A millennium has passed since the catastrophic nuclear war named the "Seven Days of Fire," which destroyed nearly all life on Earth. Humanity now lives in a constant struggle against the treacherous jungle that has evolved in response to the destruction caused by mankind. Filled with poisonous spores and enormous insects, the jungle spreads rapidly across the Earth and threatens to swallow the remnants of the human race.
Away from the jungle exists a peaceful farming kingdom known as the "Valley of the Wind," whose placement by the sea frees it from the spread of the jungle's deadly toxins. The Valley's charismatic young princess, Nausicaä, finds her tranquil kingdom disturbed when an airship from the kingdom of Tolmekia crashes violently in the Valley. After Nausicaä and the citizens of the Valley find a sinister pulsating object in the wreckage, the Valley is suddenly invaded by the Tolmekian military, who intend to revive a dangerous weapon from the Seven Days of Fire. Now Nausicaä must fight to stop the Tolmekians from plunging the Earth into a cataclysm which humanity could never survive, while also protecting the Valley from the encroaching forces of the toxic jungle.
Okay, so this is my first review, and my second favorite anime. I'm a Miyazaki fanatic, so take that into account if you must.
BACKGROUND: The most important thing to know when watching this is that this anime is from 1984 (ironic, right?) and that this is Miyazaki Hayao's second time directing (the first being Lupin III The Castle of Cagliostro, arguably the best Lupin film ever created.) Miyazaki and his producer Suzuki Toshio first met up because Suzuki, the editor of the magazine Animage, wanted some comments from Miyazaki about Lupin and Miyazaki basically told him to stop bothering him. After a while, however, Miyazaki began talking more with Suzuki and told him ideas that would eventually become two of his greatest stories; Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke (1997).
Now, I have heard two versions of what happened next. On the Nausicaa DVD bonus features it says that Miyazaki, who had intended to make an anime from the get go, was denied because he did not have a comic to back the feature up, and that the manga was created because of this. However, other sources such as the famous Nausicaa.net (Ghibli's #1 English Fansite), say that Miyazaki intended this to be a manga originally, and that the anime was almost forced upon him. I don't know which one is true, however I would note that Miyazaki's manga continued to run long after the movie was created. If his true intentions were a movie, why make the manga into something so much longer? (Note that the Nausicaa anime adapts the story until midway through the second volume of the manga. There are seven volumes in total. Viz Media makes an excellent English version.)
Either way, the Nausicaa film was Miyazaki's first story that he had written and directed. It should also be noted that after Nausicaa was made, Studio Ghibli was established from the staff who created Nausicaa.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was not an anime I expected to like. When I stared at the DVD case and the home screen of the DVD menu, I thought Nausicaa looked like a vulture and that this wouldn't be a fun anime at all, but, you can guess, I was very wrong. My dad and I started watching this kind of late and we didn't realize how long it was. Dad was tired and went to bed halfway through, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the screen.
STORY: The story was unlike anything I had ever seen before. We all know of post-apocalyptic stories set in the far future where man kind has almost been destroyed, but somehow this world was nothing like the other ones I had seen. Instead of mechas and advanced governments, there are giant insects, forests you can't breathe in, and kingdoms with both armored knights and airplanes. The setting is truly bizarre, but so interesting, you almost wish you were there. The theme Man vs. Nature is clearly distinguished in this movie whereas good vs. evil is almost shunned.
ART: I really respect the artwork done in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I am not going to compare this to modern day animation, because that's just not fair to the movie. This film was created without the help of a single computer, and it still looks this good. The action scenes are detailed enough to keep me satisfied. However, I can't give full points for art, as I laugh myself silly every time I watch the scene where everyone runs over to Nausicaa and hugs her. You see, the little girl wearing pink and red clothes, or strawberry shortcake as I like to call her, runs by about five times. XD Still, I give it a pass.
SOUND: Not much to say, I think that the seiyuu are wonderful in this. The musical score is done by one of my most favorite modern composers, Hisaishi Joe, and I really don't think that it feels eightys -ish at all. Sure we hear a few synths, but I feel it actually kind of works for the movie :) The insect music is really fitting. Although I do believe that this score is not as solid as I would have liked, something that Hisaishi gets better at throughout Ghibli's movies.
As for the Dub, I am not generally a fan of dubs, but this one is done very well. I especially enjoy Shia LaBeouf's voice as Asbel. The only thing I really resent is the pronunciation of Pejite. Peh-gee-teh, not kryptonite Pejite.
CHARACTERS: I mentioned before that my initial impression of Nausicaa felt very unpleasant, but this was the most incorrect judgement I had about the movie. Nausicaa is, in reality, a incredibly wonderful human being. She is benevolent and gentle, the scene where she first befriends Teto is one that I still hold my breath when watching. She is determined to protect what she deems important, but is level headed enough to asses situations thoroughly. However, she is not a saint. She is frightened and angered in the same way as everyone else. I think the best word to describe Nausicaa is human. I believe that Nausicaa herself does grow throughout the course of this movie. If you look at the scene earlier in the movie where she goes berserk at the Torumekian soldiers and compare that to the final scene with her and the Ohm, you can just tell.
Other than our peacemaker/heroine, the rest of the cast is excellent as well. Asbel, Yupa-sama, and Mito are an excellent supporting cast. Yupa-sama is one of the coolest swordsman I've seen, and he is one of the few who really understands how Nausicaa thinks as far as intellectually. Mito and Asbel are less like Nausicaa in nature, as they are prepared to blow up a few ships and kill enemies, but not without cause.
We also have what might be called the "bad guys," Kushana and Kurotowa. However, you might remember me saying earlier that the idea of good vs. evil is shunned in this movie. I stand by that statement because I have seen these characters. Kushana is very human, she has her dedication to her army and her country. Its unfortunate we don't see more of Kushana like we do in the manga, but that can't be helped. Kurotowa may be the funniest character on the set, his slyness truly makes me laugh. These characters show that even those who are branded as "evil" can never really be called that.
ENJOYMENT/OVERALL: Over all, it is a great treat to watch Miyazaki's first story unfold. Miyazaki Hayao, you've done a great job with this movie, even if you weren't satisfied :D It has become my second favorite anime movie.
Please rate as Helpful or Not Helpful, as either one will help me write better reviews in the future.read more
MANGA, ANIME: Nausicaa was originally a manga with story and art done by Hayao Miyazaki (Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away) that, ironically enough, was only created so that the movie could eventually be made, as Toshio Suzuki, the producer, couldn't get money for a film that wasn't based on a manga. It was serialized in Animage magazine from February of 1982 to March of 1994, and was licensed Stateside by Viz Media, and consists of a total of seven collected volumes.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was created before Studio Ghibli actually existed and distributed by Toei, but is considered to be the first of its movies, and was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was released theatrically in Japan on March 4th, 1984. It was first bought Stateside by New World Pictures in the 1980s as a horribly butchered version known as Warriors of the Wind, which caused Ghibli to add a no editing clause to all of its future licensing contracts. When Disney licensed the Ghibli movies, they rereleased the movie in its original uncut format and redid the dub track, coming to DVD on February 22nd, 2005.
STORY: A millenium after the "Seven Days of Fire" that destroyed the world as we knew it, forests of poisonous plants and fungi and giant bugs are spreading through the world, isolating and swallowing human settlements. Nausicaa is the humane princess of one of the few untouched human settlements known as the Valley of the Wind, known for its peaceful inhabitants. However, an airship that crashes in the Valley and its cargo will expose the Valley to the machinations of its larger, more powerful, warlike neighbors...
Nausicaa is considered to be Miyazaki's life's work in many circles of anime fans. And I can honestly believe that; the effort that went into the story in weaving together so many differing subplots into one coherent whole that merges at the story's end. There are, that I can remember off the top of my head, two political subplots, two involving the poisonous forests, two involving weapons to destroy the forest, and probably a few plot threads I'm missing somewhere in there.
The environmental themes can get a bit heavy handed at times, and the fairly black-and-white dichotomy of the characters seems a bit simplistic. Also, you can see Miyazaki archetypes developing in most of the characters; there's the kind, resourceful young heroine (Nausicaa), the older, mature woman who has lost her way but is redeemed in the end (Kushana), the plucky young male sidekick (Asbel), the older wise woman (Obaba) and man (Lord Yupa) mentor figures, and, unfortunately, they aren't characterized much beyond that.
ART: The Ghibli character design conventions are clearly being developed here; big hair, small noses, and a very specific eye style. However, the animation itself is still incredibly exquisite; the backgrounds, Ohmu herd scenes, and the jungle and its creatures are amazingly designed, and the animation sequences themselves are incredibly beautiful.
MUSIC: Joe Hisaishi did the work on the music for this, as he has on all of the Ghibli films since. However, this one is tinged with a little more of 80s influence; there are synthesizers that run rampant through the music, and while they're used to pretty decent effect and blend with the orchestral parts of the pieces, it dates the music.
SEIYUU: I haven't really watched the subbed version of this in quite some time, but, for the most part, from what I can remember, it was a pretty good job on the Japanese end of things, and I recognize some of the seiyuu from other productions (one was Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke, most notably).
VOICE ACTORS: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm beyond pleased at the English voicework for Nausicaa. Some of the names on the production include Patrick Stewart (Star Trek), Uma Thurman (Kill Bill), Shia LeBeouf (Transformers), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), and Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), and they all do an amazing job voicing their characters and not making them sound ridiculous or like their voicework doesn't fit the character.
DUB: Again, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have absolutely no criticism whatsoever for the dubwork on this. Translations are done accurately, there's no intentional flubbing of the original meaning, and it's fairly well done. Yes, some of the expository dialogue and the dialogue that states what they're doing as the character does it (there's a name for it, I'm sure of it) is kind of annoying, but, really, it could be far, far worse.
LENGTH: The movie starts to drag about an hour and a half in, but the creators recognize it and pick up the pace at that time. The overall pacing is slow, but builds towards the climax of the film.
OVERALL: A slower-paced film with an excellent interweaving of subplots into a coherent whole with slightly archetypal Miyazaki characters, beautiful art and animation, if beginning to show the Ghibli character design archetypes, wonderful if slightly dated music, solid seiyuu, and amazing voice acting and dub work in English. Definitely worth a watch.
Nausicaa came out in 1984 and was the 2nd movie ever directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It was also one of only 2 Miyazaki movies that was based on one of his original manga. The other was "The Wind Rises" in 2013. Nausicaa is an unusual movie, so it often gets overlooked and it is probably the single most underrated Miyazaki movie in the US.
A large part of the problem was an absolutely BUTCHERED port of the movie called "Warriors of the Wind" released by Disney in the 1980s. Nausicaa was intended to teach morals to a younger audience, but was NOT purely a children's movie in the way that Disney executives wanted it to be. 25 minutes of footage including all of the violent scenes were cut out. The anti-war theme was removed. The mutant insects representing nature were changed to be evil and the giant robot representing Nuclear warfare was changed to being presented as good! In effect, "Warriors of the Wind" preached the EXACT opposite message of what Miyazaki intended! A few of Disney's changes were at least understandable in the context of the 1980s and corporate marketing. Nausicaa could hardly be marketed to small children as a "Disney Princess" if she went into a berserker blood rage and brutally murders 4 soldiers with a God Damn medieval war hammer Robert Baratheon style! (this actually happens in the film!) Disney destroyed Nausicaa by trying to change it into purely a small children's film, which it was never intended to be! Fortunately, Nausicaa was FINALLY re-released in the West in its original form...in 2005!
Nausicaa takes place in a post apocalyptic world, several hundred years after a global war destroyed most of the planet's life in just 7 days. The majority of the planet is covered by toxic jungle and dominated by mutant insects. The majority of the planet's soil was so polluted by the war, that the only plants that adapted and survived were highly radioactive and toxic to humans. Although it later turns out that these future flora can be raised to be non-toxic if grown in some of the remaining clean soil. Nausicaa is the princess of the small Wind Valley civilization squeezed between 2 perpetually warring military juggernauts, much like the US and USSR. Nausicaa is one of very few humans left alive who still believes that nature hasn't turned its back on mankind and works to reconcile mankind with nature. She desires to learn how to live with the mutant insects and de-toxify the forest rather than try exterminate the insects and burn down all the forests to make way for more cities. Nausicaa unwillingly becomes involved in a massive war between the 2 neighboring superpowers and must stop a plot to resurrect one the giant, organic, WMDs that caused the apocalypse in the first place. Nausicaa must find a way to both end the war, and stop the insects from wiping out mankind, which is a pretty tall order for most princesses! I don't want to spoil too much, but the plot, adventure, world building, and allegories are absolutely spectacular for a young adult movie, especially factoring in the time in which this was written.
Themes, messages, and execution: 10/10
Nausicaa takes on many themes and messages for a young adult film. Nausicaa broke the 1980s mold of American "good guys" and "evil" Soviets and instead presented both military superpowers as deeply misguided, but not innately evil. In fact, even the film's villains are morally ambiguous and have sympathetic characteristics, which was completely outside the norm for most movies in the mid 1980s, ESPECIALLY movies aimed at young people. The movie is un-apologetically feminist, but not in a way that seems forced, preachy, or obnoxious. I don't think I need to explain that this wasn't normal in 1980s Japan where female characters were either getting constantly captured (Hi Yuria from Hokuto) raped, or both. Usually it was both. Nausicaa managed to have a strong environmentalist message without turning to crap like Captain Planet or fucking Birdemic. That is actually a lot harder than you might think! There are very few actually GOOD environmentalist movies. Most make the mistake to be simultaneously obnoxious and preachy, while at the same time blaming pollution on a few "bad guys" instead of mankind as a whole. This leads viewers to mistakenly think that they aren't contributing to the problem and don't need to do anything, unless they are a corporate scumbag dumping tons of toxic waste into the ocean for the lulz! Nausicaa also manages to teach a strongly pacifistic message during a time when nearly ALL popular movies were pro war like Rambo 2 and 3, Red Dawn, Commando, etc. WE are good and WE must exterminate THEM because THEY are BAD! That was the basic message of nearly every fucking American movie in the 1980s. Nausicaa not only bucked nearly every social trend of its time, but it delivered Miyazaki's personal values and opinions in a way that was nuanced and well done instead of propaganda beaten in with a meat tenderizer (see 1980s anti-drug commercials). If you are politically to the right, you MAY take a disliking to Nausicaa since it is probably the most leftwing film NOT directed by Sergei Eisenstein. However, it is an extremely well made film, so you SHOULD appreciate it no matter what your political opinions are. For example, I am not politically far right, but I think Triumph of the Will is on a purely technical level one of the best films ever made. I will even begrudgingly admit Gone With the Wind is a great film...although I like Triumph a lot more. Basically, don't listen to someone who says Nausicaa sucks due to its political leanings. That is bullshit!
The art and specifically the fluidity of the animation isn't quite on par with some of Ghibli's later works. It doesn't look nearly as pretty as Mononoke or Spirited Away. However, it looks AMAZING relative to most other anime of the 1980s. Only a few 1980s anime movies like Akira and arguably Ghost in the Shell really look significantly better than Nausicaa.
The Wind Village flute theme will get stuck in your head for months! I deduct 1 point for deadly ear worm status!
Nausicaa is an underrated masterpiece! The fact that it is rated on MAL below the likes of Free!, the 1990s version of Hunter X Hunter, and Code Geass, is in my opinion an absolute disgrace! Nausicaa is one of very few anime movies good enough for me to actually go out and buy. I REALLY don't own many anime, but I own a copy of Nausicaa. I basically can't praise this movie enough. If you haven't seen it yet, go out and do so. Also if you had the misfortune of having to see "Warriors of the Wind" PLEASE go and watch the original. It is a LOT better!read more
Nausicaä has aged so gracefully that it ends up being a dozen times more impressive than anything coming out right now in the industry. An exceptionally influential work of art in the anime canon, the sheer amount of passion and ambition carries over decades later to hold it up without strain, standing proudly right alongside modern creations like a legendary queen.
The film opens on an apocalyptic world that has been ravaged overtime by a relentless toxic jungle. Humanity struggles to live with something so lethal, and as unrest between warring kingdoms build overtime, one spark is all it could take to plunge humanity into the final battle leading to their extinction. However, in this unbalanced world, a group of people have found peace in a small valley where they live off of the wind and earth; a sanctuary from the ever spreading toxic jungle. But when the conflict from the rest of the world suddenly winds up at their doorstep, it appears that Nausicaä, the valley kingdom’s princess, may be the only mediator who can resolve the tensions between all parties.
This was Hayao Miyazaki’s first big project, made before the formation of Studio Ghibli, and right off the bat it’s evident that we have a master writer and director at the helm. Every element in this script is handled cleverly and carefully, from the different reasoning and rationale of every party involved in the conflict, to the marvelous world building and art direction. He creates a successful balance of showing and telling, evident in nearly all of his family films afterwards. There’s enough dialogue so that youngsters can follow what’s going on, but he also makes sure to animate absolutely everything in the script so that the visuals tell the story as well as the dialogue, which what all good films should strive for. I’m convinced that a deaf man watching this movie without subtitles would be able to completely understand it just by going off of the animation alone. This is part of the reason why Hayao’s films are so accepted and treasured: they can be enjoyed at so many levels and that’s where a lot of the appeal comes from. There’s honest effort to tell this story as well as possible by using all of the tools of filmmaking.
Even when nearly everything’s spelled out clearly in all aspects, it doesn’t feel condescending whatsoever, and there’s just as many subtle things that audiences can discover and think about on their own. The character relationships all feel deep and strong without showing too much, the settings are so detailed that every rewatch uncovers new visual aspects that only add to the rich environment, and the script knows just when to shut up and let the visuals alone handle the storytelling. One of the best examples is when Nausicaä leads one of the giant insects back to the toxic jungle. Once it’s gone, she discovers another lone insect, an ancient looking Ohm covered in calming blue eyes, staring at her from miles away. The next minute is dedicated to letting the image sink in and watching the creature slowly turn and slide away across the horizon. Subtle moments like this interspersed expertly throughout the film are just enough to let the audience absorb everything that’s been presented to them, letting them take in the scale of this massive story (and for those who have already seen the film, that scene is a clever bit of foreshadowing for how the Ohms view Nausicaä by the end).
If there was one major problem, after a long time of charming and poetic dialogue and expert pacing, the ending appeared to be pulling a fast one out of nowhere. Compared with an easygoing flow of contemplative themes and subtlety, the conclusion felt a tad bit rushed, as if compensating for long runningtime or something. Now, don’t get me wrong, the actual content of the finale and resolution is fair, and the film leaves on an extremely good scriptural note with the visuals leaving as much of an impression as the rest of the time. It just felt like it was going about 20% faster than it should have, especially evident in the dialogue. You can sort of tell as they rush into the epilogues with the overlaid credits, it could have been handled just a bit better. In no way does that make the ending bad, because it’s a very memorable finale and in any other movie I might not have complained as much as I’m doing now, it was just a noticeable drop from fantastic to just…good. It doesn’t bring the movie crashing down in the least, we have a great film with a good ending, that’s all there is to it.
Nausicaä herself is one of the best anime protagonists, period. Absolutely everything she does is entertaining, respectable, lovable, and at times even inspirational. She’s kind and reasonable to absolutely everyone she encounters, but has her limits when people do particularly horrible things. We feel every bit of her emotions as she goes through the film, we laugh with her in the beginning, we cry with her when the going gets rough, we root for her whenever she takes action, and we stand by everything she does in order to get this conflict resolved. She is a perfect character to get behind in a story full of clashing opinions and endless turmoil; she couldn’t care less about any political spectrum and just focuses on the preservation of life, no matter who it belongs to. This results in a fantastic outlier to the other groups, as well as someone we can follow morally as an inspiration. Much like the characters observe in the movie, when we see her confidence and leadership, we truly believe that she will bring around a good ending in response to everything bad going on. So there’s one of my favorite characters in anime, and she’s certainly my favorite woman written by Miyazaki, and considering his resume, that’s saying a lot.
Thankfully, Nausicaä has an entire cast full of different beliefs and distinct, memorable personalities to work with when searching for that happy ending. Despite not getting too much focus overall, Lord Yupa is an unforgettable wise man with a surprising knowledge of swordplay, and his actions leave as much impact as Nausicaä’s. Kushana is a great leader character with an understandable motivation beneath her armor, her army sidekick (whom I’ll just refer to as :-\ ) is awfully fun to watch, and it’s pretty entertaining to see their relationship gradually brought to light overtime. Obaba, Asbel, Estelle, the Pejites, the Tolmekians, all of the residents of the valley, be them the snarky old men or the energetic children, every single one of them are described perfectly through however many lines they get in the script and by the animation portraying how they act. As a first major piece, Hayao definitely put as much effort into all of his characters as he did with the plot and his world. With subtle dialogue and body language, strong relationships and personalities are made evident with ease, and it’s yet another aspect that Ghibli excels at in all of their films. One last tiny thing to touch on, I’m glad that the relationship between Nausicaä and Asbel grew without ending in another forced romantic item, because that would have been so very easy to do in order to squeeze out a bit more cheap, unneeded emotion that has nothing to do with the themes at hand. The script knew what to focus on, and I’m overjoyed that it did because we have an entirely lovable cast to carry this story. All of these characters have understandable political viewpoints and represent the entire spectrum of how to deal with the same problems, and this is what makes good, smart conflict.
Hold on, how old is this animation? More than 30 years? Hot damn. This movie is the reason why I have a hard time crediting messy animation from anime around the same time. Because frankly, this film still looks incredible. During the time, this was an unbelievably ambitious project, and it makes sense that it would need unbelievably ambitious animation to pull it off. The sheer amount of polish applied to the lineart, cell shading, and backgrounds has helped it out immensely in the long run. Obviously the animation style has aged nontheless, and it looks out of place compared to today’s anime market, but I give so much credit to the team behind the art for making it stand the test of time much longer than that other 99% of anime from before the early 80’s. Hell, if most messy material from the 90’s was blown away by Nausicaä after just a decade, I think it’s safe to say that the animators went above and beyond regardless of a couple aspects that feel old nowadays.
The cinematography, the character animation, the intricate backgrounds, the surprisingly vibrant colorization, all of these aspects are still incredible to behold. The designs used to show the vast world are so inventive and sometimes just plain clever. The style of the insects are unforgettable, as are the airships and how detailed their form and build is. One of the smaller ships straight up looks like a pistol with wings, that is so intriguing to me, and loads of little things like that throughout the array of fictional technology make it enriching to bask in. Using lots of segmented background paintings to animate the massive Ohms is so clever and fun to watch, I just love how creatively they used limitations as advantages to portray Hayao’s art.
The sound department is where a couple more complaints lie, which again, is making it sound like a bad thing when many more amazing things lie in this movie’s sound design. The music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, who became a staple for Miyazaki’s future projects, which was a good idea because these two go together like Hitchcock and Herrmann. The moving orchestral pieces fit perfectly with the epic story, and many of his compositions are notorious for being easy to get stuck in your head after the film’s long over. Some are beautiful, some are atmospheric, some are responsible for a couple tears, but in Nausicaä’s case, some have stayed in the 80’s while the rest of the film clearly hasn’t. As much as I love the man’s work, Hisaishi’s synths hurt this anime more than they add to it. When some of the quieter scenes are coupled with calming electronic music, it ends up being effective. But oh man, when the first Ohm crashes out of the jungle and the cheesy action video game music starts up out of nowhere…oh boy. Some tracks have aged better than others, and unfortunately there were quite a few places where not only did the score feel out of place, but the editing of said score felt choppy and lazy. Even though I do kinda like that cheesy 80’s action chase track for just being…well, cheesy, next to Hisaishi’s symphony it really pales in comparison.
2005 brought us a great dub courtesy of Disney that adds yet another level of likability and delight to these characters. Everyone involved does a solid job with their portrayals and I can’t think of a single voice that felt out of place or uninvested in deliveries. Major props to both Patrick Stewart for an awesome Lord Yupa, and Alison Lohman for being the complete embodiment of Nausicaä, nailing almost every single one of her lines with great emotion and impact.
Alright, I think I’ve swooned over this film long enough for you to get the picture. I really do think that this film is one of Miyazaki’s finest, top 5 at least, and I always have a blast watching it no matter when the occasion. Everytime I sit down to experience it again, I end up loving it even more. As a film that just gets more and more impressive, as a exceptionally important anime, as a brilliant family movie, and most importantly, as an emotional adventure, it’s definitely worth your watch.
Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind:
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