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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Accel World OST #accel_world

I love every part of Accel World. Not only the animation, characters, and stories themselves, but also the soundtrack. Warner Bros. Anime is the music label that release the CDs. Luckily they do provide samples on youtube. Here are some of the great ones:




And of course, the best one for the best scene, when Kuroyukihime did a Physical Full Burst to protect Haruyuki:

What annoys me is the continuing reluctance of the Japanese music labels to release their catalogs outside Japan via iTunes or whatnot. Unless you consult the “alternative” sources, you have to import the CDs. Oh, and typical Japanese music marketing, there are three separate CDs of the OST, not just one. *sigh Imo, it’s worth it. Great soundtrack that will keep the great scenes in memory.

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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in anime, music

 

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Accel World AMV 22 – Rocketman #accel_world

Haven’t made an AMV for a while, so here’s one, a full length AMV to commemorate the final episode of Accel World! ^_^ Music is Rocketman by Mega NRG Man.
Youtube version:

Dailymotion version:

I mainly focused on Silver Crow/Haruyuki as the “Rocketman,” with various battle scenes including the one from the OVA, but mainly focused on the final battle with Dusk Taker/Seiji Noumi. Hope people enjoy it. ^_^

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in anime, music video

 

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Accel World Final Episode #accel_world

Today was a big day. No, I’m not talking about the sale of some phone named iPhone 5. I’m talking about the final episode of my numero uno favorite anime, Accel World. It’s sad that the anime is ending, but it’s an awesome episode with superb animation and great “ending.”

The episode started when we’re left off in episode 23, the final fight between Silver Crow and Dusk Taker. They even skipped the OP completely, went straight to the good stuff. The animation is just superb, worthy for the final episode. From episode 23, we had Silver Crow discarding his armor to escape from Black Vise’s trap, and the return of Black Lotus. Episode 24 started with Silver Crow equipping the Gale Thruster and battle Dusk Taker in the sky. There are numerous times that Silver Crow almost failed as the Gale Thruster’s energy running out, but Haru’s use of the incarnation system, and the support from the two girls helped him.

*Hey, that blinding light… How conveniently placed. -_-;

Silver Crow managed to overpower Dusk Taker, but the unexpected happened. Lime Bell used her Citron Call special ability. Silver Crow was taken aback at first, thinking that Chiyu betrayed them again, but it’s shown later that Lime Bell isn’t actually “healing” Dusk Taker. The Citron Call ability is not really “healing” the target, but more like reversing time. Dusk Taker lost his wings, and Silver Crow gained them back, with an incredible animation to boot.

Silver Crow literally cut Dusk Taker’s body in half, and his upper torso fell to the ground. Lime Bell explained her ability, and the fact that she sided with Seiji was to level up her special ability so she can reverse time further back to the point of time before Dusk Taker took Silver Crow’s wings. Dusk Taker implored Black Vise to help him, but Black Vise decided to escape as he didn’t have any grudge against the Nega Nebulous team. Plus he didn’t want to fight Black Lotus. We got a glimpse of Black Lotus’ incarnation ability here, cutting a whole building in half.

Dusk Taker were left to his own, crawling helplessly, begging for his life. It’s befitting as he said he used to abuse woodlice, and now he’s crawling like one. Silver Crow ended his suffering with his Laser Sword ability. Dusk Taker is no more. Noumi Seiji’s memory about Brain Burst was erased, and actually it might make him into a normal happier kid. A good touching ending for one of the most hated villain in anime world.

Back at Haru’s apartment, Taku, Haru, and Chiyu made up and are friends again, including some hugging and crying. Very touching considering the things they went through.

So, things are settling down. Haru is picking up Kuroyukihime from the station. We saw Kuroyukihime saying good-bye to Megumi, and Megumi looking at Haru with a red burning eyes of jealousy. LOL.

Back at Haru’s apartment, we have a super cute scene between Haru and Kuroyukihime. Hime asked Haru what he would want for his reward, and Haru said he wanted Hime to stay by his side forever, which made Hime blushed. So cute!

Back at school, the guy that hit Haru and his teacher apologized to him after his name is cleared thanks to Kuroyukihime. I’m glad that they followed up on this issue. Haru, being a too-nice of a guy, just ran instead of demanding somekind of tributes from those two. The reformed Noumi Seiji appeared, and looked a lot happier without Brain Burst. Closing scenes with Niko and Pard ensued, discussing the loss of memory after Brain Burst is uninstalled. Haru then told Hime there’s one more thing. He set up for them to meet with Fuuko, aka Sky Raker, to return her Gale Thruster. Haru also wanted Hime to make up with Fuuko, and they did, filled with crying and hugging, another touching scene. T^T

The anime is closing with Haru giving an uplifting monologue with quick scenes of the various characters, including two that were not introduced in the series (hopefully a teaser for a second season!), about “how we live in the gap between one moment and forever. Meeting and parting in a world where everything changes and everyone is frantically living their life. How there must be some things that don’t change, but there are some things that change and cannot be obtained back. But we know that even things do change, things start over again, and as long as they have the desire, people can always move forward and they can accelerate.” Made me cried. T^T More reason to love Accel World!

Well, there we go, the end of one of the best anime I’ve enjoyed. So far, it only covered up to book 4 of the light novel, and there are already 12 volumes of the novels. So plenty of materials left for more Accel World! Excellent series. It’s been a lot of fun. Farewell for now.

Oh who am I kidding. I’m addicted to Accel World, I cannot just go off cold turkey. Already watched the final episode twice in a row. Time to do a marathon of the whole series. Good thing I also bought the PSP game, Ginyoku no Kakusei. The story is a bit different than the actual timeline of the anime due to the nature of the game, but it has the same seiyuu, and it will help me with my addiction, hopefully until they make a second season.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2012 in accel world, anime, impression, review

 

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Apple September 12th Event Overview

The September 12th Apple event keynote video is available on Apple’s website and via iTunes.

Alright, time to put in my 2 cents on the recent September 12th Apple event. The keynote had the usual pattern, with Tim Cook starting off with stats. The interesting part is, Phil Schiller immediately started with the announcement of the iPhone 5. Usually, Apple kept the best for last, eg. they would announce iOS, new iTunes, etc, and then do the finale with the star product. It’s really interesting, as if the iPhone 5 was not really as revolutionary as Apple wanted it to. Regardless, the crowds loved it. Oh, and Al Gore was in the audience too.

So, let’s get right to it. Everything about the iPhone 5 were pretty much known already from the various leaks and rumors. It’s exactly what the leaked photos showed. The surprise was the insides. I predicted that it would have the A5X chip, as that was the chip used in the “new” iPad. Well, Apple took a leapfrog and actually used a new chip, the A6. This is the first time Apple used a newer chip on the iPhone first before the iPad. The A4 started with the 1st gen iPad before going to the iPhone 4. Same thing with the A5, started with the iPad 2 before going to the iPhone 4S. iPhone 5 with Apple’s custom A6 is actually a big surprise. Apple advertised it as twice as fast as the A5.

Other than that, everything else is as expected. 4″ retina screen. Being a master in marketing, Apple said the 4″ elongated screen is “designed” for 1 hand operation. They do have a point, as many of the larger Android devices are not that easy to handle with 1 hand. Another thing is the camera. Nokia one-upped Apple on this one with the optical image stabilization of the Lumia 920. Imo optical stabilization is huge and a step forward for camera on mobile phones. Apple on the other hand was bragging about the sapphire crystal lens cover they used on the iPhone 5, supposedly made the lens to be scratch resistant. Whoop dee doo. No sapphire crystals can save your pictures when they’re blurry from shakes. New feature is panorama. Well, my Galaxy Nexus and Xperia Arc can do that already. We’ll see how good the software Apple has to handle blurriness and stitching.

Also as expected, Apple added LTE on the iPhone 5. Alas, this created a confusion on the different versions of the iPhone 5, unlike the iPhone 4S. With the iPhone 4S, there’s only one version where CDMA and GSM are combined. With LTE, there are at least 3 versions of the iPhone 5 per Apple’s own website. There’s AT&T/Canada version, Verizon/KDDI version (that includes CDMA), and everybody-else’s version. Even worse, seems like international LTE compatibility is limited if you bought the carrier-specific version. I’m going to assume the 3rd version is the unlocked version, thus not allowing you to have LTE with either AT&T nor Verizon. US wireless mafia at their finest, and Apple just kow-towing to them again.

Another marketing point that Apple pointed out is how lighter the iPhone 5 is compared to the “heavier” iPhone 4S. Without cases, my iPhone 4 is fairly light already. The tech bloggers are saying the iPhone 5 is significantly lighter. Another new feature, wideband audio, something that no US carriers would support. Yup, lovely US wireless mafia are only interested in charging you more money than actually improving their services, like oh, I don’t know, phone call audio quality.

Then there’s the smaller dock connector called lightning. Yup, re-buy all your accessories people, unless you want to give Apple $30 for a single ugly adapter. Not liking this. But at least it supports 5GHz wifi n now.

I’m going to skip the iOS6 stuff as most already know this during WWDC.

Price is the same, $199 for 16GB iPhone 5 under 2-yr contract. $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. Considering now that Apple is selling the unlocked 16GB 4S for $549, this tells me unlocked prices are not changed. Boo. Galaxy Nexus 16GB unlocked is just $349. I’m guessing the price of the iPhone 5 goes for the sapphire crystal… /s
Oh, and even more bullshit, US won’t get the unlocked version right away, while other countries will. Complete bullshit. Another proof that Apple has no more backbone, kow-towing to the US wireless mafia. I mean really, what company willing to delay selling their stuff to the customers in its own country? Mind boggling. Alas, it’s the same with Google. The unlocked Galaxy Nexus wasn’t available until much later after the Verizon version. BOOO!

iPhone 5, the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone… HUH? Yup, that’s Apple’s marketing tag line for the iPhone 5. It kinda makes sense, but it sounds silly.

Okay, the next part of the keynote was iTunes and new iPods. This actually seems to be the main focus of the event. New version of iTunes coming in October. Apple can claim whatever they want on how they revolutionize the music industry, but all I know is I still cannot have the same selections in iTunes US as iTunes Japan.

New iPod nano, 7th gen. Looks like a mini Lumia with a home button. Unlike the rumors, it doesn’t have wifi, only bluetooth. 2.5″ screen with multi-touch. Video playback is back. No, it’s not iOS, which is silly. Seems like a no brainer at this point to shove iOS into the nano. At least it comes in multiple colors. 16GB for $149. Since Apple has literally no competition in this market, I guess they can do whatever they want. Oh, of course it has the new lightning connector. The tag line? Completely renanoed. Huh?

The biggest thing in this event imo is the new iPod Touch. Last year, the iPod Touch didn’t get any updates at all, only a white color. Now Apple updated it to the A5. Yup, the A5, not the A5X nor the A6, which imo is silly as Apple is trying to market this as their portable gaming player. The good things are, it has the same 4″ screen (and yup, now it has oleophobic coating too!), and anodized aluminum back (HUGE yay! No more scratch-tastic back). Another huge update is the camera, where the iPod Touch finally has a real camera. 5MP iSight camera (presumably the iPhone 4’s sensor with the sapphire crystal lens cover). The Facetime camera is 720p now, matching the iPhone 5. Same thing with support for 5GHz wifi n.

Oh, and it has Siri. Wait, Siri for the iPod Touch, but not my iPad 2? WTF Apple?
At least the new iPod Touch now finally comes in colors. $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB. The old is still being sold, 16GB (first time) for $199 and 32GB for $249. Expensive? Well, again, Apple has virtually no competition here. The tagline for the new Touch? Engineered for maximum funness. Who made these taglines?

Oh, iPod Touch loop… Apple’s wrist strap for the iPod Touch. Can’t wait for cute straps being made by 3rd parties.

Why did I say that the new iPod Touch is big? Well, not only Apple is targeting this as a portable gaming player, now Apple is targeting this towards point-n-shoot cameras with the proper camera. The wrist strap should be a clue. You wouldn’t believe how many people, mostly teens, using the older iPod Touch as a camera, despite the crap-tastic excuse of a camera. This is Apple’s target.

Lastly, new earbuds, called ear pods. Only Apple can make a documentary video about earbuds, starring Jony Ive. Doesn’t look comfortable for some reason. Included with everything introduced at the event (iPhone 5, new nano, and new iPod Touch). Apple claimed it sounds as good as other earbuds costing hundreds of dollars. I’ll stick with the in-ear.

Oh, the old shuffle is still there, 2GB for $49, no change. The iPod classic still hangs around too, refusing to die. Oh, and no iPad mini.
How was my prediction? I nailed the shuffle, missed the iOS on the nano, nailed most of the price points (except no 8GB nano, and the older Touch on the $199 price point).

So, not as grand as some of previous Apple keynotes, mostly because we saw the iPhone 5 already from the leaks. The new iPods are okay, but Apple could’ve done better, pushing things further. But I guess since there’s no competition, trickling updates is the way to go.

Having plenty of iDevices already, I don’t know if I’m going to get any. The iPhone 5 pricing irks me, especially with US carriers charging an arm and a leg just to have basic smartphone service. The new iPod Touch is interesting, but I don’t see a point if I have an iPhone. I barely use any of my iPods. For apps and games, I rather use my iPad. An iPad mini would interest me more.

As a closing note, I wish Apple can grow back their backbone. Tell the carriers to shut it. Offer unlocked iPhones right off the gate with competitive prices. I mean come on, it’s obvious the US carriers are stifling innovation from the get go, from MMS, tethering, Facetime via wireless, and now LTE, by making the service so expensive and draconian bandwidth caps. Apple, Google, Microsoft, wake up. Your cloud strategy on mobile are fruitless with carriers stifling everything you do. I wish Apple, Google, and Microsoft would work together against the wireless mafia instead of bickering with each other.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in apple, Keynote

 

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Accel World ep 23, More Engrish #accel_world

Accel World ep23, the penultimate episode, is here. The final all-or-nothing battle with Noumi Seiji/Dusk Taker is starting. Also, a new challenger showed up, Black Vise. This episode explored Seiji’s background a little bit, but focused more on Taku fighting Seiji, although he lost in the end. Luckily, Kuroyukihime is back! The final episode is going to be even more exciting, with Kuroyukihime fighting Black Vise, and Silver Crow finally goes head-to-head in a final battle with Dusk Taker.

An awesome episode. But as usual, being a nerd, I found more Engrish annoyances. It’s basically the UI of the handheld device that is being used to store burst points.

Here’s a closer look:

“Does it start?” LOL. What, is it in a troubleshooting mode? Makes no sense. They should just say “Start?” Instead, somebody tried to be fancy with more “English” words.

Next is the UI that asked Silver Crow to join the sudden-death battle.

LOL. Why is it asking “Do you do a sudden death battle?” They could’ve just put “Join a sudden death battle?”
Really, I mean come on, can they just ask a random English speaking person?

On the other hand, they had a warning about losing all burst points, and they actually did a good job here.

This is what amazes me. They managed to do the warning that contains more words properly, yet they failed at the simple inquiries.

Regardless, love the show. One more episode. I don’t want it to end. I really hope for a second season, and soon, not years later. I hope they don’t just continue the story via OVAs bundled with the games or blu-rays.

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in anime, impression

 

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September 12th Apple Keynote Prediction

Well, the day is getting near, and the rumors from the so-called “analysts” are endless. Time to pitch in mine.

1. New iPhone. Currently, the rummor is that it’s going to be a 4″ iPhone. Before, I was hesitant to assume that as the form factor of the current iPhone 4/4S is perfect imo. However, the increasingly leaks of spy shots on the new form factor kinda makes it a given. Despite the plethora of pictures of the parts, not many rumors about what’s inside. Some assumed it’s going to be the A5X, the chip used on the “new” iPad. Some said it’s going to be a new A6. Who knows. The A5X seems too big for the old form factor, but with the enlarged size, it’s possible. So, my prediction for the new iPhone is that, as rumored, it will be 4″ with the new dock connector, it will have the A5X in it, and it will carry the same price points as the current 4S (eg. 16GB for $199 subsidized up to $399 for 64GB). LTE is also a given, although who knows how it would work with the unlocked version.

The dock connector change is huge though. It will break all existing rich accessories ecosystem, although Apple will gladly sell you an adapter or two. Now, what if Apple approached this ala the Macbook Pro and “new” Macbook Pro with retina display, ie. releasing an iPhone with the updated internals but with the older dock-connector. Unlikely, but don’t want to re-buy all my existing accessories. I do hope Apple cut the unlocked pricing a bit. Currently, the 16GB iPhone 4S is $649. This may sound cool when unlocked iPhones are selling for thousands of dollars, but not anymore when the Galaxy Nexus is $349 unlocked. Apple need to really cut that price down. Even the old 3GS is sold at $375, more expensive than the more advance Galaxy Nexus. Although I think Apple will keep the unlocked pricing structure the same, because they can, I wish they at least bring the 16GB 4S to match the $349 Galaxy Nexus. One can only hope.

Oh, and Apple will call it the “new” iPhone. No iPhone 5 nor 6. Apple could’ve paired it with the iOS version, but they skipped 5 and named it 4S instead. So it will be just a “new” iPhone. Just like Macbooks and iMacs, there will be simply a top of the line iPhone (the latest one), and lesser speced cheaper ones (eg. the 4/4S).

I also have a concern with the new nano SIM. It’s hard enough having to jugle the micro SIM with phones using regular SIM using adapters. Now the even smaller nano SIM is going to make things even more annoying, as Apple will be the only one using it (Nokia just started using micro SIM for their Windows Phone phones, while other companies are still using regular SIM).

2. iOS 6. Kinda obvious. The removal of Google maps will be the big thing, and also adding turn-by-turn navigation. The only thing I’m disappointed is how many of these features won’t make it for the iPhone 4. Other than that, we already know what will be in iOS 6, so I doubt there will be any surprises. Maybe some extra stuff due to the larger screen of the new iPhone.

3. iPods. The iPod lineup didn’t get any updates at all last year. It’s a dying market with Apple standing on top. Not sure what Apple would do, but so far the rumors are new lineup across the board and the final axe for the iPod Classic.
-iPod Shuffle: What else can you do with this? Apple tried to go buttonless, but people didn’t like that. So the current Shuffle is as simple as one can get. Maybe just more colors. Same price point, $49.
-iPod nano: the rumor is that Apple will make a wifi iPod nano to connect to the iTunes store. Make sense as it allows people to buy more stuff from Apple. The current nano is already too restricted to be improved upon, so to me, the new “nano” will be actually a smaller iPod Touch. Apple will still market it as the iPod nano, but it will be an iOS device. I mean why do things half-heartedly? Might as well stick the full iOS in it. It will probably have either an A4 or the A3 (iPhone 3GS internal) in it to keep cost down. Screen will the the old lower-res LCD 3GS’ screen (non-retina). This might also explain why Apple is still supporting the 3GS for iOS 6. It might be old inside, but Apple will make it attractive outside by making it in colors. 8GB and 16GB at $99 and $149. Cheapest entry to the app store!
-iPod Touch: With the nano taking over most of the draws of the iPod Touch, the new iPod Touch will be larger (presumably following the new iPhone size) to compete further as a portable gaming device. Besides, the current Touch is so thin that it’s impossible to put something like the A5X in it. The new larger 4″ iPod Touch will carry the A5X, the iPad 3/iPhone 4 camera, and priced at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB. This also begs Apple to drop the price of the unlocked iPhones. I mean come on, why is a 16GB “new” iPad with LTE is cheaper than a 16GB iPhone 4S?

The wild card is the iPad mini. The popularity of the Nexus 7 and Kindle fire HD show that people want a smaller tablet. The iPad has ruled the standard sized tablet market, but Apple has nothing for this segment, having only an outdated iPod Touch. Pricing will be tough as the Nexus 7 and newly announced Kindle fire HD pushed that envelope further down at $199. Currently, for $199, you can only get a small-screen old 8GB iPod Touch. Definitely not an iPad experience. However, if Apple was to make an iPad mini, this pricing points will overlap too much with the iPod Touch and iPad. If Apple made an iPad mini, I don’t think Apple would go for the $199 price point. It would be probably at least $249 or $299 for the lowest end, as a bridge between the iPod Touch and iPad. I would guess $299 for 16GB, $399 for 32GB. Cheapest entry for an iPad experience! I do think Apple need to give some incentive to buyers, so I think Apple would make a 4G versions for the iPad mini. Note that for now, the Nexus 7 and 7″ Kindle fire HD are wifi only, so having 4G will be an advantage (and justify a higher price). So maybe $399 for 16GB + 4G and $499 for 32GB + 4G, matching up nicely with the starting price for the regular iPad. Internals will be the same as the “new” iPad (retina-res screen, etc).

I don’t know if Apple would do all of these in one announcement though. It sure will take a lot of attention away from the competitors and keep the news and tech bloggers busy for a while to cash in on the SEO. However, something like the iPad mini will be a huge announcement, so maybe Apple will do an October event (and maybe with an updated “new” iPad having the new dock connector), coupling this with maybe some announcements for the Apple TV or iTunes services. Or maybe this will be done together with the new iMacs.

In any case, September has been a very exciting month, starting with Nokia’s announcement of their new Lumia 920 phone with Windows Phone 8, then Motorola with their new RAZR Android phones lineup, then the bombastic Amazon announcement with their new Kindle and Kindle fire HD lineups. Of course, Apple will top them all as usual, and sell a bajilion more iDevices. For me personally, I find my current iPhone 4 to be satisfactory. If Apple still put ridiculous prices for the unlocked iPhones, I might just snap the iPod Touch instead, or a 4G iPad mini (if it existed). Although I love my iPhone and can’t live without it, sometimes I miss the usage of a basic phone. However, I don’t want to go back having to carry multiple devices again.

Well, there you go, my predictions for Apple’s September 12th event. Now if only I got paid like those analysts.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2012 in apple, event, Keynote

 

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Haruyuki Grows Up! #accel_world

Inconsistencies in character drawings/animations happen all the time in anime, although newer animes seem to have less of those thanks to CGI compared to the classic anime back in the 80s. When a character has extreme characteristics, slight inconsistencies become more apparent, especially if you are a fan of the show and watch each episodes multiple times…
In any case, Haruyuki, the main protagonist of the anime Accel World, is portrayed as a short chubby boy. When I say short, he is really short. A great example is in this screenshot where you can see that he’s shorter than even the counter.

In episode 22, there’s a scene where Haru is talking with Taku on a bench. Most probably won’t notice, but I felt like Haru looking like a normal person, instead of his usual exaggerated characteristics. It felt, off, in a way. I decided to take screenshots and yay, Haru grows up! 😀 Anyway, let’s take a look at the first shot.

This is what you expect. You can see Haru’s height is just by Taku’s neck, and his shoulders in within the second board of the wooden seat-bench.
Then observe the next shot.

Whoa, talk about growth spurt. 😀 His height is almost at Taku’s eye-level now. And you can see the wooden seat as a mark. Haru’s shoulders are now within the first top board.
And finally:

Wow, it’s like somebody else completely. Haru looks like a normal person with a normal body proportion. His shoulders now are above the top of the first board of the seat.

Well, I guess those pizzas he’s been eating are good for something. Calcium intake. 😀

Accel World has been usually consistent in its animation, with inconsistencies mainly due to Engrish in the Brain Burst UI. Seeing Haru grows up so quickly is funny though. 😀

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2012 in anime, impression

 

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