Sexism in NGE?

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Sexism in NGE?

Postby Flyvapnet » Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:50 am

Split from "Theories You Really Don't Like."

I heartily dislike the following three theories, though "theories" might not be the best word for them. One is specific to Neon Genesis Evangelion whilst two are not.

1. NGE is all about, or even mostly about, Ikari Shinji - to the extent reviewers (and others) feel compelled to tout that character until tedium afflicts even the most dispassionate observer.

2. In general, appreciation of art is limited to what owners of art declare acceptable appreciation to be; e.g., straying from interpretations dictated by the so-called "canon" is not acceptable.

3. Female characters should acquiesce to male characters' whims at all times; i.e., industry-wide anti-female sexism and (in some cases) misogyny.

:asuka_miffed:

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Re: Well....

Postby slothen » Sat Aug 14, 2010 6:06 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:1. NGE is all about, or even mostly about, Ikari Shinji


But he's the main character.

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:3. Female characters should acquiesce to male characters' whims at all times; i.e., industry-wide anti-female sexism and (in some cases) misogyny.


I understand the later part of your statement, but I can't really think of any example of the former.



At the moment at least, I'm not so sure I like the "Misato was offering Shinji sex" theory (in regards to this, if someone could link me a relevant thread or wiki article I would be appreciative).
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For some, maybe....

Postby Flyvapnet » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:16 pm

I know, slothen. We're continuously told Ikari Shinji is the main character. Of course that's the formulaic method used by anime, games and manga corporations; he's the target-audience "You are here!" icon, the sales department's precious adolescent male.

To me, Shinji is primarily a kind of narrator or trail guide. We follow him around, but (as far as I'm concerned) he's far from being the most compelling or interesting character. It's like in another Gainax Co Ltd. production, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: We're continuously told Jiha Shimon is the main character. Again, in my view, he's more of a docent than a main attraction.

Regarding anti-female sexism and misogyny, the latter is manifested (in the two productions mentioned above) by Gainax itself. Both NGE and TTGL have strong female characters, yet it's some whiny male who's touted as the main character. That's nothing to do with art, but rather it's all about corporate profit as perceived by executives. The end result is that female characters are relegated to supporting roles, no matter how appealing or "round" they may be in comparison to the "You are here!" adolescent-male figure. That's institutionalized misogyny, dressed up to appear businesslike.

Anti-female sexism is usually carried out, on behalf of the corporations, by male characters themselves. It's done in a careful and clever manner, so as to avoid the labeling I've already stuck it with. In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."

In TTGL, Jiha Kamina refuses to permit the more experienced and skillful Ritona Yoko to operate mecha. In a blast of sexism which borders on misogyny, Kamina resorts to a bunch of male-bonding malarkey in indicating to Yoko that only "men" have a right to operate such machinery. For shame, Gainax!

But then, corporations haven't any shame. My bottom line is this: I firmly believe individual interpretation is the key to appreciating art. Corporations may own the art, but circumspection and free will compel us to take from it what we will and leave the rest to more dogmatic minds.

:asuka_thumbsup:

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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby slothen » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:18 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:
SPOILER: Show
I know, slothen. We're continuously told Ikari Shinji is the main character. Of course that's the formulaic method used by anime, games and manga corporations; he's the target-audience "You are here!" icon, the sales department's precious adolescent male.

To me, Shinji is primarily a kind of narrator or trail guide. We follow him around, but (as far as I'm concerned) he's far from being the most compelling or interesting character. It's like in another Gainax Co Ltd. production, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: We're continuously told Jiha Shimon is the main character. Again, in my view, he's more of a docent than a main attraction.

Regarding anti-female sexism and misogyny, the latter is manifested (in the two productions mentioned above) by Gainax itself. Both NGE and TTGL have strong female characters, yet it's some whiny male who's touted as the main character. That's nothing to do with art, but rather it's all about corporate profit as perceived by executives. The end result is that female characters are relegated to supporting roles, no matter how appealing or "round" they may be in comparison to the "You are here!" adolescent-male figure. That's institutionalized misogyny, dressed up to appear businesslike.

Anti-female sexism is usually carried out, on behalf of the corporations, by male characters themselves. It's done in a careful and clever manner, so as to avoid the labeling I've already stuck it with. In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."

In TTGL, Jiha Kamina refuses to permit the more experienced and skillful Ritona Yoko to operate mecha. In a blast of sexism which borders on misogyny, Kamina resorts to a bunch of male-bonding malarkey in indicating to Yoko that only "men" have a right to operate such machinery. For shame, Gainax!

But then, corporations haven't any shame. My bottom line is this: I firmly believe individual interpretation is the key to appreciating art. Corporations may own the art, but circumspection and free will compel us to take from it what we will and leave the rest to more dogmatic minds.

:asuka_thumbsup:

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Wow, what an excellent response. Gosh, and even more so for Shinji's dad. But its okay that he had sex with all the brilliant talented women because he only truly loved one of them. Awesome.
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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sat Aug 14, 2010 10:49 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:Shinji is primarily a kind of narrator or trail guide. We follow him around, but (as far as I'm concerned) he's far from being the most compelling or interesting character.
Errr, I completely disagree. Shinji is far more than a blank slate guide that's meant to lead the audience through the fantasy world of NGE like Frodo does through Middle Earth. If he was merely meant to fill that role he would be much more bland and typical, and the fact that he sparks such controversial reactions is proof positive that he's more than just a "narrator" or "trail guide". NGE is, in large part, a thematic study as filtered through its characters, and in that mode Shinji is chosen as the target that receives the most analysis.

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:Both NGE and TTGL have strong female characters, yet it's some whiny male who's touted as the main character. That's nothing to do with art, but rather it's all about corporate profit as perceived by executives.
Oh, baloney. Are you seriously going to charge every anime film/series that features a male protagonist with being misogynistic or chalking it up to corporate profit when there's a ton of shojo anime and manga out there? How the hell would you approach Kare Kano that's made by the same studio with the same writer/director and has a male and female sharing the lead role?

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."
:facepalm: I don't know if this even deserves any kind of response... Shinji is also shown repeatedly failing while Asuka and Rei save the day. Not to mention that in the film both Asuka AND Misato are far more active and heroic than Shinji. Asuka was also the better pilot until late in the series.

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:I firmly believe individual interpretation is the key to appreciating art.
It helps when those interpretations are attached to reality. The three you presented above are not.
Last edited by Eva Yojimbo on Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby ran1 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:33 am

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:I know, slothen. We're continuously told Ikari Shinji is the main character. Of course that's the formulaic method used by anime, games and manga corporations; he's the target-audience "You are here!" icon, the sales department's precious adolescent male.


Well, Anno specifically said that it was his sort of art therapy. The male as main character is more of a reflection that Anno himself is a male, rather than any blantant sexism on his part.

Hideaki Anno via Newtype (November 2004) wrote:I wrote about myself. My friend lent me a book on psychological illness and this gave me a shock, as if I finally found what I needed to say.


To me, Shinji is primarily a kind of narrator or trail guide. We follow him around, but (as far as I'm concerned) he's far from being the most compelling or interesting character.


I think Anno would be the first to tell you that he himself isn't a particularly interesting character. But even disregarding that, the narrative isn't as Shinji-centric as say, Rebuild, where the films drill it into your eyes, so to speak. NGE strikes a definite balance that does favor Shinji, yes, but more than enough time is given to Asuka, Misato, and Rei, who have some of the most brilliant character arcs I've seen in a 26 episode series of anything.

Regarding anti-female sexism and misogyny, the latter is manifested (in the two productions mentioned above) by Gainax itself. Both NGE and TTGL have strong female characters, yet it's some whiny male who's touted as the main character.


Next to probably K-On!! and Revolutionary Girl Utena, NGE had some of the most brilliant handling of female characters that I've ever seen. What, in your opinion, is a series that betters Eva in that way?

In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."


It is established very early on that Asuka is the superior pilot. Also, Gendo may be the big boss of NERV, but look at Yui in Unit-01. She's God, and in EoE devours half of Gendo. Moreover, its Yui who holds the real power behind Shinji's sync ratio. Not only can Unit-01 move by itself (episode 1) but when Shinji "shuts down", so to speak, Yui "wakes up" and goes into Beserker.
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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby Mr. Tines » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:40 am

View Original Postran1 wrote:Next to probably K-On!! and Revolutionary Girl Utena,...
Juxtaposing those two series gives me an automatic "Not sure if serious" response.

Anno's statement mentions Misato in the same breath as Shinji, but not the other characters. But then again, it was not Anno's original choice to make the main character a boy.

It is established very early on that Asuka is the superior pilot.
She starts off with the better synch ratio, and more hours at the helm -- but only manages one solo kill (even plodding Rei manages two!).
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Aha!

Postby Flyvapnet » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:54 pm

Slothen, thanks for your vote of confidence. That puts both of us into some kind of minority, I should think.

Eva Yojimbo, your ad hominum remarks are not well taken. They only serve to cloud the matter, rather than clarify anything.

Ran1, I greatly appreciate your interesting reply. It's given me a lot to think about. Thanks!

Mr. Tines, I agree with ran1 that Asuka is the superior pilot. Her kill-to-sortie ratio is, I believe, a product of non-artistic considerations.

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Postby Sachi » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:54 pm

Having the lead be a male is not sexism in the least. Shinji, being the lead character, is shown outperforming the other two pilots on only a few occasions, and he has a habit of failing when he takes lead (ie, Leliel ep 16); his win ratio* is mostly thanks to his mother, a female; and Asuka is clearly the superior pilot anyway, albeit a rather unlucky one during the series (but she sure does kick ass in EoE).

Shinji also breaks the typical lead male hero archetype, and we instead get a whiny, angst-filled character. Shinji himself is a contradiction of gender roles, and is thus enough evidence to prove that his role as the lead is anything but sexist.

The closest thing to sexism the show reaches is in Episode 16 right before Shinji is consumed by Leliel. He says something along the lines of "Fighting is a man's job," yet this is excusable, because he ironically loses and his mother saves him.

Lastly, keep in mind that Anno's favorite character is Asuka.

* Another thing to consider for his win ratio is that his Eva is different and probably superior to the others. It's at least a lot luckier.
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Re: Aha!

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Aug 15, 2010 4:56 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:Eva Yojimbo, your ad hominum remarks
There are no such ad hominem remarks in my post. I attacked your points/theories, not you. Try again.
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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby Legendary » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:16 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."

Outperforms? He gets a higher synch ratio. Why? Because you have to be dependent on other people to be good at it. Shinji's mode of life is "Something's going wrong?! SOMEBODY SAVE ME!" Asuka and Rei are much more self-reliant, and Asuka ultimately crashes and burns because her psychological trauma causes her to completely close in on herself.

More to the point, with the exception of the synch ratio, it's apparent everywhere that Shinji isn't better. When he beats Asuka in the synchs, who is originally told to take point? Asuka. The only reason she doesn't get Leliel'd is because Shinji's an asshat. The episode makes it pretty clear his behavior is only tolerated because it's so completely out of the norm for him.

Further, I'm sorry to say this, but Shinji is the main. Not the most interesting, but definitely the main. The first seven episodes are focused almost entirely on him. While the three main women each get their own bits of focus, no episode is completely without Shinji in it, and it is significant that of all the people in Nerv, we see HIS post-Angel interaction with Asuka at the end of Episode 22, not someone else's.

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Postby Darkman.exe213 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:18 pm

Like several others here, I also disagree that Evangelion is sexist. It is generally more oriented toward males, but that's simply because it's still a shounen anime, that was meant to appeal to males. One important point to note is that having a male lead is hardly considered sexism, especially in shounen anime. That would be like saying that most shoujo anime are sexist because most of the leads are female.

Another important point is that Shinji as a character was meant to be a contrast to the fairly typical male lead in anime, in that he's not brave, stupid and reckless. Furthermore, because of his submissive personality, someone probably would have called sexism if he WAS female, because he would have been a female character being portrayed as weak and cowardly.

In addition to that, you really have to take into consideration the culture and conventions of the anime medium as a whole. Anime is not like a typical American TV show or movie, and it has established conventions that its fans are familiar with. Evangelion was made with this in mind, and Anno has stated multiple times that it was made as commentary about otaku and Japanese youth; he had absolutely no intention of making it to appeal to an international audience, meaning he made it primarily with conventional anime elements. When you're judging a work, it's only fair to take into consideration the context in which it is being made. Evangelion would not be the same show if it was made by another country, or if it was made into a book, movie, or live action TV show instead, because those mediums all have different conventions and appeal to different people. This goes back to the whole point of shounen vs shoujo anime, because up until very recently with the prevalence of "seinen" anime, there was a distinct line between shounen and shoujo anime. But while conventions in anime may have a bias toward one gender or the other, Evangelion itself is not particularly sexist. It merely followed the common trend of shounen anime at that time.
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Postby Merridian » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:50 pm

Flyvapnet wrote: Regarding anti-female sexism and misogyny, the latter is manifested (in the two productions mentioned above) by Gainax itself. […] The end result is that female characters are relegated to supporting roles, no matter how appealing or "round" they may be in comparison to the "You are here!" adolescent-male figure. That's institutionalized misogyny, dressed up to appear businesslike.
Gainax and Anno have both done programs that focus on strong female protagonists (Gunbuster & Diebuster), and they’ve also had programs that feature strong male AND female protagonists (Nadia, Kare Kano). It’s hardly a business move to regulate strong female characters to secondary roles. As others noted, NGE plays around with gender conventions quite a bit, but that's hardly enough to consider it misogynistic.

@Tines: aww c’mon. it’s not like K-On doesn’t have lovable character dynamics between the girls. :lol:

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Re: Aha!

Postby BeoX2 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:54 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:There are no such ad hominem remarks in my post. I attacked your points/theories, not you. Try again.


Sigh. Using funny words doesn't make them true, Fly.

This isn't going anywhere. Eva is not sexist, plain and simple. This doesn't deserve an in-depth explanation.
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Re: Aha!

Postby FreakyFilmFan4ever » Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:27 pm

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:Mr. Tines, I agree with ran1 that Asuka is the superior pilot. Her kill-to-sortie ratio is, I believe, a product of non-artistic considerations.

I would agree with that statement if II Air (Orchastral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWN. 1068) didn't start playing in Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion when Asuka started kicking butt. Sure, a lot of other horrible things happen to females in that musical interlude.
End of Evangelion  SPOILER: Show
Ritsuko dying, Rei getting "impregnated".
But, especially when taken within context of the rest of the series, Asuka's superiority seems to take on more and more artistic significance.

The main purpose Asuka seems to have in NGE is to try and make Shinji into the man he should be. Sometimes, it even appears as if she's trying.

I'm not sure if you've seen the original TV series, Flyvapnet, as I know you were first introduced to Evangelion via the new Rebuild series. I've seen 1.11, but have yet to see 2.22. So maybe my insight into the characters may be slightly different from yours. But anyway, in the spoiler (in case you haven't seen he original TV series) are the reasons I think the way I do.

NGE  SPOILER: Show
At first, Asuka just seems jealous of Shinji's accidental piloting abilities. This attitude seems to carry on until Episode 9: Both of You, Dance Like You Want to Win!. She even explains that in that episode that it's her pride on the line. In both episodes 11 and 12, we even see that Asuka even play mare than major roles in defeating the angel. Once in taking the burning, dripping acid/whatever for the others, and a second time in dealing the deadly blow to the Angel.

But let's back-track a moment. After Episode 10: Magna Diver, Asuka seems touched by Shinji's dangerous effort to save her from the volcanic lava without the proper protective gear. In Episodes 12: She Said, "Don't Make Others Suffer From Your Personal Hatred", and Episode 15: Those Women Who Longed For The Touch of the Others' Lips, and Thus invented Their Kisses, Asuka And Shinji become closer to each other than Asuka would probably like to admit, even in kissing Shinji.

This has a very strange effect on Shinji, as it probably would to any 14-year-old male.
in episode 116, just one episode after being smooched, he surprisingly seems to grow a pair. He declares: "Battle is a man's job!" and plunges head-long into his attack on the oncoming Angel.

My point is this: Shinji would have reacted that was if A) Asuka hadn't kissed him, and B) the new-found courage probably wouldn't have been as strong if it didn't come from someone who was admittedly better at this stuff than the receiver of the kiss.

And all of that effected Shinji's character, a script advancement that's clearly artistic. So, it's hard for me to really say that all of the accomplishments by the one who kissed him, and therefore changed that demeanor, were only placed there for non-artistic reasons.
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Re: Aha!

Postby Eva Yojimbo » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:27 pm

View Original PostBeoX2 wrote:Sigh. Using funny words doesn't make them true, Fly.
I assume the "funny word" you're replying to is "ad hominem", which is a logical fallacy that means "argument against the man" (as opposed to argument against the points). But since I didn't make an argument against Fly I don't get where his accusation came from.
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Re: Aha!

Postby BeoX2 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:41 pm

View Original PostEva Yojimbo wrote:I assume the "funny word" you're replying to is "ad hominem", which is a logical fallacy that means "argument against the man" (as opposed to argument against the points). But since I didn't make an argument against Fly I don't get where his accusation came from.


Oh I knew what the word meant. Just saying that using that word doesn't make it true.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:32 am

Let's not get sidetracked, people.

@Topic
With both the senior military and scientific posts in NERV being filled by women, it's hard to see sexism in its classic form in the series -- unless you feel that by making it look like Shinji is a way more clueless than normal harem lead, it's being sexist.

The bit where we see background cultural sexism leaking in is in the EoE live action, where we're supposed to buy Asuka being an office lady just because the world is free of the whole NERV/Ikari/Angel deal.
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Re: For some, maybe....

Postby Sun Stealer » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:40 am

View Original PostFlyvapnet wrote:I know, slothen. We're continuously told Ikari Shinji is the main character. Of course that's the formulaic method used by anime, games and manga corporations; he's the target-audience "You are here!" icon, the sales department's precious adolescent male.

To me, Shinji is primarily a kind of narrator or trail guide. We follow him around, but (as far as I'm concerned) he's far from being the most compelling or interesting character. It's like in another Gainax Co Ltd. production, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: We're continuously told Jiha Shimon is the main character. Again, in my view, he's more of a docent than a main attraction.

Regarding anti-female sexism and misogyny, the latter is manifested (in the two productions mentioned above) by Gainax itself. Both NGE and TTGL have strong female characters, yet it's some whiny male who's touted as the main character. That's nothing to do with art, but rather it's all about corporate profit as perceived by executives. The end result is that female characters are relegated to supporting roles, no matter how appealing or "round" they may be in comparison to the "You are here!" adolescent-male figure. That's institutionalized misogyny, dressed up to appear businesslike.

Anti-female sexism is usually carried out, on behalf of the corporations, by male characters themselves. It's done in a careful and clever manner, so as to avoid the labeling I've already stuck it with. In NGE, for example, Shinji supposedly outperforms the two female pilots. Gainax's escape route is to present nepotism (Shinji's father is the big boss) as a go-to red herring. But it's sexism, folks, compliments of Gainax. "No girls allowed."

In TTGL, Jiha Kamina refuses to permit the more experienced and skillful Ritona Yoko to operate mecha. In a blast of sexism which borders on misogyny, Kamina resorts to a bunch of male-bonding malarkey in indicating to Yoko that only "men" have a right to operate such machinery. For shame, Gainax!

But then, corporations haven't any shame. My bottom line is this: I firmly believe individual interpretation is the key to appreciating art. Corporations may own the art, but circumspection and free will compel us to take from it what we will and leave the rest to more dogmatic minds.


7/10: This spiel scored high in the areas of paranoia, grammar, and creative arsecovering. I especially liked the part at the end where you both defended your right to project imagined slights into the story, while at the same time preemptively labeling any critics as "dogmatic minds." However you lost points in terms of originality. I mean the leftist cant routine has been done to death. In contrast, the last paranoid rant I read claimed Anno was a warlock and a member of the Illuminati.

Also, Shinji is not the narrator. How did he see from the perspective of other characters, and even into their inner thoughts? Furthermore, if he were the narrator, we would see things from his unique perspective, however we clearly see that everybody doesn't hate him and that his perspective is flawed. The narration is clearly objective, and Shinji is merely the main character.
Last edited by Sun Stealer on Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mr. Tines » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:49 am

@Sun Stealer
Play the ball, not the man. Just address the points made, rather than ascribing motivations.
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