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Old 02-06-2007, 05:19 PM   #1   [permalink]
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Nymphet

If anyone's kept up to date on comings and goings in the manga world, you may have heard about a recently licensed (and then cancelled) manga called Nymphet that has caused (apparently) huge controversy among the manga community.

The reason for this controversy is the content and subject nature of Nymphet, which (so far as I can gather) features an eight year old trying to sexually entrap her teacher. Argument rages over the existence or non-existence of the sexual imagery placed throughout the manga. Some of those who have read the manga claim that certain actions carried out by the girl overtly suggest sexual acts such as fellatio and the like, while others claim that this isn't the case and that it is just a harmless comedy. This was also more or less the position of Seven Seas Entertainment (the owners of the license) who said that such a thing was normal for japanese fiction. However even they reversed this position after they delved further into future manga volumes, which they now claim are unsuitable for western audiences, and so have cancelled its distribution.

The root of the controversy more or less centers around whether a manga that contains subject material that sexualizes underage girls (even for japanese standards) is morally correct, or whether it would have a negative impact on the industry as a whole. For further information, see Anime News Network.

However, I have yet to see a discussion on the topic here, so that's why I started this thread. So what's your opinion on this matter. Should Nymphet have been put on the market?

I have yet to form an opinion on the matter decisively, but I have come to the following conclusion so far: If people are worried that, by seeing underage girls in sexy situations and become aroused thus leading to possible pedophilia, then perhaps we shouldn't allow Nymphet to be sold. However, this would mean that we should also ban anything that contains violence, because if we hold the opinion that we can be perverted by fictional images of sexualized underage girls, then surely we can also take up the nearest weapon and start beating someone over the head with it, GTA style. That means that we (as in adults) would lose most of our entertainment (interesting that violence should entertain us, no?). However, if we wish to hold on to such means of entertainment, then I think it is only fair that manga such as Nymphet be allowed distibution as well. Otherwise, we would be guilty of double standards. And don't even get me started on the sexual imagery we have in real life.

Ironically, regardless of the outcome, I would never read Nymphet. It's not my cup of tea. I'm just not into my underage girls. But I think it poses an important issue regarding what should be acceptable in society.
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Old 03-06-2007, 06:54 PM   #2   [permalink]
John Faulkner
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Originally Posted by Cookiepop
However, I have yet to see a discussion on the topic here, so that's why I started this thread. So what's your opinion on this matter. Should Nymphet have been put on the market?
I'm not big on manga, so have never heard of Nymphet before reading this thread. But based on what you have written, and on the Wikipaedia entry (which didn't add much), I think the broad theme of a sexually developing young girl falling for a teacher isn't a particularly unusual idea. If I remember correctly, there was a case like this detailed in Jung's Collected Works 4, but in that instance, the girl started to hate the teacher instead. No doubt child psychologists today can furnish us with more cases. I need to read the manga myself to find out how sexually explicit this Nymphet is, and get a better judgement, but I don't think that's going to happen.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
I have yet to form an opinion on the matter decisively, but I have come to the following conclusion so far: If people are worried that, by seeing underage girls in sexy situations and become aroused thus leading to possible pedophilia, then perhaps we shouldn't allow Nymphet to be sold. However, this would mean that we should also ban anything that contains violence, because if we hold the opinion that we can be perverted by fictional images of sexualized underage girls, then surely we can also take up the nearest weapon and start beating someone over the head with it, GTA style. That means that we (as in adults) would lose most of our entertainment (interesting that violence should entertain us, no?). However, if we wish to hold on to such means of entertainment, then I think it is only fair that manga such as Nymphet be allowed distibution as well. Otherwise, we would be guilty of double standards.
I'm thinking this: what audience is Nymphet actually aimed towards? Adults or children? Either way, I can see pitfalls. If the former, then as you point out, it would encourage the direction of sexual activity towards children, leading to paedophilia. People might want to argue that it is hard to translate into reality what is played out in fantasy. But by being exposed to certain possibilities, your instincts can be affected and this can affect the way you think and through that, the way you perceive the world and act. Reading something like Nymphet could be the tipping point for some people, especially given the infestation of child porn on the Net, making it easier for these people to succumb to their fantasies in sense-perception reality.

If the manga is aimed at children, then the conclusion is no better. If say children up to 13 read this (based on the main girl character being 8), then at that age, the conscious mind is rarely fully developed. There is the real possibility of the more impressionable mimicking such behaviour in real life. Again, this would encourage paedophilic activities, particularly if a teacher already has such a predisposition to misinterpreting what is fundamentally play-acting in ignorance as a genuine sexual call.

So on these considerations, I wouldn't hesitate to ban Nymphet. You raise a good point that this might be double standards, since we allow video games with violence. I think this arises because of the ideal of letting people saturate their personal desires as long as it doesn't break out into sense-perception reality. But the considerations I have outlined above make it, IMO, abundantly clear that in the case of material such as Nymphet, it imposes a tangible risk of such a break-out. This is the case whether or not violent video games impose a similar risk, a greater risk, or a lower risk - this argument does not rest or fall with the case for video games. So, yes, I would be guilty of double standards in that respect, but I place a higher value on the ideal of the protection of children from sexual predators. If I adopt the latter ideal, I would be adopting double standards if I didn't ban the manga. I would argue the latter ideal is more important because young children could become traumatized by such experiences, and that in the last analysis, the need to help prevent this sort of outcome outweighs by far the need for personal satiation of such desires in a fantasy setting. In other words, I think it is justified here to break an ideal (and thus incurring a "double standard"), if by doing so we adhere to a stronger ideal which takes into account the point-of-view of the likely victims.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
And don't even get me started on the sexual imagery we have in real life.
Well, it's not exactly a well-kept secret that sex sells. This has been exploited to the heavens and beyond by marketing: want to sell pesticide? Weave in a plot about two people having an affair! Sex focuses your attention onto a particular object or subject. A moose on heat would become excited at a letter-box. This is why some religions have severe restraining orders on sexual imagery as it detracts from the focus on the god-image.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
Ironically, regardless of the outcome, I would never read Nymphet. It's not my cup of tea. I'm just not into my underage girls.
The bottom line for me is that it is disgusting for male adults to be sexually interested in girls as young as 8. I think this disgust is not just a reactionary brush-off, but comes from looking at the issues involved.
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Old 04-06-2007, 01:44 AM   #3   [permalink]
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For some reason this reminds me of Boku No Pico, (For the record when I saw that OVA/OAV, I seriously thought this would've be the act that would send me to hell [If it existed])

It all boils down to how laughablely uncomfortable Americans are with sexuality in general, (Such as, how the world seem to freeze when America saw a 40 year old saggy black tit for half a second) It's one of those things that make me embarssed to be an American. (Along with any moron who still supports Bush)

While Faulkner brought up some good points, it's still boils down the freedom of speech and the rights of the individual to obtain and read what they want no matter how morally or ethically wrong it is to someone else. (As long as no one else is harmed in the process) As Larry Flint want said that he was at dregs of socity and that's why he must defend himself from censorship because, for if they take away the rights of the unpopular, it will only be a matter of time before they take your rights away.

I probably wouldn't have bought it, but just becuase it's contraversal, and the majority dislike what the message is, does that mean we should ban it? I think not.
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Old 04-06-2007, 06:40 AM   #4   [permalink]
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Quote:
I'm not big on manga, so have never heard of Nymphet before reading this thread. But based on what you have written, and on the Wikipaedia entry (which didn't add much), I think the broad theme of a sexually developing young girl falling for a teacher isn't a particularly unusual idea. If I remember correctly, there was a case like this detailed in Jung's Collected Works 4, but in that instance, the girl started to hate the teacher instead. No doubt child psychologists today can furnish us with more cases. I need to read the manga myself to find out how sexually explicit this Nymphet is, and get a better judgement, but I don't think that's going to happen.
There was initially some argument over the degree of sexuality present in the manga, with even the head of Seven Seas stepping in to defend it. However, after reading further volumes, even Seven Seas agreed that the degree of sexual material present was too great for western audiences. For more info, see Anime News Network.

Quote:
So on these considerations, I wouldn't hesitate to ban Nymphet. You raise a good point that this might be double standards, since we allow video games with violence. I think this arises because of the ideal of letting people saturate their personal desires as long as it doesn't break out into sense-perception reality. But the considerations I have outlined above make it, IMO, abundantly clear that in the case of material such as Nymphet, it imposes a tangible risk of such a break-out. This is the case whether or not violent video games impose a similar risk, a greater risk, or a lower risk - this argument does not rest or fall with the case for video games. So, yes, I would be guilty of double standards in that respect, but I place a higher value on the ideal of the protection of children from sexual predators. If I adopt the latter ideal, I would be adopting double standards if I didn't ban the manga. I would argue the latter ideal is more important because young children could become traumatized by such experiences, and that in the last analysis, the need to help prevent this sort of outcome outweighs by far the need for personal satiation of such desires in a fantasy setting. In other words, I think it is justified here to break an ideal (and thus incurring a "double standard"), if by doing so we adhere to a stronger ideal which takes into account the point-of-view of the likely victims.
But are there any studies that show that people who read or watch fictional child porn are any more likely to fulfill suddenly become perverted and start transposing fiction into reality than those who watch or read violent material. I've been playing violent games since I got my megadrive and Streets of Rage, and then all the way to PS2 and GTA:San Andreas. Yet I would think I'm relatively fine. I'm not a particularly violent person. In fact, most people are exposed to similar material at a young age, and turn out just fine. It's only a handful of nutballs that go on a rampage, which likely shows that it was not the material itself which caused the violent streak but something else like family or social issues which created an unstable mind. Not to mention the fact that violence pre-dates modern mass entertainment. Therefore, what really makes fictional sexual material more objectionable than violent material? Are we just hornier than we are violent? Are we afraid of the monster that lurks inside of us all? If we try and treat pedophiles for pedophilia, shouldn't we all be submitted for evaluation based on the volume of violent media we use for entertainment?

I think all it really comes down to is social norms. It's okay for us to smoke, get drunk, eat ourselves obese, be racist (sometimes), sexist (sometimes), preach religions that talk about eternal pain and punishment, own guns that could blow a hole in a building (in some places), be entertained by violence and sexual imagery, but not by fictional sexual imagery of an underage girl.

Just to reiterate, I'm personally not into this sort of material. From reading Anime News Network, I know this accusation gets thrown out a lot at people who try and defend the manga. I am personally disgusted and revolted by the material of the manga, and all similar content. My skin crawls at the idea of such material. I think resorting to sex to sell degrades a work of art and thus results in me not taking it seriously. I can't help but be annoyed and unnerved when an anime features moments of fanservice, especially when it has to do with the ubiquitous 14 year old girl (Anime in general has a lot of problems with pedophilia from a british and american standpoint, hence why I avoid such material). However, what my gut reaction to something is is irrelevant to the greater question of morality that is at hand. As much as I hate something, I have to ask myself, "But is that what my morality should be based on? Merely what I like and don't like, rather than what is right and wrong?". For instance, I have a fundamental disliking of matters of faith, yet I won't try and stop others having faith. I will try and convince them otherwise, but not deny them the right. So why really should we ban a piece of fiction based on our personal preference? Are we condemning the readers of such material as pedophiles before they've even done anything wrong in real life? Guilty before innocent?
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Old 08-06-2007, 04:34 PM   #5   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by Cookiepop
There was initially some argument over the degree of sexuality present in the manga, with even the head of Seven Seas stepping in to defend it. However, after reading further volumes, even Seven Seas agreed that the degree of sexual material present was too great for western audiences. For more info, see Anime News Network.
I read a statement from Jason DeAngelis, president of Seven Seas, concerning why the manga was cancelled. He explicitly pointed out some pages which concerned him. It seemed that it was both a moral and economic decision. Given that Nymphet has already been released in Japan, this might suggest there are more liberal attitudes there relating to this issue.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
But are there any studies that show that people who read or watch fictional child porn are any more likely to fulfill suddenly become perverted and start transposing fiction into reality than those who watch or read violent material.
I have not read any direct studies and hazard a guess that a rigorous statistical study does not exist, partly due to the trouble getting a controlled experiment pass the Ethics Committee. I doubt reading child porn would be the sole reason behind someone turning into a drivelling paedophile, rather a possible contributory factor. More on why I think it could be a contributory factor below.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
I've been playing violent games since I got my megadrive and Streets of Rage, and then all the way to PS2 and GTA:San Andreas. Yet I would think I'm relatively fine. I'm not a particularly violent person. In fact, most people are exposed to similar material at a young age, and turn out just fine. It's only a handful of nutballs that go on a rampage, which likely shows that it was not the material itself which caused the violent streak but something else like family or social issues which created an unstable mind.
People react differently to social stimuli. I agree with that. In the case of manga showing children dabbling in sexual fantasies with adults, not all readers would turn into paedophiles. Conversely, it doesn't take one to read such a manga for people to become paedophiles - e.g. the case of railway children in India and "child workers" in SE Asia.

Yet I contend that there is the possibility of the material contributing to someone turning to paedophilia. And if that is the case, then we would be better off with the safe option and restricting access, in the absence of proof that such manga do not have any such effects on the human mind (and through that, actions) - a working hypothesis (unless you or anyone would like to show me some proof to the contrary). This would lower the potential for paedophilic activity, at least on a theoretical level. You might say that we should allow it and see what happens, but IMO, that is an unacceptable risk because a victim does not get a second chance.

Why do I think it is a contributory factor towards paedophilia? Organisms are affected by genetics and the social environment. There is no such thing as a paedophile gene, so it has to be a combination of genetics and the social surroundings that interact to manifest a paedophile. On the genetics side, normally functioning humans are all hard-wired with the sexual instinct (this I take to be almost beyond dispute, given the amount of scientific, psychological, heuristic, historical and sociological evidence). Social factors interact with this instinct by giving it an object in sense-perception reality to latch onto. Social factors which contribute to paedophilia are those in the social surroundings that make children the object of sexual impulse.

At this juncture, you may well object that someone with an impulse which wants to act on its target is a whole different ball game from that person actually acting on that impulse. But an impulse does what it says on the tin: it gives a strong urge towards a particular action. An impulse may exist in your "mind" but it affects your actions by impinging on decision making. Given the strong trend towards materialism since the Scientific Revolutions, there might be the temptation to take "mind" and "body" as two totally independent realities - what exists and indeed what matters is only what can be attributed to a definite substance transpiring in sense-perception reality. But the "mind" does matter because it affects the way one acts in sense-perception reality. This is not a ground-breaking discovery by any means: Pavlov demonstrated it neatly and recent papers have shown how our actions are affected by images in our surrounding e.g. Vohs et al (2006) in Science 314 PG1154-1156 showed how images relating to money affect our way of thinking and hence our actions. The books of psychologists give ample examples. So if a social factor only affects the mind directly, then this is not an argument in itself as to why it won't affect action indirectly.

Another objection is that the manga is just fiction. That is, it is portrayed by schematic representations of people, in a setting that has not been played out precisely in sense-perception reality. I think that just labelling something as fiction isn't going to exonerate it of having an effect on one's mind. I think this train of thinking is part of a materialistic trend which denies the importance of the "mind". Fiction can be based on (sense-perception) reality and in this instance, Nymphet certainly has enough resemblances to reality such that it is not divorced from it. This means that what happens in the manga can be related by the workings of the human mind to sense-perception reality. And when this happens, such a "fiction" can affect our world-view of said reality and hence our actions. Old religious manuscripts are "fictitious" in the sense outlined above in this paragraph. Many have e.g. theriomorphic projections and outrageous stories. Yet they have affected profoundly their followers. This shows that "fiction" can have a profound effect on someone. To wit, "fictional" sexual imagery is not entirely divorced from reality. It is hardly a quantum leap to relate a schematic representation of a child selling herself to her teacher to a representation with real people - there is a common theme of a child selling herself to her teacher in both representations and furthermore, the schematic drawings arebased on reality.

Thus, I think there is theoretical grounding and circumstantial evidence to suggest that a manga such as Nymphet can be a contributory factor towards paedophilia. Granted, this factor will fizzle out to nothing in some readers. But the possibility that it might not in some readers is what would warrant it being banned, IMO.

Apart from this argument which focuses on social effects, I think there is a more "philosophical" argument that would render the act of enjoying material portraying children sexually toying with adults undesirable. But I won't go into it here. Philosophy has become a dirty word in the age of hedonism.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
Not to mention the fact that violence pre-dates modern mass entertainment. Therefore, what really makes fictional sexual material more objectionable than violent material? Are we just hornier than we are violent? Are we afraid of the monster that lurks inside of us all? If we try and treat pedophiles for pedophilia, shouldn't we all be submitted for evaluation based on the volume of violent media we use for entertainment?
Sure, just like pederasty pre-dates manga in post-WWII Japan. What makes fictional sexual material more objectionable than violent material? I don't know, but I also think it's not directly relevant to the issue. The real issue is whether Nymphet should be banned or not, owing to its effects on people within society. This doesn't depend on the aforementioned conundrum. You might want to argue that "well, we can't ban Nymphet, because we allow video games" - but that neglects a consideration of the specific reasons for banning the manga. I don't think issues like this are black and white. There may well be reasons for and against banning violent video games, and this will result in a qualitative and/or quantitative assessment. Based on this, "society" decides whether it is acceptable. Now these reasons will not be the same as the reasons for and against banning Nymphet, unless you abstract out some feature which leaves behind the details - e.g. sex and violence are both instincts. But the details are what need to be considered. If you wish to argue that only nutballs would be affected by the manga, then you need some sort of controlled experiment where you get a nutball and a non-nutball to read the manga and monitor the effects. And even then, you have to define what a nutball is and determine whether any observed differences are really due to one being a nutball, given that there are many differences between any 2 human subjects. In the absence of such evidence, by what criteria can one say that something like Nymphet will never contribute towards paedophilia, in light of my considerations?

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
I think all it really comes down to is social norms. It's okay for us to smoke, get drunk, eat ourselves obese, be racist (sometimes), sexist (sometimes), preach religions that talk about eternal pain and punishment, own guns that could blow a hole in a building (in some places), be entertained by violence and sexual imagery, but not by fictional sexual imagery of an underage girl.
What are social norms? Social norms arise through a whole catalogue of considerations including culture, history and all the social factors you could possibly think of (e.g. wealth, amenities available etc.). So I'm not quite sure why you would say "all" it really comes down to.

Originally Posted by Cookiepop
Just to reiterate, I'm personally not into this sort of material. From reading Anime News Network, I know this accusation gets thrown out a lot at people who try and defend the manga. I am personally disgusted and revolted by the material of the manga, and all similar content. My skin crawls at the idea of such material. I think resorting to sex to sell degrades a work of art and thus results in me not taking it seriously. I can't help but be annoyed and unnerved when an anime features moments of fanservice, especially when it has to do with the ubiquitous 14 year old girl (Anime in general has a lot of problems with pedophilia from a british and american standpoint, hence why I avoid such material). However, what my gut reaction to something is is irrelevant to the greater question of morality that is at hand. As much as I hate something, I have to ask myself, "But is that what my morality should be based on? Merely what I like and don't like, rather than what is right and wrong?". For instance, I have a fundamental disliking of matters of faith, yet I won't try and stop others having faith. I will try and convince them otherwise, but not deny them the right. So why really should we ban a piece of fiction based on our personal preference? Are we condemning the readers of such material as pedophiles before they've even done anything wrong in real life? Guilty before innocent?
Why are you disgusted? Are the reasons (logical, intuitive etc.) behind your disgust applicable to other people? If not, why is it not applicable to other people and only to yourself?

IMO, we're not condemning readers as paedophiles before they've even done anything, by banning Nymphet. We do it on the basis of reducing the risk to children through the considerations above. The point is that if Nymphet is distributed, then it won't just be the people who don't act on it who will read it. Different people react differently. Just because you don't do something doesn't mean other people won't.

Just like I can say, similar to yourself, well I have played computer games starting with the Spectrum to the Playstation (effectively stopping after that) - Played StreetFighter till my eyes dropped out, couldn't sleep until I got Smoke in Mortal Kombat, shot people for fun in Syphon Filter, Time Crisis, Syndicate, GTA etc. and sliced people to death in Golden Axe and Bushido Blade - and in reality, I haven't killed anyone yet. But this in itself is not an argument that other people won't (there may well be good arguments that show other people won't, I'm not denying that, but the point is that using just one's own experience is not one of those good arguments). BTW, Streets of Rage: quality game; the sequel was even better IMO .

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Old 09-06-2007, 03:58 AM   #6   [permalink]
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hmmmm ... as it has already been mentioned, the general theme is, unfortunately far from rare in manga ... but the age is extreme to say the least.

Likewise, I believe the crux of the matter revolves around the mandated age group in terms of availability. If the culture permits conventional pornography of actual models/performers ... then it seems morally consistant to allow for the distribution of illustrated matter of a similar nature.

While I find, the subject matter distasteful in the extreme ... I cannot find the means to justify absolutely barring such material from otherwise reasonable and responsible adults that have broken no laws.

Now, I do realize, that such a stance, will be objectionable to some on the grounds that it is possible that the avalability of such material - may "encourage" the physical manifestation of this type of "fantasy" ... but I would caution that "preemtive" laws should be used sparingly and with much premeditation.

As one enters into this moral context, the line between the neutrality of personal freedom and the imposition of a subjective view becomes thinner and more suspect.

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Old 09-06-2007, 09:30 PM   #7   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by SamIam
Likewise, I believe the crux of the matter revolves around the mandated age group in terms of availability. If the culture permits conventional pornography of actual models/performers ... then it seems morally consistant to allow for the distribution of illustrated matter of a similar nature.
I agree that an important issue is the age group towards which such material is made available. And yes, modern societies do permit pornography with live performers. But here, the live performers are not children. Hence, I think it does not really follow that to be morally consistent, comic books showing children sexually toying with adults have to be permitted.

Originally Posted by SamIam
As one enters into this moral context, the line between the neutrality of personal freedom and the imposition of a subjective view becomes thinner and more suspect.
Personal freedom is a wonderful concept; the caveat is that actions arising from such freedom can affect other people in such a way as to restrict their personal freedom: the issue is then how to resolve this apparent impasse in a non-arbitrary fashion.
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Old 10-06-2007, 07:43 AM   #8   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by John Faulkner
I agree that an important issue is the age group towards which such material is made available. And yes, modern societies do permit pornography with live performers. But here, the live performers are not children. Hence, I think it does not really follow that to be morally consistent, comic books showing children sexually toying with adults have to be permitted.


Personal freedom is a wonderful concept; the caveat is that actions arising from such freedom can affect other people in such a way as to restrict their personal freedom: the issue is then how to resolve this apparent impasse in a non-arbitrary fashion.
Good point on the age of participants - this is critical in setting the proper context. To clarify, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that it is legal to formulate/enact the Nabokovian fantasy "simulating" underaged participants ... this illusion is permitted. Likewise, an illustration is an artificial representation - that does not exploit children.

IMO, the least intrusive means of supporting the general consensus rests more with the effective regulation and separation of materials per the appropriate age demographic.

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