Manga Review: Bungo Stray Dogs 01

Manga Review: Bungo Stray Dogs 01 Story by Kafka Asagiri, Art by Sango Harukawa

Atsushi Nakajima has had a rough life growing up in an abusive orphanage. When the orphanage was attacked by a tiger that wrecked the place, the people who ran the home decided that Atsushi was somehow responsible and kicked him out. Since then the boy has wandered cross-country towards Tokyo, the mysterious tiger following him. Starving and at the end of his rope, Atsushi decides to rob the next person he sees. But as fate would have it, he winds up saving that person from drowning instead.

Bungo Stray Dogs 01

This man, Osamu Dazai, is less than grateful. He was attempting to commit suicide, which puzzles Atsushi and enrages Dazai’s colleague Kunikida. The men belong to the Armed Detective Agency, a group that uses unusual abilities to solve crimes. Right now, they’ve been hired to track down a certain tiger. Atsushi panics, but is strongarmed into being bait for the beast.

As you might have suspected, Atsushi is himself the tiger, who emerges under the moon. His special ability “Beast Beneath the Moonlight” was unknown to him, but now that he knows the truth, the Armed Detective Agency takes in the orphan to help them while learning to control his ability.

The gimmick of this seinen (young men’s) series based on the light novel series by the same author is that the major characters are all named after literary figures, and their special abilities after one of their famous works. For example, Osamu Dazai’s ability, “No Longer Human” is named after that author’s last published novel, and allows him to turn off other special abilities (usually.) In this early volume, it’s all Japanese literature that would be familiar to high schoolers in that country, but eventually gets to American and British literature.

Other than the literary injokes (Dazai’s suicide attempts echo both the ending of the novel and the author’s real-life suicide) this is a pretty standard battle manga. Quirky characters face off using their individual weird powers, and try to figure out a way to win, often despite a bad match-up.

After a couple of chapters to introduce the basic concepts, the plot proper begins with the introduction of the Port Mafia, organized criminals whose leaders also have special abilities. They want the still active bounty on Atsushi’s (or rather the tiger’s) head, and are willing to kill for it. They’re also kind of steamed at Dazai for leaving them to join the Detectives.

Honestly, this series is pretty middle-of-the-road for me; the art’s decent, the characters are okay, but the literature jokes aren’t enough to carry it to the next level. (And the stretching necessary to come up with powers and personalities becomes much more evident once the authors I recognize show up.)

There’s an animated adaptation I haven’t seen; that may be more excellent.

Content notes: In addition to the suicide humor, there’s some gore in this volume.

Recommended for battle manga fans who also enjoy literature jokes.

Book Review: The Mystery of the Timber Giant

Book Review: The Mystery of the Timber Giant by Fran Striker

Tom Quest, teen adventurer, and his newspaper columnist friend Whiz Walton are at the San Francisco airport to see Tom’s scientist father Dr. Hamilton Quest off on a vacation to Hawaii. Once done with that, they’ll be off on their own flight to Texas. They’re flabbergasted when their rancher friend Gulliver shows up at the airport instead. It seems he’s gotten a letter from his old friend “Halfpint” Hoolihan saying there’s big trouble in timber country. And Gulliver wants his friends to help!

The Mystery of the Timber Giant

Francis Hamilton “Fran” Striker (1903-1962) is best known for his radio work, where he created classic characters the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet. But his Tom Quest Adventure series (of which this is the eighth and final volume) was also popular back in the 1950s.

Tom is typical of boys’ adventure heroes of the time, clean-cut, athletic, polite, and handsome in a non-threatening way. Gulliver’s in his early 50s or thereabouts, but still strong and ready to fight; his expertise is everything outdoorsy. Whiz is in his 30s, and more street-smart, a smooth talker who knows how to lie and see through lies. They originally met because all three happened to be wearing identical signet rings with a question mark spiral.

According to Hoolihan’s letter, there’s a syndicate that’s trying to monopolize the timber industry on the West Coast, a “timber giant.” (No Bigfoot plotline here, sorry.) Those timber operators and landowners who don’t fall for dubious financial deals find their operations suffering mysterious accidents, and it’s clear the people behind the syndicate won’t hesitate to use arson or murder if they have to. (Content warning: suicide.)

There’s not a whole lot of mystery, despite the title; the person behind the syndicate is exactly who you think it is the moment they appear in the story. The heroes don’t rush to judgement on the issue, but it’s pretty clear they know something’s up with this guy. Instead, the plot moves from encounter to encounter with frequent moments of peril.

Gulliver and Whiz do most of the work, but Tom does have a moment when he puts his championship swimming skills to the test. Back in the day, children’s books didn’t insist that children always be the most competent person.

Fran Striker knew how to write exciting adventure for children, and this is a fun story. However, attitudes about the lumber industry and conservation have changed, and parents of young readers may want to discuss this with their kids.

This book is suitable for fourth-grade boys on up, but finding a copy may be difficult as it hasn’t been reprinted in years. Try your finer used book stores.

Book Review: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

Book Review: Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology by Cory O’Brien

Our modern world is built, among other things, on the mythology of the past. The stories of how the world came to be, where people came from, and the foibles of the gods are deep in our cultural DNA. But many of us have heard only the mildest versions of these tales, or only those that are the most popular among the majority culture, or simply forgotten since childhood just how weird some of the myths can be.

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology

This book is a compilation and re-editing of the author’s posts on his website retelling various myths in a humorous manner. While the book leads with the familiar Greek and Norse tales, and those take up the most space, there’s also stories from Sumeria, China and various parts of Africa, just to name a few. Indeed, the last mythology section is on American folk heroes.

The humor is very “fratboy”, with quite a bit of salty language and focus on sex, which will doubtless make it popular with fourteen-year-olds whose parents will find such topics objectionable. It’s a bit hit-and-miss, and becomes tiring by the end of the book. The illustrations by Sarah E. Melville match the text with “classical” stylings mixed with graffiti -like modifications.

Good stuff: I like the relatively deep dive into world mythology, so the book is not just the same handful of stories that we’ve heard over and over. This volume could certainly spark an interest in learning more in a reader who wouldn’t have picked up a more scholarly or clean- cut book. There’s plenty of room for a sequel!

Less good: Many of these stories have clearly been picked for their prurient content. A number of times, vulgarity is used when a lighter touch would have made a better joke. It’s misleading to mark a section “Judeo-Christian” if it never gets beyond the Old Testament. No sources are cited and there’s no further reading list.

The odd: There’s a thing that happens in stand-up comedy where the comedian spends most of the act being mean and foulmouthed, then in the last couple of minutes, “…but seriously, folks” and suddenly a plea for world peace and understanding. That happens here too.

Overall? I’ve seen worse bastardizations of mythology; if the fratboy style of humor is your thing, by all means check this out.

Manga Review: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun 1

Manga Review: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun 1 by Izumi Tsubaki

Confessing your love to your high-school crush is always a nerve-wracking experience. It’s possible that your beloved returns your affections, but more likely you will receive a flat “not interested”, or “buzz off” or perhaps she will laugh in your face and tell you you are a hideous deformity that no woman could ever love and you should do yourself in as a favor to everyone–but enough about my high school days. Let’s talk about Chiyo Sakura, who has eyes for no one but her tall and quiet classmate Umetaro Nozaki.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun 1

Sakura fumbles a bit and says something that sounds like “I’m your fan!” which is sounds more like “I have a crush on you” in Japanese. Nozaki doesn’t seem the least bit surprised and gives his classmate an autograph. It turns out that Nozaki is not-so-secretly a mangaka (comic book creator) who gets published in shoujo (girls’) manga under the pen name Sakiko Yumeno.

Despite being expert at depicting chaste romance on the page, Nozaki is clueless about Sakura’s crush on him, and she winds up becoming one of his art assistants. As time goes on, we meet their friends and associates, all of whom are clueless in some way. And so this romantic comedy begins!

This shoujo manga is done in what’s called the 4-koma format, which is kind of like a newspaper comic strip (which are vertical in Japan.) Four panels per strip, with some sort of gag in each. This gives the story a rapid-fire feel as unlike a daily strip which must recap constantly, several pages of strips appear each month.

As this is a series about making manga, it gets into some meta humor. For example, because the magazine Nozaki’s stories appear in is aimed at junior high school girls, editorial has decreed that the characters cannot be shown doing anything illegal lest impressionable children copy that. Not only does this mean that Nozaki can’t show his juvenile deliquents smoking or underage drinking, but he can’t even depict them breaking traffic laws! So he must find a different method to use a particular romantic moment.

Oh, for the few readers who aren’t already experts on manga conventions, the “-kun” in the title is an honorific, like “Mr.” or “Ms.” “Kun” is used between or to teenaged boys primarily, it’s a bit less formal than “-san.”

The jokes are pretty funny, especially if you’re familiar with shoujo manga cliches, and the art serves the 4-koma format well (plus there’s jokes about the art.)

However, because this is primarily a gag strip with romantic elements as opposed to a romance strip with comedic elements, the characters’ cluelessness means that relationships progress little if at all over the course of the volume.

Content notes: some humor revolves around gender roles and certain characters not fitting into the society-approved categories.

Recommended to romantic comedy fans who are okay with the characters being dolts about romance.

Oh, and there was an anime adaptation, so here’s the ending theme!

Book Review: Didi Dodo, Future Spy: Recipe for Disaster

Book Review: Didi Dodo, Future Spy: Recipe for Disaster words by Tom Angleberger, art by Jared Chapman

Disclaimer: I received an Uncorrected Proof through a Goodreads giveaway for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was requested or offered. As an uncorrected proof, there may be changes in the final product–in particular, some illustrations are not finalized.

Didi Dodo, Future Spy: Recipe for Disaster

Koko Dodo is preparing for the Royal Cookie Contest at the local mall. His Super-Secret Fudge Sauce has won the contest twenty years in a row, and he sees no reason this won’t be year twenty-one. That is, until he discovers someone has stolen the secret ingredient!

This would ordinarily be a job for Inspector Flytrap, who’s gotten Koko out of some tight spots before. But that veteran vegetable is out of town. Thus the task falls to a new heroine, Didi Dodo, Future Spy! (Which does not mean she’s a spy from the future. Just that she wants to make spying her career.)

Koko isn’t convinced Didi’s the right dodo for the job. For one thing, she doesn’t know how to stop on roller skates, but insists on rollerskating everywhere. And she’s full of daring plans–too daring! Even if they find the secret ingredient in time, Koko won’t be able to win the contest if he’s deceased!

This children’s chapter book is brought to you by the author of the Inspector Flytrap series and the artist of Vegetables in Underwear. The reading level is first through third grade, though some first graders might need help.

Parents will definitely want to help if their young ones decide they want to try the recipe that’s included with the book–it’s not dangerous, but could get a bit messy.

The plot zooms quickly from one nonsensical moment to the next, with a strong emphasis on the need for speed, which leaves a few plot holes open. (There is a nice bit of realism when we find out the results of one person winning the same contest every year.) The art is okay, and characters are easily identifiable.

Content note: There’s some potty humor parents may not appreciate.

I suspect this will be one of those books that has a brief popularity and then vanishes into the mist of childhood memories; if your kid liked Inspector Flytrap, give it a whirl.

Book Review: Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond

Book Review: Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond by Erika Schelby

The author is a German immigrant to New Mexico. While studying the history of her new state, she learned that Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), the famous Prussian naturalist and explorer, had passed through what would become New Mexico in his journey through New Spain. Inspired, she decided to learn more about him and other Germans who had influenced the history of New Mexico.

Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond

This volume is the result of her research, a sprawling look at history and a personal memoir. It takes the reader from the days of the Holy Roman Empire, when the thrones of Spain and Germany were one, to the time of the Apache Wars, with a bit on the Twentieth Century’s erasure of German influence on New Mexican (and American) history.

Good stuff: This volume is well-researched, with a large pool of resources, some of which are newer to the field. I learned quite a bit about specific minor historical figures I had never heard of before, and some facts about New Mexico. There’s an excellent bibliography, multiple illustrations throughout, and an index.

However, there’s a bit too much sprawl, and many sections felt unorganized. I felt that this book could have used a stronger editor to help the author pull the narrative together. The author’s personal interjections also became distracting from time to time.

In particular, I felt the author overplayed the effects of World War One on crushing the appreciation of German culture and historical influence in America, and downplayed the true finishing blow of World War Two, in which Germany was much less excused from culpability.

That said, recommended to those interested in either New Mexico or German-American history.

Disclaimer: I received a download of this book through Booksirens for the purpose of writing this review. No other compensation was requested or offered.

Book Review: The Storm Lord

Book Review: The Storm Lord by Tanith Lee

Raldnor has long known he was different from the other children in his Southlands village. They are fair-skinned, he has dark skin. They can speak mind-to-mind to supplement their words, he appears to be mind-deaf and mute. They seem unruled by their loins, while Raldnor has entire seasons where he is consumed with sexual lust. He has made no friends here. And now that his foster mother is dead, nothing ties Raldnor to the village.

Now must Raldnor leave the home he has known, and seek his true heritage and destiny. The destiny of…the Storm Lord!

The Storm Lord

This “adult” fantasy novel is the first of the Wars of Vis series by British writer Tanith Lee (1947-2015.) After the critical and sales success of her breakout novel The Birthgrave in 1975, DAW Books was more than ready to publish this volume in 1976.

The book actually starts with Raldnor’s conception. Rehdon, Storm Lord of the Vis, is out hunting in the plains of the Southlands which his people have conquered. Rehdon has a severe case of blue balls as it is the Vis rutting season (and yes, making the dark-skinned people have “bestial” sex urges is pretty skeevy) and he hasn’t gotten laid recently due to the queen’s pregnancy. He sees the priestess Ashne’e of the local snake goddess shrine and decides to have his way with her.

Ashne’e for reasons of her own agrees, though it’s made clear that her consent isn’t required from Rehdon’s point of view. She uses her advanced mental powers to ensure that she will conceive from the act, and supposedly sexes Rehdon to death. (In reality Rehdon’s treacherous advisor Amnorh gave him a drug to weaken the heart; any major exertion would have done it.)

Now politics comes into the situation. Vis law of succession is clear that the last male child conceived is the true heir. Amnorh cannot just kill Ashne’e while she is carrying a potential heir to the throne. So he rapes her to create doubt about whose child she’s carrying (there’s a lot of rape in this book) and carries the priestess back to the capital city of Koramvis.

Val Mala, the Queen of Vis, is not well pleased by this development, as she had just wanted her husband dead for the purpose of being regent for her upcoming child. What follows is some traditional wicked queen scheming, as Val Mala sends her handmaiden Lomandra to tend to/spy on Ashne’e, only to have Lomandra bewitched by the priestess. Raldnor is born prematurely and supposedly dies shortly thereafter, as shown by the severed little finger Lomandra presents to her mistress.

In reality, Lomandra smuggles the child to safety with the help of the one likable character who has appeared so far, both of them dying to deliver the baby to not the intended destination, but a random village with them not able to tell the villagers what’s going on. Ashne’e dies as well. Thus, even if Val Mala suspected the truth, there’s no way to track down the kid.

Ignorant of his heritage, though he knows he’s of mixed blood, Raldnor grows to young manhood in the isolated town.

Reading this book, I got the distinct impression that Tanith Lee cynically aimed it for a particular audience: Young men who feel like outcasts in their own society, who don’t get laid nearly enough/at all, and are convinced that it’s not because of their personalities, but because their true greatness is hidden and they need some sort of kickoff point to show their real potential.

The skeeviness is not helped by our protagonist’s attitudes towards sex. Having consensual sex with girls from his village leaves Raldnor frustrated because it takes so much time and negotiation, and the act leaves him feeling hollow. Rape is more physically satisfying but has a bitter aftertaste of guilty conscience. He reaches a more acceptable to him compromise with paying prostitutes, and (once he’s got some temporal power) accepting the come-ons of court ladies. (One lets Raldnor know she’s carrying his child and his response is roughly “are you trying to trick me into going exclusive with you?”)

Eventually Raldnor meets his soulmate, his half-brother King Amrek’s new bride Astaris. She has a personality disorder that makes her think no one outside herself is a real person–except now Raldnor, whose mental powers are now awakening in response to her. Amrek and Raldnor don’t know about their relationship, so the king had made our protagonist a trusted captain of his guards and put Raldnor in charge of Astaris’ security detail. Oops! Cuckolding ensues and Raldnor has to have his death faked to escape.

Other content issues: The “persecution flip”, where the pale-skinned, light-haired people are oppressed by the dark-skinned, dark-haired people, brings up some uncomfortable stereotypes. Queen Val Mala goes around in whiteface because she thinks it makes her more attractive. King Amrek starts a genocide against the Southlanders. There’s blatant homophobia (the culture of “boy-lovers” practices child sacrifice and is even more misogynistic than the main Vis culture.) A thirteen year old girl is depicted as deliberately seducing a middle-aged man.

Good stuff: Tanith Lee has a gift for lush, steamy prose that gets almost hallucinatory at times. The female characters, despite their story roles, have interior lives, rare in this kind of book (even if we do get confirmation that yes, the thirteen year old really did seduce the middle-aged man deliberately.)

Plus, about three-quarters of the way in, the author pulls the rug out from under the type of story it’s been so far. Raldnor finally learns his true heritage and comes into his full awesome mental powers, leading a rebellion against the corrupt Vis overlords–and is hijacked by the snake goddess who has been orchestrating events all along for her own purposes and goals. For most of the ending, Raldnor is nothing but a puppet. It’s…a bold narrative choice.

Recommended to, um, people who’ve read everything else by Tanith Lee, just to say they’ve seen it all. She put out much better stuff.

Book Review: The Vessel of Ra

Book Review: The Vessel of Ra by Catherine Schaff-Stump

It is October 1837, and the acqua alta, the fall flooding, has come to Venice. Lucy Klareon has also come to Venice, as part of her Grand Tour, but she doesn’t plan to leave in the usual way. For on her sixteenth birthday, October 31st, All Hallows Eve, Lucy must do battle with the demon Ra, and either bind him as her servant, or become his possessed shell and be slain by her sister Octavia. Lucy’s pretty sure she’s going to lose, so she’s decided to skip the battle altogether by jumping in a canal and drowning.

The Vessel of Ra

Ra has no interest in losing his chance, so convinces local boy Carlo Borgia to save Lucy from her attempted suicide. Carlo, as it happens, is the last heir to the legendary family of poisoners, and his grandfather Paolo knows far more about the Klareon family of demon binders than Carlo was aware of. Paolo thinks he can find a way to release Lucy from her bond with Ra, delivering them both from the curse. But being a Borgia, he’s not exactly doing this out of pure goodness.

Meanwhile, Octavia has made a sort of peace with her own demon, Khun; she’s known for years that Lucy cannot possibly bind Ra properly, so it will be up to her to kill Lucy and bind Ra herself (except that no binder can control two demons, so what’s up with that?) Her new husband Drusus (from a weather mage clan) is just now discovering just what the Klareon rituals really involve. He’s not keen on the idea of killing anyone.

The various characters’ plans clash, and in the end it’s up to Lucy to save the day. Slight problem though, at this point in the story, she’s dead!

This is the first book in the Klareon Scroll fantasy series, with the author’s notes indicating that this tome is essential background for the book she started writing first. I’m happy to say that it also works just fine as a standalone story. The fantasy element of families that have bloodline magical powers works fairly well, and there’s plenty of plothooks. (For example, there’s a reason why the demons have Egyptian names, but there’s backstory as to how they got into that position that’s not immediately clear.)

I like that most of the characters are trying to do what they consider the right thing, even if their actions are objectively ruinous and their motivations are selfish. In some cases it’s because they’ve been lied to or had important facts concealed from them, which makes self-defeating actions more likely.

Content issues: As mentioned, Lucy tries to commit suicide. She’s a little person, and suffers prejudice due to this. Carlo’s father was born out of wedlock, and his mixed heritage makes him the subject of family strife. Lucy is emotionally abused by her father, who also deliberately stunts her education. There is marital infidelity in the current day.

This is listed as a young adult book, but I think fits more comfortably at the higher end of that range, almost in “new adult.”

Recommended, then, primarily to fantasy readers senior high level and up, with a special interest in family drama.

Book Review: In the Blood

Book Review: In the Blood by Delia Remington

Most of what you know about Marie Antoinette is wrong. For starters, she was and is a vampire. The French Revolution wasn’t about taxes or food, it was about wiping out the vampires that had taken over the French nobility. The “Marie” that was beheaded was a mind-controlled double. The real Marie Antoinette is living as an antique dealer in Saint Louis, Missouri. She probably would have been okay had she stayed there.

In the blood

Marie discovers that a particularly important piece of her memorabilia has come up for auction in New York City, and she goes there to bid on it. Having secured her last handkerchief, Marie decides to play it safe and murder a random bystander to switch clothes to confuse anyone following her. This in fact has the opposite effect, revealing that an unknown vampire was in the neighborhood. And there aren’t many unknown vampires.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, Marie’s longtime companion Fin starts falling in love with art student and barista Sybill Lysander, who seems to reciprocate. Peckish, Fin drains a homeless person in the park, thinking it will be ages before anyone finds the body. He’s wrong.

This book is the first in the Blood Royal Saga, which is at least a trilogy.

Good: There’s some nice detail about St. Louis.

Less good: I found no one to root for in this book. Marie and Fin (who is secretly someone famous too) try to only drink from people who either want to die or deserve to die, but break that rule whenever it’s convenient. Their enemies (led by a mysterious person from Marie’s past) are even more ruthless and unconcerned with collateral damage.

Sybill hasn’t actually murdered anyone before she inevitably becomes a vampire herself, but seems perfectly okay with the benefits of a life of crime as long as she isn’t having to pull the trigger herself or hang out with those that do. I think she’ll adjust to being a creature of the night just fine.

Much of the vampire rules remains murky, as this is obviously a set-up book, raising lots of questions and putting people in peril to be resolved in future installments.

There’s a heavy romance element which is abruptly derailed by the plot happening.

To be honest, this just wasn’t my cup of tea. It might appeal more to those who loved the World of Darkness role-playing game setting, where vampires and other supernatural critters were secretly behind all interesting human history.

Book Review: The Railway Children

Book Review: The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Life takes some odd turns. For example, one day you’re an adorable trio of children living a comfortable upper-middle class life in London. The next, your father is sent to prison for a crime he did not commit and you have to go live in a much less impressive house out in the country next to the railway. At least there’s plenty to do!

The Railway Children

This classic 1905 children’s novel is by E. Nesbit, born Edith Nesbit. Her married name was “Bland” which may explain why she kept the old one for writing.

Since Mother is busy writing stories to sell to magazines to keep the family afloat, Roberta, Peter and Phyllis find themselves with lots of spare time. They spend much of it exploring the neighborhood, especially the railway of the title. They make a habit of waving to the people on the trains, particularly one older gentleman who takes an interest in the children.

The kids are remarkably well-behaved, but thankfully are no angels. At various points they steal, lie, quarrel and do end runs around their mother’s instructions for the greater good. It’s even mentioned that Peter once burned Phyllis’ doll at the stake. Their hearts are in the right places, and the children manage to save a train full of passengers from crashing, and then a baby from a barge fire, as well as assist a Russian refugee.

Parents reading this to their little ones may want to read up on the Russo-Japanese War, as it is briefly referred to (and the porter Perks uses a word for Japanese people that is no longer acceptable, even as he says he’s on their side!)

The story is remarkably feminist for 1905–the father sees no issue with his daughters becoming engineers or “fire-women” if that’s the careers they want, and Roberta (“Bobbie”) is definitely the leader of the children. The narrator mentions that Bobbie is her favorite, but that also includes some heavy moments, as when Bobbie learns the truth about what happened to her father, and must keep it from her siblings at Mother’s request.

There’s a bit of classism; even though our main family is poor now, they don’t really mix with the new neighbors, and the children never play with the local children, only making friends with adults. Charity is seen as an awful thing to need, both Mother and Perks are dead set against receiving “charity” and have to have it presented in different terms to be acceptable.

The tone of the narration is pleasant, an English auntie who keeps most of the darkness of the world at the edges where it belongs, but not afraid to admit it exists. And the ending is splendid, knowing when it’s time to go away and leave the family to their own joy.

Highly recommended to parents who read to their children, and children who are ready to read a long book on their own.

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