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First tankōbon volume, released in Japan
on July 6, 1992 featuring Usagi Tsukino as Sailor Moon.
(Bishōjo Senshi Sērāmūn)
|Written by||Naoko Takeuchi|
|Magazine||Nakayoshi, Run Run|
|Original run||December 28, 1991 – February 3, 1997|
|Anime television series|
Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn, originally translated as Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon and later as Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) is a Japanese shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi. It was originally serialized in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997; the 60 individual chapters were published in 18 tankōbon volumes. The series follows the adventures of a schoolgirl named Usagi Tsukino as she transforms into Sailor Moon to search for a magical artifact, the "Legendary Silver Crystal" (「幻の銀水晶」 Maboroshi no Ginzuishō, lit. "Phantom Silver Crystal"). She leads a diverse group of comrades, the Sailor Soldiers (セーラー戦士 Sērā Senshi) (Sailor Guardians in later editions) as they battle against villains to prevent the theft of the Silver Crystal and the destruction of the Solar System.
The manga was adapted into an anime series produced by Toei Animation and broadcast in Japan from 1992 to 1997. Toei also developed three animated feature films, a television special, and three short films based on the anime. A live-action television adaptation, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, aired from 2003 to 2004, and a second anime series, Sailor Moon Crystal, began simulcasting in 2014. The manga series was licensed for an English language release by Kodansha Comics in North America, and in Australia and New Zealand by Random House Australia. The entire anime series has been licensed by Viz Media for an English language release in North America and by Madman Entertainment in Australia and New Zealand.
Since its release, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon has received acclaim, with praise for its art, characterization, and humor. The manga has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling shōjo manga series. The franchise has also generated $5 billion in merchandise sales.
In Minato, Tokyo, a middle-school student named Usagi Tsukino befriends Luna, a talking black cat who gives her a magical brooch enabling her to become Sailor Moon: a soldier destined to save Earth from the forces of evil. Luna and Usagi assemble a team of fellow Sailor Soldiers to find their princess and the Silver Crystal. They encounter the studious Ami Mizuno, who awakens as Sailor Mercury; Rei Hino, a local shrine maiden who awakens as Sailor Mars; Makoto Kino, a tall transfer student who awakens as Sailor Jupiter; and Minako Aino, a young aspiring idol who awakens as Sailor Venus, accompanied by her talking feline companion Artemis. Additionally, they befriend Mamoru Chiba, a high-school student who assists them on occasion as Tuxedo Mask.
In the first arc, the group battles the Dark Kingdom. Led by Queen Beryl, a team of generals—the Four Kings of Heaven (四天王 Shiten'ō, lit. "Four Heavenly Kings")—attempt to find the Silver Crystal and free an imprisoned, evil entity called Queen Metaria. Usagi and her team discover that in their previous lives they were members of the ancient Moon Kingdom in a period of time called the Silver Millennium. The Dark Kingdom waged war against them, resulting in the destruction of the Moon Kingdom. Its ruler Queen Serenity later sent her daughter Princess Serenity, her protectors the Sailor Soldiers, their feline advisers Luna and Artemis, and the princess's true love Prince Endymion into the future to be reborn through the power of the Silver Crystal. The team recognizes Usagi as the reincarnated Serenity and Mamoru as Endymion. The Soldiers kill the Four Kings, who turn out to have been Endymion's guardians who defected in their past lives. In a final confrontation with the Dark Kingdom, Minako kills Queen Beryl; she and the other Soldiers then sacrifice their lives in an attempt to destroy Queen Metaria. Using the Silver Crystal, Usagi defeats Metaria and resurrects her friends.
At the beginning of the second arc, Usagi and Mamoru's daughter Chibiusa arrives from the future to find the Silver Crystal. As a result, the Soldiers encounter Wiseman and his Black Moon Clan, who are pursuing her. Chibiusa takes the Soldiers to the future city Crystal Tokyo, where her parents rule as Neo-Queen Serenity and King Endymion. During their journey, they meet Sailor Pluto, guardian of the Time-Space Door. Pluto stops the Clan's ruler Prince Demand from destroying the spacetime continuum, leading to her death. Chibiusa later awakens as a Soldier—Sailor Chibi Moon and helps Usagi kill Wiseman's true form, Death Phantom.
The third arc revolves around a group of lifeforms called the Death Busters, created by Professor Soichi Tomoe, who seek to transport the entity Pharaoh 90 to Earth to merge with the planet. Tomoe's daughter, Hotaru, is possessed by the entity Mistress 9, who must open the dimensional gateway through which Pharaoh 90 must travel. Auto-racer Haruka Tenoh and violinist Michiru Kaioh appear as Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who guard the outer rim of the Solar System from external threats. Physics student Setsuna Meioh, Sailor Pluto's reincarnation, joins the protagonists. Usagi obtains the Holy Grail, transforms into Super Sailor Moon, and attempts to use the power of the Grail and the Silver Crystal to destroy Pharaoh 90. This causes Hotaru to awaken as Sailor Saturn, whom Haruka, Michiru, and Setsuna initially perceive as a threat. As the harbinger of death, Hotaru uses her power of destruction to sever Pharaoh 90 from the Earth and instructs Setsuna to use her power over time-space to close the dimensional gateway.
In the fourth arc, Usagi and her friends enter high school and fight against the Dead Moon Circus, led by Queen Nehelenia, the self-proclaimed "rightful ruler" of both Silver Millennium and Earth. Nehelenia invades Elysion, which hosts the Earth's Golden Kingdom, capturing its High Priest Helios and instructing her followers to steal the Silver Crystal. As Prince Endymion, Mamoru is revealed to be the owner of the Golden Crystal, the sacred stone of the Golden Kingdom. Mamoru and the Soldiers combine their powers with those of the Holy Grail, enabling Usagi to transform into Eternal Sailor Moon and kill Nehelenia. Four of Nehelenia's henchmen, the Amazoness Quartet, are revealed to be Sailor Soldiers called the Sailor Quartet, who are destined to become Chibiusa's guardians in the future; they had been awakened prematurely and corrupted by Nehelenia.
In the final arc, Usagi and her friends are drawn into a battle against Shadow Galactica, a group of false Sailor Soldiers. Their leader, Sailor Galaxia, plans to steal the Sailor Crystals of true Soldiers to take over the galaxy and kill an evil lifeform known as Chaos. When Galaxia kills Mamoru and most of the Sailor Soldiers, she steals their Sailor Crystals. Usagi travels to the Galaxy Cauldron to defeat Galaxia and revive her teammates. Joining Usagi are the Sailor Starlights who come from the planet Kinmoku, their ruler Princess Kakyuu and the infant Sailor Chibichibi, who comes from the distant future. Later, Chibiusa and the Sailor Quartet join Usagi and company. After numerous battles and the death of Galaxia, Sailor Chibichibi reveals her true form as Sailor Cosmos. After defeating Chaos with the Silver Crystal, Usagi revives Mamoru and the Sailor Soldiers, before returning to Earth. The series ends with Usagi and Mamoru's wedding six years later.
Naoko Takeuchi redeveloped Sailor Moon from her 1991 manga serial Codename: Sailor V, which was first published on August 20, 1991, and featured Sailor Venus as the main protagonist. Takeuchi wanted to create a story with a theme about girls in outer space. While discussing with her editor Fumio Osano, he suggested the addition of Sailor fuku. When Codename: Sailor V was proposed for adaptation into an anime by Toei Animation, Takeuchi redeveloped the concept so Sailor Venus became a member of a team. The resulting manga series became a fusion of the popular magical girl genre and the Super Sentai series, of which Takeuchi was a fan. Recurring motifs include astronomy, astrology, gemology, Greek and Roman mythology, Japanese elemental themes,:286 teen fashions, and schoolgirl antics.
Takeuchi said discussions with Kodansha originally envisaged a single story arc; the storyline was developed in meetings a year before serialization began.:93 After completing the arc, Toei and Kodansha asked Takeuchi to continue the series. She wrote four more story arcs, which were often published simultaneously with the five corresponding seasons of the anime adaptation. The anime ran one or two months behind the manga.:93 As a result, the anime follows the storyline of the manga fairly closely, although there are deviations. Takeuchi later said because Toei's production staff were mostly male, she feels the anime has "a slight male perspective."
Takeuchi later said she planned to kill off the protagonists, but Osano rejected the notion and said, "[Sailor Moon] is a shōjo manga!" When the anime adaptation was produced, the protagonists were killed in the final battle with the Dark Kingdom, although they were revived. Takeuchi resented that she was unable to do that in her version. Takeuchi also intended for the Sailor Moon anime adaptation to last for one season, but due to the immense popularity, Toei asked Takeuchi to continue the series. At first, she struggled to develop another storyline to extend the series. While discussing with Osano, he suggested the inclusion of Usagi's daughter from the future, Chibiusa.
Written and illustrated by Naoko Takeuchi, Sailor Moon was serialized in the monthly manga anthology Nakayoshi from December 28, 1991 to February 3, 1997. The side-stories were serialized simultaneously in RunRun—another of Kodansha's manga magazines. The 52 individual chapters were published in 18 tankōbon volumes by Kodansha from July 6, 1992, to April 4, 1997. In 2003, the chapters were re-released in a collection of 12 shinzōban volumes to coincide with the release of the live-action series. The manga was retitled Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and included new cover art, and revised dialogue and illustrations. The ten individual short stories were also released in 2 volumes. In 2013, the chapters were once again re-released in 10 kanzenban volumes to commemorate the manga's 20th anniversary, which includes digitally remastered artwork, new covers and color artwork from its Nakayoshi run. The books have been enlarged from the typical Japanese manga size to A5. The short stories were republished in two volumes, with the order of the stories shuffled. Codename: Sailor V was also included in the third edition.
The Sailor Moon manga was initially licensed for an English release by Mixx (later Tokyopop) in North America. The manga was first published as a serial in MixxZine beginning in 1997, but was later removed from the magazine and made into a separate, monthly comic to finish the first, second and third arcs. At the same time, the fourth and fifth arcs were printed in a secondary magazine called Smile. The series was later collected into three-part graphic novels spanning eighteen volumes, which were published from December 1, 1998, to September 18, 2001. Tokyopop's license expired in 2005 and its edition went out of print. Daily pages from the Tokyopop version ran in the Japanimation Station, a service accessible to users of America Online. In May 2005, Tokyopop's license to the Sailor Moon manga expired, and its edition went out of print.
In 2011, Kodansha Comics announced it would publish the Sailor Moon manga and the lead-in series Codename: Sailor V in English. It would also re-publish the twelve volumes of Sailor Moon simultaneously with the two-volume edition of Codename Sailor V, from September 2011 to July 2013. The first volume of the two related short stories was published on September 10, 2013; the other was published on November 26.
The manga has also been licensed in other English-speaking countries. In the United Kingdom, the volumes are distributed by Turnaround Publisher Services. In Australia, the manga is distributed by Penguin Books Australia.
Toei Animation produced an anime television series based on the 52 manga chapters, also titled Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. It was directed by Junichi Sato, Kunihiko Ikuhara and Takuya Igarashi. The series premiered in Japan on TV Asahi on March 7, 1992, and ran for 200 episodes until its conclusion on February 8, 1997. Most of the international versions, including the English adaptations, are titled Sailor Moon.
On July 6, 2012, Kodansha and Toei Animation announced that it would commence production of a new anime adaptation of Sailor Moon, called Sailor Moon Crystal, for a simultaneous worldwide release in 2013 as part of the series' 20th anniversary celebrations. Crystal premiered on July 5, 2014, and episodes would premiere on the first and third Saturdays of each month. Kotono Mitsuishi reprised her role as Sailor Moon. The first two seasons were released together, covering their corresponding arcs of the manga ("Dark Kingdom" and "Black Moon"). A third season (subtitled "Death Busters" based on the "Infinity" arc on the manga) premiered on April 4, 2016. On January 25, 2017, another sequel was announced.
Three animated theatrical feature films based on the original Sailor Moon series have been released in Japan. The films are side-stories that do not correlate with the timeline of the original series. A one-hour television special was aired on TV Asahi in Japan on April 8, 1995. In 1997, an article in Variety stated that The Walt Disney Company was interested in acquiring the rights to Sailor Moon as a live action film to be directed by Stanley Tong.
There have been numerous companion books to Sailor Moon. Kodansha released some of these books for each of the five story arcs, collectively called the Original Picture Collection. The books contain cover art, promotional material and other work by Takeuchi. Many of the drawings are accompanied by comments on the way she developed her ideas, created each picture and commentary on the anime interpretation of her story. Another picture collection, Volume Infinity, was released as a self-published, limited-edition artbook after the end of the series in 1997. This art book includes drawings by Takeuchi and her friends, her staff, and many of the voice actors who worked on the anime. In 1999, Kodansha published the Materials Collection; this contained development sketches and notes for nearly every character in the manga, and for some characters that never appeared. Each drawing includes notes by Takeuchi about costume pieces, the mentality of the characters and her feelings about them. It also includes timelines for the story arcs and for the real-life release of products and materials relating to the anime and manga. A short story, Parallel Sailor Moon is also featured, celebrating the year of the rabbit.
In mid-1993, the first musical theater production based on Sailor Moon premiered; Anza Ohyama starred as Sailor Moon. Thirty such musicals in all have been produced, with one in pre-production. The shows' stories include anime-inspired plotlines and original material. Music from the series has been released on about 20 memorial albums. The popularity of the musicals has been cited as a reason behind the production of the live-action television series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon.
During the original run musicals ran in the winter and summer of each year, with summer musicals staged at the Sunshine Theater in the Ikebukuro area of Tokyo. In the winter, musicals toured to other large cities in Japan, including Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Kanazawa, Sendai, Saga, Oita, Yamagata and Fukushima. The final incarnation of the first run, New Legend of Kaguya Island (Revised Edition) (新・かぐや島伝説 <改訂版> Shin Kaguyashima Densetsu (Kaiteban)), went on stage in January 2005, following which, Bandai officially put the series on a hiatus. On June 2, 2013, Fumio Osano announced on his Twitter page that the Sailor Moon musicals would begin again in September 2013. The 20th anniversary show La Reconquista ran from September 13 to 23 at Shibuya's AiiA Theater Tokyo, with Satomi Ōkubo as Sailor Moon. Satomi Ōkubo reprised the role in the 2014 production Petite Étrangère which ran from August 21 to September 7, 2014, again at AiiA Theater Tokyo.
In 1993, Renaissance-Atlantic Entertainment, Bandai and Toon Makers, Inc. conceptualized their own version of Sailor Moon, which was half live-action and half Western-style animation. Toon Makers produced a 17-minute proof of concept presentation video as well as a two-minute music video, both of which were directed by Rocky Sotoloff, for this concept. Renaissance-Atlantic presented the concept to Toei, but it was turned down as their concept would have cost significantly more than simply exporting and dubbing the anime adaptation.[unreliable source]
At the 1998 Anime Expo convention in Los Angeles, the music video was shown. It has since been copied numerous times and has been viewed on many streaming video sites. Because of the relatively poor quality of the source video and circulated footage, many anime fans thought that the music video was actually a leaked trailer for the project.[original research?] Additional copies of the footage have since been uploaded to the Internet and served only to bolster the mistaken assumption, in addition to incorrectly citing the production to Saban Entertainment, who became known for a similar treatment that created the Power Rangers series.
In 1998, Frank Ward, along with his company Renaissance-Atlantic Entertainment, tried to revive the idea of doing a live-action series based on Sailor Moon, this time called Team Angel, without the involvement of Toon Makers. A 2-minute reel was produced and sent to Bandai America, but was also rejected.
In 2003, Toei Company produced a Japanese live-action Sailor Moon television series using the new translated English title of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon. Its 49 episodes were broadcast on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting from October 4, 2003 to September 25, 2004. Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon featured Miyuu Sawai as Usagi Tsukino, Rika Izumi (credited as Chisaki Hama) as Ami Mizuno, Keiko Kitagawa as Rei Hino, Mew Azama as Makoto Kino, Ayaka Komatsu as Minako Aino, Jouji Shibue as Mamoru Chiba, Keiko Han reprising her voice role as Luna from the original anime and Kappei Yamaguchi voicing Artemis. The series was an alternate retelling of the Dark Kingdom arc, adding a storyline different from that in the manga and first anime series, with original characters and new plot developments. In addition to the main episodes, two direct-to-video releases appeared after the show ended its television broadcast. "Special Act" is set four years after the main storyline ends, and shows the wedding of the two main characters. "Act Zero" is a prequel showing the origins of Sailor V and Tuxedo Mask.
The Sailor Moon franchise has spawned several video games across various genres and platforms. Most were made by Bandai and its subsidy Angel; others were produced by Banpresto. The early games were side-scrolling fighters; later ones were unique puzzle games, or versus fighting games. Another Story was a turn-based role-playing video game. The only Sailor Moon game produced outside Japan, 3VR New Media's The 3D Adventures of Sailor Moon, went on sale in North America in 1997. A video game called Sailor Moon: La Luna Splende (Sailor Moon: The Shining Moon) was released on March 16, 2011 for the Nintendo DS.
The Dyskami Publishing Company released Sailor Moon Crystal Dice Challenge, created by James Ernest of Cheapass Games and based on the Button Men tabletop game in 2017, and Sailor Moon Crystal Truth or Bluff in 2018.
Sailor Moon is one of the most popular manga series of all time and continues to enjoy high readership worldwide. More than one million copies of its tankōbon volumes had been sold in Japan by the end of 1995.:95 By the series' 20th anniversary in 2012, the manga had sold over 35 million copies in over fifty countries, and the franchise generated $5 billion in merchandise sales. The manga won the Kodansha Manga Award in 1993 for shōjo. The English adaptations of both the manga and the anime series became the first successful shōjo title in the United States. The character of Sailor Moon is recognized as one of the most important and popular female superheroes of all time.
Sailor Moon has also become popular internationally. Sailor Moon was broadcast in Spain and France beginning in December 1993; these became the first countries outside Japan to broadcast the series. It was later aired in Russia, South Korea, the Philippines, China, Italy, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, before North America picked up the franchise for adaptation. In the Philippines, Sailor Moon was one of its carrier network's main draws, helping it to become the third-biggest network in the country.:10–11 In 2001, the Sailor Moon manga was Tokyopop's best selling property, outselling the next-best selling titles by at least a factor of 1.5. In Diamond Comic Distributors's May 1999 "Graphic Novel and Trade Paperback" category, Sailor Moon Volume 3 was the best-selling comic book in the United States.
In his 2007 book Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson gave the manga series three stars out of four. He enjoyed the blending of shōnen and shōjo styles and said the combat scenes seemed heavily influenced by Saint Seiya, but shorter and less bloody. He also said the manga itself appeared similar to Super Sentai television shows. Thompson found the series fun and entertaining, but said the repetitive plot lines were a detriment to the title, which the increasing quality of art could not make up for; even so, he called the series "sweet, effective entertainment." Thompson said although the audience for Sailor Moon is both male and female, Takeuchi does not use excessive fanservice for males, which would run the risk of alienating her female audience. Thompson said fight scenes are not physical and "boil down to their purest form of a clash of wills", which he says "makes thematic sense" for the manga.
Comparing the manga and anime, Sylvain Durand said the manga artwork is "gorgeous", but its storytelling is more compressed and erratic and the anime has more character development. Durand said "the sense of tragedy is greater" in the manga's telling of the "fall of the Silver Millennium," giving more detail about the origins of the Shitennou and on Usagi's final battle with Beryl and Metaria. Durand said the anime omits information that makes the story easy to understand, but judges the anime more "coherent" with a better balance of comedy and tragedy, whereas the manga is "more tragic" and focused on Usagi and Mamoru's romance.
For the week of September 11, 2011, to September 17, 2011, the first volume of the re-released Sailor Moon manga was the best-selling manga on The New York Times Manga Best Sellers list, with the first volume of Codename: Sailor V in second place. The first print run of the first volume sold out after four weeks.
With their dynamic heroines and action-oriented plots, many attribute the manga and anime series to reinvigorating the magical girl genre. After its success, many similar magical girl series, including Magic Knight Rayearth, Wedding Peach, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS, Saint Tail and Pretty Cure, emerged.:199 Sailor Moon has been called "the biggest breakthrough" in English-dubbed anime until 1995, when it premiered on YTV,:10–11 and "the pinnacle of little kid shōjo anime." Cultural anthropologist Matt Thorn said that soon after Sailor Moon, shōjo manga started appearing in book shops instead of fandom-dominated comic shops. The series are credited as beginning a wider movement of girls taking up shōjo manga. Canadian librarian Gilles Poitras defines a generation of anime fans as those who were introduced to anime by Sailor Moon in the 1990s, saying they were both much younger than other fans and were also mostly female.
Historian Fred Patten credits Takeuchi with popularizing the concept of a Super Sentai-like team of magical girls, and Paul Gravett credits the series with revitalizing the magical girl genre itself. A reviewer for THEM Anime Reviews also credited the anime series with changing the genre—its heroine must use her powers to fight evil, not simply have fun as previous magical girls had done. The series has also been compared to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer:281 and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sailor Moon also influenced the development of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, W.I.T.C.H., Winx Club, LoliRock, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, and Totally Spies!.
In western culture, Sailor Moon is sometimes associated with the feminist and Girl Power movements and with empowering its viewers, especially regarding the "credible, charismatic and independent" characterizations of the Sailor Soldiers, which were "interpreted in France as an unambiguously feminist position". Although Sailor Moon is regarded as empowering to women and feminism in concept, through the aggressive nature and strong personalities of the Sailor Soldiers, it is a specific type of feminist concept where "traditional feminine ideals [are] incorporated into characters that act in traditionally male capacities". While the Sailor Soldiers are strong, independent fighters who thwart evil—which is generally a masculine stereotype—they are also ideally feminized in the transformation of the Sailor Soldiers from teenage girls into magical girls, with heavy emphasis on jewelry, make-up and their highly sexualized outfits with cleavage, short skirts, and accentuated waists.
The most notable hyper-feminine features of the Sailor Soldiers—and most other females in Japanese girls' comics—are the girls' thin bodies, long legs, and, in particular, round, orb-like eyes. Eyes are commonly known as the primal source within characters where emotion is evoked—sensitive characters have larger eyes than insensitive ones. Male characters generally have smaller eyes that have no sparkle or shine in them like the eyes of the female characters. The stereotypical role of women in Japanese culture is to undertake romantic and loving feelings; therefore, the prevalence of hyper-feminine qualities like the openness of the female eye in Japanese girls' comics is clearly exhibited in Sailor Moon. Thus, Sailor Moon emphasizes a type of feminist model by combining traditional masculine action with traditional female affection and sexuality through the Sailor Soldiers. Its characters are often described with "catty stereotypes", Sailor Moon's character, in particular, being singled out as less than feminist.
In English-speaking countries, Sailor Moon developed a cult following among anime fans and male university students. Patrick Drazen says the Internet was a new medium that fans used to communicate and played a role in the popularity of Sailor Moon.:281 Fans could use the Internet to communicate about the series, organize campaigns to return Sailor Moon to U.S. broadcast, to share information about episodes that had not yet aired, or to write fan fiction. In 2004, one study said there were 3,335,000 websites about Sailor Moon, compared to 491,000 for Mickey Mouse. Gemma Cox of Neo magazine said part of the series' allure was that fans communicated via the Internet about the differences between the dub and the original version. The Sailor Moon fandom was described in 1997 as being "small and dispersed." In a United States study, twelve children paid rapt attention to the fighting scenes in Sailor Moon, although when asked whether they thought Sailor Moon was violent, only two said yes and the other ten described the episodes as "soft" or "cute."
Disney, which wanted Tong to create an international franchise with his direction of the "live" "Magoo," is also in the process of acquiring rights to the Japanese cartoon Sailor Moon, also for Tong to direct
Scratch a modern-day manga fangirl, and you're likely to find someone who watched Sailor Moon when she was young.
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