane pilots and their amazing machines, including an exciting escape through the canals of a major city and a climactic air battle between the two rivals, but Porco Rosso is not an adventure movie. Instead, it is a thoughtful story of longing and loss, about nostalgia and the fading away of a golden age. It is more adult in its themes, yet retains the classic romanticism that we find in Miyazaki's stories. And, as always, there are many very funny moments that you will remember long after the lights come back on.

I'm a great fan of Porco Rosso. It feels like a definitive example of Studio Ghibli for me, in that it demonstrates the unique talents and abilities of its filmmakers. No other movie studio in the world could make a movie quite like this. It's heart lies in old Hollywood serials and post-war European cinema, and its pacing is far more relaxed and thoughtful than animated features in America, which more closely resemble roller coaster rides. Hayao Miyazaki is not interested in assaulting you with noise and tired story cliches. He aspires to something better, more grand and epic.

Miyazaki has always been sold in the West as the "Walt Disney of Japan," but this has never been true. A much more accurate comparison would be Steven Spielberg, whose movies are deeply nostalgic for classic Hollywood romantic adventures that are also tempered with a modern seriousness and sorrow. Porco Rosso is probably the most "Spielberg" movie Miyazaki has ever made. If you go in with that mindset, you'll have a terrific time.

The Japanese audio soundtrack is superb, featuring 60-year-old actor Shuichiro Moriyama as Marco/Porco and spoken in a gravel-like, world-weary voice. Here is a man who has survived war and remains haunted by the experience, and he is absolutely magnificent. The US English-language soundtrack created by Disney features Michael Keaton in the lead, and he also does an excellent job. He understands that he's really playing Bogey and he plays the part. I'm reminded of his role as the antagonist in Spider-Man Homecoming. Beyond that, I didn't care for the Disney dub, which made a number of casting mistakes (Cary Elwes plays Curtis, but he's using a bizarre cartoonish Kentucky accent when what you really want is his Errol Flynn impression, which is why you hired him in the first place). Worse, the script writers completely threw away the emotional climax of the movie, an absolutely criminal act that highlights the condescending nature of American animation; after all, cartoons only exist to keep toddlers quiet and docile, and are not considered "real" movies.

For my money, the real hidden gem is the French language soundtrack, which was commissioned for Porco Rosso's release in France and features veteran actor Jean Reno in the lead. He delivers the proper gravitas and weariness, but also elevates the role with a European nobility and stoicism. The entire French cast is equally superb, weighty and grown up and full of experience. Hayao Miyazaki is said to have preferred this soundtrack as the definitive take of this movie, and there are many times where I must agree. I do wish GKIDS would have included this version as well, but this dub is thankfully included on the home video releases.

However you enjoy Porco Rosso, be sure to see it on the big screen. Studio Ghibli movies work their magic most effectively in a dark theater with a room full of strangers. Go grab your tickets now before they sell out.


Studio Ghibli Farewell Ceremony for Isao Takahata

Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata

This week, Studio Ghibli announced the details for their upcoming Farewell Ceremony for founding director Isao Takahata, who passed away on April 5 after a battle with lung cancer. The event will be open to the public and will take place on May 15 at the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan. The event will run from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm and celebrate the amazing life and career of the animation legend, from his starting days at Toei Doga to his acclaimed masterpieces at Studio Ghibli.

Hayao Miyazaki will attend the event and issue a public tribute to his lifelong friend and brother. This will be the first public statement made by Miyazaki since Takahata's death. News outlets have reported that the Ghibli co-founder is shattered by the loss. The two began their careers together over 50 years ago, and as partners created many classic films and television series, including Horus, Prince of the Sun, Lupin the 3rd, Heidi, Girl of the Alps, 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother, Anne of Green Gables, Future Boy Conan and Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind. The commercial and critical success of Nausicaa in 1984 directly led to the founding of Studio Ghbli one year later, where the two directors would create such classics as My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, Spirited Away, Ponyo, My Neighbors the Yamadas and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Studio Ghibli's official statement on May 1 did not specify whether television cameras would be present, or if the ceremony would be broadcast by television network NHK, which has had a long relationship with Miyazaki and Takahata going back 40 years. Personally, I would hope that the event would be broadcast, just so the rest of the world could watch in a global simulcast. Hopefully, we will have an opportunity to join along on May 15 or at a future date.

Thanks to Generacion Ghibli for sharing the news on their Twitter page and translating the text into Espanol, which helped tremendously. Be sure to bookmark that site and Twitter page if you haven't yet done so.

Your local Ghibli fan club should also schedule a memorial event for Paku-san on May 15. Make it a movie marathon. If it were up to me, I would rent out a theater and show an earlier feature film like Gauche the Cellist, maybe show the first episode of Heidi, Marco and Anne, and then close out with one of Takahata's Ghibli features like Princess Kaguya, which would be perfectly fitting. And, no, I still do not have the stomach to sit through Grave of the Fireflies.


Son of Miyazaki: A Goro Miyazaki Retrospective

YouTube essayist and documentary filmmaker Steven McCarthy returns once again with another look at Studio Ghibli, this time examining the career of Goro Miyazaki, the son of founding director Hayao Miyazaki who was responsible for Tales From Earthsea, From Up on Poppy Hill and Ronja the Robber's Daughter. This video goes into detail on these films, including production, overarching themes and public reception.

Goro Miyazaki doesn't get enough love from the fans. Part of that is due to the family name and the curse of having a famous father (ask Julian Lennon), and part of that is simply experience, as we have so few works to examine and study. If he continues to create animated films and television series and develop his own unique voice as an artist, those qualities will begin to dominate the conversation.

McCarthy does an excellent job moving that discussion forward, highlighting his strengths and weaknesses, his difficult relationship with his father, and the qualities that make Goro his own man. He may yet define the next generation of Studio Ghibli, bringing it into the modern era of 3D computer graphics animation while retaining the qualities of the hand-drawn tradition.

Once again, great video and great work. McCarthy promises this will be his final Ghibli documentary for a while, as he pursues other topics. I look forward to seeing his future projects. Somebody give him some grant money so he can create a feature length movie.


Artist Profile: Totoro and No-Face by Sarah O'Donald

Artist and illustrator Sarah O'Donald has crafted this vibrant illustration of Totoro and No-Face sharing a tea time. I really enjoy this piece, the colors and details are superb and demonstrate the artist's skills at composition.

You can visit Sarah O'Donald's Instagram page, which features dozens of illustrations that are absolutely brilliant. She has also made numerous appearances at art shows where her works are available for sale, featuring fantasy themes and characters from animation, comics and videogames. Her output is quite remarkable and I'm amazed at how much she has created. She must be spending every waking moment drawing and painting, which is, of course, the true goal of any artist. I'm very impressed and more than a little jealous. My artistic skills are nowhere near as refined and inspiring as these.

Great work! Here's wishing for your success!

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

Studio Ghibli Unveils Its Theme Park Designs

This week, Studio Ghibli formally unveiled their plans for an upcoming theme park in Japan. The designs were shown in a press event this week, including layouts and building illustrations. Visitors will enjoy walking through the worlds of Hayao Miyazaki's beloved animated movies including My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle.

The theme park will be located near the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, and is expected to open in 2022. The park will include European building designs based on Miyazaki's films, as well as large sculptures of many famous characters that evoke Japan's mythic and cultural past.

These illustrations are very fascinating and offer a glimpse into how the finished site will look. The park layout is largely forest, keeping as much of the natural environment in place as possible. Many of the locations also feel closer to an outdoor nature preserve than Disney World or Universal Studios. This is a very welcome development.

Personally, I must admit to some hesitation on the idea of a Studio Ghibli theme park. It doesn't seem right to turn these great family movies into a giant cathedral for consumptionism and materialism. I certainly hope this park doesn't include miles of parking lots like one finds in Orlando, or is packed with a thousand tacky merchandising shops. Fortunately, this design feels very low-key, almost as though Hayao Miyazaki created these attractions as a means to lure children outdoors where the real adventures await. It's better to climb trees and hills than stand in line for three hours to ride Splash Mountain.

Of course, I say this as someone who completely loves Disney World. If I could spend my retirement years in the colonial district next to the Hall of Presidents, I'd do that in a heartbeat.

These are only the preliminary designs for the Ghibli Park, so expect some changes and additions in the coming months and years. Its opening will come one or two years after Miyazaki's next (and presumably final, but with him, nobody can ever say) feature animated movie. This park will most likely be his final statement to the world, his farewell and inheritance to future generations. In that spirit, I hope it will be everything that Miyazaki-san wishes it to be.

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