Tag Archives: Video Games

Lollipop Chainsaw: Part II


Suda 51’s Lollipop Chainsaw

Skulls, Zombies and Multicoloured Love Hearts Work Hand in Hand

In the previous post, I mentioned the outlandish visual aesthetics, the style and the absurd narrative in Lollipop Chainsaw, however I have discovered additional elements that do compliment the overall gaming experience including the soundtrack, the pop culture references as well as the constant use of skulls.


The musical compositions do provide a very unique aspect to the game and the player is able to customise the overall soundtrack. To be honest, I didn’t even know this was possible until I watched a review on Youtube from Angry Joe; this is a useful feature that allows the player to adjust the order or the sequence of the music. According to IGN, the musical compositions were conducted by Akira Yamoaka, an influential video game producer who is renowned for the ‘sound direction’ in Silent Hill.

Lollipop Chainsaw features a mixture of rock and roll as well as 80’s pop music including Hey Mickey by Toni Basil and Lollipop by the Chordettes. The music provides a humorous element to the overall game and how could I forgot to mention Juliet’s sparkle hunting? This unusual power allows the character to kill multiple zombies in one hit along with Hey Mickey playing in the background.


Juliet’s Sparkle Hunting

When Juliet’s Sparkle hunting is activated, the player is bombarded with multicoloured sparkles, love hearts and rainbows; both the visual and the audio effects compliment the character’s outgoing personality. The soundtrack is catchy and I couldn’t stop signing the lines to Hey Mickey for a couple of weeks, while I’m not a huge fan of rock and roll, I thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s pop music.

The enemies appear to be inspired by musical genres including punk, goth, heavy metal, electronica, 80’s pop as well as rock and roll. It’s hard to forget the very last boss, a gigantic Elvis Presley look-alike with pink laser eyes who attempts to kill Juliet with an army of explosive zombies or abandoned vehicles. All these different genres / influences are blended together in order to create a unique, dynamic and interactive experience for the player.

The Depiction of the Skull

The skull frequently appears throughout Lollipop Chainsaw in all different shapes and sizes; they’re incorporated into the enemies clothing or instruments, they’re displayed within the background, they’re displayed on the very top of Juliet’s Lollipops, there are skulls everywhere!

The game heavily refers to contemporary music, design and popular culture; the skull in particular does have a strong connection to these genres or styles and it would be absolutely absurd to disregard such a prolific symbol. It’s interesting to see the combination of skulls, zombies and multicoloured love hearts, these particular styles are merged into one in order to deliver something random, surreal and artistic.


The five dark purveyors / bosses 

I began to wonder whether video games change our perceptions of the skull? From a personal opinion, I view the skull as a visual style or a popular symbol that adds substance and context to a video game. The connection between the skull and immortality is something I wouldn’t even consider while I’m playing a game on the Playstation. As a matter of fact, this is a really interesting question that I will revise in the next few weeks.

I have discovered another interesting fact about Suda 51 and his previous occupations that did surprise me. In an interview with Matt Casamassina, Suda explains that he previously worked as an undertaker before he pursued a career within the video game industry and I have often wondered whether these experiences inspired Suda’s recent creations including Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows of the Damned.


Juliet with Skull Logo

Pop Culture References

Well there are plenty of influences or references in Lollipop Chainsaw that I am yet to mention, where do I even begin? In the third level the game appropriates some classic arcade games including Pac man and space invaders, this was one of my favourite aspects of the game!

When I played Lollipop Chainsaw for the first time, the game reminded me of Sailor Moon and Dawn of the Dead, quite an unusual combination right? Well this is the most interesting part, the school is named San Romero High and the director for Dawn of the Dead is named George Romero, I didn’t even notice this particular element until the very end of the game. I wondered whether the name was intentional and Game Font mentions that the George Romero has inspired Lollipop Chainsaw.

Throughout the game, the high school students mention Bruce Campbell’s name, the main protagonist from Evil Dead who replaces his infected hand with a chainsaw; there appears to be parallel between Ash and Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw. According to Esperino, the player is able to unlock a costume that is influenced by Ash from Evil Dead, however this is a ‘exclusive bonus’ from EB games in Australia. Here is another interesting fact, I bought a pre-owned copy of Lollipop Chainsaw from EB games, I’m tempted to play the game again to see if I am able to unlock the costume.


Ash Costume in Lollipop Chainsaw

These are the most recognisable pop culture references, however there are plenty of others that I properly haven’t mentioned or discussed. Angry Joe for instance compares Lollipop Chainsaw to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scott Pilgrim, to be honest I would need to write a list with all of the references / influences within the game. It’s hard to recognise the references all at once, you properly need to play the entire game in order to notice all of them.

These particular elements successfully engages the viewer and the references invites the player to pay attention to every minor detail. It’s quite impressive to see how these ideas are applied or executed within Lollipop Chainsaw; the overall concept is clever, imaginative and seriously addictive! While the gameplay is often slow and unresponsive, Lollipop Chainsaw successfully invites the viewer into a gory, multicoloured universe filled with stylised visual effects, catchy tunes and an absurd narrative.

If you are interested in popular culture and you enjoy a decent soundtrack, I would recommend Lollipop Chainsaw for sure! Check out the first review for Lollipop Chainsaw for additional information or you can browse through the Black Calavera Facebook Page.




IGN Entertainment Inc, “Lollipop Chainsaw: Official Soundtrack,” http://au.ign.com/wikis/lollipop-chainsaw/Official_Soundtrack

Angry Joe Show, “Lollipop Chainsaw Angry Review,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6XQMCeXqY

Matt Casamassina, “Interview: Suda 51 on No More Heroes,” IGN Entertainment Inc 2014, http://au.ign.com/articles/2007/02/17/interview-suda-51-on-no-more-heroes

Hang Veng Ly, “Lollipop Chainsaw EB Games Preorder Bonus Costume, DLC and Keychain,” Esperino, 2014, http://www.esperino.com/lollipop-chainsaw-eb-games-preorder-bonus-costume-dlc-keychain

“Lollipop Chainsaw,” 2012, Playstation 3, Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment & Kadokawa.


Image References 






Lollipop Chainsaw Part I: Violent, Outrageous and Hysterical!


Lollipop Chainsaw produced by Suda 51, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Warner Brothers Studios

In the previous post, I discussed my infatuation with Shadows of the Damned, an artistic and eclectic video game produced by Suda 51. Last year, a friend introduced me to another game from Suda 51 also known as Lollipop Chainsaw that features comedy, satire and violence all blended into one. When I played Lollipop Chainsaw for the very first time, I wasn’t entirely sure what on earth was going on so I decided to purchase the game outright and I was instantly attracted to the outlandish storyline, the over saturated colours and the stylised visual effects.

According to IGN, Warner Brothers Studios, Interactive Entertainment and Kadokawa Games published Lollipop Chainsaw in 2012 in conjunction with Grasshopper Manufacture who developed the overall game. Evan Narcisse explains that Suda 51 collaborated with James Gunn, an American ‘Hollywood director’ who created the script for Lollipop Chainsaw. This is quite interesting, as the game appears similar to Japanese Anime, especially the main character who hunts zombies in a range of revealing outfits.

The game begins with a high school cheerleader named Juliet who must attack an army of malicious zombies and demons in order to defeat a vindictive, conniving Goth named Swan. The character brutally kills her opponents with a chainsaw along with a range of cheerleading combinations; the dance moves are used to stun the zombies and the game allows the player to upgrade the existing combinations. 


Juliet Starling and her boyfriend Nick

Juliet is accompanied by her beloved boyfriend named Nick whose head is decapitated at the very beginning of the game when he is bitten by a zombie. Nick discovers Juliet’s hidden secrets including her ability to conduct ‘magic rituals’ on his decapitated head; this is meant to save Nick from turning into a brainless zombie. Juliet attaches her boyfriend’s ‘severed head’ onto the side of her belt and together they travel through a dark, psychedelic universe filled with sparkles, blood and delicious lollipops.

These multicoloured lollipops provide Juliet with additional health and energy that become vitally important within the last two levels. I actually realised that there are skulls throughout the game, the lollipop wrappers feature a skull at the very top and logo on the main screen features a skull with blonde hair and two pink lollipops for crossbones.

The third level also contains a boss known as Josey who flies a spaceship wearing a diaper, a pink fury jacket and a top hat filled with miniature skulls. His facial features similarities to a human skull or the Mexican Day of the Dead, I have noticed that Suda’s games refer to certain elements that explore sex, death and immortality. The skull in particular appears to be a popular symbol within Lollipop Chainsaw, as well as other games produced by Suda 51 including Shadows of the Damned.


Josey – The Boss in the Third Level 

Throughout Lollipop Chainsaw, the narrative becomes very random and spontaneous, however this is the most entertaining aspect of the game. One minute, you’re playing zombie baseball and the next you’re character is hallucinating on magic mushrooms and you’re fighting a robotic, three headed chicken, you never really know what is about to happen next.

While the visual aesthetics are creative and highly decadent, the actual game play or the controls can be rather slow at times. This particular flaw becomes rather frustrating, as Juliet often takes a while to respond when she is knocked to the ground by another demon or zombie.

Lollipop Chainsaw also features a series of mini games including zombie basketball and zombie baseball, while the concept is imaginative, the auto focus is quite difficult to control. Trying to play this particular mini game was extremely exasperating as Juliet’s ‘chainsaw blaster’ will only focus on the closest zombie. Patience and persistence is the only way to really progress to the next level, however this is only a small section of the game. 


Juliet at San Romero Highschool – Gameplay 

On the other hand, I don’t really understand how the zombie baseball relates to the actual narrative or the overall concept; at times I thought the mini games were unnecessary. While the baseball was incredibly annoying, this particular section didn’t ruin my overall experience of the game, as I thoroughly enjoy watching the eccentric storyline and the random interactions between the characters.

Juliet’s suggestive poses and over sexualised clothing is rather creepy at times, especially when the player is able to view up her own skirt. The demons / zombies also insult Juliet with sexist or defamatory comments, however these elements are often balanced with a strong level of humour, irony and satire. It’s almost impossible to take this game seriously, there’s Juliet Starling who has a decapitated head as a boyfriend along with a bright pink chainsaw covered in love hearts.


Juliet Starling – Cheerleading Combinations 

Achieving a high score is another objective that allows the player to unlock a range of provocative outfits including a seashell bikini, a pink jumpsuit or a sex maid’s costume etc. There are plenty to choose from, however I was purely interested in the actual storyline, as well as the quirky dialogue between Nick and Juliet.

Lollipop Chainsaw only lasted for about six hours, although I often try to imagine what else the producers / developers could possibly squeeze into this dynamic, action packed zombie slasher game. The actual duration worked perfectly with the narrative as well as the vibrant, multicoloured landscape, anything more than six hours would become highly repetitive.

I’m quite new to video games at the moment; playing Dark Souls or the Last of Us is way out of the question right now. While Lollipop Chainsaw is rather complex at times, the game itself isn’t overly difficult to complete. If you are a beginner and you’re looking for something that is creative, visually entertaining and violent, then I would recommend Lollipop Chainsaw!

I could write about Lollipop Chainsaw for hours, there are so many different elements to explore including the audio effects, the soundtrack as well as the ‘pop culture references.’ Stay tuned for the second review for Lollipop Chainsaw!


Juliet’s other costumes / outfits

P.S If you are interested in this particular game, I would recommend viewing Angry Joe’s review on YouTube.


IGN Entertainment Inc, “Lollipop Chainsaw Review,” June 13 2012, http://au.ign.com/games/lollipop-chainsaw/ps3-113691

Evan Narcisse, “Hollywood Director James Gunn chokes up because of Lollipop Chainsaw’s Zombie Killing Cheerleader,” March 27 2012, Kotaku, http://kotaku.com/5896820/hollywood-director-james-gunn-chokes-up-because-of-lollipop-chainsaws-zombie-killing-cheerleader

Angry Joe Show, “Lollipop Chainsaw Angry Review,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6XQMCeXqY

Matt Kamen, “Lollipop Chainsaw – Review,” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/jun/24/lollipop-chainsaw-suda51-xbox-ps3

“Lollipop Chainsaw,” 2012, Playstation 3, Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment & Kadokawa. 


Image References







Shadows of the Damned by Suda 51 & Grasshopper Manufacture


Over the past couple of days, I’ve recently discovered my new favourite game; Shadows of the Damned features incredible visual aesthetics and a disturbing, yet complex narrative that is almost impossible to forget. The non stop action, violence and drama provides a sense of adrenaline and curiosity as your character, Garcia Hotspur travels through the underworld, hunting demons in order to save the love of his life.

The official Electronic Arts websites describes Shadows of the Damned as a psychological / horror video game that was produced by Suda 51. This unique and creative game designer also collaborated with Shinji Mikami who produced Resident Evil and Akira Yamaka who developed the music for Silent Hill.

There are similarities between Shadows of the Damned and these two particular video games in terms of the visual and the audio effects. The music is my favourite aspect of the game and the musical compositions successfully provide a level of drama and anticipation.


Sometimes, I’ll pause the game and I’ll leave the music playing in the background as I start the cooking or folding the washing. To be honest, I’ve never really payed attention to the music in a video game before, the designers / developers have refined every minor detail in order to provide a unique experience for the player.

In June 2011, GamesRader awarded Shadows of the Damned with the game of the month and the website published a positive review in regards to overall gameplay, the narrative and the soundtrack. According to Evan Narcisse, Shadows of the Damned was developed by a Japanese game developer known as Grasshopper Manufacture and EA games assisted with the publication. Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacturer have created an addictive, yet horrifying game that has captured my attention from the very beginning.

The storyline is another fascinating aspect of the game that is different to anything I have seen before. First of all you begin with Garcia Hotspur, a Hispanic demon hunter who travels through the underworld in order to save his girlfriend from a malicious demon named Fleming. At the beginning of the game, Fleming is described as the ‘Lord of the Demons’ who threatens to kill Paula ‘over and over again.’


Garcia is accompanied by a demon named Johnson, a levitating skull that is able to transform into a weapon or a motorcycle at any given moment. Once they enter underworld, they are immediately bombarded with grotesque monsters, demons and decapitated corpses.

While the visual landscape is macabre, the graphics do feature an artistic aesthetic that is admirable. The underworld is illuminated with intricate engravings on the door and magnificent poster designs that are attached to the wall. As I continue to play the game, I begin to recognise all the minor details including the floorboards and the individual blades of grass. In fact, the detail is phenomenal for a game that is at least three years old and the direction of the light does provide a sense of depth.

There is a strong reference to skulls within Shadows of the Damned; the vibrant patterns and designs remind me of the Mexican Day of the Dead. It’s almost impossible to play Shadows of the Damned without recognising a skull and the main character is completely covered in skulls. I began to recognise Garcia’s skull tattoo’s, his jewellery, his bright skull jacket, his motorcycle and his weapons that feature a golden skull at the very front; all of these elements compliments the character’s eccentric personality.


Did I mention that the underworld is completely saturated with skulls? They’re scattered across the floor, they’re engraved into the doors, the walls, even the tombstones! Every inch of the game features a skull, although the underworld wouldn’t be an interesting place without them!

The characters within Shadows of the Damned feature a surreal appearance and there are certain aspects of the game that appears carnivalesque. While the demons are violent and grotesque in nature, the aim is to kill and slaughter as many demons as possible in order to save Paula. This does prove to be rather challenging, especially when your character is swamped by an army of blood thirsty demons that have the power of darkness to protect them.

As the game progresses, the story begins to unravel the dark and twisted love story between Garcia and Paula; you cannot help but sympathise with Garcia, as he helplessly watches these demons brutally murder his girlfriend over and over again in all different types of scenarios.


In fact, the storyline becomes incredibly weird and disturbing, although the game features an element of humour that is combined with Garcia’s crude jokes; these particular elements provide hours of entertainment. It’s quite difficult not to laugh at Garcia’s weapons that continually refer to the male genitalia, in fact there are quite a lot of sexual innuendos within the game. 

I don’t usually play video games, although I was deeply inspired by the graphics within Shadows of the Damned and the obscure narrative influenced me to play the game from the very beginning. Honestly if I had to rate this game, I would give this one a 10 out of 10! So if you’re searching for a game that’s features an artistic style or something that is random or spontaneous, then I would recommend Shadows of the Damned! Click on the links below for further information.


EA Games, “Shadows of the Damned,” Electronic Arts, 2014, http://www.ea.com/shadows-of-the-damned

Narcisse, Evan, “Shadows of the Damned in 2011from EA and Grasshopper Manufacturer,” Time Inc, 2014, http://techland.time.com/2010/09/15/shadows-of-the-damned-in-2011-from-ea-and-grasshopper-manufacture/

GamesRadar, “Game of the Month, June 2011,” GamesRadar, Future US Inc, http://www.gamesradar.com/game-of-the-month-june-2011/

Gilbert, Henry, “Shadows of the Damned Review,” June 25 2011, GamesRadar, Future US Inc, http://www.gamesradar.com/shadows-of-the-damned-review/








Skulls in Hitman Absolution Trailer

Hitman Absolution: Saints ICA Files Trailer

10/10/12 – Skull Symbol: Latest Trailer for HItman

The Trailer for Hitman Absolution has raised public attention due to a scene that features a group of “Sexy nuns” dressed in provocative outfits. I have also recognised different versions of the trailer, there is one in particular that features skulls, these images are juxtaposed with photographs of the nuns that I had seen in the previous advertisement.

It’s strange because there are times where I don’t expect to see skulls and they continue to reappear in contemporary art, popular culture and digital media. It’s interesting to see the female character as the villain especially in video games and the skull may symbolise danger.

Hitman Absolution: Saints Trailer

I haven’t actually played Hitman before, after watching the recent trailer I do feel very tempted to buy an Xbox and this game! The skull within the trailer appears to be a symbol of some sort; not entirely sure what this image represents but I have noticed that the ‘sexy nuns’ have tattooed the skull onto their arms.

I’m not exactly sure why the trailer features a group of sexy nuns trying to assassinate the main character although I want to buy this just to find out what happens in the game.

T-Shirts from Clutter Magazine: Hitman Symbol

I also realised that clutter magazine also sell some really cool t-shirt designs, one t-shirt in particular features the symbol from Hitman which I am tempted to buy for myself! If you do like playing Hitman check out the latest trailer!

I have recognised the skull in many video games, from my observations the symbol is used to warn the player when something dangerous is about to occur.

Clutter Magazine, http://www.cluttermagazine.com/category/news-category/apparel?page=2

Skulls in Borderlands

29/9/12 – Playing Borderlands on the Xbox

On wednesday and thursday night, I’ve been playing borderlands on the X-Box. It’s was just great to actually take a break from all the study that is slowly piling onto my desk each week. Borderlands was quite different from what I was expecting and the game does feature quite a lot of violence.

The main objective of the game is to complete missions within the abandoned city that is infested with dangerous bandits and malicious beasts. I played as Lilith, a female character who was able to become invisible in order to attack her opponents. Along the way you find grenades, guns and vehicles that assist you in your journey through the deserted town.

The more bandits and dogs you are able to kill, the stronger your character becomes. I am currently up to level 13, which I think is pretty good considering that I don’t really play a lot of games.

What I did notice while I was playing the game is the image of the skull in various locations. The skull would often appear in certain areas and locations in the game that would alert the player when something dangerous was about to occur. The skull with the wings was often used to signify a highly powerful opponent that could not be defeated without the right skill set.

The skull was also used for the grenades that is now a recognisable icon in the visual culture. I really enjoyed playing borderlands I would definitely have to play the second one!


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Death in Video Games

5/8/12 – The iconography of the skull and the image of death in Video Games. 

Dark Souls

Over the past few weeks I’ve beginning to notice quite a lot of video games depicting death and the image of the skull. Is the skull a recent trend within the video game genre or have violent video games always been a high selling point?

I do remember playing dark souls, which is a very dark video game, which involves collecting souls from the dead. The game features quite a lot of skeletons and skulls, which begin to attack the main player who must search for humanity. I have played a small section of the game, although the game does begin with a dead huntsman who has been left to rot in the cellar of what appears to be an abandoned asylum. The character must find a way out from the asylum, which is plagued with walking corpses, which must be defeated in order to collect the souls of the dead.

I have not played the entire game as you can tell although the game frequently reveals corpses, skeletons and skulls that were evident within the very beginning of dark souls. Dark Souls is definitely not a game for the light-hearted, although it is a game that is definitely worth playing, especially for the visual effects.

The plot is very confusing especially for someone who is a beginner, although Dark Souls does provide the opportunity to play as a character that is already dead who must collect humanity in order to prevent insanity.

Darksiders II

Just before, an advertisement for Darksiders II appeared on television and all I was able to see was skulls for at least two to three minutes. I haven’t played the first Darksiders, although the latest video game within the advertisement features outstanding visual effects. According to Callum. W. Austin from the Sydney Morning Herald, Darksiders II is an apocalyptic video game, which features a dead ‘horseman’ although the actual storyline within the actual game is unspecified at the point in time.

Does death in a video game provoke a completely different response to the death in a horror film or a thriller? From a personal perspective it’s depends on the actual context of the film or the video game. There are some games there are definitely frightening, although a film may provide a closer connection to reality, which may provoke an emotional response compared to a video game.

Has games like Dark Souls altered the player’s perspective of death? It is hard to tell because the subject of death has a different meaning for each person, although video games may depict the skull as a popular icon or trend that is capable of capturing audiences from different age groups, cultures or backgrounds.

The Sims 3

The Sims 3 is a simulated game that was produced by Electronic Arts, which allows players to create families and control their entire lives.The Sims 3 has always been a favourite of mine and it’s a game I’ve always enjoyed playing, although the grim reaper does provide a very light hearted approach to death.

Once a sim has died the grim reaper shakes hands with the sim who then disappears into thin air. Family members can then chat or befriend the Grim Reaper before it suddenly departs from the household. The Grim Reaper isn’t frightening at all and the whole subject of death in the game is treated as another everyday scenario that causes more drama in the household rather than pain or fear.

The game does not have a high classification, which means that the game is designed for a young and mature audience. The whole concept of death is entirely unconvincing, although the game is definitely entertaining for all age groups.

These three video games are recent observations that I have discovered over the past couple of weeks, which also questions whether the subject of death has become a popular form of representation within digital or interactive media? Has virtualised violence withdrawn society so far away from reality that it becomes difficult to apprehend the subject of death? Video games may become a way to suppress the idea of death through digital technology or interactive media.




Austin, Calum.W, Darksiders 2 Hands on Preview, July 26 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/games/darksiders-2-handson-preview-20120724-22mi6.html, Sydney Morning Herald, 2012 (Accessed 5/8/12)

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The Skull in Video Games

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recorn: Ubisoft Red Storm, 2012

22/5/12 – EB Games

I walked into EB Games the other day and there were lots of Xbox or playstation games with the image of the skull. I noticed an entire section, which was completely covered with the image of the skull, which I found particularly interesting.

Slavoj Zizek discusses ‘the real’ and the ‘fantasmatic image’ in relation to Popular Culture. Zizek argues that the “fantasmatic shield ” exposes internal thoughts or desires, which also protects society from the real. (Slavoj, 2000 p.498)

According to Zizek ‘cyberspace’ generates virtual imagery, which also allows society to become familiar with reality. Zizek argues that video games for instance generate virtual representations of the war, which protects the public from actual photographs or images of the war that have become too confronting or offensive. One could argue that society uses simulated representations to develop an understanding of reality, which also questions whether postmodernism has distorted the real or the ‘actual’ image?

Gears of War 3: Epic Games, 2011

In relation to Deleuze’s theories of the ‘actual’ and the ‘virtual’ image, perhaps society have become accustomed to the virtual image instead of the actual image. Observing a real human skull for instance may generate a different emotional response compared to a representation of a skull.

Perhaps criminal investigation shows or horror films provide simulated representations of a corpse in order to provide society with a familiarity with death. Have society become sensitised to the actual image and desensitised to the ‘virtual’?

Deleuze, Gillies. “The Crystals of Time” in Cinema 2: The Time – Image, Trans, Hugh Tomlinson & Robert Galeta.  London: Continuum, 2005

Zizek, Slavoj. The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch’s Lost Highway.  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000 p.482 – 507


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