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To Your Eternity

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To Your Eternity
Fumetsu no anata e Volume 1.jpg
Cover of the first tankōbon volume of To Your Eternity, as published by Kodansha on January 17, 2017
不滅のあなたへ
(Fumetsu no Anata e)
GenreFantasy[1]
Manga
Written byYoshitoki Ōima
Published byKodansha
English publisher
ImprintShōnen Magazine Comics
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Magazine
DemographicShōnen
Original runNovember 9, 2016 – present
Volumes17 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed by
Produced byAya Ishii
Written byShinzō Fujita
Music byRyo Kawasaki
Studio
Licensed byCrunchyroll
Original networkNHK Educational TV
Original run April 12, 2021 – present
Episodes20 (List of episodes)

To Your Eternity (Japanese: 不滅のあなたへ, Hepburn: Fumetsu no Anata e, lit. "To You, the Immortal") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Yoshitoki Ōima. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine since November 2016, with individual chapters collected by Kodansha into seventeen tankōbon volumes as of February 2022. The story is about an immortal being, Fushi, who takes on multiple forms, including that of an abandoned white-haired village boy and his white wolf in order to stimulate as it learns what it is to be truly human.

Ōima, inspired by her own grandmother's death, aimed to write about survival and the character Fushi, who initially is an emotionless stone but gradually develops a self and personality as a result of interacting with humans, young and old alike. In contrast to her previous work, A Silent Voice, To Your Eternity puts little focus on the cast's past but instead, upon the future.

To Your Eternity has been well received in Japan, earning many awards and major sales. Critical response to the series debut was positive, based on the emotional focus on the villagers and Fushi to the point of often earning perfect scores. Despite some skeptical commentary on subsequent chapters lacking the same impact, Fushi's continuous character arc was praised while Ōima's artistry enjoyed positive reviews due to its detailed facial expressions and environments. An anime television series adaptation of the manga, produced by Brain's Base, aired from April to August 2021 on Japan's NHK Educational TV; a second season produced by Drive will premiere in October 2022. In North America, the manga is licensed by Kodansha USA for a digital and printed English release.

Plot[edit]

An otherworldly being called the Beholder creates a featureless white orb, later named Fushi. Fushi takes the form of a rock, then a dying arctic wolf. Fushi meets a boy living alone who mistakes him for his pet wolf, Joaan. After the boy dies from an infected wound, Fushi takes his form. He travels south to the land of Ninannah, and meets a young girl called March, who was chosen as a sacrifice to a large white bear named Oniguma. March names Fushi and teaches him the rudiments of speech, and how to use his hands. Fushi defeats Oniguma, and he, along with March, Parona (an older sister figure to March), and the elderly Pioran, are taken prisoner by Hayase, to her home country of Yanome, Ninannah's overlords. They escape, but March is killed, sacrificing herself to save Parona and becomes a spirit. Fushi part ways with Parona and leaves Ninannah to escape the newly obsessed Hayase, who is determined to have Fushi for herself.

Accompanying Pioran, Fushi learns more language and begins to speak like a child. As they travel to Pioran's homeland of Takunaha, they are attacked by a plant-like being that can steal Fushi's forms and memories, a Nokker. The Beholder appears to Fushi to warn him, and Fushi kills it, regaining his memories. In Takunaha, Fushi meets a boy named Gugu, who was disfigured in an accident after saving Rean, daughter of the local lord. Gugu saves Fushi from another Nokker, and Fushi, Gugu and Rean become friends. For four years, Fushi refrains from transforming or creating items in order to live as a human. An armored Nokker attacks, and Gugu is killed, becoming a spirit like March. Fushi leaves Takunaha, paranoid of Nokker attacks, followed by Pioran.

Hayase pays a girl named Tonari to lure Fushi and Pioran onto a prison ship to Jananda island, where Pioran is imprisoned. Fushi enters the island's gladiatorial tournament, to free Pioran. In the final round, Fushi faces none other than his old enemy Hayase who confesses that it was she who had killed Parona, with Fushi assuming her form. This enrages Fushi, but he is defeated by her, who captures and attempts to rape him. Tonari and her friends come to try and save him, but at the same time, the Nokkers attack the island by entering human corpses, and three of Tonari's friends are killed. Fushi kills the Nokkers and leaves the island with Hayase, abandoning her to die in the ocean, where she is attacked by a Nokker and saved by a man whom she herself attacks. Fushi reunites with Pioran and travels to an uninhabited island, but she develops dementia. Before her death, she asks the Beholder to make her something useful to Fushi, her spirit being reborn as a horse who serves as Fushi's dutiful animal companion four decades later.

The middle-aged Fushi remains on the island for forty years, until Nokkers begin attacking humans off the island. As he prepares to leave, he meets Hisame, the nine-year-old granddaughter and reincarnation of Hayase's restless spirit. Hisame's left arm contains the Nokker which had merged with Hayase. The two travel to the site of the Nokker attack, where they meet the grown Tonari and Sander. Hisame tries to kill Tonari, and is wounded herself, but escapes. Tonari dies in front of Fushi, and becomes a spirit. Fushi rescues Hisame and refrains from killing the Nokker in her arm after she agrees to leave him. For the next two centuries, Fushi avoids extensive human contact, and is regularly visited by the obsessed Hayase's seventeen reincarnations and descendants/successors; one of which is a male named Kahaku. They establish a religious cult called the Guardian Force Unit, worshiping Fushi and opposing the Nokkers per the will of their great-great-great-great-grandmother. After rival religions begin denouncing Fushi, Kahaku removes Fushi from his solitude to further improve his image.

The two are captured by Bon, who had been instructed by the spirit of Tonari to find Fushi. Bon lends his princely approval to Fushi and the Guardians, becoming a target for those opposed to Fushi. Bon witnesses Fushi resurrect a dead princess, but hides the fact from Fushi. Fushi is arrested by another kingdom and forced to demonstrate resurrection but fails. Both Bon and Fushi are imprisoned, with Fushi encased in solid iron. Fushi escapes and rescues Bon, faking his death. The Nokker on Kahaku's arm warns that the Nokkers will attack the large city Renril in one year. Bon and Kahaku gather allies and warn the city, while Fushi further develops his ability to create objects from nothing after direct contact with them.

In disguise as an old man, Fushi destroys and recreates buildings in Renril as extensions of his body, and positions bodies he can escape to throughout the city. Hundreds of Nokkers attack the city using new tactics, and during the battle March is accidentally resurrected. Fushi passes out from the strain of defending the city, and three of Bon's allies are killed. When Fushi awakens, Bon tells him they are special and can return to life. Fushi uses them to defend the city, resurrecting them where needed. As the battle continues, Kahaku's Nokker attacks Fushi, returning him to his true form as the Orb. March finds Bon, who kills himself near Fushi, giving him his form. Able to see the spirits of his friends in Bon's form, Fushi remembers them and successfully returns them to life, and the battle is won as Fushi regains strength. Kahaku leaves the city with his Nokker, and later kills himself and his Nokker but not before expressing his strong love for Fushi that he inherited from being the reincarnation of his great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hayase, vowing to pass on Hayase's bloodline to further generations until the end time.

Fushi tells his friends he will make the world peaceful, and resurrect them after he has done so. He sleeps and spreads his body across the planet, to stop the Nokkers from returning. Fushi's friends live their lives and all die as Fushi sleeps. After 600 years, Fushi's body encompasses the entire planet, now at a modern level of technological advancement. During his sleep, the Nokkers become understandably small, and begin secretly living inside of and controlling human beings. Another reincarnation of Hayase, and Kahaku's Nokker lives in the brain of Mizuha, the eighteenth reincarnation and great-great-great-great-grandson of Hayase, and this Nokker leads the others in preparation for Fushi's return. After awakening, Fushi resurrects the eleven spirits following him, including his closest friends March, Gugu, Tonari and Bon. The Beholder makes to decision to transform himself into a twelve-year-old boy, calling himself Satoru, ultimately abandoning his creation. Fushi meets a boy named Yuki, and Mizuha, who falls in love with him, angering her mother. Mizuha murders her mother, but she returns to life without Fushi's involvement, alerting him to the Nokkers' return. As he learns that the Nokkers are now living peacefully among humanity, Fushi becomes confused about what to do as he cannot defeat them, worried that he had resurrected his lifelong friends under false promises.

Characters[edit]

Fushi (フシ)
Voiced by: Reiji Kawashima[2] (Japanese); Jacob Hopkins[3] (English)
A divine creature who can change his form and grow objects from his body. He was sent to Earth to preserve information and experiences. Through his journey he learns how to communicate with humans.
Nokkers (ノッカー)
Shapeshifting and parasitic entities that attempt to thwart the Beholder and Fushi's purpose in preserving all that exists. They are recurring antagonists throughout the series, one of which actually merges with the human Hayase, and continues to have some power over her many reincarnations/descendants over the centuries.
The White-Haired Boy
A young and lonely unnamed boy and the very first human being Fushi meets in the form of his good longtime wolf friend Joaan. After he dies, Fushi takes his form, often using it as a default appearance.
March (マーチ, Māchi)
Voiced by: Rie Hikisaka[2] (Japanese); Sarah Anne Williams[4] (English)
A young girl who adopts Fushi after escaping from a sacrifice ritual.
Parona (パロナ)
Voiced by: Aya Uchida[2] (Japanese); Valeria Rodriguez[5] (English)
An exiled villager; a friend and older sister figure to March.
Pioran (ピオラン)
Voiced by: Rikako Aikawa[2] (Japanese); Dorothy Elias-Fahn[6] (English)
An elderly woman who takes care of Fushi. She ultimately dies of old age and is reborn as a horse who aids Fushi over the decades as per her dying request.
Hayase (ハヤセ)
Voiced by: Mitsuki Saiga[2] (Japanese); Kira Buckland[7] (English)
A warrior who tries to sacrifice young March and later killed her. She takes an obsessive interest in Fushi and his ever-developing otherworldly abilities. She served as a primary antagonist for the first few arcs of the manga, and first season of the anime. Her descendants and reincarnations then entirely devote themselves to protecting Fushi in her stead and intend to carry on her twisted bloodline for future generations as devoted cult-like unit called the Guardians.
Gugu (グーグー)
Voiced by: Ryoko Shiraishi[8] (child), Taku Yashiro[9] (adolescent) (Japanese); Erica Mendez[10] (child), Bryce Papenbrook[11] (adolescent) (English)
A young man who works in Booze Man's restaurant after being treated by the latter when he was nearly dying and thus covers his damaged face with a mask.
Shin (シン)
Voiced by: Atsushi Abe[8]
Gugu's older brother who abandoned him.
Rean (リーン, Rīn)
Voiced by: Manaka Iwami[8]
A wealthy young girl who frequents Booze's store as she befriends Gugu and Fushi.
Booze Man (酒爺, Sake Jī)
Voiced by: Kentarō Tone[8]
The owner of a distillery and friend of Pioran.
Tonari (トナリ)
Voiced by: Eri Inagawa[12]
A young girl who accompanied her father when he was exiled to Janada, an island for criminals.
The Beholder (観察者, Kansatsu-sha)
Voiced by: Kenjiro Tsuda[2] (Japanese); Cory Yee[3] (English)
The narrator and Fushi's creator who threw Fushi, as the Orb, to Earth in the series' beginning to observe it as it further changes form and acquires more and stimulation. He ultimately makes the choice to abandon his creation and have his own fey/vital spiritual essence reborn as a young human boy named Satoru.

Production[edit]

Manga artist Yoshitoki Ōima conceived the title To Your Eternity after learning that her sick grandmother was going to pass away. At the outset, she was only certain of the title's nuance, but could not arrive at a decision. With the encouragement of colleagues, she eventually chose To Your Eternity. The decision to give the manga a fantasy setting was taken for the freedom it afforded, with supernatural beings offering unusual possibilities. She compares To Your Eternity to her other works, and states that, while A Silent Voice focuses on characters in the present confronting their past, To Your Eternity focuses on the future. She also mentions exploring the theme of death in Mardock Scramble, A Silent Voice and To Your Eternity. The character Fushi originated from Ōima's work in primary school, although the setting changed before the series started. Fushi was originally to be female, but a colleague suggested a male protagonist for a different appeal. Ōima wanted to make the protagonist neutral, and said she prefers neutral female characters. Each volume cover represents a character's dream such as the first one, which depicts the unnamed youth finding freedom. According to Oima, Fushi does not want to forget the people he meets on his journeys.[13][14]

Characters featured in the series are based on real life personalities. For example, Pioran reminded Ōima of her deceased grandmother. She furthermore expresses some guilt for having characters die. There are approximately 13 characters that are greatly affected by Fushi and which, before the series' beginning, would lead Ōima to the title, "Ash Swords of 13 People" (『13人の灰剣』), before being replaced by "To Your Eternity". When it came to drawing, March was Ōima's favorite character due to her short stature. Furthermore, Ōima says she likes drawing children in confined places.[13]

The overall setting is that of a main character being "a boy who knows nothing". Ōima wanted the reader to find themself, like Fushi, in this situation where they do not know anything. It is for this reason that she did not give prominence to any character other than the hero. A common theme portrayed in the manga is death and immortality. To reinforce the blank slate themes, she decided to create a white universe, which was how she obtained a snowy landscape. As characters living in this snowy region are not part of an indigenous population, she decided not to depict them as, for example, Inuit. For research, she watched several documentaries in order to learn how to make the boy look like he was living in a world of "survival", with limited resources and skills. To accomplish this, she had to think deeply about what was practical under such difficult circumstances. March was created to be talkative and balance the quiet ones. The manga presents the climate, disease and the polar bear as obstacles to the human will. Ōima elaborates that people have to live with these challenges, and it is to show how to overcome them that she included them in the scenes.[15]

Adaptation[edit]

Director Masahiko Murata [ja] expressed surprise when first reading the manga series, initially believing the young villager would be the lead character rather than Fushi. He felt that the themes Ōima was approaching were thought-provoking, which he found challenging. Murata stated that, as minor parts of the manga were changed, the anime would stay true to the original printed version.[16] The official Twitter account of the anime series stated that the main theme presented through March (and later Fushi) was the notion of growing into adulthood.[17]

In casting the actors, Reiji Kawashima [ja]'s voice quality was befitting for Fushi—from his point of view. "The Observer", played by Kenjiro Tsuda, is a narrative role that was not all that involved in the story due to Murata's view that Tsuda's voice was "cool". The first episode only had two voice actors: Kawashima and Tsuda. The former expressed relief when working as he felt that Tsuda was a friendly person. Tsuda felt that Kawashima was a passionate actor, exemplified by his early arrival for each episode's recording session. Kawashima thought his character to be exhausting based on his varied experiences, while Tsuda felt Fushi was too mysterious.[16] Rie Hikisaka, who plays March, enjoyed Kawashima's work and his interactions with Pioran.[18] For the sixth episode, Kawashima expressed difficulty portraying Fushi's lines due to the fact that the character was learning how to speak.[19] Ryoko Shiraishi commented that while she enjoyed voicing Gugu, the character's fluid personality made the work more challenging.[20]

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

Yoshitoki Ōima debuted To Your Eternity in issue 50 of Kodansha's Weekly Shōnen Magazine on November 9, 2016.[21][22] It was Ōima's second series featured in the publication, the first being the critically acclaimed A Silent Voice. The series' first arc finished on December 4, 2019,[23] while the second started on January 22, 2020.[24] The first printed volume was released on January 17, 2017[25] while the latest seventeenth one was released on February 17, 2022.[26]

On January 17, 2017, Kodansha USA announced that they would digitally publish the first ten chapters of the series on various digital platforms. Thereafter, they would publish the manga's new chapters simultaneously with the Japanese releases.[27][28] The first printed volume in North America was released on October 31, 2017.[29] The seventeenth volume was released on July 26, 2022.[30]

Anime[edit]

On January 8, 2020, Kodansha announced that the manga would receive an anime television series adaptation, to air on NHK Educational TV.[1] The series was animated by Brain's Base and directed by Masahiko Murata, with Shinzō Fujita handling series composition, Koji Yabuno designing the characters, and Ryo Kawasaki composing the music. Originally scheduled to premiere in October 2020,[31] the series was delayed until April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[32] The series aired from April 12 to August 30, 2021, and ran for 20 episodes.[33] A second season has been announced and will premiere in October 2022.[34] Drive replaced Brain's Base in animating the second season, while Kiyoko Sayama replaced Masahiko Murata as the director. The rest of the main staff are returning from the first season.[35] Crunchyroll has licensed the anime for streaming outside of Asia.[36] Medialink has also acquired the series to stream it under its Ani-One brand.[37] Hikaru Utada performed the series' opening theme song "Pink Blood", while Masashi Hamauzu composed "Mediator", which was used for the ending.[38][39]

Reception[edit]

Manga[edit]

The first collected volume of the series sold 29,288 copies, ranking 17 on the weekly Oricon manga chart.[40] Its second volume ranked 34, selling 22,565 copies in its first week,[41] while its third debuted at 41 with 20,445 copies sold.[42]

The manga was nominated for the 11th edition of the Manga Taishō awards in 2018 and it managed to gain a total of 47 points.[43] In 2018, Ōima won the Daruma de la Meilleure Nouvelle Série at the Japan Expo in Paris, France for To Your Eternity.[44] In May 2019, it won the award for Best Shōnen Manga at the 43rd annual Kodansha Manga Awards, alongside The Quintessential Quintuplets.[45] In both 2018 and 2019, Anime News Network listed it as one of the best series for young readers.[46][47] The first five volumes were listed by the American Library Association as one of the best manga series written for a young audience in 2019.[48]

The manga's narrative and setting have been praised by critics like Otaku USA due to its multiple fantasy and drama elements. However, he felt the story provided in the first volume lacked the emotional impact from the mangaka's previous work, A Silent Voice.[49] Two reviewers from Anime News Network (ANN) and one from UK Anime Network gave the first volume perfect reviews, impressed by the narrative's depth in exploring the multiplicity of characters as well as how the first chapters handled the lonely youth who met Fushi in an Ice Age-like area. Two other writers from ANN wondered whether the new chapters would carry forward the emotional impact of the first.[50][51] Anime UK News was engaged by the manga's first chapter based on the characterization of the unnamed villager rather than by Fushi.[52] As the manga progressed, Fushi's character arc was the subject of praise as he was closer to acting like a human in contrast to his nearly emotionless introduction. As a result, writers felt the tone of the series was still tragic, thanks to the handling of this character.[53][54][55] Manga News furthermore enjoyed the series' time-skips as Fushi's immortality allowed him to blend in with newer, more modern scenarios.[56][57]

The critical response to the artwork was mostly positive. Anime UK News praised the way Ōima drew the pages, by giving the characters detailed features and the way its settings were presented.[52] Similarly, Manga Mexico writer Tania Ávila praised the artwork—especially in the later chapters of the first volume.[58] Fantasy Mundo noted that the drawings helped to further detail the characters and improve their emotional value.[57] The Fandom Post felt that the artwork "is light on textures and right with detailed backgrounds once the story moves from the snowfields to the forest" and felt that the wildlife was often drawn strangely.[59] UK Anime Network praised the way the backgrounds were detailed and how the author built the characters' emotions.[50]

Anime[edit]

The anime adaptation also attracted positive reactions. IGN listed it among the best anime series of Spring 2021, directing readers to its portrayals of Earth's culture but refrained from further explaining the premise to avoid spoilers.[60] In a Filmmarks survey, To Your Eternity was voted the ninth "Most Anticipated 2021 Spring Anime Ranking".[61] In the website Anime Trendz, the series was often listed as one of the most popular series from 2018.[62][63] In the 6th Crunchyroll Anime Awards, the series was awarded "Best Drama".[64]

Three ANN writers gave the anime's premiere a perfect score, based on the emotional storytelling involving Fushi and the nameless youth, most notably when the latter, initially cheerful and talkative, quickly becomes filled with despair, as he cannot find any other people in the region.[65] Similarly, The Fandom Post gave the series' premiere a perfect score despite having read the manga years before, based on the cast's performances and Utada Hikaru's theme song "Pink Blood" which helped to convey a moving story.[66] James Beckett, from the same site, continued reviewing the anime and while still enjoying the anime, was afraid of it becoming too melodramatic.[67] Comic Book Resources felt the adaptation series was well done and given an appealing soundtrack as the emotional scenes became stronger thanks to the music provided.[68] Critics praised the bonding involving Fushi, March and Parona, noting how heroic they were for each other while providing opportunity for more entertaining scenes.[69] However, March's death in the fifth episode was found to be heartbreaking.[70][71] Fushi's increasing display of humanity was praised, with the sixth episode giving him enough screentime to become the sole main character.[70][71][72] Fushi's fight with Oniguma was also listed as the seventh best anime fight from 2021 by Crunchyroll.[73]

The prison arc, however, was panned by Anime News Network for lacking the appeal of previous arcs as well as the animation being poorly done.[74]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rafael Antonio Pineda (January 8, 2020). "Yoshitoki Oima's To Your Eternity Fantasy Manga Gets TV Anime in October". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on April 5, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Jennifer Sherman (July 12, 2020). "To Your Eternity TV Anime Unveils Main Cast Members". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on July 14, 2020. Retrieved July 12, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Luster, Joseph (May 26, 2021). "Crunchyroll Reveals Spring 2021 Anime Dub Cast Lists, Launch Dates". Crunchyroll. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  4. ^ Sarah Anne Williams [@SarahAnneWillia] (June 8, 2021). "New character I voice: March from the To Your Eternity english dub! Second episode has just dropped on @Crunchyroll! She's the goodest of little beans and deserves all the dolls :))) #ToYourEternity" (Tweet). Retrieved July 2, 2021 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Valeria Rodriguez [@ElvisBadger] (June 9, 2021). "So, so, SO E X C I T E D to announce that I voice Parona in the English Dub of "To Your Eternity!" I am /eternally/ grateful to @vox_inc_usa, and @crunchyroll for the opportunity to work on this amazing project with such a lovely cast. ☺💕 #animevoiceactor #anime #voiceacting" (Tweet). Retrieved July 2, 2021 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Dorothy Fahn [@DorothyFahn] (June 23, 2021). "By the way, I play the sometimes wacky old lady #Pioran in #ToYourEternity !!! She's in the lovely hooded robe on the right! Check it out!😊👍❤️🎙️" (Tweet). Retrieved July 2, 2021 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Buckland, Kira [@KiraBuckland] (September 23, 2021). "(Spoiler warnings) Hayase was a very interesting character to play. I don't think I've ever gotten to be so evil for a role before." (Tweet). Retrieved September 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ a b c d Pineda, Rafael Antonio (May 17, 2021). "To Your Eternity Anime Adds 4 Cast Members". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on May 17, 2021. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
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  14. ^ "前作からの「課題」に取り組むための『不滅のあなたへ』" ["To Your Eternity" to tackle the "issues" from the previous work]. Konomanga. Retrieved July 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  17. ^ To Your Eternity Anime [@EternityAnimeEN] (May 11, 2021). "KT" (Tweet). Retrieved May 19, 2021 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ Rie Hikisaka [@kirakiraponpon5] (May 17, 2021). "KT" (Tweet). Retrieved May 19, 2021 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Reiji Kawashima [@reiji_kawashima] (May 17, 2021). "KT" (Tweet). Retrieved May 19, 2021 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Ryoko Shiraishi [@RyokoShiraishi_] (May 24, 2021). "「#不滅のあなたへ」みなさんグーグーに出会ってくれましたか…? すごいテンポで進んでいくし、コロコロ感情が変わるので、切り替えやメリハリ出すのが大変でした。こだわってもらった台詞は「嘘つき…」 リーンを目の前にした時のリアクションには力を入れました笑 いやホント兄ちゃんよ…" (Tweet). Retrieved May 26, 2021 – via Twitter.
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