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Monday, June 30, 2014

Sasuke 30 Navi - Part 1

Title for Navi - Sasuke 2014: 放送直前スペシャル
(housou chokuzen special) {Chokuzen is "immediately before"}

It's that time again! This is Sasuke Navi 「SASUKE」ナビ- which went back to being a full hour special promoting Sasuke Rising (better known to us as Sasuke 30!).  For those who continue to be confused by the new name, the name delineates the rise from the Monster 9 Bankruptcy.  Anything past that point is considered to be "Rising" but continues in the same numbering as before. So this tournament is the 30th tournament.  Previous Sasuke "Navi" blogs can always be found on my site (Sasuke Navi 29, Sasuke Navi 28, Sasuke Navi 27, Sasuke Navi 26, Sasuke Navi 25, Sasuke Navi 24, Sasuke Navi 23, Sasuke Navi 22 and Sasuke Navi 21). Special thanks to Jason as always for providing my own stream and copy for the blog.  Massive thanks to several people from SMF for helping us with the paid service and to anshinritsumei and blt (from SMF) for hosting a stream for the community.  Everyone watching online at that time is what makes this experience so fun! Btw.. mental note I'm going to take my time with these blogs. I'm still getting cluster headaches during the day so I have to pace myself when I do these blogs. Luckily there is a few days break between Navi and the tournament itself. Whoot!  (P.S.  Thanks to Jin and Brett for the help with some words and kanji!)

By now if you don't remember that this show started in 1997.. then you don't watch the show! Ehem.. Sasuke 1 started as an indoor event, an offshoot from Kinniku Banzuke (Muscle Ranking).


Sasuke has continued roughly bi-annually as an outdoor event on the Midoriyama Studios lot for the past 17 years.

Introducing people who would become legends (cough Nagano cough) and imprinting themselves in the hearts and minds of viewers worldwide.

Sasuke has continued (despite a slight name change) for the past 17 years to the point where we are now celebrating it's 30th tournament.

Now in 2014, TBS is celebrating the history of the event while remembering past competitors and past tournaments.

This section is a montage of Sasuke Rising tournament clips (Sasuke 28-29) and reminding us that although it's now "Rising", the show is still the same as it always was.

In the year 2014, "Sasuke" now on it's 30th tournament.  This is the 3rd time an Anniversary tournament is held.   Shout out to Akiyama who is now retired. /cries

TBS reminding us that Sasuke in one form or another (mostly as Ninja Warrior sadly) has been sold to 157 countries and territories worldwide.  We all know by now that Sasuke is in a crisis with what happened with NBC severing ties with Sasuke and as a result the "Ninja Warrior" format now is a thing of the past. None of the Sasuke Rising tournaments (28, 29 and now 30) exist in a Ninja Warrior format.

TBS at least happy that it still gets royalties from the show that replaced Sasuke in the USA, now the juggernaut named American Ninja Warrior.  I cry that NBC refuses to air both.  Seriously..

TBS mentions Sasuke Malaysia and Sasuke Singapore as the other two countries that successfully branched out under the "Sasuke" name.


A reminder that Sasuke 29 also doubled as the Japan qualifier for the Sasuke Asean Open Cup that finally took place (much later than expected) in Malaysia on February 20-23, 2014.


Team Japan participated in the event on day 4 (Team Finals) in the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup.  (more on that later)


For the next half hour (of the hour-long broadcast) we get to see (from the Japanese perspective obviously), the Team Finals of the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup.

I honestly was surprised that they devoted this much time to the event. I'm thrilled, since the proposed television airing of this event in full (in Malaysia) never came to fruition. Finally we get to see "some" of the event.


This was the placeholder for where the actual opening titles for Navi came out.  It was a repeat of the Sasuke 29's Japanese flag over the Sasuke Rising sign. Obviously replaced by just Sasuke with Navi underneath. I'm curious if "Rising" will be back for the actual tournament. I hope not simply because it's causing all sorts of confusion.

A look back at Sasuke 29's airing back in June, 2013. Let's relive the moments that made me rage and want to throw out my computer out the window shall we!?

 Backstream バックストリーム
I still hate you...



The one obstacle everyone was talking about worldwide.. not just USA.. not just Japan.. yes. the $*&^%# Backstream. I already screamed enough about this flipping obstacle while blogging about it last year, so I'll leave it alone for now. It's shown for a reason though.


The reason it was shown is because there were only FOUR guys (out of 21 btw.. yes you read that right, 17 guys failed the 2nd Stage and most of them almost drowned) in Sasuke 29 that actually managed to live through that cursed stage. As a result, they were given automatic berths on the Japanese Team heading to the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup.


One of them we recognize as one of the Shin Sedai (新世代) literally "New Generation", who is a Tree Trimmer by trade.

 Kazuma Asa 朝一眞

OMG TBS IS EVIL!  They just called him the equivalent of the "Crying Gardener"..  (Technically the phrase is: Teary 涙の Tree Craftsman 植木職人) Wow.. they are merciless aren't they? LOL


Anyway, the Weeping Flower child Asa is the emotional guy I have been calling "The Spazz" for about 6 years now. LOL  This is him clearing the first stage in Sasuke 28.


One of the four survivors of the brutal Stage 2 in Sasuke 29, Asa earned his spot as one of the 5 members of the Japan National Team.


The next representative with almost no fluff piece (because honestly he's had quite a few by now), is New Generation Star Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志.


A former gymnast whom most remember him as a Finalist in Sasuke 23.  I was a little disappointed he we didn't see his wedding or his new baby.. but we still have the tourney for that. I am still holding out hope I see Emiko's wedding dress!

And by now most people recognize him without his clothes on.  He's worked hard for that so he is showing it off while he still can!

 Make way for the KONG EXPRESS!
Kenji Takahashi 高橋賢次


To my knowledge "Kong Express" is still a 1 man delivery company of which of course, he is the owner/operator. This is him emphatically celebrating passing the brutal 2nd Stage in Sasuke 29.

This still amazes me to this day.. (see below in real time...) He is a veteran of 15 Sasuke tournaments.  As a result of Sasuke 29's amazing performance he was also named to the National Team for Japan. (Sasuke 30 marks his 16th appearance)


THIS IS REAL-TIME FOLKS!!!! Yes.. he was that fast.. Poor Morimoto took 2 minutes and Kong took like 2 seconds..
THE KONG EXPRESS STOPS FOR NO ONE!!!!!!!!!!!


Sasuke 24 was his only final where he had the unfortunate incident of him getting the lead line tangled with the Rope causing him to come to a grinding halt. He talks about it candidly.

Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介.  Officially dubbed "Sasuke Kun", he a veteran of 6 Sasuke tournaments. Morimoto was the farthest man through Sasuke 29 and the first confirmed member of the Japanese Team by virtue of that feat.

This is him at home watching Sasuke with his parents at the kitchen table.  Heh, I eat watching television all the time. So I approve of this set up.

But of course most hardcore fans notice a little something that is going across the bottom of that awesome widescreen television.

Thaaaaaaat's right!  Sasuke bootleg baby!  I laugh that TBS so openly embraces the fact that he has every single Sasuke tournament on DVD.

It's just a shame that we will never get an official release of all 30 Sasuke tournaments thanks to politics, logistics and lack of waivers.  /sigh

 Morimoto made it to the 3rd stage in Sasuke 29 for the first time.

He made history in Sasuke being the first man to ever clear the Crazy Cliffhanger クレイジークリフハンガー during Sasuke 29.

And of course securing the first spot on the Japanese National Team heading to the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup.

So with the 4 lone survivors from Sasuke 29's 2nd stage (since all of them failed in the 3rd stage) we still needed 1 more spot to fill the 5 spots in Team Japan.

And that went to Sasuke All-star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟.  The de facto Leader of the team with the experience of all 29 Sasuke competitions under his belt.

Sasuke All-star Shingo Yamamoto 山本進悟 sporting his short shorts way back 17 years ago in the very first Sasuke tournament.

He's also a veteran of two Sasuke finals.  Sasuke 3 and Sasuke 7.

In Sasuke 29 he was the only All-star to actually pass the First Stage.

It's funny how they show him up to the Swap Salmon Ladder that he actually cleared.. because we all know how he just balked at the Backstream. LOL
 
So the pride of Japan is resting on the shoulders of these 5 men.  Team Japan has arrived to compete at the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup! (Finally...)



So will they win the Gold?

Finally after what seemed like a lifetime of delays, the Sasuke ASEAN Open Cup in Malaysia takes place! In the sweltering summer heat the tropics this event was held in February 20-13, 2014.

Day 4 was the Team competition comprising of 7 countries total all competing against each other in a timed competition.

 Team Taiwan 台湾 led by Sasuke Veteran Lee En-Chih (リー・エンチ)(李 恩至)

Suck it China!  They are known as Taiwan now!  Ehem.. All teams were 5 members strong and Taiwan was represented by Sasuke Veteran Lee.

  Team Malaysia マレーシア

  Team Singapore シンガポール

  Team Indonesia インドネシア

  Team Brunei ブルネイ

  Team USA er.. Team America アメリカ

For those a little confused by the name "America", in the Japanese language the United States of America is literally just known as "America" only.  To our North American, Central American and South American neighbors.. I'm sure they are sorry. LOL

  Team United States of America (USA) was comprised of Sasuke Veteran  David Campbell デイヴィッド・キャンベル, ANW's Brian Kretsch, Sasuke 27 Veteran Drew Dreschel, ANW's Mike Bernardo and Sasuke 27 Veteran Ryan Stratis ライアン・ストラティス

The format is one I'm not too wild about but let me explain it the best I can.  It's  Time Trial event.  There are 3 stages of competitions. Each stage is about 2-3 obstacles each.  Each team will send all their competitors to run each of the stages as fast as they can.  The times will be added together to come up with an average time. (I have to double check later but I think top and bottom times are dropped - just like gymnastics taking the middle 3 times as the final times for the team).  Whoever has the top combined time in that stage wins that stage.  Each stage has a point value ranking the teams after each stage. At the end of the competition whichever team has racked up the most points are the winners.

This is the official draw ceremony. Shingo draws the 4th spot for Japan in the 7 country competition.

All the teams celebrating the order in which they will run.  Japan will run 4th in this competition.

Last minute words with Asa as he tries to defend Japan's honor in this international event.

Morimoto's words as well as he's going to do his best to do the same.

 Rebel Yell to start the competition for Team Japan.

First stage is comprised of two obstacles. Yes yes this was a small event. It's fine though considering how much of a pain it was to organize this.

  The first obstacle is the Spider Walk (スパイダーウォーク).

 The second obstacle is the Ni Ren Soritatsu Kabe (2連そり立つ壁) literally "Double Warped Wall".

First to go in the First Stage is Team Malaysia マレーシア.  So the way this works is that each competitor has to touch the buzzer on top of the box to start the timer.  It ends when they touch the buzzer at the top of the 2nd Wall.

 Team Malaysia doing well through the Spider Walk.

 Up the first Wall

 And up the 2nd wall.

 Team Malaysia's first time is 19.07 seconds.

Team Japan just observing how fast the teams are going so far ahead of them.

  Next up is Team America アメリカ is Drew Dreschel ドリュー・ドレッシェル

TBS choosing to focus on the positive by cross promoting Drew as a competitor in ANW rather than the "guy that broke his leg in Sasuke 27". In my own opinion it's because TBS never showed the horrific injury on Japanese television, they didn't want to rehash Higuchi history, didn't want to show ANW 3 footage and they could cross promote international cooperation with NBC even though NBC is being an ass about Americans on the show at present.  Either way, Drew is being shown in a positive light on Japanese television. And that's a good thing!

 Okay!  Back to Drew in the Start line in the First stage.

 Nice pace through the Spider Walk.

 Flying up the first wall

 And positively crushing the current top time of 14.99 seconds.

 Hayai! ( Hayatsu 速つ ) FAST! QUICK!

Replay of how fast Drew was going up the Walls.

 Team Japan is just stunned at the sheer speed of Team USA.

 Team USA and Sasuke 27 Veteran Ryan Stratis ライアン・ストラティス also has a fast time of 16.98 seconds.

 Team USA Sasuke Veteran  David Campbell デイヴィッド・キャンベル and has a time of 17.46 seconds.

A small montage of basically how other teams were not as fast through the first stage.  The skill level was  not as high as the Americans to this point.


So right now the average 平均 time is 16.48 seconds.  The combined times taken (median 3) is 49.43 seconds.  (remember that the top and bottom times are discarded).

With that information it is now Team Japan's turn to run the First Stage.
 
 Up first for Team Japan is Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介.
 
 Teammates yelling encouragement. (Kanno, Asa, Kong)

 Nice quick pace through the Spider Walk.

 Nicely past the first Wall.

Team Japan is on the board with a very fast time of 16.30 seconds.  Their goal is to stay under the average time of Team USA (who is currently in First).

Up next for Team Japan is Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志

 Oh.. he slips in the middle of the Spider Walk.

 And a disappointed Kanno clocks in at a slow 18.35 for Team Japan thanks to that slip-up earlier.

If they hope to stay under that 16.48 second average time, his teammates have to be faster so they can drop his time.

A replay of where Kanno slipped on the Spider Walk.

 Up next is Asa (while Kong is hiding from the burning sun)

 And here we go!

 Yep saw it coming when they didn't put his name up. LOL

 And we are back!  Who's cuisine will reign supreme?

 Up next for Team Japan is Kazuma Asa 朝一眞

 Asa is pumping himself up to be able to get a faster time to raise the team average.

 Safely navigating the Spider Walk.

 Eagerly looking for his time!  Asa runs it at 16.59 seconds!

 Relieved that Japan has 2 of the top 3 times.  Drew's time of 14.99 is still the best.  Morimoto clocked in at 16.30 and Asa at 16.59 seconds.

The combined time of 51.24 seconds gives Team Japan 日本 2nd place (and 6 points) behind Team America アメリカ who is in the lead.

The rest of Stage 1 standings is as follows: 3rd place is Team Malaysia マレーシア, 4th place is Team Taiwan 台湾, 5th place is Team Brunei ブルネイ, 6th place is Team Singapore シンガポールand 7th place is Team Indonesia インドネシア.

 Onwards to the 2nd Stage!

Many were shocked to see this event. Not since Sportsman #1 have we seen it.  This is The Gallon Throw (ザ・ガロンスロー)

You take the basket in front of you. Throw it over your head and hopefully over this 10 foot wall.

Since this is a timed event, if you miss the first one you have 2 other baskets you can throw. That's why there are 3 of them at the start line. 

After throwing the basket over the wall you run to the Wall Lifting (ウォールリフティング) obstacles which are made up of 4 walls.

 First wall being 20 kg (44 lbs), followed by 30 kg (66 lbs).

Followed by 40 kg (88 lbs)

And finally 50 kg (110 lbs).

Now going in reverse order (and yes TBS is cutting 7th-4th place teams) is 3rd place Team Malaysia マレーシア.

Again, the timer does not start until you are ready. You start the timer and then run at your pace starting with the gallon throw.

Team Malaysia with a real strong performance lifting all the walls to finish the stage.

Happy with his time of 13.91 seconds, Team Malaysia's representative does a side flip off the platform.

Team Malaysia sets the bar at a great combined time of 39.31 seconds with an average of 13.10 seconds.  They are the current leaders so this is the time to beat.

Now onwards to 2nd Place Team Japan 日本.  First up for Team Japan is Kazuma Asa 朝一眞.

 Teammates shouting encouragement as Kong is protecting his dome from sunburn.

Asa barely lifting the walls as he wills his body through the obstacles.

Everyone knows I'm not a fan of the under-wall™ technique, but it's legal so I have to drop it.

Probably leaving his spleen and other internal organs strewn across the floor of the 2nd Stage.. Asa clocks in at an amazing 12.36 seconds.

 Asa: Arsenette doesn't like my technique.. wait.. neither do you?  Aw man... this is embarrassing.

 Up next for Team Japan is Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志

 Well, at least he's lifting the walls!

 And another slip from Kanno, this time falling on the floor of the 50kg wall.

 Disgusted at the slip, Kanno clocks in at 13.46 seconds.

 Whoot Nagano!  Because I can™ Mwahahaha

 Let's see that again!

Shout out to Inui walking on the left of the screen. LOL  Kanno embarrassed that he is costing Japan the title today with two major errors..

Make way for the KONG EXPRESS!
Kenji Takahashi 高橋賢次 is up next for Team Japan

 Asa: Dude you totally got this! I mean seriously this is your event!
Kanno: Don't fall.. like I did..
Shingo: Did I hear an ice cream truck? It's hot as hell out here and I'm hallucinating!

Kong roars out of the gate with a rebel yell.

 Kong: GET OUT OF MY WAY WALL!
Nagano:  EAT THE WALL!! JUST EAT IT!!

Kong finishes in a flurry almost destroying the buzzer platform! LOL!!  Takahashi clocks in the fastest time of 10.60 seconds!

AAAAAAAAAH THE KONG EXPRESS STOPS FOR NO ONE!

Team Japan comes in with a staggering average time of 36.42 seconds with an average of 12.14 seconds taking over First place as of now.  With one team left to go in the 2nd Stage..

With a smile on his face.. it's time for Team America アメリカ is Drew Dreschel ドリュー・ドレッシェル.  For those who don't know why Japan is worried, is because the day before, Drew swept the individual finals in all 3 stages!

 Team Japan holds it's breath.

 Drew with a rebel yell starts his run.

 FLYING through the stage AND lifting the walls.

Drew just DEMOLISHES the top time!  8.68 seconds for the time and a record on the 2nd Stage! (Even Faster than the day before!)

Shout out to Dustin Sims!

 Drew celebrating with the rest of Team USA.

  Tsuyoi 強い - STRONG!

 Team Japan is just.. stunned.

 STOCK FOOTAGE!  LOL This is actually from Day 3 (Individual Finals)

 Team USA continued to annihilate the times with Mike Bernardo clocking in at 9.54 seconds.

 Sasuke 27 Veteran Ryan Stratis ライアン・ストラティス also going sub 10 seconds.

The combined time of 28.06 seconds gives Team America アメリカ the win on the 2nd stage (and another 7 points). Team Japan 日本 takes 2nd place (and 6 points) again with a combined time of 36.02.

Looking forward to his strength, the 3rd stage, Morimoto is enjoying the competition. He comments about the amazing power of the USA team.

 Onwards to the 3rd and final stage.

The first obstacle is actually an upgrade of the original Devil Steps (デビルステップス). This one I'm calling the Double Devil Steps. When you get to the bottom of one step you go back up and down on the other side.  (On this photo you move Left to Right)

Immediately following the Devil Steps is the Unstable Bridge (アンステーブルブリッジ). Which looks oddly crooked on the final day. LOL

After that is the Lamp Grasper (ランプグラスパー), known as the Globe Grasp in English broadcasts.


And finishing with a Sasuke 9-17 version of the Cliffhanger (クリフハンガー) which is actually known as the クリフハンガー改 (literally "Altered" Cliff Hanger).

Montage again of the 7th-3rd place teams all having issues with various portions of Stage 3.

 Some falling on the Lamp Grasper.

 While others just had issues with the Cliffhanger.

 3rd place ended up being Malaysia (which they won't show in full)

Right now with 3rd Stage points for first place on the line (not that it will change the standings btw.. LOL) honor is at stake for Japan in the battle against the the top teams.  Team Japan vs. Team America. Think of the children!  Honor! Country!  Drama.. yeah yeah..

Okay so if I got this right (bear with me here..) The points got screwed up with the combined point totals.  The USA has 14 points for first place (should have been 7+7 points because they won both 1st and 2nd Stages so that number seems fine) and Japan has 11 points for second place which seems odd because they should be at 12 points (6+6) if they were 2nd in both 1st and 2nd stages.  So either Japan got 3rd in one of the stages (1st or 2nd)  (because it would have been only 5 points and not 6 points which would have been 11 points at this stage or the overall total is wrong right now).  We never did get a full record of the Team Finals from the production team (like we did for Individual Finals) so right now I'm guessing what these numbers mean.  It's clear though USA demolished everyone else to take Stage 2 in addition to Stage 1. Only Japan's total seem wrong right now.

I know there are tech issues (especially in the upcoming 3rd stage) where there were time penalties for fails (I think 30 seconds). Unsure if that was thrown in there or not from now on but I'll deal with points later..   

   Up first for Team Japan is Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介

 Nice and smooth through the Devil Steps.

 Team Japan hoping this is a nice fast time.

  Morimoto with no issues going through the Unstable Bridge.

 Good rhythm through the Lamp Grasper.

 And easily through the Cliffhanger.

Solid run for Team Japan clocking in at 33.79 seconds.  (almost 7 seconds faster than the individual finals where he got the silver medal just the day before)

Morimoto has had a phenomenal tournament.  Consistent in every stage he ran in both individuals and now Team Finals. I'm so proud of him! He didn't crack under international pressure.

Up next for Team Japan is Hitoshi Kanno 菅野仁志

 Wow.. AGAIN?  He choked 3 times!

 Lucky to have hung on, Kanno clocks in at 42.82.

 And for the record, Shingo did compete. LOL  His runs just weren't shown.

 Kanno is just happy to have hung on and not taken a time penalty for falling.



Up next for Team Japan is Kazuma Asa 朝一眞 who's gunning for the top time.

 All hopes are riding on Asa to finally win a Stage.

Most people might remember how he buckled under the pressure during the last international event he participated in. So this time, it's personal for him to do well in all the stages he competes in.

 Asa solidly clearing all the obstacles in a good time.

 Team Japan finishes strong with a time from Asa of 37.68 seconds.

Feeling redeemed he breaks into tears as he's been hugged by his teammate Kanno (who was also on that same team in Vegas).

Drew and Team USA is up next as Team Japan's combined 3rd Stage time of 114.29 seconds and an average of 38.09 seconds is the new benchmark.

Holding their breath, Team Japan watches quietly as the only team with the ability to beat them on this stage is up next.

First up for Team America アメリカ is Drew Dreschel ドリュー・ドレッシェル

  Flying through the Lamp Grasper with a super smooth rhythm.

  Fastest time again!  (besting his individual gold medal run by almost 6 seconds!) Drew clocks in at a staggering 32.91 seconds on the 3rd Stage.

 Drew gets a hug from his teammate Brian Kretsch.

 Haiyatsu!  はやっ! So Fast!

So the top 2 times in Stage 3 are Drew ドリュー (LOL they just call him by his first name) at 32.91 seconds and Yuusuke Morimoto 森本 裕介 at 33.79 seconds. Funny how they were also the top 2 times just the day before in the Individual Finals!

It seems that Team USA had to carry into their team average a bad time from Mike Bernardo which skewed their overall time.

Which gave Japan a win in Stage 3!  The combined time of 114.29 seconds gives Team Japan 日本 1st place for Stage 3 (and 7 points to bring their overall tournament points to 18 points) ahead of Team America アメリカ who clocked in at 163.29 seconds (and 6 points to bring the tournament total to 20 points).   Either way, USA wins the overall title having amassed enough points in Stage 1 and 2 and getting 2nd in the 3rd stage. So even if the Japan numbers were off by 1 point somewhere in stage 1 and/or 2, in the grand scheme of things they were still a couple points from winning anyway. USA had to be 4th or lower for Japan to even win. So all that aside congrats USA!

 Team Japan's Kazuma Asa 朝一眞 is overjoyed at winning the silver medal.

 And true to the Teary Tree Trimmer name (lmfao tbs..).. Asa is brought to tears.

 Team Japan 日本 brings home the Silver Medal!

 Team Malaysia マレーシア wins the Bronze Medal, Team Japan 日本 wins the Silver Medal and Team America アメリカ wins the Gold Medal!

続報  (zoku-hou) follow-up report
TBS getting dramatic when announcing who's coming to Sasuke 30 from this event!

 You saw him dominate everyone..

 with a smile on his face!

  Drew ドリュー (LOL they just call him by his first name)

  Coming from America (cough with Bernardo in tow)

Sasuke 参戦 (Sansen) Participation!

Zomg he's here!  We actually managed to convince NBC to let him come.. wtf.. why is this even necessary asking permission.. seriously..  NBC doesn't even show Sasuke in the states anymore..

 Real Life Ninja shirt. LOL!

LOL TBS totally piling on the pressure saying Drew is going to win (完全制覇 = "Complete Domination" or for some reason G4's Total Victory).

 And there he goes on the First stage!

Sasuke 30回 記念大会
Sasuke 30th Anniversary Tournament

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