ReLIFE – 17 (Fin)

Aw HELL yeah! I didn’t ask for much, just a happy yet satisfying ending that felt earned, and ReLIFE delivered exactly that. Initially framed by Yoake’s final report, things start out in the afterglow of Kaizaki and Hoshiro’s confessions. All their friends are super-excited for them, but they keep it very cool and low-key, which is just like two teenagers who are actually adults.

They’re both simply savoring every day they have left together, because they don’t have a lot of them. It makes you wish they’d gotten together much sooner…but then again, I couldn’t have asked for a better way for them to finally realize their feelings for another, and their love only deepens as the days pass, as evidenced by their late night phone call when simply messaging on LIME won’t cut it.

Graduation Day comes, and Kanzaki manages to graduate by the skin of his teeth (thanks to Oga). There’s goodbyes, notes of goodwill, flowers, smiles…and tears. But there are no tears more bitter than those shed by both Kanzaki and Hoshiro.

He finally gives her a hug, just when she needs one most, and it turns out he needed that hug just as badly. He says it feels like a break-up, even though they’ll see each other at the start of the college term. Hoshiro thanks him for being such a transparent yet kind liar.

And that’s the last they see of each other in their respective ReLifes—with a tearful embrace, assuring each other they’ll never forget each other, even if they know they can’t keep that promise.

Yoake congratulates Kanzaki for a marvelously successful ReLife, telling him he can look forward to very promising job placement in exchange for his cooperation with the experiment, and should hold his head high. Meanwhile, Onoya has her exit interview with Hoshiro, who never really warmed up to her newer support.

Describing her ReLife, Hoshiro describes how her heart is “ripped open” by getting close to people only to lose them, but admits she does feel like she changed “a little.” After taking her pill and falling asleep, Onoya accidentally discovers a marker Hoshiro used to write “I was in love with Kaizaki Arata”, and breaks down at Hoshiro’s failure to hide it better, as once Onoya sees it, she has to get rid of it along with all other evidence. It’s her job, after all.

Fast-forward to a bit of time after Kanzaki regains his 28-year-old appearance and starts interviewing for the jobs ReLife provided. Ultimately, however, he wants nothing more than to help others as he was helped, so he requests a job with ReLife, and is accepted. Now he is the one visiting shut-ins and other wretches, offering a way for them to find themselves again.

At a ReLife company dinner, Kanzaki arrives a bit late, but a space was saved for him. Turns out the seat he takes belongs to Hoshiro, but it’s no big deal or anything, as someone from another part of the restaurant is calling for her. As she turns to walk away, Kanzaki notices the strap on her bag…

At the end of the dinner (well, the first round, but the only round recommended for newbies), it starts to rain, but Kanzaki doesn’t have an umbrella. Just then, Hoshiro appears once more and opens the very same green umbrella the two shared just after confessing. She offers to share it, but Kanzaki politely declines, and she starts to head off on her own…but turns and says she heard the higher-ups calling him a test subject.

She then mentions her own stint as a subject, how it lasted two years, and how her supporter pushed for her to get a job at ReLife, and she took a position in the pharma section. Kanzaki asks if she’d tell him about her ReLife, and she compares it to…fireworks, like the ones she saw at the festival with her friends.

They both latch onto the spectacular yet fleeting nature of fireworks, and eventually both remember flashes of that night when Hoshiro told Kanzaki he was like fireworks. I tellya, I got an absolute thrill out of watching them gradually put the pieces together in their heads.

You could say the fireworks…sparked their memories, heh-heh. Once he recalls Hoshiro in her red yukata looking up at the sky, Kanzaki calls her by her name. Hoshiro needs just a little bit more, but she eventually remembers writing the note on her hand as she cried after taking the pill. And that’s it: in spite of the lab’s efforts, they found and remembered each other…and it didn’t even take that long!

Now, while the ReLife procedures were concluded with all due diligence, I’d like to think both Yoake and Onoya played roles in facilitating a reunion. Yoake accepting Kanzaki’s request to work for ReLife; Onoya predding Hoshiro to work there as well…even telling Kanzaki that Hoshiro’s seat was his in the restaurant.

But while the supports made the conditions more favorable for a happy ending, at the end of the day they were just that, support. It took Kanzaki and Hoshiro being friendly, open, and honest with each other, and especially Hoshiro bringing up how she heard he test subject, like her, at that crucial moment.

If she hadn’t they might have gone their separate ways, perhaps forever. But I’m immeasurably chuffed she did, and the resulting re-connection was nothing short of mesmerizing. Time for some #Adulting!

ReLIFE returned quite out of the blue to rip my heart out with the prospect of tearing apart two lovely people who had only just found each other…only to painstakingly reconstruct that heart, and fill it back up with love until it almost burst all over again, only in a good way!

Of course, you’re mileage may vary, depending on whether you read the entire web manga (I did not) and your particular emotional investment. Clearly, my investment was significant, and one and a half years of time away didn’t dull it in the slightest. This was a big win.

Owari no Seraph 2 – 09

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So yeah, the pills did kill Yuu, but only briefly. In a post-death, pre-afterlife scene involving Ashuramaru, an unseen angel, and a trumpet, he comes back imbued with even more of the demon’s power. He goes after Crowley straight away, and the vamp is impressed with his power, wondering if you can even still call him human.

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Crowley isn’t worried, though; Yuu is, at the end of the day, only livestock. No matter how much he fights, he can’t win. Especially when Yuu’s friends end his fight by using Kiseki-o’s coffin to contain him so they can take him away. Guren, meanwhile, remains captive, but alive, and told Yuu he has “his own plan for himself.”

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Shinoa and Guren’s squads meet back up with Narumi’s and head to the next rendezvous, but their way is blocked by a single enemy: Mika. As soon as he spots an unconscious Yuu in their clutches, it just gets Yuu even more upset. He’s taking Yuu away from those human bastards. And he does it in a very Yuu-like fashion: rushing forward on a wing and a prayer.

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He meets stiff from Guren’s elites and the grunts, but he will not be denied his family. When Yuu’s friends try to convince him they’re also Yuu’s family, he won’t listen. It’s just him and Yuu. No other friends, no other family, nothing else to live for. But his opinion on Yuu’s “captors” might just change a tiny bit when Shinoa, Mitsu, Yoichi and Shiho turn their weapons onto their own allies in order to protect him and Yuu.

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Needless to say, Yuu’s fam is in big, big trouble, but the recriminations have to wait, as vampire reinforcements arrive. Mika, in bad shape, makes off with Yuu, and Shinoa trusts they’ll meet again at the airport. Then the vamps advance, Yayoi and Kagiyama are killed in quick succession, and even more vamps descend. Shinya orders Shinoa and the others spared for the time being so they can help fight off the enemy and retreat.

Will Mika hold to Shinoa’s plan to meet back up? How will Shinya and Narumi deal with their insubordinate subordinates, assuming they survive the vampire onslaught? And how will Yuu react when he wakes up, and in place of his squad, he’s now with Mika? Both brothers have sought to “save” one another from their respective plights; now they’re in the same boat together.

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Owari no Seraph 2 – 08

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No doubt motivated by her feelings for Yuu, and her desire to not see him in pain, Shinoa agrees to attempt to save Guren and Shinya. Had she fully comprehended how impossible it would be to snatch from Eusford Crowley something he does not intend to give up willingly, she would never have agreed even to the few minutes of attempted rescue.

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The Shinoa Team puts their absolute best, perfectly-coordinated product on the field, and still get trounced by the mere sidelong glance of Crowley. Not that surprising; even Guren and Shinya only lasted so long until they were exhausted heaps unable to stay upright without a wall nearby to lean on. Rescuing Guren simply isn’t possible. They can only run, live another day, and hope to get another shot later.

(It was good to hear a vocal arrangement of Sawano’s “scaPEGoat”, which not only gave this scene gravitas, but also made me miss the first season’s ED; this season’s OP and ED are pretty weak by comparison.)

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The extent of the futility continues when Guren’s team shows up. Goshi gets his illusory fog going, and even Crowley is plunged into a lava-filled cavern, but none of the surprise attacks from Sayuri, Shigure, or Mito trouble Crowley at all, nor does the illusion. Rather, he’s bemused that the humans have amassed even this much power, even though they remain thoroughly powerless compared to him.

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Guren orders everyone to retreat and leave him behind, and everyone obeys, though nobody is happy about it. Both Shinya and “Guren’s Girls” are particularly broken up about it, but with the exception of Sayuri, maintain their composure and set their sights on completing the mission, linking up with Narumi’s squad and working as a team. But Yuu can’t do it.

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No matter what anyone, even Shinoa, says to him about family or how much better they know Guren, Yuu is simply incapable of letting Guren go as long as he’s still alive. He remembers the first sleepless, nightmare-ridden nights after Guren rescued him. Even back then they’d developed a rather combative sheen to an otherwise deep brotherly bond, and for the first time, we see how much Yuu meant to Guren as a means of making up for the person he lost.

He also spoke of a day Yuu never thought would come: when the pain of living would give way to purpose: finding someone who needed help, as Yuu needed Guren’s. Yuu believes that time has finally come, and he’d rather die than pass it up. So he takes two more pills than he should, then starts to convulse and bleed and pass out, to everyone’s horror; particularly Shinoa’s.

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Just as Yuu is apparently dying of an overdose as his friends stand around him, helpless, Mika arrives with his squad of vampire underlings, who he promptly kills. He’s not here to “check on Crowley”, after all. He’s here for Yuu, and it doesn’t look good for Yuu’s friends right now.

As for the larger battle, Kureto, on the front line and feeling directly responsible for the survival of the entire human race, hasn’t quite let the power get to his head, but he has certainly grabbed all the power he can. Despite the arrival of a brother closer to the Hiiragi patriarch, Kureto is going his own way with his own means and methods, and no one can judge him, because if he fails everyone will be dead anyway.

His own means include the deployment of a “test subject” ominously stored in something resembling the Jurassic Park raptor crate. What devilry lies therein? Will it make a difference? Is Yuu really dead of an overdose? (No, he’s not.) The preview for next week shows Shinoa holding back a line of vampires…for Mika’s sake. I am definitely intrigued.

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Owari no Seraph – 10

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A bunch of vampires go up against a bunch of humans this week, and in a show that I’ve felt for a while now has only eight or nine tenths of the budget it should, the seams were more visible than usual this week.

Showing everyone posing and looking menacing is all well and good, but once the action actually starts, much of it is slow and choppy, or simply not animated at all. The pans of still shots with moving scratches on either side is an old trick when you can’t animate everything you want, but they looked cheap.

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Since there’s a flashback to when Mika first proposes “doing something” about his and Yuu’s family escaping (something Yuu thinks is inconceivable, calling Mika a weirdo), we knew the reunion between the two brothers was imminent. However, several events delayed that…and worse, they kind of felt like stalling.

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After Yuu and Shinoa drop the corporal off at the hospital, Yuu hears that a unit of three Demon Moons are in trouble. Assuiming it’s Shiho, Yoichi and Mitsu, he ignores Guren’s standing orders to help them out. Shinoa follows, because like him, she cares about her new family.

Their friends turn out not to even need their help (while Yuu and Shinoa both save Shiho and Mitsu from attacks from behind, they were the ones who distracted them in the first place). But Yuu tells Shiho it’s not that he doesn’t trust them to carry their weight or survive their fights. It’s the fact that they’re family, and if he hears they’re in trouble, his first priority is to them.

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Helping them and ensuring they’re safe has not become as if not more important to him as killing vampires. But you can’t help but think one or more of his new family will lose their lives at some point, and it’s important not to fall into a cycle of love and despair; that’s no kind of life.

The more elite Demon Moons are having a little trouble with Ferid’s similarly elite squad, and Guren has trouble with the incredibly strong (and arrogant) Mikaela. Again, the battle is made more underwhelming thatn it should have been with the same technical problems I mentioned earlier. Guren resigns himself to the fact he’ll need to take two pills; I was left wishing the show had taken two pills.

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And while Mika, Ferid, and a lot of other vamps and humans spent a lot of this episode standing around talking about fighting rather than actually doing so, Mika decides not to give Guren twenty seconds for his pills to kick in, and stabs him in the chest.

Before he can land the killing blow, more humans arrive, and when Mika turns around and sees Yuu’s face, he freezes. Yuu stabs Mika in the heart with full force, but half a beat later, recognizes him. And just like that, childhood friends and adoptive brothers, reunited with blood and steel. Considering the casualties on both sides, I imagine a mutual retreat next week.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 11

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Valkyria is all fired up after killing the witches, but one of them, Hatsuna, turns out to have regenerative powers, and survives the attack, gaining her freedom. Hatsuna happens upon the observatory where Neko and the others are hiding out, unaware that her target, 1107, is Neko.

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When she first goes in she’s shocked to find them all dead and covered in blood, but they’re only playing possum, in case she was Valkyria, not an unwise gambit to employ considering how powerful she is. When a phalanx of riot police try to arrest her, she blows up a mountain with antimatter. Yeah, you really don’t want her thinking you’re alive when you meet her!

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We don’t learn a whole lot about what makes Hatsuna tick, but she’s a virtually invincible A-rank witch with no beacon, so she could be a powerful ally. She’s dubious of Ryouta’s commitment and utility as an ally to the girls, but when she tests him, and he risks his life to save hers when the test goes awry, he not only makes her feel silly for doubting her, she also falls for him on the spot.

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Kazumi had previously been the most romantically aggressive with Ryouta, but most of her behavior has been teasing, covering up her own nervousness and inexperience. Not so with Hatsuna, who plainly, clearly confesses to him, asks to be his girlfriend, and kisses him. It’s a quick, but he did save her life, and like the others, she’s never known a human as kind as him.

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The witches’ creator, master, and tormenter, Ichijiku Chisato, isn’t interested in kindness, but in unravelling the mysteries of life. He doesn’t care how many people suffer die if it nets him answers. He doesn’t hesitate when he sends Valkyria, whom he calls Fujisaki Mako, nor does he hesitate to speak his mind to her. Such is her psychological conditioning, one slap to her face causes her to fall into his arms, sobbing and submissive.

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Of his “toys”, Mako certainly seems to be his masterpiece, a witch who can use eight different kinds of magic, some of which we haven’t seen yet…yet she’s just another piece of meat to him, the weapon that will help him inch closer to those truths hes so interested in. Still, Ryouta has amassed a pretty impressive coven, and its not unreasonable to believe all of them working together could give Mako a run for her money.

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The only problem? Pills. There’s only a week left of summer vacation, and only a week left of pills for the girls. If only one girl takes all the remaining pills, she can survive long enough for Ryouta’s uncle to make more. In love with Ryouta or not, Hatsuna is hiding her personal pill supply from the others. Kazumi suggests they draw lots, but one by one, the others bow out, all giving their reasons.

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The old, selfish Kazumi would have said “Fine, thank you very much!” and taken all the pills. But As Ryouta noticed earlier when Kazumi included Hatsuna with the pill distribution: Kazumi has changed. She’s come to see the group as her family; they’re going to live togeher or die together. And what is her reward for this newfound selflessness? Ryouta discovers that Neko is definitely his childhood friend, drawing the two closer together than ever before. Poor Kazumi.

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And oh yeah…Valkyria has found them. Poor everyone.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 07

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Murakami Ryouta didn’t ask for a harem of escaped super-human hotties. He got saved by one of them in a mudslide, felt compelled to help her, and one girl led to another until his Observatory of Love grew to four. Their salvation is his crusade, and worrying over them is a full-time job…though he has a part-time job tutoring nosy pipsqueaks.

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At his present level of involvement in their…situation, there’s no way someone like him wouldn’t blame himself if some or all of them were to meet their doom, which could come slow when they run out of pills his uncle can’t copy in time, or fast when the next lab-assassin, Nanami, rears her twin-tailed head.

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His options are all but limited to storming the lab where they escaped from and stealing more pills, and the timing is limited to a month. This is not an ideal situation, and the chances of success with any plan are slimmer than Kazumi’s figure, but in the meantime, the girls still have their lives. If he can’t save them, he’s not going to stop them from living them.

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To that end, Neko goes to Karaoke and gets hit on, and Ryouta takes Kazumi to what turns out to be a date to Akiba. Here, Kazumi’s gentler, sweeter side really shines through; it’s the kind of perfect day you expect a show to give someone before killing them. I hope I’m wrong, because Kazumi’s kind of the life of the party.

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Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 06

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Lucky for Ryouta, Neko, and Kotori, the “state power” perusing them sent one of the less effective AA+ witches after them. Kikako moves and acts almost comically slow, giving them any number of opportunities to get the upper hand. And I’ll admit I’d forgotten about Kotori’s teleportation ability, and the fact enough time had passed that she’d no longer be hung up.

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Ryouta has a plan, but it depended entirely on two factors he couldn’t control: that Kikako would take her sweet old time firing her mouth cannon at Neko once she had her pinned to the ground (seriously, that was way too long!), and he just happened to flag down Kotori. I did like how Kotori’s determination to smile rather than cry gave the impression she was Neko’s killer in Kana’s vision.

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I initially thought the whole episode would be dealing with Mikako, but like I said, once Ryouta realized he could use Kotori’s power, things were pretty well in hand. And oh, hey, it wouldn’t be an episode of Brynhildr if scenes of girls bleeding from their eyes and having their hands and feet sloughed off weren’t followed by a random scenes of goofy fanservice! Because as we all know, when it gets hot, girls take their tops off. There’s a wealth of rap music confirming this very phenomenon.

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Having survived Mikako (who’ll be “severely punished” for failing), Ryouta all of a sudden remembers a relative of his is an accomplished scientist at a po-dunk university (probably so he can get away with more shit). I initially thought he was that evil scientist dude we already know in disguise, and the close-up of his rather crazed eye at the end suggests he isn’t anyone to be trusted, regardless. But with the pill supply running out, Ryouta and the girls’ options are few.

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Stray Observations:

  • Mikako is far more dangerous from long range, as evidenced from Shino’s demise.
  • Shouldn’t Ryouta have brought up his scientist uncle way back when the pill thing became an issue?
  • I can’t help but be constantly distracted by the over-convenient fact that Ryouta has an entire observatory at his disposal, no questions asked, where not another soul ever comes by, with access to a barbecue and hot spring. From those perks alone, there should be a lot more astronomy club members.
  • Where the heck did Neko get that blender? Where’d she plug it in? How is she dealing with Kana’s bed sores? The show doesn’t care about these details, so I guess I shouldn’t, either…

Gokukoku no Brynhildr – 03

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One thing you have to hand with Brynhildr: it’s not laying the peril on thin. The present situation of Neko and Hana on the run escalates into a crisis when Ryouta learns they need to take a “death suppressant” pill every day or they’ll die horrible deaths, and they only have five days of pills left. Then the crisis escalates into disaster when Neko leaves a pot of boiling water unattended for ten seconds and burns up their supply.

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Just like that the five days are pared down to one, and then even less than that when Hana starts to bleed, having gone almost a full day since her last pill. The overarching mission, then, which provides this episode with thrust, is clear: find more pills, or the girls die. Ryouta, having already forfeited his life by getting involved, decides to take it upon himself to find a way to make it happen. Our main gripe with the plan is that the pills the girls need are commercially produced, rather than a top-secret proprietary drug formulated by the lab.

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Then again, the evil guys in white coats at the lab may be morally bankrupt butchers, but they’re butchers with scientific backgrounds, so it’s not totally ridiculous the drug would have a code Ryouta could memorize. That tiny code is the single clue that gives them any chance at all, and also reveals that Ryouta is the opposite of Neko in that he’s able to remember everything, even the things he’d rather forget.

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Neko, meanwhile, loses memories when she uses magic, even those she wants to remember. This proves important when a conveniently-placed slash by Saori (another, far higher-level witch sent by the lab to kill her) reveals that Neko has the same moles as Kuroneko after all, they’d just shifted to her boobs once she grew some. It isn’t as if I thought they weren’t the same person all along—why beat around the bush?—but this seems to confirm it for certain.

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Seeing those moles fills Ryouta with joy that his friend is still alive, but now he knows why she doesn’t remember him. If only he could give her some of his ability to remember, he could help her, but I’m not sure the rules of this show work this way. Then there’s the fact that his joy is immediately stomped out when Saori slices Neko into several pieces. Again, the show doesn’t hold back in tormenting its characters and kicking them while they’re down.

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I assume all this torture is meant to toughen them; if they can survive this, then they stand a chance against the lab. All the girls sport “hahnests” (…harnesses?) on their necks with three switches: one prevents them from using magic for a day, one terminates them (last week’s WTF moment), and the third does…something else; something “worse than death”. Ryouta’s hoping that something else is the key to saving Neko

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