2018/11/30

November! *Shakes Fist*


Hello!

OK, so I wasn't able to finish my Timeranger write-up in time to finish out November, so I may as well go over some random housekeeping stuff since...yeah, keep reading...

We're finally coming up on December! This month I will be making a return to Youtube. Why did I stop? Well... I kinda detailed that in a previous post. I guess I can explain it a little bit better since the storm has kind of subsided.

My account was perilously close to getting terminated. I got a strike one week (lost two videos) and another strike two weeks later. Last time around it was Columbia who was making strikes. I would prefer that they go the avex route and just monetize videos with their content, but whatever. This time around RIAJ was making the claims. All of them were manually flagged, so whoever was after me wasn't going to stop. This explains why most of my videos went unlisted. I know people have been asking and I haven't really been able to answer, so there it is.

I am going to wait a little more time before uploading again just to be safe, but you should see the next CCLemon99 video on either the 9th or 16th. I also intend on making my videos public again. If the bloodletting continues, I may have to permanently unlist videos and just create some kind of directory here on the site. Kinda sucks that I have 11+ years of content teetering on the edge, but I'm also kind of over it at the same time.

When was the last time anything new, exciting, innovative, and competitive came from of Japanese entertainment? Food for thought. Continue shrinking away to nothing in line with your silly protectionist and self-destructive laws and ideas. Didn't Nintendo finally get rid of their horrific Youtube Creator program where they collected 40% of your revenue if you dared show more than a few seconds of game footage? You know, the same program that rolled out alongside their recent Wii U console flop? While others flourish through what amounts to free promotion, Japan sends itself to the basement and hopes for the best...

Anyway...

I've had a pretty rough month. Got into a car accident that I'm still dealing with the fallout over. More on that when it's resolved. Work has been killing me with 12+ hours days and constant nightmare scenarios cropping up thisisfine.png. On top of the other IRL nonsense. Yeah, it's been lousy, but I'm taking it day-by-day and looking forward to all the time off I'll be having in January.

Sorry if I sound like a bit of a crank, but really I've just been busy. People around me are stressing worse somehow despite the responsibility falling on my shoulders. College taught me infinite patience and work has taught me how to deal with otherwise debilitating pressure with decent spirits. The image above, which I took in Arizona in January, is one that kinda keeps me motivated. I'll be out of the cave soon.

Timeranger is coming up soon...for real! I am going to try my absolute damnedest to have both parts happen in December. I also have some SSSS.Gridman CDs to review...two singles so far plus the Original Soundtrack (BADASS cover, btw) coming out at the end of December. Not to mention that the wonderful folks at CINEMA-KAN are releasing a new 2-Disc version of the Denko Chojin Gridman Music Collection on the same day. I am certainly looking forward to that more than anything. The 1993 single-disc original print was good, but this is sure to be incredible.

I'll be back soon! Be sure to check out my Gingaman and GoGo Five write-ups if you haven't already!

-CC

2018/11/03

Wins, Opportunities, & Top Seven Episodes! Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five Part 2 of 2


I'm back for Part 2 of my look at GoGo Five! In Part 1 I looked at all of the characters in the series. While it isn't as dense as Gingaman was, GoGo Five still had a lot of moving parts involved, so be sure to give the previous post a read.

As I have been doing in my recent write-ups, the second part has what I thought were the wins and opportunities of the series as well as my top seven favorite episodes. To top it all off, I'll give my overall thoughts on the series.

Here we go... Let's finish GoGo Five!

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GoGo Five WINS

WIN: Music/BGM

It was pretty much expected for a Super Sentai series of the 1990s to have a great music collection. GoGo Five didn't disappoint!

Keeping with the family theme of the series, GoGo Five's music was composed by Toshiyuki Watanabe, son of Michiaki Watanabe (...you know his work...). Yeah, Super Sentai was now old enough that the composer of the original series now has a son to score his own series. While I tend to not favor the elder Watanabe's music too much, Toshiyuki Watanabe's lone Tokusatsu TV series entry is amazing. It was a little more modern than recent series scores and just fit like a glove.

Worthy of making a CM appearance

On top of the fantastic music collection for the series, there was a great song collection featuring songs by Shinichi Ishihara (who was FINALLY getting the Super Sentai love he desperately deserved after previously only providing the theme song to Turbo Rugger in Turboranger and three CM songs for Megaranger). The Positive Groover himself even appeared in the series...


It doesn't end there either, we also got songs from Takayuki Miyauchi, future series theme singer Yukio Yamagata, an ending song by Naritaka Takayama, and even a song from one-hit wonder and Mondo himself...Mike Maki. I wouldn't call this series a music-lover's dream, but it certainly exceeds any expectations anyone would have for a series about Rescue Workers for sure.

If I had one complaint about the music, it'd be that it was too quiet during the series. That's more of an audio engineer issue, though. Seriously...crank it up!

WIN: Episode Pacing

There isn't a whole lot to say here except that the episodes were paced a little bit better than the previous two series. During Megaranger's run, five minutes were added per episode and neither Megaranger nor Gingaman really did much of anything worthwhile to fill the time. GoGo Five managed to nail it a little bit better with only a few instances of extended scenes added in to fill the time.

WIN: Plot & Progression

Working the very real-life phenomenon Grand Cross into the story and giving it subsequent reason to continue on afterward is easily one of my favorite things about GoGo Five. The episodes were even timed so that the Grand Cross episode would air the week of Grand Cross. They easily could have gone after the low-hanging fruit of the looming year 2000 and the Y2K Bug having some menacing series device, but it was something only briefly mentioned in discarded in the annual clipshow episode.


While I gave Gingaman some grief for it's smooth and almost uneventful progression, GoGo Five just seems to handle it better while not really doing a whole lot differently. Grandiene was this series version of Daitanix, but it just seemed less stupid that it was a person instead of a monster/ship. Monstership?

While it was certain that *something* would happen with Grandiene during Grand Cross, who really saw Mondo of all people stopping her revival? The results of which leaving Grandiene in this deformed state for almost the remainder of the series. Again...great planning.

WIN: Not Caving In

It was refreshing not having a sixth hero in this series. Liner Boy is considered to fill the role, but he had no bearing on the series outside of his lone focus episode. Good.

WIN: Effects


This series has some absolutely wonderful effects. Between the clear visor helmets and the heavy reliance on incredibly detailed practical effects for the mecha, GoGo Five is a very pretty series to look at. I think one of the reasons I never got into Victory Mars as much as everyone else is the lousy CG transformation. This series, in my eyes, is the last great special effects series. It may not be number one in action, but Super Sentai is waaay more than that.


I'm glad the clear visors was something they didn't abandon early on. In fact, I felt like they doubled down hard on them as the series went on.

WIN: Tech & Mecha 

GoGo Five is full of both of these things. While I never got into Victory Mars and found Liner Boy kind of annoying, I looooove the mecha of this series. This made for some excellent toys, naturally. The GoGo Brace and weapons of the series were also really neat. No need for the gold-plated nonsense that Gingaman had. There are overtech Sentai series that just could not make it work, but GoGo Five certainly got it right.

WIN: Cast & Characters

I like the cast in this series. The Tatsumi family are fun and the creepy and cold dynamic in Psyma plays well throughout the series...almost like a better version of Vyram. What are characters without cast? I covered this more in Part 1, but I think a good job was done by all. Even the stuntish casting of Mike Maki was good.

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I can't tell you how much I hate this shot. I know it's supposed to be funny, but c'mon!

GoGo Five OPPORTUNITIES

OPPORTUNITY: Rescue Theme???

While there was a fair amount of rescue theme scenarios played out in the series...there could have been just a bit more. The series begins and ends with some major rescue operations but kinda just falls into filler-hell for awhile. That isn't to say that the series became bad at any point, I just felt that they could have incorporated just a little bit more rescue themes into the filler episodes. 

OPPORTUNITY: Deep Family Rift

While the series tied everything up in a nice little bow, it was a long road to get there. The disappearance of Mondo is quickly resolved in the first episode (Sho certainly is the only one with a memory longer than ten minutes), but Ritsuko was another story. We don't really learn anything about her or her absence until the end of the series. She went out to search for Mondo, abandoning her children in the process. The plane she was on crashed, and she ended up in a coma for several years. Somehow her spirit managed to help GoGo Five escape Hell despite her being alive?

Honestly, this series would have been more interesting if the Tatsumi kids were just adult versions of sadsack kids-of-the-week from previous shows (Mom is dead, Dad is on a business trip). Bringing Ritsuko back in was a pointless endeavor even if it made the Tatsumi family one again. 

I know, I'm cruel like that...

OPPORTUNITY: Psyma Revivals

Zylpheza coming back to life two and a half times wouldn't have been such a bad thing had they not done it in such quick succession. Also, wouldn't Denus have been a worthy revival? She never really had a resolution with her conflict with Nagare. Her sacrifice to revive Zylpheza was a tad anti-climatic especially given how he was dispatched not long after. 

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Top Seven GoGo Five Episodes


07. Otototachi no hanran [13]

After skipping out on Matoi's rescue training to enjoy a meal at a fine restaurant, the Tatsumi siblings are caught without their GoGo Braces in a Psyma attack. While they are able to save the other patrons and restaurant workers, they become trapped inside the building. Matoi is forced to save them.

On one hand, the younger siblings are jerks for swiping those tickets and having a meal without Matoi. On the other hand, it's very likely that everyone in that restaurant would not have made it without their guidance. It was a random happenstance, but it all worked out in the end. 

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06. Matoi ga maketa otoko [41]

Matoi gets a visit from his rival/superior! In the midst of their challenges, Matoi ends up in a real rescue situation that has him hanging from a lone tree on a cliff face. Matoi was able to hold on long enough while his rival, Kudo, was able to go to the bottom and assist from below.

Matoi was the lone driving force behind the Tatsumi's for the entire series. Sure, Mondo created the tech...but they would be nothing without the infinite determination and willpower of Matoi. We learn a little bit more about his firefighter days and learn that he wasn't always top dog. In fact, there was someone who bested him at everything. 

If Kudo looks familiar for some reason, the answer is actually closer than you might think. Kudo is played by Kurano Maki. Yep...Mike Maki's real life son. Real life son versus TV son!

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05. Nusumareta chikara! [09]

Matsuri's disabled former co-worker Mizuki accidently swaps abilities with Matsuri. This leaves Matsuri unable to fight with Mizuki taking her place fighting alongside GoGo Five. While she is unable to transform, she follows Matsuri's instructions and is ultimately able to revert Matsuri's abilities back to her. At the end of the day, Mizuki decides to stop being stubborn and takes up physical therapy to remedy her workplace injury.

GoGo Five isn't very big on notable guest stars, but this one was a great pull. Mizuki is played by Chie Tanabe. She was notably Ran of the Hana Kunoichi Gumi in Kakuranger, but was also a longtime stuntwoman for Toei in the 90s. This lead to a great guest appearance and great episode. 

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04. Utsukushi Psyma no wana [07]

Mondo's old friend Dr. Robinson is in town to deliver a disc of information regarding the Earth's faultlines. Wikipedia not being invented yet, Psyma is hardcore after the disc. Mondo enlists his children to escort the Doctor and ensure that the disc is safe. This leads to some pretty hairy and somewhat funny situations as Denus is actually accompanying them in disguise. Matoi playing an over-the-top hostage negotiator in particular is one of my favorite moments of his.

The disc? It was already delivered to Mondo via a photo that Dr. Robinson asked them to deliver early in the episode.

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03. Hatsuyame wa Psyma no Melody [45]

GoGo Five's cracked out New Year's episode possibly surpasses the Kakuranger New's Years episode out of sheer weirdness.

Psymajuu Bahamuu steals the dreams of Nagare, Sho, Daimon, Matsuri, and Kyoko. In an attempt to wake everyone up, Matoi dives right into everyone's dreams. This leads to a long string of sequences of bizarre nightmares for Matoi to deal with. Mondo is able to sing a song to wake everyone up, but this leads to another bizarre mecha battle sequence.


This episode had so much packed into it. The aforementioned Shinichi Ishihara cameo kicked off this episode and from there it just got weirder. Matsuri and Denus having a song-off during a mecha battle was par for the course. 

The plot was pretty thin, but this was certainly a visual treat and a little bit of levity before ramping into the finale.

Did I mention that this was the first episode to air in 2000???

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02. Kichi kaimetsu 0byo mae [40]

Daimon and Matsuri invited a boy named Nobuhiko to visit Bay Area 55. Before picking him up from the hospital, Denus had given him a bouquet of flowers that were full of Psymajuu Hilgemuuja's worms. The worms successfully infect Bay Area 55 and were aiming to detonate the fuel within. Daimon launches a gritty rescue mission to not only rescue the trapped Nobuhiko and Matsuri, but to stop the insects from overloading and blowing up Bay Area 55. In the end, the three were able to save Bay Area 55 before rejoining the other GoGo Five in battle.

This episode has a frantic pace that jumpstarted the energy of the series leading up to the finale. Where most series start to sputter and lose budget momentum, GoGo Five was just warming up.

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01. Kyuukyuu Senshi! Tatsu [01]

The first episode is really cool. It waste ZERO time not only getting the Tatsumi gang into their GoGo Five Anti-Hazard Suits, but also into their mecha. Before we ever get a glimpse of Psyma, Magma Golem appears as a giant.


I genuinely think that the first episode of Ohranger may be my favorite first episode in all of Super Sentai. The pacing was just perfect. Baranoia was coming and U.A.O.H. was ready...ish. The debut of GoGo Five kinda mirrors that, but in a much more realistic and clinical way. Mondo was ready and his children, unbeknownst to them, were also ready. There was no need for quests to attain weapons and trial of strength to combine their mecha. It was all there. Not only that, the almost-complete second mecha was also there.  

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While I can't say that GoGo Five is my favorite Super Sentai series of the 1990s, I would say that it very comfortably fits in the top five. That's high praise when you look at the rest of the 1990s catalog. Megaranger? Nope. Jetman? Helllll no. I'd probably put this series at fourth favorite of the decade if you forced me to.

GoGo Five may have a bit of a jerky start given how shaky the Tatsumi family was with Matoi being the sole guardian. The stronger they became, the stronger the series became. The fact that this series never fell into the usual spell of malaise that occurs in the forties is what makes it shine. We can all agree that the resolution was the best anyone could have hoped for. Nobody had to die for the sake of *deep plot, yo*.

While I know that my favorite series, Kakuranger, likely won't appeal to everyone...I think GoGo Five is the perfect middle ground for everything. The general lack of opportunities I saw in this series kinda reflects that. Everything just makes sense. There is a little bit of Sentai absurdity sprinkled in, but this series has a common appeal to those who may not appreciate the over-the-top. You may not have the same favorite episodes, but I can almost guarantee you'll dig the series if you haven't checked it out already.


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I hope you enjoyed my GoGo Five write-up! Like I mentioned in the previous part, it was a series I was looking forward to revisiting once again. Next time, in my slow catch-up with Shout Factory's releases, I will be looking at Mirai Sentai Timeranger. Look forward to both parts of that and my year-end wrap to close out 2018.

See ya next time!

-CC

Chakuso! Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five Part 1 of 2
Super Sentai Series Reviews
Top Seven Lists


2018/10/28

Chakuso!! Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five Part 1 of 2


Welcome to another CCLemon99 Super Sentai series review! This time I'm looking at a series I'm definitely more familiar with and one that I've been dying to get into for some time. Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five!

This is the final series that I was *REALLY* hoping that Shout Factory would make it to, but I'm certainly thrilled that they're continuing beyond this. While Past-Me never really got too much into Megaranger or Gingaman until my recent revisits, GoGo Five's approach to Super Sentai was something that drew me back into the genre at a pretty critical point. Granted, Present-Me doesn't give a damn about new Sentai (ask this guy...he broke the news of the 2019 Sentai to me in person. I think my reaction was something like 😑) but I think I was at a point where I could have been a much more casual fan. GoGo Five brought me back in for reasons I'll likely get to in the next post.

In the meantime, the usual *SPOILER* warning is right here. Just watch the damn series at this point. We're coming up on twenty years for Pete's sake...

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Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five

The Tatsumi family has a deep lineage in rescue work in Tokyo. The current-day members of the Tatsumi family carry on the tradition. Suddenly the Earth is under attack and they are faced with their missing father, Mondo, who has emerged with a program to ward of the impending Doom's Day scenario in August 1999 called Grand Cross. Armed with gadgets, rescue tactics, and infinite willpower...can GoGo Five succeed?

While the Tatsumis were employed as emergency workers in the first episode, Mondo had submitted their resignations in the second episode. In order to prevent the resurrection of Grandiene, they needed to be ready to fight the Psyma family at a moment's notice. They all lived together in a house while Mondo spent the majority of his time continuing work in Bay Area 55. Despite no longer being active-duty, the team did still carry out rescue missions and were heavily relied upon by the fire department.

The theme of family does come up constantly. While the Tatsumi family is more or less in shambles, it becomes stronger as the series progresses. First Mondo reappears, Matoi is able to pass on his determination and willpower to his siblings, and finally they are reunited with their long-lost mother.

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Matoi / Go Red

The eldest Tatsumi sibling and the one who raised his siblings after first the disappearance of their father and later their mother. As a firefighter, Matoi usually ended up leading rescue missions as GoGo Five and would often use his firefighting training as GoGo Five training for his siblings.

Matoi is great. His endless optimism usually blinded him from the fear and sadness that would hinder someone in his situation. There were a few moments where cracks kinda showed, but he never let it get the best of him. When forced to retreat from Psyma he said something along the lines of "I'm not afraid! ...but why am I shaking??". It's great when the series cheerleader is not only within the team, but it's leader. His optimism and determination annoyed his siblings when situations got tough, but it made them stronger by the end of the series.

I thought Matoi was at his best when he was being a dick to his siblings. It's what you would expect from an older brother, right?

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Nagare / Go Blue

A scientist with the fire department, Nagare at first seems like a woefully bland dude. As the series progresses, however, you we come to realize that he is certainly his father's son. He never explicitly works with Mondo, but he does create some GoGo Five tech on his own such as the Go Blasters. Some friendly competition never hurt, I suppose?

While you would expect the second-banana to be the voice of dissent, Nagare never disagreed with Matoi since he likely agreed with his sometimes harsh motivation. His nature as a scientist lead him to analyze situations rather than hopping head first into battle like his younger siblings tended to do.

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Sho / Go Green

The middle child. Sho is a skilled helicopter pilot with the fire department and tends to be an emotional dude. He not only fights back at Matoi's direction, but holds a serious grudge against Mondo for abandoning the family to prepare for Grand Cross.

As he is pretty emotional, he has a hard time destroying the Big Douser robot he helped Nagare develop once it had been taken over by Psyma. Nagare? He had no real reservations since he knew it had to be done.

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Daimon / Go Yellow

Daimon is the youngest brother and a police officer. He tends to be a little bit impulsive and is prone to making mistakes. He did attempt to diffuse some situations on his own, but usually ended needing to get bailed out. Being the youngest there is some resentment toward his older brothers as he was at the tail end of getting all of their hand-me-down clothing. He is also an avid Judoka, which lead to his re-emergence in Gaoranger vs. Super Sentai.

A quick note about Daimon's actor Kenji Shibata. He has been battling the symptoms of an inoperable brain tumor since GoGo Five. In fact, he first discovered the symptoms as the series was wrapping up. He emerged to share the story of his condition and had a reunion with his GoGo Five castmates in the Spring of 2018. I highly recommend checking it out in this video.

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Matsuri / Go Pink

Matsuri is the youngest overall and only daughter of the group. She is a paramedic which often lands her partnered with Matoi during his rescues. She tends to do the household cooking while her brothers do the other chores around the house. Of the five, she misses their Mother the most and was able to recognize the sound of her Mother's Christmas charm while they were trapped in Hell.

I kinda feel bad for Matsuri. Early on in the series she had a great presence and was a major part in keeping the series moving forward. Suddenly she just kinda ended up in the background for the remainder of the series. The last focus episode she truly had was 32. Then again, if the series continued it's focus on her it probably would have lead to Nagare being even more blah than he already was and Daimon just being bratty without ever getting into why he was.

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Mondo Tatsumi

The father of the Tatsumi sibling and creator of the GoGo Five program. Other scientists did not buy into his theory on the Grand Cross (which was a real thing, BTW) bringing destruction to Earth. Mondo quietly disappeared circa 1989 and emerged a decade later when the first Psymajuu appeared. He immediately set his children up with their GoGo Five tech and sent them into battle.

Much like Nagare, he is rather dense and incredibly emotionally shallow...especially early in the series. Later on he has moments of "How could I send my children into battle??", but really this was the plan from the start. We do get a little more insight into Mondo during the episode when the scientists and Tatsumi guys became kids again. While the guys were looking for Matsuri, who they thought was lost, child Mondo was doing endless calculations on the Psymajuu eventually finding it's weakpoint.

This kinda begs the question...just how young was he when he discovered his Grand Cross theory? Did he marry Ritsuko as a utilitarian effort just to have five children in quick succession? His willingness to send them into battle early on with zero conscious would suggest that...and maybe his later regrets came only after he reconnected with them. It's kinda slimy, but as a scientist he saw it as a necessary means to conduct his experiment.

Then again, there is that time that he took a break to appear on TV in 1992...

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Mint

The annoying helper/robot of the series. She is apparently the only program on the planet affected by the Y2K bug outside of a few traffic lights.

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Kyoko

Sho's co-worker and a shuttle pilot. She pops into the series at random and has a dream of becoming a member of GoGo Five. As Mondo never anticipated a sixth member, this is something that was never realized in the series proper. Early on she was able to assist Matoi during a mission, but largely stuck around for banter.

Personally I found Kyoko pretty damn annoying. As we saw in the cracked-out New Year's episode, not only did she dream of being in GoGo Five, she dreamt of being Go Red. The nerve! She could barely fly a damn plane and she wants to replace the infinite willpower of Matoi??

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This may be the only shot in the entire series with all siblings, Pierre, and Grandiene...kinda...

Psyma Ichizoku

The protagonists of the series are also a family. Psyma is made up of a band of four siblings and their butler who are trying to revive their mother, Grandiene.

Psyma are genuinely creepy at their best, but conniving jerks toward each other at their worst. Early on they were fairly efficient even if they never managed to defeat GoGo Five. Once Grandiene and Salamandes were in the picture, however, each family member more or less acted on their own agenda. The opposite was going on with the Tatsumi clan, so this dynamic was fairly interesting to watch play out.

The end game, of course, was for Grandiene to take over the world and wipe out humanity. Despite being one family versus another, there really was no anti-theme to Psyma. It was just happenstance that Psyma was up against a family of rescue workers whose father was a brilliant scientist.

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Grandiene

The initial goal of Psyma was to revive their mother, Grandiene. She began to emerge as a spirit as the Grand Cross approached. During the ceremony to revive her on the date of Grand Cross, Mondo interferred and managed to cut the Minus Energy stream that was reviving her. This resulted in her deformed partial revival.

Grandiene is truly twisted. She doesn't give a single damn about any of her children and will sacrifice them in a heartbeat if it means achieving her goal at ruling the Earth. While Mondo's parenting may be questionable, this is truly messed up. She does eventually revive to a complete form before being wiped out by Matoi. Following this, she took on a new form as a spirit.

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Zylpheza

The older brother of Psyma. He was in command early on, but began to waver once Grandiene begins to return. He is very close with Denus and Cobolda, but does not trust the infant Drop in the slightest. After his death, he was nearly revived by Denus once and later revived for real...only to be killed...and then revived AGAIN. Predictably he died once again.

While he was a menace to GoGo Five, he put his siblings above all else. After being betrayed by his mother, he told Matoi where he could find Grandiene to defeat her.

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Cobolda

The younger brother of Zylpheza and older brother of Denus. Cobolda largely hung around in the back until aligning with Denus upon Zylpheza's death. Grandiene basically sent him to his death in a final battle against GoGo Five. Zylpheza tried to warn him that he was being used, but to no avail. In the end, Grandiene ended up dispatching him through Zylpheza.

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Denus

The younger sister of Zylpheza and Cobolda, but older sister to Drop/Salamandes. Denus was great at spying and doing undercover work against GoGo Five while being an average fighter. She developed a grudge against Nagare that never really had a resolution. In the end, she sacrificed herself to help revive Zylpheza for the first time. Her reason was that he was the only sibling that treated her decently.

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Drop

The often sleeping infant and youngest sibling of the Psyma family. He did contribute his own Psymajuu from time to time, but was largely just carried around by Pierre.

He eventually evolved into...

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Salamandes

The new Dark King following Zylpheza's death. He is immensely powerful, but over time proves to be just as ill-equipped at defeating GoGo Five as everyone else in Psyma. He evolves again as Yuumao Salamandes in order to escape Hell, but is taken out by GoGo Five. Alongside Zylpheza, Salamandes is revived by Grandiene to fight for her in the final battle as she no longer had a body of her own.

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Pierre

Psyma's butler/wizard. He summons Psymajuu from cards provided from Psyma as well as his own deck. He also uses revive cards to enlarge dead Psymajuu to continue their battle against GoGo Five's mecha fleet. Pierre has a bizzare and unwavering loyalty to Salamandes. After Salamandes is killed for the first time, Pierre is seen drunkenly wandering the streets on New Year's Eve.

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Imps

The grunts of the series. I'm not a huge fan of these guys. Their designs are kinda blah even though I totally see what they were going for. They didn't do anything particularly weird or unique during the series. Remember in Megaranger when the Kunekune piled on top of each other to form a giant Kunekune? Every series needs a memorable moment like that to give their grunts a little more to do than get elbowed and flipped.

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I hope you enjoyed the first part of my look at GoGo Five. Part two will be up soon and, as usual, will contain more of my thoughts on the series itself. Oh...and I'll have to come up with a list of Top Seven favorite episodes.

Stay tuned!

-CC




2018/10/05

Top Seven Best Metal Hero Ending Theme Songs


Hello! Welcome to another of my Top Seven Lists. This is the series of posts known to send fanboys in a tizzy because I have opinions that are different from their own. This time I intend to take on a more benign topic, but you never know who may have beef over what I have to say about Metal Hero Ending songs.

Following the same metric that I used way back in my 2012 list of favorite Metal Hero Opening Theme songs, I will be counting themes from the, ummm, less popular Kabutack and Robotack series. They *are* Metal Hero shows despite what some will tell you. Who knows...maybe even one of those songs may make the actual list this time...

It's been quite some time since I've done one of these standalone Top Seven posts. Let's dive in!

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07. Ii janai [Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack, ED 2]

I promise...this will likely be the only divisive song on the list.

I'm a sucker for this type of song. Maybe it's a little bit stupid (the artist being "Robotack All Stars" should be a pretty big warning), but I think it has an excellent groove with some decent composition. If you're a CD Single collector like me, you were treated to a great Karaoke version of this song as well as the fan-flippin-tastic GET HIGH! by Kotetsu Kyodai (Hironobu Kageyama & Masaaki Endo).

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06. Kyo no ore kara ashita no kimi e [Tokkei Winspector]

When I thought up the idea for this list I really didn't think I would be including any of the ending songs from the Rescue Police Series shows (Winspector, Solbrain, Exceedraft). You know what, though? I actually like this one. It's a bit tacky, but with that out-of-control bass and Takayuki Miyauchi's excellent vocals, I just had to include it. It's certainly the best from the three shows.

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05. Chikyuu Koko [Juko B-Fighter]

This one is on the slow side, but is an undeniably good song. Shinichi Ishihara may be known better for literally every other fast-paced Tokusatsu song he's done, but he certainly has the chops to make an otherwise ho-hum ballad interesting. That isn't to say the music isn't good. I thoroughly enjoy this one.

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04. Hoshizora no Message [Uchuu Keiji Gavan]

The original! Much like the previous song, this one is a ballad. A disco ballad. It has a little bit of legs to it and I genuinely think may be the song that inspired the Gingaman ending song Hadashi no Kokoro de. Considering Gingaman (shameless plug to Part 1 & Part 2 of my series write-ups) is full of all kinds of intentional throw-backs, it makes sense. Just listen to both back-to-back and you may see what I'm on about.

Who doesn't love the velvety smooth vocals of a younger Akira Kushida?

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03. Ginga Ookami Juspion [Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion]

This song and Fighting Pose, Flashman! do something that very few ending songs can accomplish--they bookend the opening theme song perrrrrfectly. The same energy is there, the two songs are undeniably from the same series, and yet it has that ending song flavor.

The opening theme song to Juspion may not be my favorite...hell, it didn't even show up on my original Top 7. I really dig both theme songs as a set, though. Hey, it even has an "English Version". "Wolf In Space" just sounds so......literal.

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02. Kesho da! Spielban [Jikuu Senshi Spielban, ED 2]

An Ichiro Mizuki belter.

Everything about this one is perfect. The fact that is replaced the snorer of song that ended the first ten episodes certainly helps elevate it. It also lines up pretty good with the opening theme song with a similar base note. While it doesn't quite have the "ending song" feel that Ginga Ookami Juspion has, it's a better song in my book.

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01. Time Limit [Chojinki Metalder]

Another Ichiro Mizuki belter!

While the opening song to this series is very good in it's incredibly unique way, the more standardized ending song is where it's at. Even if the song never gets any faster as it progresses, there is a certain frantic energy to it. It could be that the title is TIME LIMIT, but I digress.

I really challenge you to listen to this song and not let it completely take over. An earworm isn't so bad when it's a great song like this.

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Thank you for swinging by and checking out my latest Top Seven List. This one was pretty difficult as there really aren't any truly terrible Metal Hero ending songs. Except maybe Kabutack's ending song...

This post is my little buffer before I get into my look at GoGo Five. Look forward to seeing that later in the month. In the meantime, be sure to check out my recent look at Gingaman in Part 1 & Part 2!

Take care!

-CC

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Top Seven Metal Hero Opening Songs

2018/09/21

Wins, Opportunites, & Top Seven Episodes! Seijuu Sentai Gingaman Part 2 of 2


It's time for Part 2 of my look at Seijuu Sentai Gingaman! The enormous Part 1 is a focus on the never-ending cast of characters that this series had, so be sure to check that out. This time around I will be talking about some random bulletpoints that I noted as I watched the series twice to prepare for this post. Yeah, Gingaman isn't really my first choice of Sentai series to watch. I never really got into it in the past, so I really had to go through and watch it carefully to make sure I was doing it right.

As the title says, I'll be listing my Wins, Opportunities, and Top Seven Episodes just as I did last year with Megaranger. While Part 1 was more of a basic overview, this is where the opinions come out. I'll be sure to save the final verdict for the end, but the Wins and Opps may be a little divisive.

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Gingaman WINS

WIN: Music/BGM

I've sung the praises of Toshihiko Sahashi in the past, but the music in Gingaman is his absolute peak. Prior to this he had done the awesome soundtracks to Ultraman Powered and Gekisou Sentai Carranger. While virtually interchangeable, those soundtracks had a unique new sound that really fit whatever mood the script called for.

I won't say that the music saved the show, but it certainly elevated the mystique of the show. There is a small patch of woods next to my house that could double for the Ginga Forest. Really...the place that was so incredible wasn't more than a small patch of trees. The music really painted in a lot of the flat spots left in from the rest of production. That haunting piece with vocals by EVE? Awesome. The Ginga Tensei theme? It hid the fact that the sequence was like twelve minutes long. Any of the mecha music? Incredible.

I can't even say that the music in this series is underrated as it is a big favorite among fans. It was just refreshing to hear after the disappointing-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Megaranger music. That was a case of the better music never being used while the weakass stuff flooded the series.

WIN: Designs

I like the Gingaman suits. The weapons are all great. The main villains all look cool. The only thing I think could have been improved upon was some kind of small variation to the Kuro Kishi suit once Hyuuga was given the Bull Riot. I understand why they didn't change it (the nineteen minute long Go Taurus combination would have had to have been changed).

WIN: Henshin Effects

I love the Henshin effect shots in this series. From the main Gingaman to Hyuuga as Kuro Kishi. Hell, even the Go Taurus combination was cool. Not all effects were good in this series, but I am willing to concede that there were some good looking effects for each of the Gingaman henshin sequences. Were they used for runtime padding? Yep. Far too often? You bet. Hahaa.

WIN: Cinematography & Locations

Another well-shot series. It was a continued improvement over Megaranger, which was also nicely done. As the Ginga Forest was dispatched early on, the series was forced to take place in the real world. None of the action takes place at the horse ranch which lead to some more urban battles. I like that. I don't think the quarry even made an appearance until the final episode during the fight against Zahab. 

WIN: Villain Pacing & Details

I mentioned in the last post that Balban consisted of a small band of main villains with one of four generals being the one carrying out the attacks. Once one general failed, a new one was introduced. Rather than having some stupid way of introducing new generals to the show...why not have them from the start? All four generals appeared in the first episode. I like this kind of forward thinking even if it's a little less practical than real life. I can't imagine being at my job and having three others waiting patiently for me to fail before taking my place.

The details between the generals were pretty cool too. Sambash was more reckless and therefore got a less patient Zahab. The cool Budoh only drew minor irritation from Zahab and was completely unflustered by threats at his lack of results. Iliess was the obnoxious relative who was driven by greed and then there was Batobas...who really should have just been one of the main villains from the start. All of them had their own Majin with little personalized touches...including different casks for their Barba-X.

WIN: Skipped Tropes

Things you may predict will happen, never seem to come up. Barban never goes after Moak. Barban never really goes after Yuuta. The Saya themed episodes are all incredibly softball (actually...that was kind of a bummer. Remember how awesome it was in Dairanger when Rin walks up to Gara and grabs her by the collar?). That isn't to say that this series is full of unpredictability, it just left a lot of tired tried and true tropes on the table.

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Gingaman OPPORTUNITIES

OPP: Episode Pacing

I don't think the five extra minutes bestowed upon the franchise were ever used to it's advantage. Gingaman's method to combat the extra time was to draw things out...as......long.........as...............they..........................could. Gingaioh's combination? Forty two seconds. Go Taurus? Forty seconds flat. There was a slightly abbreviated version for each, but it really felt like they used the full combination sequence often. Once Giga Rhinos and Giga Phoenix were introduced, they never just showed up combined. They needed their full combinations as well. It wasn't limited to mecha, either. The Ginga Tensei and poses just went on forever. Sure they looked cool and were easily the best effects in the series, but they really did give me plenty of time to check Twitter while revisiting the show in 2018.

OPP: Mecha

*sigh* I know I'm going to hear it for this one. Take this one as a soft OPP.

Outside of Bull Taurus/Go Taurus, I'm really not a fan of the mecha in this show. I *do* like that there wasn't a super-clusterfuck mecha, and I do like how the Seijuu had different forms until they abandoned that idea once Bull Taurus showed up, but not much else. Gingaioh is.....alright. Giga Bitus, Phoenix, and Rhinos are clearly rejected Megaranger designs that were too valuable to throw away. They designed some vaguely animal themed helmets to slap on them and viola! Giga Bitus never really did anything outside of dispatching Rhinos and Phoenix either. Meh.

OPP: Non-Henshin Effects

There are some awful, awful effect shots in the series. Remember how the Gingaioh transformation effect was unfinished for a few episodes? How about that baffling effect where the sword transformed into the Galcon Bowgun? Bad effect aside, this made ZERO SENSE. Why did the sword need to transform into a mecha that was already present on Gingaioh's back?? Considering how the effect disappeared from the series and the Bowgun was dropped altogether, I can't be alone in thinking that effects for the sake of effects is a stupid way to go about things.

OPP: Endless Power???

While there were some truly dire situations in the series, Gingaman always made it through in much better shape than they should have. More than once Ryoma was beaten to a pulp and he *still* managed to muster the strength to carry on and win. Zahab was the invincible one...and who were the ones still standing at the end? Yeah...

OPP: Ginga Forest & The Gingaman Legend

I've mentioned it before...the Ginga Forest is the single most unremarkable thing about the series. We get it...they like *their* trees more than they like ours. The altar in the first episode is the closest we got to seeing any kind of shelter/structure in the forest. I imagine that there was some kind of CG establishing shot that was so lousy that they couldn't be bothered to use it.

This kinda ties into the flimsy Gingaman Legend. Ummm...so the ancestors just sealed Barban? Granted, they didn't have Buccrates to spill the beans on how to kill Zahab. In those three thousand years, did their ancestors teach the Kakuranger episodes how to seal the Yokai? The whole thing is whack. Now that Barban is gone, I imagine that the Gingaman ceremony carries on through the new generations. Surely the 134th Gingaman ceremony is happening now. Did any of the 133rd Gingaman show up the way their parents did...not...? Bah.

OPP: Barban's Motivations

This is a big one, but I absolutely hate how lousy the Daitanix plot is. "We need our ship back if we're gonna be pirates. Let's spend the better part of 40+ episodes making that happen only to have it immediately get wiped out". Yeah... I liked Barban as villains, but whenever they talked about the Daitanix or what they were doing to raise it, I kinda checked out. Carranger did it way better only two years earlier...and they were making fun of the exact trope that Gingaman eventually ended up doing. Megaranger at least avoided this by having a villain who was more interested in reducing humanity to ones and zeroes.

Daitanix was stupid. What it eventually lead to was also pretty stupid.

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Top Seven Gingaman Episodes


07. Densetsu no yaiba & Seijuu no sairai (01 & 02)

I can't deny that this is a solid set of debut episodes. I did air my grievances about the things I didn't like already, but I really enjoyed the dynamic of Gingaman's first encounter with Barban. From the lowest of lows to... even lower lows than that. Gingaman has a lot to accomplish over the year to restore everything that they once had. It's all tied up pretty neatly.



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06. Hitori no tatakai (20)

Ryoma has a horseback battle on Red Spark against Hyodogasa. Need I say more?

Oh...there is also some more drama with Kuro Kishi. Speaking of.....



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05. Nazo no Kuro Kishi & Fukushuu no Kishi (18 & 19)

These were the debut episodes for Kuro Kishi. At first, he seemed to help Gingaman out in their fight against Barban. In the next episode it became clear that he wouldn't hesitate to harm Gingaman, or any human for that matter, if they got in his way during his revenge. While it wasn't the most inventive plot, bringing Kuro Kishi in as an unknown certainly shook things up a little bit. We even got a sweet new mecha out of the deal.

Oh, and the Kuro Kishi suit looked awesome during his debut. I suspect that it was a high maintenance costume as it just looked tired toward the end of the series.



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04. Kyofu no shakkuri (15)

This was a rare silly episode of the series that actually landed the punch.

Hikaru feigns sick to get out of helping Haruhiko and Yuuta move. Ryoma takes charge in working to get Hikaru mended from his fictitious fever. They bump into a scientist who had discovered a three-thousand year old un-detonated Barban bomb. In the mix-up, Ryoma ends up feeding the bomb to Hikaru instead of medicine. Moak informs them that the bomb will explode once Hikaru hiccups one hundred times. Meanwhile, the other three get locked inside a room with the key falling into a box of several hundred other keys. They're forced to wait it out as Haruhiko tries every key with the very last one being the winner. He opens the door to find...


I genuinely enjoyed this one. Between Ryoma almost uncharacteristically taking tedious count on how many times Hikaru hiccups by writing on his hand and the tense time limit, this was a fast paced winner.




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03. Budoh no shuunen (24)

The final episode for Budoh. He was betrayed by Iliess despite having a winner of a plan (well...not really since the Hikari no Ginga chose Gingaman anyway) and exiled by Barban. Budoh and his final two Majin, Yamamaru and Onimaru, head into battle one last time.

Budoh was a class act until the very end. Really, his arc couldn't have ended with a better episode.



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02. Gouki no sentaku & Chikyuu no Majuu (35 & 44)

Plot-wise, these are two completely unrelated episodes...but they share one common thread: Yuji Kishi's excellent guest starring role as Shunsuke Kishimoto.

In Gouki no sentaku, Gouki finds himself in sudden competition for the affection of Yuuta's teacher, Suzuko. Kishimoto makes an ass of himself in only a way that Yuji Kishi can pull off. He tries to slime his way in by saying that Suzuko would be in danger if he hung around Gouki. In the end, Suzuko chooses Gouki.

At the end of the episode, the rest of the team finally encounter Kishimoto and are like "wtf is this guy?"

In Chikyuu no Majuu, Kishimoto returns...this time seeking to become Gouki's apprentice. As they walk the streets, Gouki handles minor interactions and situations smoothly while Kishimoto overreacts to everything, completely missing the point.

While witnessing Gouki put his life on the line to save a young girl's doll, Kishimoto finally learns what Gouki is all about. In the end, he helped an injured Gouki hold his Jugekibo to make a critical shot on the Majin of the week, Dangs.


As I mentioned in the previous post, Yuji Kishi returned basically to play Kyosuke again for a couple of episodes. Two episodes were the perfect amount as he didn't overstay his welcome in the slightest. Even if you don't plan on digging into Gingaman, these two episodes are a must for any Carranger fan.



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01. Honoo no Kyodai (26)

After Hyuuga had finally been freed from Kuro Kishi's captivity in the previous episode, there was reason to celebrate at the Gingaman HQ. There was a slight worry in the air, however. Since Hyuuga was the rightful owner of the Gingared Seijuuken, who would take on the mantle as the 133rd Gingared? After the rest of the team is captured, Hyuuga and Ryoma carry out a rescue mission in the Abandoned Warehouse District™. Hyuuga uses the Seijuuken once and then tells Ryoma that it was the final time he would use the weapon. He then formally presents the Seijuuken to Ryoma and tells him that he is the true 133rd Gingared.


For his trouble, Hyuuga is presented with the Bull Riot from the spirit of Kuro Kishi to become Kuro Kishi Hyuuga.

It took half the series, but Ryoma had finally been given some legitimacy to his title of Gingared. It was a great moment as well. I really enjoyed the back and forth between Hyuuga and Ryoma during the series...it's a damn shame that Buccrates had to swoop in and basically ruin Hyuuga. On the other hand, Ryoma had definitely developed into the leader he needed to be at the end of the series...but it all kinda started here. Great episode.  

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I guess this is the part where I talk about the series overall. I think the best way to describe Gingaman is this... It's almost like a greatest hits of 1990s Super Sentai. Sasuke from Kakuranger was a cool character, let's bring him back. We also liked Burai from Zyuranger being the older brother of the red one, why don't we also do that as well? Kyosuke from Carranger was the greatest wasn't he? Well, we can't bring him back, but let's see if Yuji Kishi wouldn't mind playing a similar character for a couple of episodes. Speaking of Carranger...the music was great, so how about more of that? The only thing that they *didn't* do was force Shelinda into a crush on Hayate (mercifully).

I think that would be a fair assessment of the series. Intentional or not, it did take a lot of the better elements from previous series of the decade and tied them into a series with a razor thin plot. When people say that the series is a better/worse Zyuranger...I'm kinda puzzled. Gingaman doesn't really share much in common with Zyuranger outside of having the same color suits and the sixth being the long-lost brother of Red.

The real Zyu2?!? Nah. Also, I think Ogawa is having serious nostalgia in this shot for all the Kakuranger fights that took place here.

I think the cast is fairly likeable outside of the general whininess from Hikaru and the crocodile tears from Gouki. Despite Gouki being the baby he is, the heavy emotional stuff was left to Hayate (fiance stuck in Ginga Forest), Hikaru (dead mother mentioned once), and the On/Off/On Ryoma & Hyuuga drama. They were a decent bunch to spend the year with. As weak as their plans were, I'll say that Balban was a fun bunch as well.

The biggest thing this series was lacking was memorable episodes. I had such a hard time thinking up the episodes I liked the best. There weren't even that many big moments that were really entertaining. The series just kinda...progressed. It progressed at such a normal pace that it really it wouldn't get ticketed in the strictest of speed traps. It started, stuff happened, the end.

That isn't to say I don't like the show. I actually found myself enjoying it way more this time than I have in the past. It's a great show that does a lot of things right. The lack of the 'secret identity' aspect certainly remedied some of the weak action from Carranger and Megaranger. The key word is 'remedied', not 'cured'. Some of the action beats could have been better, but once the effects budget dried up after like the fourth episode, things improved.

I certainly would recommend the series if you haven't seen it already. It's pace is as chill as it's characters and it delivers a solid story on top of a largely basic plot. Check it out if you haven't already!


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That's it for my write-up on Seijuu Sentai Gingaman. I hope you enjoyed this series and it's write-up. With the release of Jetman right around the corner as of this writing, how about checking out Part 1 and Part 2 of my write-up of that. Will there be a Part 3? Perhaps in time... For now, keep an eye out for Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGo Five.

-CC

Ginga Tensei! Seijuu Sentai Gingaman Part 1 of 2
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