|Written by||Noriyuki Konishi|
|Original run||January 2013 – present|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Shinji Ushiro|
|Produced by||Yoshikazu Beniya (TV Tokyo), Kiyofumi Kajiwara|
|Written by||Yoichi Kato|
|Music by||Kenichiro Saigo|
|Original network||TXN (TV Tokyo), BS Japan, AT-X, Kids Station|
|Original run||January 8, 2014 – March 30, 2018|
|Anime television series|
|Yo-kai Watch Shadowside|
|Directed by||Fumiya Hōjō|
|Written by||Yōichi Katō|
|Music by||Kenichiro Saigo|
|Studio||OLM Team Inoue|
|Original network||TXN (TV Tokyo, TV Osaka)|
|Original run||April 13, 2018 – March 29, 2019|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Ryousuke Senbo|
|Written by||Yoichi Kato|
|Music by||Kenichiro Saigo|
|Studio||OLM, Magic Bus|
|Original network||TXN (TV Tokyo), BS Japan, AT-X, Kids Station|
|Original run||April 5, 2019 – December 20, 2019|
|Yo-kai Watch: Exciting Nyanderful Days|
|Written by||Chikako Mori|
|Demographic||Kodomo (girls), shōjo|
|Original run||February 2014 – present|
|4-Panel Yo-kai Watch: Geragera Manga Theater|
|Written by||Coconas Rumba|
|Magazine||CoroCoro Comic SPECIAL|
|Original run||October 2014 – present|
|Yo-kai Watch: 4-Panel Pun-Club|
|Written by||Santa Harukaze|
|Original run||April 2015 – present|
|Komasan 〜A Time for Fireworks and Miracles〜|
|Written by||Shō Shibamoto|
|Original run||April 10, 2015 – September 10, 2015|
|Yo-kai Watch Busters|
|Written by||Atsushi Ohba|
|Original run||June 2015 – October 2015|
Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ, Yōkai Wotchi)[a] is a mixed-media franchise of role-playing video games and toys, created and developed by Level-5. The first game in the series was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2013. 3 main sequels and several spinoffs, on both Nintendo and mobile platforms, have been released. In December 2019, they expanded to PlayStation.
Six manga adaptations have also been produced; one, a series that began serialization in Shogakukan's CoroCoro Comic from December 2012, became an award winner. An anime television series produced by OLM, Inc. began airing in Japan from January 2014 and was a ratings success, boosting the franchise in popularity, and began airing in North America from October 2015. An animated film was released in December 2014; with three more films being produced. As of 2016, the game series had shipped 13 million copies worldwide.
Despite not meeting Level-5's expectations in the United States, the franchise still enjoyed a successful U.S. launch, with the original 3DS game selling 400,000 units, as well as toys and an airing of the TV series on Disney XD. However, interest in the Yo-kai Watch franchise steadily declined, and Hasbro's Yo-kai Watch toy line was discontinued in the United States in 2017 and in Europe and Latin America in 2018.
The franchise was first thought up as a Doraemon IP, something that could be long lasting over a long period of time. Akihiro Hino, CEO of Level-5, researched extensively what makes a franchise long-lasting, and came up with Yo-kai Watch.
Yo-kai Watch revolves around befriending Yo-kai that are haunting the city. They are based on traditional Japanese yōkai, but often with clever twists. If one befriends a Yo-kai, they get their friendship medal, an object that allows one to summon Yo-kai. With these, they can summon Yo-kai to either fight other Yo-kai, befriend others, or solve everyday tasks.
The basic plot for most of the media is that the main character (either Nate or Katie) obtains a Yo-kai Watch through Whisper, a butler Yo-kai. They then befriend Jibanyan, a cat Yo-kai who haunts an intersection because he thinks his owner from when he was alive named Amy called him lame for getting hit by a truck. During the anime's run, other Yo-kai were introduced.
The main video game series is a role-playing video game where the player befriends Yo-kai, and fights the bad ones that seek to rule over the world. The main emphasis in the games is placed on fighting the Yo-kai. All of the main series' games up to Yo-kai Watch 2 have the same battle style; using the 3DS's touchscreen during battles to rotate amongst the player's Yo-kai at will. All of the Yo-kai have powerful moves called Soultimates; some being healing moves, but most of them being offensive. In Yo-kai Watch 3, the battle system was changed into more of a grid-based movement system, and the added use of the Dream Link to use the Yo-kai Blaster against foes during battle.
The first game in the main series, Yo-kai Watch, was announced at the 2011 Tokyo Game Show and first released in Japan on July 11, 2013. It sets the foundation for the rest of the video game franchise, introducing all of the main mechanics. The game came out in NA on November 6, 2015 and EU on April 29, 2016.
Yo-kai Watch 2
The second main game in the series, was released in Japan on July 10, 2014 as two versions, Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. Yo-kai Watch 2 expands the areas to be explored, with nearly 100 new Yo-kai in the present day of the Kemamoto region (called Harrisville outside of Japan) and the past, where the player time travels to meets traditional Yo-kai and sees their grandfather, who made the predecessor to the Yo-kai Watch. A third version, Psychic Specters, was released on December 12, 2014 to coincide with the first Yo-kai Watch film Yo-kai Watch: Tanjō no Himitsu da Nyan!. Psychic Specters featured characters and scenarios not initially included in Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls.
Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls were localized in English and released in the United States on September 30, 2016 (April 7, 2017 in Europe). The localized Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls received the Oni Evolution update on September 14, 2017, making those games compatible with save data from the western release of Psychic Specters on September 29, 2017.
Yo-kai Watch 3
In Japan, Yo-kai Watch 3 was announced alongside Yo-kai Watch Busters in April 2015 and released in July 2016 in two versions, Sushi and Tempura. The game features a new story mechanic, where two main characters are playable at the same time: Nate and Hailey. The first half of the game has Nate and his family moving from Japan (Springdale in the localization), to the United States (which is called BBQ in the localization), in the fictional town of St. Peanutsburg, where new American-themed "Merican" (メリケン) Yo-kai can be found. The other half of the game focuses on a new character, Hailey Anne Thomas, and her partner Yo-kai Usapyon, who run a detective agency together. A third version, Sukiyaki, was eventually released in Japan on December 16, 2016. Sukiyaki combines Sushi and Tempura into one game, as well as additional exclusives.
On September 27, 2018, Nintendo of America announced that Yo-kai Watch 3 was getting a localization release outside of Japan, which released December 7, 2018 in Europe and February 8, 2019 in North America.
Yo-kai Watch 4
Yo-kai Watch 4 was released for the Nintendo Switch in Japan on June 20, 2019. It features character designs from Yo-kai Watch Shadowside, as well as the original designs. The game also includes characters from previous games, as well as the main characters from Yo-kai Watch: Forever Friends.
LEVEL-5 Inc. have not confirmed an official release for the West.
Other video games
A spin-off game, Yo-kai Watch Blasters (妖怪ウォッチバスターズ, Yōkai Wotchi Basutāzu) was first announced in the April 2015 issue of CoroCoro Comic alongside Yo-kai Watch 3. Busters allowed up to four players to cooperate in battling boss Yo-kai. The first two versions of the game, Aka Neko-dan (赤猫団, "Red Cat Troupe") and Shiro Inu-tai (白犬隊, "White Dog Corps"), were released on July 11, 2015. A free expansion for the two Yo-kai Watch Blasters games called Getto-gumi (月兎組, "Moon Rabbit Crew") was released on December 12, 2015, adding characters and settings featured in second anime feature film Yo-kai Watch: Enma Daiō to Itsutsu no Monogatari da Nyan!.
A sequel, Yo-kai Watch Blasters 2: Secret of the Legendary Treasure Bambalaya (妖怪ウォッチバスターズ2秘宝伝説バンバラヤー, Yōkai Wotchi Basutāzu 2 Hihō Densetsu Banbarayā), was also released in two versions, (ソード, "Sword") and (マグナム, "Magnum"), on December 16, 2017. The sequel games are compatible with save data from the first games as well as the three versions of Yo-kai Watch 3.
The first game was localized in English regions as Yo-kai Watch Blasters, where it released on September 7, 2018. The game would be released outside Japan under the same two version branding, as Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad. A free update for both games, Moon Rabbit Crew, was released on September 27, 2018.
Other associated games
The Data Carddass game Yo-kai Watch: Tomodachi UkiUkipedia (妖怪ウォッチ ともだちウキウキペディア) was first location tested in late December 2013, and debuted at the Next Generation World Hobby Fair Winter 2014 before being released in early 2014. The game is played much like Bandai's other Data Carddass games, in which the player uses an interface resembling a slot machine to determine the events of a battle between 3 of the player's Yo-kai against 3 enemy Yo-kai, after the player sought them out on the game interface. Winning the game awards the player a card that can be used for future Tomodachi UkiUkipedia play.
Yo-kai Sangokushi (妖怪三国志, lit. "Yo-kai Three Kingdoms") was announced alongside Busters and Yo-kai Watch 3 in April 2015. Sangokushi was made in collaboration with Koei Tecmo's Romance of the Three Kingdoms series as well as several mobile games.
In August 2015, a collaboration with Ubisoft to release a special version of the Just Dance series was announced, set to feature songs from the anime's soundtrack, and the result was Yo-kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version (妖怪ウォッチダンス：ジャストダンスジャストダンススペシャルバージョン, Yōkai Uotchi Dansu: Jasuto Dansu Supesharu Bājon), which was released on the Wii U on December 5, 2015, exclusively in Japan.
On June 27, 2018, Level-5 and GungHo Online Entertainment announced the release of Yo-kai Watch World, in a special live stream on that day. (Before the same-day release of the game, it was teased online as a "game that will shock the world", as stated from Level-5.) Said to compete with Pokémon Go, it featured many new gameplay mechanics, as well as the battle sequences being similar to the original 3DS games. Currently, it's only able to work within Japan, as other locations do not mostly work outside of Japan.
- Yo-kai Watch Blasters (Nintendo 3DS, 2015) – released worldwide (outside Korea) on September 7, 2018, with Moon Rabbit Crew update released on September 27, 2018
- Yo-kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version (Wii U, 2015) – Exclusive to Japan, Co-developed and published by Ubisoft as part of the Just Dance series
- Yo-kai Sangokushi (Nintendo 3DS, 2016) – Japan only, Collaboration with Koei Techmo's Romance of the Three Kingdoms series
- Yo-kai Watch Blasters 2 (Nintendo 3DS, 2017) — Japan only
- Yo-kai Land (iOS, Android, 2015) – Produced by Hasbro
- Yo-kai Taiso Dai-Ichi Puzzle da Nyan (ようかい体操第一 パズルだニャン, Yōkai Taisō Dai-Ichi Pazuru da Nyan, lit. "Yo-kai Exercise No. 1: Puzzle Meow") (iOS, Android, 2013)
- Yo-kai Watch: Puni Puni (妖怪ウォッチ ぷにぷに, Yōkai Wotchi Puni-puni) (iOS, Android, 2015)
- Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble (iOS, Android, 2016)
- Yo-kai Watch: Gerapo Rhythm (妖怪ウォッチ ゲラポリズム, Yōkai Wotchi Gerapo Rizumu) (iOS, Android, 2018)
- Yo-kai Daijiten (妖怪大辞典, lit. "Great Yo-kai Dictionary") (iOS, Android, 2018)
- Yo-kai Sangokushi: Kunitori Wars (妖怪三国志 国盗りウォーズ, Yōkai Wocchi Kunitori Wōzu) (iOS, Android, 2018) – Co-produced with Koei Tecmo
- Yo-kai Watch World (妖怪ウォッチワールド, Yōkai Wocchi Wārudo) (iOS, Android, June 27, 2018) – Co-produced by GungHo Online Entertainment inc., with a Google Maps-based engine
- Yo-kai Watch: Medal Wars (妖怪ウォッチ メダルウォーズ, Yōkai Wocchi Medaru Wōzu) (iOS, Android, 2019) – Co-produced with Netmarble
Manga and comics
Six manga adaptations based on the series have been published by Shogakukan. A series by Noriyuki Konishi began serialization in CoroCoro Comic from December 15, 2012. This series has been licensed by Viz Media under its Perfect Square imprint for its North American releases up to Volume 10, and is now directly from Viz Media as of Volume 11. In other countries (like Europe, for example), it is under the Kazé imprint.
A shōjo manga series by Chikako Mori, titled Yo-kai Watch: Exciting Nyanderful Days (妖怪ウォッチ～わくわく☆にゃんだふるデイズ～, Yōkai Wotchi ~Wakuwaku Nyandafuru Deizu~), began serialization in Ciao magazine from December 27, 2013. In this series, it was based on the alternate timeline, in which Katie Forester would receive the Yo-kai Watch. This is in contrast to the main timeline, where Nate Adams is the primary.
A yonkoma series by Coconas Rumba, titled 4-Panel Yo-kai Watch: Geragera Manga Theater (4コマ妖怪ウォッチ ゲラゲラマンガ劇場, Yonkoma Yōkai Wotchi Geragera Manga Gekijō), began serialization in CoroCoro Comic SPECIAL from October 2014.
Another yonkoma series by Santa Harukaze, titled Yo-kai Watch 4-Panel Pun Club (妖怪ウォッチ 4コマだじゃれクラブ, Yōkai Wotchi Yonkoma Dajare Kurabu), began serialization in CoroCoro Ichiban! from April 2015.
A series by Shō Shibamoto, titled Komasan 〜A Time for Fireworks and Miracles〜 (コマさん 〜ハナビとキセキの時間〜, Komasan 〜Hanabi to Kiseki no Jikan〜), began serialization in the seinen manga magazine Hibana on April 10, 2015 and ended on September 10 of that year.
A manga series based on Yo-kai Watch Blasters by Atsushi Ohba began serialization in CoroCoro Comic in June 2015 and ended in October of that year.
Noriyuki Konishi version
Loosely based on the main Yo-kai Watch series, a manga series by Noriyuki Konishi started serialization before the release of Yo-kai Watch on the 3DS, and the debut of the original Yo-kai Watch anime. In the series, the art style was different from the current designs, like the early design of the Yo-kai Watch, and also has different character personalities. As the games and anime were released, the manga kept the art style, but the characters also slowly developed over time.
Volume 16 transitioned the manga into the current "Yo-kai Watch!" anime timeline, while still keeping the art style of the previous edition.
Yo-kai Watch: Exciting Nyanderful Days
|1||December 25, 2014||ISBN 978-4-09136-714-3|
|2||October 30, 2015||ISBN 978-4-09137-888-0|
|3||July 22, 2016||—|
Yo-kai Watch: 4-Panel Pun-Club
|1||June 18, 2015||ISBN 978-4-09281-232-1|
|2||January 28, 2016||ISBN 978-4-09281-233-8|
Yo-kai Watch Busters
|1||September 28, 2015||ISBN 978-4-09142-100-5|
4-Panel Yo-kai Watch: Geragera Manga Theater
|1||October 28, 2015||ISBN 978-4-09142-105-0|
Komasan: A Time for Fireworks and Miracles
|1||December 11, 2015||ISBN 978-4-09187-427-6|
An anime television series based on the game, produced by OLM, began airing in Japan on TX Network on January 8, 2014. Most of the episodes focus on Nathan "Nate" Adams solving problems caused by Yo-kai. It has a higher focus on comedy than the games. Some of the episodes have a "Mini-Corner" which features one of the main Yo-kai characters.
On April 7, 2015, Level-5 unveiled a promotional video for a second season of the anime series, which premiered in July 2015. The second season features a new protagonist named Hailey Anne Thomas and her Yo-kai companion Usapyon. It also features new models of the Yo-kai Watch called the "Yo-kai Watch Model U" and the "Yo-kai Watch Dream" model. The third season of the anime series premiered on January 6, 2017, and entered a Busters Arc in July. In February 2018, a sequel series titled Yo-kai Watch Shadowside started airing after the original series ended on March 30, 2018. The first two episodes of the Shadowside anime were broadcast as an hour-long special on April 13, 2018. The Yo-kai Watch Shadowside anime lasted for over 49 episodes, ending on Match 29, 2019.
A revival series known as Yo-kai Watch! started on April 5, 2019 in Japan. It is slated to be a continuation of the original series. while serving as a sort of prologue to the fourth movie, in which Nate receives the Yo-kai Watch Elder Version K, which looks like the same watch as the Yo-kai Watch Elder used in Yo-kai Watch Shadowside. While introducing some new Yo-kai, some elements of Shadowside still retain in the new series, like the Yo-kai Arks, and the Shadowside Tribes that were used, for example.
In the course of the franchise's history, six Yo-kai Watch movies have been made. The first one, Yo-kai Watch: The Movie, was released in Japan on December 20, 2014, The second, Yo-kai Watch: Enma Daiō to Itsutsu no Monogatari da Nyan!, was released in Japan on December 19, 2015, and the third movie, Yo-kai Watch: Soratobu Kujira to Double no Sekai no Daibōken da Nyan!, an anime and live action movie, was released in Japan on December 17, 2016 The fourth film, Yo-kai Watch Shadowside: Oni-ō no Fukkatsu, opened in Japan on December 16, 2017. A fifth movie, Yo-kai Watch: Forever Friends, released in Japanese theatres on December 14, 2018. A sixth movie, Yo-kai Watch Jam the Movie: Yo-Kai Academy Y - Can a Cat be a Hero?, was released in Japanese theatres on December 13, 2019.
The series is being released on DVD box sets, along with rental DVDs, in Japan by Kadokawa Media Factory. Every episode to date is available for streaming on multiple video on demand services in Japan, such as Hulu and Rakuten Video Showtime.
At the premiere of the Yo-kai Watch film, Level-5's president Akihiro Hino officially announced that the Yo-kai Watch anime would begin broadcast internationally in 2015. He also jokingly requested Etsuko Kozakura and Tomokazu Seki, who voice Jibanyan and Whisper respectively, to "study English".
In North America
Dentsu Entertainment USA announced in April 2014 that they were seeking broadcast and merchandising partners in North America for the anime. The anime began broadcast as a 26-episode season on Disney XD on October 5, 2015, with the official Yo-kai Watch YouTube channel posting episodes a month later. Since the show had performed well, a second season (no relation to the Japanese second season) with an additional 50 episodes was broadcast on August 1, 2016. The third season premiered on July 2, 2018, on Disney XD US, and ended on December 29, 2018. In 2019, Disney XD removed the Yo-kai Watch anime from its lineup due to declining ratings; but eventually returned to the network in a weekend-only timeslot in January 2020, re-taking the place of a previous replacement, Inazuma Eleven: Ares. The first season's first volume was released on DVD by NCircle Entertainment on February 26, 2019, and one version of that set comes with a free comic book. The first season's second volume was released on September 3, 2019.
The first movie was also brought over, as a special screening one day screening, on October 15, 2016. This was only in the US, via Fathom Events. Those who attended got a Hovernyan medal. Outside of the US, the first season and the movie are currently streaming on Netflix.
The English version of the anime dub used a cast from Bang Zoom! Entertainment for the first two seasons, but they were replaced in the third season with actors from SDI Media due to budget costs.
MarVista Entertainment has licensed the series in Latin America.
In Europe and Africa
Viz Media Europe has licensed the series in Europe, Russia, and Africa. They premiered the anime in the UK and Ireland on Cartoon Network on April 23, 2016. In France it showed on three different stations: Boing in April, 2016, Gulli in September, 2016, and Cartoon Network France in March, 2017. Other countries it aired in are Germany and Austria (Nickelodeon), Spain and Africa on Boing, Belgium and the Netherlands on Nickelodeon, and Israel on Noga. Cartoon Network also has it airing on their Portugal, Turkey, Poland and the Nordic, Central and Eastern Europe feeds, starting in Spring 2016.
Viz has also hired Bulldog Licensing and German brand-management company m4e to represent the brand in the UK and German-speaking territories, respectively.
In Other Asian Countries
In Australia and New Zealand
The music for the games and anime series is composed by Level-5 employee Kenichiro Saigo. The following themes are used in both the video games and anime series. In the original anime, all opening themes are performed by King Cream Soda, with lyrics by m.o.v.e vocalist Motsu. The anime themes are also dubbed into English for its North American broadcast.
Various toys, such as the eponymous Yo-kai Watch and Yo-kai Medals, have been produced based on the series, receiving high commercial success. Hasbro released a toy line based on the series worldwide in December 2015. In July 2016, Square Enix's MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn held a special crossover event lasting until October which allowed players to gather Medals from existing in-game battles and exchange them for minions modeled after the franchise's titular Yo-kai as well as weapons inspired by them. In January 2018, McDonald's began offering Yo-kai Watch toys in US Happy Meals, alongside the much more popular Shopkins.
The original Yo-kai Watch game received a score of 36/40 from Famitsu, with its sequel Yo-kai Watch 2 also scoring 36/40. Yo-kai Watch 2 won the Grand Prize in the Japan Game Awards. It also won 3 other awards: The Best Sales Award, and two Excellence Awards (for the 2nd game and its third version). In 2014, Yo-kai Watch's manga in CoroCoro Comic won the 38th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best Children's Manga category. In the following year, it also was awarded the Best Children's manga at the 60th Shogakukan Manga Awards.
When the anime first aired, in 2014, the franchise became really popular in Japan. By February, the first game, which originally sold only 53,654 copies, was at over 500,000 shipped and the anime was surpassing Pokémon in the TV rankings; being compared to it and being dubbed the "Pokémon Killer". By the second game's release, the first game had sold 1,195,287 copies and the second game surpassed that at release at 1,316,707 copies. The third version also impressed, at 1,244,171 units.
Even the president of Level-5, Akihiro Hino, was surprised by Yo-kai Watch's popularity. "While I did believe that it would get its break, honestly, to have it come this far, where the children of Japan would get so hopped-up on Yo-kai, to the point where all the goods would sell out, is something I didn’t expect." They were the second most popular characters in Japan, in a survey by Video Research Ltd. Explanations for its popularity ranged from catchy songs and dances, to being something parents and kids could enjoy together, to "weird adults" not being interested in it. Hino himself said that it was the relatable characters and situations relatable to modern kids that made it popular.
This also translated into toy sales, racking in 55.2 billion yen for Namco Bandai. Yo-kai Watch toys were frequently out of stock; people having to wait in lotteries to get a Yo-kai Watch and search hard for medals. Other merchandise had to wait longer because of the long licensing wait times. This demand made it the second highest product in Nikkei Trendy that year.
It was a top seller in many other areas as well: The Yo-kai Watch Guide was the number one book in 2014, its first theme song, Geragerapo no Uta, was the number 50 song on the Oricon Singles Chart, and the movie had the highest opening of any Japanese film since 2000. Yo-kai Watch even had a special segment on Kohaku Uta Gassen, Japan's most viewed music program.
By 2015, sales had started to fall to numbers ranging from around a quarter to 1/8 of what they were the previous year. Prices were cut and there was less visible excitement among children. By the time the third games were released, in 2016, it was on a downward slope with the game launching with about half of what the second games did, with 632,135 units and the third version of the game launched with half of what the first versions sold with 337,979 units. The toy sales were 10.4 billion yen in toy sales and estimated to be at 6.3 billion yen in 2017. This was largely due to hype building for two games that were coming from Nintendo's Pokémon franchise, the Pokémon Go smartphone app and Pokémon Sun and Moon for the 3DS.
In addition to the wake of Pokémon's renewed popularity, analysts had a few other theories on why Yo-kai Watch was falling. Ken Hōri of The Business Journal and Ollie Barder of Forbes thought it was mainly distribution issues; products that were ordered from the summer vacation were over stocked, because of the six-month waiting period for copyright approvals. Another reason he had was that the toys had incompatible medals with later watches, leading to a loss of interest. Barder and Sato of Siliconera also mentioned oversaturation, with it being Sato's main focus.
Unlike in its native Japan where it experienced a short period of great popularity, Yo-kai Watch had an overall underwhelming performance in the United States. Although it got off to a promising start in that region, with the original game selling at least 400,000 units there as of 2016, the sequel, Yo-kai Watch 2, sold less than 200,000 copies in comparison. Meanwhile, Disney XD's English broadcast of the anime series has estimated only 100,000-300,000 viewers per episode, and has been discontinued as of 2019, being replaced with another Level-5 adaptation - Inazuma Eleven Ares - in its initial weekend timeslot. Despite the franchise's unsatisfactory western response, it maintains a cult following. The franchise is also popular in Europe, with the original game's sales out pacing the Japanese release as of October 2016.
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