Kakumeiki Valvrave – 11

Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -17 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -27 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -32

I guess your take on this ep probably depends on the standard you use to measure.

To say this is a tough episode to “grade” is putting it mildly.  On the one hand, I think it was the most conventionally successful Valvrave episode in the entire series, apart from the stellar episode 8.  On the other, if – as many defenders claimed – the true measure of the series would be in the way it handled the aftermath of the shocking event last week, I think it thoroughly failed.  So I guess all you can do is figure out what your priorities are with a show like this one, and go from there.

It may be an illustration of the Law of Unintended Consequences, but I think Kakumeiki Valvrave fundamentally altered the relationship with some viewers (certainly with me) by ending last week’s episode the way it did.  It no longer seems so easy to laugh and embrace everything in good fun in classic “Dare to be StupidValvrave fashion.  As a result, even though this ep was full of classic Valvrave bakayarou antics, it didn’t make me smile nearly as often as it would have two weeks ago.  We had that hanging over everything, and while the episode teased that it was going to confront it, it didn’t do so until the very end – and even then, in a classically stupid Valvrave way.

Why is that important?  Maybe it isn’t to some (that seems clear in the reaction to episode 10) but when you toss something like that out there, you better not drop the ball in dealing with it.  The issue is not that Valvrave introduced rape as a plot point, or that rape should be out of bounds for anime.  The problem is that the two most widespread justifications for rape are “she was asking for it” and “if it’s inevitable just lie back and enjoy it” – and Valvrave lobbed a fat hanging curveball right over the plate for those myths.  And having Haruto propose doesn’t confront the issue – it just trivializes it.  Of the two I have less problem with Haruto’s reaction: yes, I do think he’s largely not at fault, because it’s clear he was effectively not in control of his own body at the time, and he seems as horrified by what happened as he should be.  My problem is and always has been with the way Saki has been depicted – starting with her actions during the vile act itself, and her subdued reaction this week.  That she was neither as angry or grief-stricken as she should have been only ties into the whole repugnant “consensual rape” vibe, the stink of which is all over what happened.

But that’s done – the genie can’t be put back in the bottle, and Valvrave has punted on the chance to redeem itself in the aftermath.  It certainly redeemed itself with a very good episode (though some might say that’s like saying the 40’s were a great decade apart from the war and all).  As with episode 8, th e series proved it can deliver a taut, action-packed and coherent episode from start to finish.  This time around Module 77 is approaching the Moon, and you know Dorssia was going to make one more stab at upsetting the apple cart before they got there (and Shouko’s blathering about how wonderful everything is going to be doesn’t help).  We have the usual Dorssian setup – disposable cannon-fodder fleet commander with hot chick attaché – and the usual L-Elf prescient planning.  The twist this time is that Commander Wartenburg (heh) has Shouko’s father as a hostage on-board the flagship, and he’s using that as leverage to try and get the so-called Prime Minster to hand over the Valvraves once and for all.

This element of the episode was very well-done indeed – hardly original, but nevertheless very effective.  It does seem that this was one event event L-Elf didn’t see coming, and I loved the way he fingered and even cocked his handgun as he was standing behind Shouko, watching her wrestle with this terrible decision – allow Haurto to use his Harikiri blade, wiping out the enemy and saving Module 77 but killing her father at the same time?  It was a reminder that L-Elf is by no means domesticated – he’s a cold and brilliant killing machine, and everyone under his sway is alive only because they’re useful to him.

I also like the way the story is going with Renboukouji Satomi, whose growing sense of panic as events spiral out of his control is highly entertaining.  His relationship with Rainbow just gets stranger and more unsettling the more it comes into focus, and it becomes clearer just how messed up she is.  L-Elf makes use of him to direct events on the bridge while he accompanies Shouko to negotiate with Wartenburg – because Satomi is good at following a script, and L-Elf has idiot-proof directions for any eventuality.  But apparently not every eventuality, as events suddenly go off-script after Haruto wipes out 74% of the fleet (and Sashinami-san).  What’s not clear here is whether Cain has, finally, gotten one step ahead of L-Elf – or whether the latter has foreseen even this development and is, as he says, “luring the enemy in to annihilate them”.  What is clear is that Yama Arashi is on-board Module 77 and the shit is hitting the fan, and Satomi is at a loss about how to handle it.

If there’s a victim in all this, I suppose it’s Shouko, who genuinely does just seem to want to do the right thing.  But she’s made a lot of her own problems too, it seems to me, with her general lack of common sense and often bizarrely placed priorities.  It was a bad week for her, indeed – and she doesn’t even know that Haruto has proposed to Saki (not that I suppose she’ll accept – in fact I suspect she’ll insist Haruto not even admit that it happened).  We’ve seen characters tested over and over in Kakumeiki Valvrave, but this was certainly the harshest one for Shouko – it’ll be interesting to see if she maintains her “anchor” role in the cast, the bright light for everyone else’s darkness, or whether she makes an extended visit to the shadows herself.

Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -8 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -9 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -10
Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -11 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -12 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -13
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Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -21 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -22 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -23
Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -24 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -25 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -26
Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -28 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -29 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -30
Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -31 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -33 Kakumeiki Valvrave - 11 -34
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41 comments

  1. R

    It's not A-Drei that got a step ahead, it's commander Cain, which, by the way, has taught everything that L-Elf knows.

  2. Ah yes, this is true – good catch.

  3. s

    I feel kinda dumb for even thinking even for a second that valvare would have turned into something a little more coherent and intriguing after what happened in the previous episode. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy? just whyyyyyyyyy? i guess mostly everyone was right; the happenings of the previous episode was just for shock value. I am very disappointed.

  4. R

    yeah, i also though that the whole scene last week would be looked upon deeper this week, but alas, as you have said it, the scene is just there for the shock of it, and probably add some melodrama to the love triangle. i also can't help but laugh and scratch my head at the same time seeing how haruto just has "boobs" phobia, with the whole thing having no real emotional trauma on him (come on dude, you just raped a girl. that's just a big no).

    let's see how the whole marriage proposal goes. it would be interesting if saki actually accepts. as for the shoko ship, unless ship, unless she actually becomes a valvrave pilot and immortal, we could say that haruto and saki are indeed the series' official couple.

  5. E

    I think the NEET girl is the last remaining pilot?

  6. H

    That's what the OP is hinting at anyway.

  7. k

    @sonicsenryaku:

    Well, I feel the show is intriguing or at least interesting in other ways. I never thought it would make the rape a deeply examined issue, but I would also say it's not only for shock value though, given that I think there will be a different set of consequences in the future. Just not the ones you were looking for.

    @Roger:

    Haruto doesn't exactly seem like he remembers the actual rape, so complaining about his reaction is a bit unnecessary.

  8. K

    Agreed, Saki's depiction about this whole thing is just not letting it work efficiently as a narrative decision. The way Haruto is dealing makes more sense considering the circumstances and what we know about him (not a whole lot more sense, but some sense regardless), whereas Saki just bothers me with her whole nonchalance about it all. I predicted that Haruto would try to stick to her side due to guilt, but I was hoping that Saki would be more… affected. It just seems ridiculous that she's acting like it never happened. Or rather, that she kind of just accepts it. I'd rather she accept that proposal than just brush it aside, just to shake things up a bit on her emotional spectrum.

  9. R

    I honestly hope that red herring earlier is just that…because if it does a 2 century timeskip I'm done -_-

  10. k

    You're forgetting that Saki is apparently used to being abused, going by her past, not to mention the fact she understood that Haruto was acting under the effects of a "curse" and not being himself. It's not a flattering portrayal but it's more logical than you think.

  11. M

    Connoisseurs tripping over themselves by behaving overly apologist for shameless schlock is what entertains me.

  12. M

    I would like to make a defence! Surely the rape was significant and it should be discuss but my take is that even matters pertaining to the matter of the violation will have to be put on hold because of Dorssia's attack. I have a feeling that the whole rape talk will come to us again in the form of flashback in later episode. I think that Sunrise felt it necessary to go with Dorssia's attack, break Shouko then have tragedy in the next episode then go back with the rape talk then break Shouko yet again when she found out. I think part of the purpose of the rape was it to be yet another instrument of tearing Shouko apart and if it is, it should be well done.

    TQ

  13. s

    I want to see this series try to break Shouko and make something meaningful out of it, (hopefully she perserveres and ends up being the anchor to the other cast members) and hopefully not fuck that up too. Im just going to sit back and enjoy this show's stupidity and hopefully its the good kind of stupid like previous eps instead of what we got this ep…..hopefully

  14. R

    Well I guess the future scene a couple of episodes back might pertain to them getting married?

  15. k

    I don't think they failed… in fact, I think the way they chose to deal with it is probably the best idea to deal with something like this in a show like VVV. VVV is definitely not a show I want to see trying to seriously tackle a rape and what it does to someone.

    Besides, I thought last episode made Saki's stance on the whole issue pretty clear, and she's just following up on that, she even tells Haruto why. I think her behavior the last episode and in this episode as well, is fully in accord with what we've seen from her before, and makes sense. What gives me something of a bad aftertaste is how emotionally manipulative she comes off in this episode. Perhaps she's not supposed to be, but that's the impression I get, and in the light of last episode that has some rather iffy implications that I don't think are completely intentional.

    By the way, I wouldn't be so sure she wouldn't accept Haruto's proposal, I mean, why bring it up if they're not going to follow through with it at least to some degree? Saki's had her eyes on him since ep 1, has been angsting about having no chance with him (re: Shouko), and even though she got to be a "pair" with him as VVV pilots, the arrival of Thunder and Kyuuma ended that. I think she's cynical enough to accept Haruto even though she knows that he doesn't really love her.

  16. On your last point, we'll see.

    I just feel as if the way Saki is being portrayed here sends a terrible and frankly dangerous message. If she'd fought kicking and screaming every step of the way, I'd have been more willing to seriously consider the possibility that this was an attempt at legitimate drama rather than just a cheap stunt for shock value (which clearly worked).

    You say this isn't the sort of show you wan't to see tackle a rape and what it does to someone? My response to that is, if that's true it's not the sort of show that should have introduced the issue in the first place.

  17. k

    To be honest, I tend not to care about messages. My personal opinion is that it would be stifling and boring if stories tried to convey the right and correct messages all the time. (FWIW that doesn't mean I never get offended about how a show/book/etc. presents some things, but if I do it's not because I worry about viewers getting educated the wrong way.) Mind, I'm not faulting anyone who feels uneasy or offended about how this issue is being treated in VVV. I can see where you're coming from, I just can't bring myself to feel the same. And as for her portrayal – as I said above, I think they're not doing a bad job with her.

    Frankly, I think this was never supposed to be anything more than a cheap stunt for shock value and shaking up the plot/relationships. They never wanted an actual, serious rape drama, that would've killed the show right away. So they built in some elements that tweak the situation just enough to give it a little ambiguity. (Haruto not doing it out of his free will and in a way being a victim as much as she is, and Saki's cynical personality and her attitude and feelings toward Haruto. Hell, I'm starting to think that the entire reason why Saki has the personality she does is because this way they could write that scene and do the follow-up without breaking the entire show.) Perhaps Saki fighting and screaming would've made the scene more palatable to some, but personally, I find what they're doing rather interesting and way less offensive than if they tried for a legitimate rape drama.

  18. s

    I see where you're coming from, but if that was the case, they shouldnt have brought it up in the first place, that way all of this ambiguity could have been avoided and the show would have kept its integrity as this goofy, fun yet somewhat serious and enjoyable mecha anime; I cant understand why they would put a scene like that in the show just to downplay it later on. Whether it was about rape or something else, that did not matter to me; from a story-telling standpoint, downplaying something made to seem like a major event doesnt make sense just like how it wouldn't make sense if a major character who was special to the cast in a story died and yet no one made a fuss about it; it doesnt make sense and that's not good story-telling.

  19. This isn't a free ride. When you introduce rape into the story, you don't get to breezily blow it off without consequences. if you don't deal with it seriously, it's impossible IMO not to make it seem as if you're trivializing it. And when you introduce it in as unsettling and malevolent a way as Valvrave did, that's all the more true. That's my take on it – if you feel differently, fine. But all I need to do is read the comments to last week's episode (here and elsewhere) to believe my concerns about how it would be taken are justified.

  20. s

    And in regards to a story sending a message; if there is no ambiguity about the topic they are presenting, then they should be sending out the right message to its audience whether its boring or not; there should be no question about that. If the topic is morally ambiguous or just plain debatable in general, then i agree that a story doesnt have to necessarily state the message that it believes to be correct and feed it to its audience as truth (in my opinion, those are the types of stories that are truly enjoyable and should not be stifled by "trying to be correct"); though it can arguably improve or hurt a story if a creator trying to create a story does pick a side to a debatable topic, that way its audience can choose to agree or disagree with the creator's sentiments.

  21. k

    But why do you say it was downplayed? Just because there was no huge drama about it? Honestly, I don't really understand what people expected, especially from Saki. Being an emotional wreck and sobbing in a corner? Her rounding up on Haruto and tell him how he hurt her or something? Anything like that would be completely going against not only her personality but also her actions in the scene in question. (Also, I'd just like to note that there's no standard "acceptable, believable" reaction to dealing with something like that. People deal with it in their own way.) Haruto tried to bring the matter up, but Saki wasn't having any of that. Saki "dealt" with the issue right there and then when it happened. Everything she did in this episode was her follow-up.

  22. k

    >Enzo

    But there were consequences. This entire episode was a consequence. Perhaps not the kind of consequence that some people were expecting, or what they wanted to see, but that's not the show's fault.

  23. H

    I'm pretty much with kuromitsu here. Saki is dealing with it. She has her understanding of the full situation, probably more than Haruto does, and has made decisions about how to deal with it, and how to deal with her ongoing relationship with Haruto. I think "It's a curse" and "I won't let him apologize" pretty much covers it from her side completely, in that she understands the causes and the outcomes. She obviously doesn't hold animosity towards Haruto, nor is even particularly conflicted about it.

    I think it's interesting that they had Haruto propose marriage. This is a guy who wouldn't even confess to Shouko. I think the bigger question about what happened is how Haruto is dealing with *his* guilt about what happened, even when he would seem to not really know the full details.

  24. We're clearly not going to meet in the middle on this. To sum up, I think the way the incident was portrayed was frankly quite irresponsible, and the aftermath – basically "she's fine" – compounds the issue. Anything that plays into rape mythology like this whole scenario isn't doing the world any favors.

    But as I said, we're not going to meet in the middle, and clearly this is a done deal as far as the show is concerned, so from my perspective there's not much point in pursuing the discussion any further. It is what it is.

  25. k

    >Enzo

    Just because she's not making a huge drama about it and she doesn't blame him Haruto doesn't mean she's "fine." Nothing that she did in this episode indicated that she was "fine."

    I typed up a long post, but then I refreshed and saw this_is_not_even_my_final_form below, and while I don't agree 100% with them, I completely agree with what they say about the interaction between Haruto and Saki in this episode. They put it much better than I could.

    Your concern with the show trivializing a serious real life problem is a valid issue, and I'm not arguing about that. (It's not one I feel strongly about, though. What with some shows/books/etc. I enjoy, I'm not going to be a hypocrite.) But as far as storytelling and characterization goes, I do think the show is doing a good job.

    (In the meanwhile, the heat is cooking my brain and I can't put a simple sentence together.)

  26. As I said, I don't see much point in pursuing this as we're clearly of a completely different view on this. I simply don't think it's valid to treat rape as just another plot point, and while Saki's reaction might be defensible based on her background if Haruto had verbally abused her or something of similar nature, after what happened it just doesn't float for me. You go down this dramatic path you better be prepared to address it in a singular way, and not as another day at the office. But that's really all I have to say on the subject.

  27. M

    I actually like how Saki doesn't change and act like normal. Saki has already being abused and bullied by adults since she was a child. That's why she has a cynical personality, and I can imagine that the rape just entered her list of 'shitty things that happened in my life', cried it over for a night, wipe it off and then act nonchalance. Maybe that's the way she survived in the idol industry. And it's not like it doesn't affect her at all, she realized how truly lonely she was when before this all she talks is about fame. IMO I think Sunrise handles the aftermath quite well.

  28. t

    I don't really agree at all, Enzie. I think they've done this resolution rather well.

    Saki is a person who has become cynical and hurt and ultimately jaded. After what had happened, she knew (even said as much) he was going to apologize and she didn't want to be pitied like that about something that wasn't in his hands. She knew that the issue would be buried, Haruto would apologize as if that fixed everything, then keep away from her. She would be lonely again. You can basically infer this from her prior flashbacks: Saki is lonely but has been betrayed so many times she's very very anti-humanity.

    So then you have Haruto. He spent this whole episode trying to tell her something. It wasn't "I'm sorry it wasn't my fault I'll give you whatever you want just alleviate my guilt", it was "I want to marry you". What he's doing is not running away, patching a hole, or covering up her scars. He's giving her the rest of his life. He's saying "I'll be there for you until the end, you won't be alone, I'm not going to deny your existence or forget you, you'll live forever through me." Instead of the predictable route of closing off their relationship "for the best", he's instead going to make it stronger, because he can tell that she wants bonds. She's clearly been jealous of Haruto and Shoko's bond several times before in the show, and her wall has now been shattered with a promise of an incredibly strong bond.

    It's often a jokish cliche, the old "you'd better take responsibility" trope. But the truth of the matter is that a person must take responsibility for their actions. Haruto is a nice, well-meaning young man, and he's taking responsibility for his actions by giving Saki what she desires most: companionship, in the most powerful form he can think of. This isn't a spur-of-the-moment thing, it's something he was clearly planning all night.

    Does Haruto love Saki? I don't know. Is this a healthy relationship? Depends. Is this the right thing to do? Maybe. Maybe not. But here's the question: Is this the best way for Haruto to respond? Yeah, I think it is. He's not thrown anything under the rug, has not abandoned Saki, and is doing his very best to make up for the night before.

    Haruto and Saki are two very brave characters, and I admire them for their actions.

  29. .

    Does the katakana in Valvrave OS-tan's message boxes really mean 'marriage'? I've looked in some katakana websites but all the chracaters I found spell out 'ketsukon'. That can't be right, right?

  30. C

    That's kekkon, not ketsukon. It's a little tsu, which is like a pause.

  31. .

    Thanks! I've always wanted to know if the OS messages in Japanese carry the same meaning as theiur English translations.

  32. H

    I have no idea if this was on purpose on your part or if my RSS aggregator was acting up again but I had a good laugh when I saw the preview image for this post.
    http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w114/wandering-dreamer/anime%20stuff/Picture1_zps931559b3.png

  33. h

    I find this extremely humorous.

  34. Pure coincidence – I never choose which image is going to be the preview, it just is what it is.

  35. s

    What are the circumstances that have left Saki so jaded about life? We've seen glimpses of her circumstances but in my opinion her hate for humanity is not really believable; but i guess it's whatever. There should have been more to the aftermath on both a story and character standpoint; To me, that's the way i see it. Im not asking for melodrama or teen angst; a good writer would know how to handle the aftermath of a situation such as this in a satisfying manner without it feeling downplayed or melodramatic but clearly the writers were not talented enough to do it so they probably should have never went that route in the first place. At least the other things going on in the episode were good and made it passable but still…… There are many reasons why i felt that the aftermath was handled poorly but alas, i shall end it here.

  36. T

    I think part of the problem is that Valverave simply have no time to narratively explore the topic of rape in great detail. To do so would require getting into the heads of Haruto and especially Saki, on a scale very disjarring considering the kind of show Valverave is. The aftermath was poorly handled, because it would have taken one more episode, something I doubt they can afford. Again, there's no time.

    However, based on what little we, the viewers can derive from the dialogue between Saki and Haruto, I think it's clear that Saki is a very screwed up person. I would have to agree that her non-chalance towards being rape actually fits her very character as an abused bitter teenager and attention whore. Perhaps, if we get into her mind, she is simply intellectualizing the rape as a mutual "rape" on both sides, brought about by the curse that they took on themselves. Going by that, I think her behavior is clearly a mask – she is committed to behaving in such a manner to prevent Haruto from blaming himself. Because, to her, Haruto is hardly responsible. I suspect that her intellectualizing goes along the lines of the Valverave being responsible for the rape, and her abusive history makes it very easy for her to rationalize such things. This is by no means normal, indeed, this is very very wrong, and I think this is what Valverave is trying to convey here.

    Basically, she's begging Haruto to be a life-line, and Haruto, acknowledging that he too is cursed, obliges. And her reaction is not that of a normal person, but someone very, very damaged, and already quite unhinged by her childhood.

  37. K

    I was beginning to like the characters of the show but after bringing some poorly written rape elements into the plot line and how they dealt with it in the episode…Dropped!

    I have absolutely no interest in this show anymore at all.

  38. E

    I've had some time to compile my thoughts elsewhere, and I think I can stay fairly conclusively that what Valvrave's writing here was too deep for you. Seriously. This seems to be normal, though, so I'll walk you through my thoughts.

    First off: By pretty much any reasonable definition, both Haruto and Saki were raped. If you don't agree with this, then the rest doesn't follow. This is the perspective the show is writing from.

    Second: Haruto and Saki are approaching the situation from identical perspectives. How does Haruto treat it? As a legitimately awful thing that happened to Saki. Something happened to him, but she's worse off, and he wants to do what he can to help her. How does Saki treat it? As a legitimately awful thing that happened to Haruto. Something happened to her, but he's worse off, and she wants to do what she can to help him. Haruto views himself as responsible, so there's some distinction there, but their mindset on the matter is exactly symmetrical. They just have different personalities, so that desire to help exhibits itself differently.

    Three: Correspondingly, they spend their time simultaneously trying to help the other. Haruto is obvious; he has no idea what he should do, but he's trying to find something. Saki is more subtle. Last episode, she had her "this really is a curse" moment, and this episode, she says she "won't let him apologize." So she enforces normality between them. When she gets an opportunity, she talks about how painful it is to be alone, but Haruto interrupts. I think the echo in the battle tells us what she was really starting to drive at there. She says "It's painful to be alone" right as she defends a helpless Haruto — in other words, while displaying that he is not alone.

    So she spends the entire episode trying to reach out at a time she knows he has to be feeling very alone, because she can sympathize. That's why she's bitter at the end, when she says "Good luck saving Shoko". Despite all her efforts, he's still chasing after someone else, and yet again she isn't the "one chosen" to anyone.

    Fourth: Haruto's proposal at the end can be for one of two reasons, and we don't know which yet. One, the shallowest reason, would be "taking responsibility" — the derisively-named "shotgun wedding" interpretation. Two, he's realized that Saki is offering to stand by him, and he's accepting.

    Fifth: In light of this, the second ending song is almost certainly about Saki and Haruto. Seriously, look up the lyrics. Hell, one of the last sets of lyrics is, "The promise I exchanged with you / Continues to echo, and I wish I could touch it,/ In its unchanging warmth." In light of the 200 year flash-forward, that's a pretty meaningful set of lines.

    Valvrave is handling this with extraordinary grace, class and subtlety, especially for a show so widely labeled schizophrenic or braindead dumb fun. I feel bad for the writers.

  39. F

    This is definitely a well thought out interpretation, and it could well be the case. However, the lack of time to properly cover the complex topic that rape is (balancing it with Shouko's loss really imbalanced it, IMO. Should've been its own episode), coupled with the marriage proposal (which, regardless of interpretation, is just a crazy, clearly not thought out idea. Teenage marriage works out when?) pretty much dilutes the grace, class and subtlety a great deal.

  40. F

    And turns out that he was proposing for reason #1.

  41. R

    It seems that the show missed a what might have been its opportunity to become a meaningful anime. But they may come back to this later.

    The 200 years promise seems to be this marriage proposal, but I feel that Haruto just told her what she wanted to hear instead of confronting what has happened. Maybe both of them will get exposed in the future, and Saki's little world will be no more and only tragedy will be left.

    I hope VVV's curve-ball will eventually hit a strike.

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