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NekoKnight

Celica: The Selfishness Born of Selflessness

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In the story of Shadows of Valentia, our two protagonists, Alm and Celica, are supposed to represent the ideals of Duma and Mila (Alm is arguably supposed to be both, but that’s not the point of today’s discussion). Celica’s defining traits are her stubborn insistence on putting the weight of the world on her own shoulders, taking care of everyone, and putting her faith in a higher power. Celica has positive intentions, but I argue that despite her consistent selflessness, Celica is actually an extremely selfish person.

Celica is the princess of Zofia, a burden and responsibility she feels every day. She feels it is her duty to take care of Zofia, especially her loved ones like Alm. Her quest begins in Novis where she makes her way towards the Temple of Mila. She goes out of her way to fight pirates in order to help the people who were kind to her. In this we can see that Celica is willing to risk her life for people who are little more than strangers, but things start to take a turn when she returns to the capital. Alm and Celica have a fight about how they should approach the crisis in Zofia. Alm “wants” (ie he considers it the better alternative than sitting on his hands) to go the war path while Celica insists that they should seek the aid of the gods. Both have some valid points, (the Rigelian invasion is happening right in front of them, but even if they deal with that, they still need Mila to help with the droughts and Terrors) but Celica gets frustrated and makes unreasonable accusations against Alm.

In Celica’s mind, Alm is downplaying the difficulty of leadership and is being foolhardy for taking up what is not his responsibility. Her outrage is born from the strain of being a leader herself and also her worry that Alm will die in battle. Here is where we really dive into Celica’s motivations and while selfless on the surface, they are also deeply selfish. Zofia is in very dire straits, and despite her willingness to solve all of its problems, Celica cannot. Zofia needs Alm to lead them but Celica demands he step down so someone else may take up the responsibility. Celica is placing her own feelings for Alm over the security of the nation. The people chose Alm but Celica rejects that wish. The whole reason why Alm is asked to become the leader of the Deliverance (and he states this himself) is that the actual royal heir (Celica) refuses to step up.



We learn the reason Celica won’t reveal herself as the princess is because she knows her fellow Zofians would expect her to lead the Deliverance herself when she wants to seek out Mila. Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Celica won’t take up the reigns of leadership because her people would disagree with her chosen path. She’s ignoring the wishes of her entire country because she insists on doing things her own way! This wouldn’t be the last time Celica thought she knew better and was willing to hide the truth. Later in her route, Celica is confronted by Jedah who makes an offer to trade her soul for the return of Mila. Celica’s willingness to sacrifice herself seems selfless but her actions are again rooted in selfishness. Celica keeps her plan a secret from her friends because she knows they would try to stop her if they knew the truth. Celica doesn’t care how sad they would be if she died, and she doesn’t even trust them enough to keep them in the loop. Celica, the girl who shoulders the responsibility of saving all of Zofia, doesn’t respect the wishes of her subjects or even the people she calls her friends.

How much of Celica’s flaws were intentional? Her obsessive need to keep her feelings to herself and solve everything alone is noted by Mae and Boey. Later, Celica seems to realize that her desperation to save Zofia let her fall right into Jedah’s machinations, and she apologizes to Alm for getting angry. The game doesn’t seem to really comment about how her drive to help people is so laced with selfishness, however, nor how much she seems to disrespect the will of her people. You might be inclined to say that her actions are fueled by the philosophy of Mila, but this is only partially true. It’s true that Mila wanted to help the people of Valentia, out of the belief that they couldn’t help themselves, but Celica takes that a step further, ignoring the wishes of her people in favor of her own. It can’t even be argued that Celica is doing things “the Zofian way” because it seems the majority of Zofians would support Alm’s objective more than hers.

TLDR: Celica's behavior is laced with selfishness despite her overwhelmingly selfless image.

Thoughts?

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I'm not sure how canon it is but in her Warriors support with Xander she says she doesn't reveal herself not because she'd need to lead the deliverence but because her existence getting known would trigger a civil war. 

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Strange. I wonder what she means by that. Does she mean a civil war between people who support Alm and people who support her? That seems unlikely.

At any rate, this is taken directly from SoV's script.

Boey: Well, can you blame her? I’m sure she’s more than a little conflicted. If the Deliverance defeats Desaix and drives the empire back, what next? Zofia will need a ruler, and who better than a boy who cast off tyranny’s yoke?

Mae: What?! But Celica’s the rightful heir!

Boey: Yeah, but she can’t exactly just go and announce that to everyone. If she did, she’d be made to lead the Deliverance effort herself. Believe me, that’s the last thing Celica wants right now.

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Yeah, you pretty much hit the nail on the head. I hear a lot of people complain about Celica in Echoes, but there's nothing expressly wrong with her arc. It's Alm and Jedah that ruin it, the former for being too balanced a character starting out (the scene where they argue is the perfect example, even though they both have good points, Celica is the one yelling unrasonably while Alm is just super chill and non confrontational, despite supposedly representing the nation that's more focused on displaying strength. Insert six page argument where someone challenges me on this) and the latter for being too obviously evil and untrustworthy.

53 minutes ago, Etrurian emperor said:

I'm not sure how canon it is but in her Warriors support with Xander she says she doesn't reveal herself not because she'd need to lead the deliverence but because her existence getting known would trigger a civil war. 

Not hard to believe. Desaix was a baby mudering bastard who sided with Rigel, yet the nobles still sided with him because Lima was just that much of a dick. When you make Desaix look good in comparison, you must be really bad.

Edited by Jotari

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I think her revealing herself as princess is more of the "attracts danger/may start a civil war" thing, which I buy. Elincia has a similar issue in PoR, which is why they make a big fuss about her not fighting.

This has me thinking about the Celica & Saber dynamic as compared to the Elincia & Ike dynamic, too. Ike explicitly tells Elincia that she can't be fighting because everyone is risking their lives for her safety, she can't go jeopardizing herself. Saber just kinda does as he's told, even if he disagrees with it, in part because it's who he is, but also because it's not his story. An important detail, however, is that only Mae, Boey, and Genny are aware of Celica's identity, and Saber only finds out when she's crowned. In that sense, beyond those 3, you could say that she's not in a position to trust anyone else, even if she wants to. I don't think she's being selfish, she's just doing what she thinks is the right thing.

Although I'm aware of the whole "gives her soul to Duma" thing, I haven't reached that part in the game yet so I can't really talk about that.

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4 minutes ago, Johann said:

I think her revealing herself as princess is more of the "attracts danger/may start a civil war" thing, which I buy. Elincia has a similar issue in PoR, which is why they make a big fuss about her not fighting.

This has me thinking about the Celica & Saber dynamic as compared to the Elincia & Ike dynamic, too. Ike explicitly tells Elincia that she can't be fighting because everyone is risking their lives for her safety, she can't go jeopardizing herself. Saber just kinda does as he's told, even if he disagrees with it, in part because it's who he is, but also because it's not his story. An important detail, however, is that only Mae, Boey, and Genny are aware of Celica's identity, and Saber only finds out when she's crowned. In that sense, beyond those 3, you could say that she's not in a position to trust anyone else, even if she wants to. I don't think she's being selfish, she's just doing what she thinks is the right thing.

Although I'm aware of the whole "gives her soul to Duma" thing, I haven't reached that part in the game yet so I can't really talk about that.

Oh wow. Saber and Ike are also both from the hostile nation! Hmm. Shame Ike didn't demand Elincia hand over Amiti as payment when she first showed up. That could have been useful (yeah I know, I know, nobody would have been able to use it).

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And? Not to sound dismissive, but this is pretty obvious to anyone who was actually paying attention during those scenes in Gaiden/Echoes; Celica herself admits in both games that the whole reason she went to go find Mila was to keep Alm safe, with resolving the famine being a secondary objective. That's why she only made her move to go find Mila after having that premonition of Alm's life being in danger. Could the game have addressed this more thoroughly? Absolutely. But Celica does address it.

Also good god, the dumb misconception that Alm and Celica were supposed to represent Duma and Mila's ideals needs to die already. It was never true, not in the original Gaiden, and not in SoV, it makes no sense if you think about it for more than five seconds, and Gaiden/SoV's main narrative thrust has nothing to do with the conflict between the two sets of ideals.

6 hours ago, NekoKnight said:

Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Celica won’t take up the reigns of leadership because her people would disagree with her chosen path. She’s ignoring the wishes of her entire country because she insists on doing things her own way! 

Yes, kowtowing to the whims of the masses is always a good idea, because the masses always know what's best when it comes to leading a country or resolving a crisis.

This point is illogical and ridiculous and I have no idea why you're trying to paint Celica as unreasonable for doing a thing that most sane, competent rulers do at least once in their career. 

Edited by Azure Sen

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23 minutes ago, Azure Sen said:

And? Not to sound dismissive, but this is pretty obvious to anyone who was actually paying attention during those scenes in Gaiden/Echoes; Celica herself admits in both games that the whole reason she went to go find Mila was to keep Alm safe, with resolving the famine being a secondary objective. That's why she only made her move to go find Mila after having that premonition of Alm's life being in danger. Could the game have addressed this more thoroughly? Absolutely. But Celica does address it.

Also good god, the dumb misconception that Alm and Celica were supposed to represent Duma and Mila's ideals needs to die already. It was never true, not in the original Gaiden, and not in SoV, it makes no sense if you think about it for more than five seconds, and Gaiden/SoV's main narrative thrust has nothing to do with the conflict between the two sets of ideals.

Yes, kowtowing to the whims of the masses is always a good idea, because the masses always know what's best when it comes to leading a country or resolving a crisis.

This point is illogical and ridiculous and I have no idea why you're trying to paint Celica as unreasonable for doing a thing that most sane, competent rulers do at least once in their career. 

From the original Gaiden prologue

The respective domains of the gods
Gave rise to two kingdoms:

The southern kingdom of Sofia,
Which had become corrupt in its prosperity,

And the northern empire of Rigel,
Which had forgotten kindness in its might.

Thus did these times filled with contradiction flow on.

Until finally,

To the royal families of Rigel and Sofia,
Two lives were born
Who would reverse the fate of Valencia.

and then Duma's final words,

That should be enough…
Hero Alm. I entrust everything to you.
Inherit the will of us siblings and govern this land…
Carrying both the strength of Doma as well as the love of Mila, guide the people justly…
You must not repeat the same mistakes we committed.
You must never again disturb our slumber…

So yes, the game always was about how a country was divided by taking hardlined approaches to certain philosophies and two protagonists, one born to each kingdom, are charged with uniting the land by taking the best aspects of both ideals. It's not about the clash of philosophies, it's about how extremism brings about destruction regardless. I don't really see how one can deny that Alm and Celica represent Duma and Mila respectively when the remake gives them big marks on their hand that practically say "you are this god's representation."

Edited by Jotari

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1 hour ago, Azure Sen said:

And? Not to sound dismissive, but this is pretty obvious to anyone who was actually paying attention during those scenes in Gaiden/Echoes; Celica herself admits in both games that the whole reason she went to go find Mila was to keep Alm safe, with resolving the famine being a secondary objective. That's why she only made her move to go find Mila after having that premonition of Alm's life being in danger. Could the game have addressed this more thoroughly? Absolutely. But Celica does address it.

Also good god, the dumb misconception that Alm and Celica were supposed to represent Duma and Mila's ideals needs to die already. It was never true, not in the original Gaiden, and not in SoV, it makes no sense if you think about it for more than five seconds, and Gaiden/SoV's main narrative thrust has nothing to do with the conflict between the two sets of ideals.

This is very rude and dismissive, and I honestly thought better of you.

1 hour ago, Azure Sen said:

Yes, kowtowing to the whims of the masses is always a good idea, because the masses always know what's best when it comes to leading a country or resolving a crisis.

This point is illogical and ridiculous and I have no idea why you're trying to paint Celica as unreasonable for doing a thing that most sane, competent rulers do at least once in their career. 

This is a strawman. I wouldn't say that a leader should ALWAYS listen to their subjects, but leading the defense against a foreign invasion is an absolutely reasonable expectation.

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What about Conrad? He's older than Celica and male (if that matters, I'm not sure, Mila probably encouraged egalitarianism), yet he doesn't even have enough sense of responsiblity to lead the group he's fighting in, let alone the country.

Edited by Jotari

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2 hours ago, Jotari said:

So yes, the game always was about how a country was divided by taking hardlined approaches to certain philosophies and two protagonists, one born to each kingdom, are charged with uniting the land by taking the best aspects of both ideals. It's not about the clash of philosophies, it's about how extremism brings about destruction regardless.

The Prologue and Chapters 4 and 5 in both games makes it pretty clear that the narrative thrust of Gaiden/SoV is "gods meddling in the affairs of mortals is bad." Mycen has a big speech in Chapter 4 of both games of how the gods mucked things up by interfering, Rudolf felt that their influence was so poisonous that he gave his life to get rid of them, and the prologue points out how the gods' teachings had divided Valentia and warped her people. SoV makes it even more clear, showing that Berkut's over-reliance on Duma's teachings gets him killed and has him tell Alm to make Valentia a land of man and not gods, having several characters in-game comment that the whole situation was caused by their over-reliance on Mila and Duma, and even having Mila outright say that she and Duma were foolish because they couldn't see that mankind could stand on their own without them, among other examples. Given all of that, I really can't see how the main theme of the story is extremes are bad and bringing two opposing ideals together to unite the people.

2 hours ago, Jotari said:

I don't really see how one can deny that Alm and Celica represent Duma and Mila respectively when the remake gives them big marks on their hand that practically say "you are this god's representation."

Marks that no other people who bear the blood of the royal family have, and which are explicitly said to denote the heroes who will save Valentia in both games; also Alm's birthmark existed in the original Gaiden and had no association with Duma there, while Celica's birthmark didn't exist at all until SoV.

There's also the fact that Alm was not raised in the ways of Duma worship, so him representing the ideals of a god he doesn't worship nor was taught the tenets isn't a logical conclusion to reach, nor does he ever show any personality traits that would associate him with Duma.

44 minutes ago, NekoKnight said:

This is very rude and dismissive, and I honestly thought better of you.

You're right, and I apologize. There was a better way for me to make my point and me being so rude was uncalled for.

44 minutes ago, NekoKnight said:

This is a strawman. I wouldn't say that a leader should ALWAYS listen to their subjects, but leading the defense against a foreign invasion is an absolutely reasonable expectation.

Celica was, at the time, working towards a goal that she felt would resolve the war in a better way than simply shedding more blood, even if the primary motivation behind doing so was selfish; I don't think she should be faulted for choosing to put that above a goal that she felt and arguably was less important (since even if they beat Rigel, Zofia is still screwed without Mila), especially when doing so would be a perceived setback to her goal. That being said, I don't think the same is true of her trying to get Alm to step down as leader of the Deliverance, which is 100% selfish.

It's important to note that, while she would probably be put in charge of the Deliverance if revealed to be alive, no one aside from Alm seems all that concerned with actually finding her and having her retake her rightful place despite knowing she's alive; it seems to be more a reflection of Alm's humble nature than anything else.

Edited by Azure Sen

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29 minutes ago, Azure Sen said:

The Prologue and Chapters 4 and 5 in both games makes it pretty clear that the narrative thrust of Gaiden/SoV is "gods meddling in the affairs of mortals is bad." Mycen has a big speech in Chapter 4 of both games of how the gods mucked things up by interfering, Rudolf felt that their influence was so poisonous that he gave his life to get rid of them, and the prologue points out how the gods' teachings had divided Valentia and warped her people. SoV makes it even more clear, showing that Berkut's over-reliance on Duma's teachings gets him killed and has him tell Alm to make Valentia a land of man and not gods, having several characters in-game comment that the whole situation was caused by their over-reliance on Mila and Duma, and even having Mila outright say that she and Duma were foolish because they couldn't see that mankind could stand on their own without them, among other examples. Given all of that, I really can't see how the main theme of the story is extremes are bad and bringing two opposing ideals together to unite the people.

Really? You can't? Because you're describing exactly that. The reason the gods meddling is bad is because they push extremist philosophies. The Rigelians grew heartless and the Sofians grew corrupt. It's right there. The gods aren't bad because they're gods, they're bad because what they're doing is bad and it should stop.

29 minutes ago, Azure Sen said:

Marks that no other people who bear the blood of the royal family have, and which are explicitly said to denote the heroes who will save Valentia in both games; also Alm's birthmark existed in the original Gaiden and had no association with Duma there, while Celica's birthmark didn't exist at all until SoV.

Yeah, I know Alm had a birthmark on his hand in the original. But it had no meaning beyond making him identifable. I said the remake gave him and Celica a special brand that denoted they were the representation of their gods. The Brands are called the Brand of Mila and Brand of Duma respectfully. That's like, undeniable. Each of the two are representing the two gods. Characters say  it in the game.

29 minutes ago, Azure Sen said:

There's also the fact that Alm was not raised in the ways of Duma worship, so him representing the ideals of a god he doesn't worship nor was taught the tenets isn't a logical conclusion to reach, nor does he ever show any personality traits that would associate him with Duma.

Well that's exactly why a lot of people have a problem with the way Alm was depicted in Echoes. Now we can go back and forth anaylizing all his lines from Gaiden and Awakening and I can reference my signature, but we've probably both been down that road before. The point is  that there's a clear theme of dualism going on in Gaiden. It's not a conicidence it had two protagonists, two countries and two gods. Regardless as to how Alm was written in the remake, the story as a whole only played up that element.

Edited by Jotari

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8 hours ago, Azure Sen said:

There's also the fact that Alm was not raised in the ways of Duma worship, so him representing the ideals of a god he doesn't worship nor was taught the tenets isn't a logical conclusion to reach, nor does he ever show any personality traits that would associate him with Duma.

I agree with this, but at the same time, I sense the game wants some kind of themantic duality that isn't properly communicated. Alm and Celica are counterparts, one from the Rigelian royal family and the other from the Zofian royal family. One walks the war path and the other seeks peace and sanctuary under a god. After this it gets confusing. Celica is very Mila-like but Alm is not Duma-like, instead that role gets passed to Berkut. Alm has a big role in putting an end to the age of gods and uniting Valentia, and Celica's role is to open some doors and get captured.

Their brands are that of Mila and Duma, and Duma even tells Alm and Celica together that they need the best qualities of both deities if they want Valentia to prosper. I don't know why Celica even needs to be there if that message wasn't to imply that she and Alm aren't two incomplete halves, that united will be the balance of values that they need.

Anyway, this isn't the crux of my discussion. What I really wanted to talk about was how the shadow behind all of Celica's saintly martyrdom and selflessness, is selfishness. Maybe that's obvious to you, but I think it goes unremarked by the game. What people say of Celica in game is that she tries to shoulder too much of the responsibility, not that she avoids her responsibility, subverting the wishes of her subjects and friends because she's on a mission to save her childhood love interest. This isn't a thread to bash Celica, rather an analysis of the nature of her actions.

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I know I sound like a broken record, but the way I see it, Celica is the most human out of any lord character we've had so far. Everything that you wrote, dear original poster, points to that direction. She has flaws, yes, because she - unlike Corrin and his effed up family - isn't a Mary Sue, which people seemingly didn't want anyway. Seemingly being the operative term here. She is allowed to make mistakes, is called out for them - again, unlike a certain extended family - and suffers dire consequences because of them. But she is also allowed to grow beyond them.

I really don't see why people consider that badly written. Every single action of Celica's during the story is justifiable by what the world-building shows you. Show, don't tell, remember? It only appears like people are either too ignorant or unwilling to see what was "shown" and would rather the game had "told" them directly (not blaming any of you here, but I've seen some comments about this on other boards... jeez, people can be stupid sometimes).

On the topic of Alm: of course he isn't like Duma. I think the theme in Echoes isn't Mila VS Duma. That wasn't the game's intention, because it's that very conflict that threw Valentia into chaos in the first place. The theme of the game, at least the way I see it, is believing in one's own strengths VS relying on birthrights or gods.
Celica, by relying on Mila and Duma to save the continent for them, is clinging to an idea that won't do much good for the continent, because the two individuals behind the idea slowly descend or have descended into madness and would have destroyed Valentia if left alone. It makes sense, because, as a Zofian princess, Celica was already pretty close to Mila's faith and growing up in a priory only served to strengthen her reliance on the gods.
Alm meanwhile represents the idea of taking matters into your own hands, doing and accomplishing things by your own merits. He doesn't need to rely on any god (or dragon) because he believes in his own strength and that of his friends (he even gets into a short spat with Clair and Clive in Act 5 because of this, remember?). It makes sense for him to be that way, because he didn't have much in the way of religious teachings. He grew up in a small village in the middle of nowhere, was raised to be a warrior, not a priest, and didn't visit the shrine nearby. And don't forget Gray's seemingly throwaway line: "The [bad things that happened] have put a damper on people's piety." So he didn't really have much opportunity to become engrossed in religion. 

You can see that sprinkled in many dialogues of the game and it isn't necessarily about religion either. Just think about the whole nobility VS common folk conflict the game has going on. It's the perfect example for the point I am making here. Fernand and Berkut believe power is a privilege only meant for nobles and that you're stuck with what you're born into. Lukas meanwhile says that he rose through the ranks of the Deliverance not through his birth, but on his own merits and it is heavily implied that it was the same for Mycen in the knights of Zofia. Then, there's Forsyth, who - despite being a commoner - wants to be knighted one day and Python, who says that it's impossible because he is a commoner. Guess who turns out to be right in the end?

Edited by DragonFlames

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5 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

On the topic of Alm: of course he isn't like Duma.

That was the idea in Gaiden. In Gaiden Alm is a lot more...rough around the edges. He is thickheaded with a more "ready to fight" kind of personality.

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4 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

I know I sound like a broken record, but the way I see it, Celica is the most human out of any lord character we've had so far. Everything that you wrote, dear original poster, points to that direction. She has flaws, yes, because she - unlike Corrin and his effed up family - isn't a Mary Sue, which people seemingly didn't want anyway. Seemingly being the operative term here. She is allowed to make mistakes, is called out for them - again, unlike a certain extended family - and suffers dire consequences because of them. But she is also allowed to grow beyond them.

I really don't see why people consider that badly written. Every single action of Celica's during the story is justifiable by what the world-building shows you. Show, don't tell, remember? It only appears like people are either too ignorant or unwilling to see what was "shown" and would rather the game had "told" them directly (not blaming any of you here, but I've seen some comments about this on other boards... jeez, people can be stupid sometimes).

I think everybody knows Celica is a flawed character, it's just the fact that some (myself included) don't think these flaws humanize her, it only makes her seem incompetent. The problem with Celica's flaws is that they aren't really nuanced in any way nor do they pertain to her character. Celica is just being an idiot in part 4. The game sort of implies that she has a martyr complex, but her actions contradict this as they put her friends in peril that could have easily been avoided if she actually spoke up. In this case, Celica is condemning Alm for simply taking up the reins of leadership without responsibility despite avoiding such responsibilities herself. These actions go against some of the core aspects Celica is presented as embodying. If she is truly as selfless as the game wants you to think, why doesn't she try to make more sacrifices for the people? For me, these flaws don't humanize a person for me because they aren't consistent with any character growth.

What world-building justifies character flaws? Does that mean Berkut is justified in his bigotry and murdering his girlfriend because the world-building shows you how violent Duma's philosophy can be? The fact that Zofians are selfish shouldn't justify Celica's behavior, especially when the game touts her as some kind of saintly paragon to those around her. In this specific instance, Celica's "flaws" echo the sentiments of Corrins, whose problem wasn't with being flawless, but the story diverting attention away from said flaws. After that lover's tiff at the end of Part Two, the game wants you to think "Well, maybe Celica had a point", but all of what she said is hypocritical in hindsight given her position

5 hours ago, DragonFlames said:

On the topic of Alm: of course he isn't like Duma. I think the theme in Echoes isn't Mila VS Duma. That wasn't the game's intention, because it's that very conflict that threw Valentia into chaos in the first place. The theme of the game, at least the way I see it, is believing in one's own strengths VS relying on birthrights or gods.
Celica, by relying on Mila and Duma to save the continent for them, is clinging to an idea that won't do much good for the continent, because the two individuals behind the idea slowly descend or have descended into madness and would have destroyed Valentia if left alone. It makes sense, because, as a Zofian princess, Celica was already pretty close to Mila's faith and growing up in a priory only served to strengthen her reliance on the gods.
Alm meanwhile represents the idea of taking matters into your own hands, doing and accomplishing things by your own merits. He doesn't need to rely on any god (or dragon) because he believes in his own strength and that of his friends (he even gets into a short spat with Clair and Clive in Act 5 because of this, remember?). It makes sense for him to be that way, because he didn't have much in the way of religious teachings. He grew up in a small village in the middle of nowhere, was raised to be a warrior, not a priest, and didn't visit the shrine nearby. And don't forget Gray's seemingly throwaway line: "The [bad things that happened] have put a damper on people's piety." So he didn't really have much opportunity to become engrossed in religion. 

You can see that sprinkled in many dialogues of the game and it isn't necessarily about religion either. Just think about the whole nobility VS common folk conflict the game has going on. It's the perfect example for the point I am making here. Fernand and Berkut believe power is a privilege only meant for nobles and that you're stuck with what you're born into. Lukas meanwhile says that he rose through the ranks of the Deliverance not through his birth, but on his own merits and it is heavily implied that it was the same for Mycen in the knights of Zofia. Then, there's Forsyth, who - despite being a commoner - wants to be knighted one day and Python, who says that it's impossible because he is a commoner. Guess who turns out to be right in the end?

I do think that the game is more a story of extremist ideologies rather than a battle between mortals and gods, but that's just a matter of personal interpretation, The problem I have with that interpretation is that it favors Alm while purposefully depreciating Celica. If you're going to make to characters/sides with opposing ideas or morality, you shouldn't simplify it down to an episode of Good Idea, Bad Idea. The game presents Alm's as the path to victory and enlightenment, and Celica's as self-destructive and unsustainable. If Alm's interpretation is correct, why even have Celica there? To serve as some kind of Strawman? I favor the opposing-ideology interpretation, as well as Alm's Awakening portrayal because they seem more interesting and thought-provoking than what we have. I don't care what the intent is in that regard, If it feels poorly executed, it's still worthy of criticizing. If Alm were more innately Rigelian in terms of morals, (which isn't unreasonable if the game wants you to think he has some subconscious connection with Rigel) and favored an aggressive means of dealing with the Zofian problems, there might have been some actual conflict in that part two-speech. Celica could criticize Alm militarizing a people that aren't adept at fighting because he feels it's right, and Alm could criticize her for being passive and wishful in her appeal to the gods.

Also the game doesn't really show the Deliverance as being a pure meritocracy. Lukas is a noble, albeit a lesser one, and his position reflects that. He is given a higher command than Forsyth and Python, but also is lower than Clive, Mathilda, and Fernand. Forsyth and Mycen are most likely exceptions to the rule (Especially since both are buddy-buddy with the top brass). The game, whether intentional or not, shows that birth can be paramount in your position with Alm's hidden royalty, his ability to wield two special weapons, and a birthmark that foretells of a great prophecy.

Most of my problems with the game are the hypocritical interpretations of the themes, settings, and characters. Sometimes the game wants you to believe that Class means nothing, then it turns around and has Alm, arguably the most talented character, be secret royalty. The game again wants Celica to be a selfless martyr, but refuses to let her take the responsibility of her position. These problems are the things that bring down SoV's story for me despite it's grand presentation.

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3 hours ago, AlphaZero said:

I think everybody knows Celica is a flawed character, it's just the fact that some (myself included) don't think these flaws humanize her, it only makes her seem incompetent. The problem with Celica's flaws is that they aren't really nuanced in any way nor do they pertain to her character. Celica is just being an idiot in part 4. The game sort of implies that she has a martyr complex, but her actions contradict this as they put her friends in peril that could have easily been avoided if she actually spoke up. In this case, Celica is condemning Alm for simply taking up the reins of leadership without responsibility despite avoiding such responsibilities herself. These actions go against some of the core aspects Celica is presented as embodying. If she is truly as selfless as the game wants you to think, why doesn't she try to make more sacrifices for the people? For me, these flaws don't humanize a person for me because they aren't consistent with any character growth.

What world-building justifies character flaws? Does that mean Berkut is justified in his bigotry and murdering his girlfriend because the world-building shows you how violent Duma's philosophy can be? The fact that Zofians are selfish shouldn't justify Celica's behavior, especially when the game touts her as some kind of saintly paragon to those around her. In this specific instance, Celica's "flaws" echo the sentiments of Corrins, whose problem wasn't with being flawless, but the story diverting attention away from said flaws. After that lover's tiff at the end of Part Two, the game wants you to think "Well, maybe Celica had a point", but all of what she said is hypocritical in hindsight given her position

I do think that the game is more a story of extremist ideologies rather than a battle between mortals and gods, but that's just a matter of personal interpretation, The problem I have with that interpretation is that it favors Alm while purposefully depreciating Celica. If you're going to make to characters/sides with opposing ideas or morality, you shouldn't simplify it down to an episode of Good Idea, Bad Idea. The game presents Alm's as the path to victory and enlightenment, and Celica's as self-destructive and unsustainable. If Alm's interpretation is correct, why even have Celica there? To serve as some kind of Strawman? I favor the opposing-ideology interpretation, as well as Alm's Awakening portrayal because they seem more interesting and thought-provoking than what we have. I don't care what the intent is in that regard, If it feels poorly executed, it's still worthy of criticizing. If Alm were more innately Rigelian in terms of morals, (which isn't unreasonable if the game wants you to think he has some subconscious connection with Rigel) and favored an aggressive means of dealing with the Zofian problems, there might have been some actual conflict in that part two-speech. Celica could criticize Alm militarizing a people that aren't adept at fighting because he feels it's right, and Alm could criticize her for being passive and wishful in her appeal to the gods.

Also the game doesn't really show the Deliverance as being a pure meritocracy. Lukas is a noble, albeit a lesser one, and his position reflects that. He is given a higher command than Forsyth and Python, but also is lower than Clive, Mathilda, and Fernand. Forsyth and Mycen are most likely exceptions to the rule (Especially since both are buddy-buddy with the top brass). The game, whether intentional or not, shows that birth can be paramount in your position with Alm's hidden royalty, his ability to wield two special weapons, and a birthmark that foretells of a great prophecy.

Most of my problems with the game are the hypocritical interpretations of the themes, settings, and characters. Sometimes the game wants you to believe that Class means nothing, then it turns around and has Alm, arguably the most talented character, be secret royalty. The game again wants Celica to be a selfless martyr, but refuses to let her take the responsibility of her position. These problems are the things that bring down SoV's story for me despite it's grand presentation.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is why I believe Serenes Forest is the only forum worth a damn if you want to share opinions.

You do raise some very good points. I won't deny that SoV's story doesn't have flaws. Denying that would just be wrong. It's just that I feel like some people (not you) tend to overexaggerate them just for the sake of it.

Berkut's murdering spree can be justified by how drunk he is on the idea of being upstaged by some barn-bred peasant (Alm) who - to add insult to injury - turns out to be the actual heir to the Rigelian throne. His uncle tells him to stand by, thus making him feel like he's useless, denying his strengths and reinforcing his weaknesses, something he can't take well because of his giant ego and lastly, his wife-to-be tells him that she doesn't need him to become emperor, which he takes the wrong way and that is the moment he finally snaps.
"Justified" in this case means that his actions make sense for his character, not that they magically make him less of a terrible person.
Celica is being portrayed as "wrong" because the game, to me, wants to get the message across that you should believe in your own strength. Her being there is thus not unnecessary, since she exists to reinforce that message. Whether or not that's a good thing is an entirely different story.
Alm being secret royalty doesn't affect his growth or the message for me. "Secret" is the important word here. He doesn't know that he is the secret prince of Rigel. The others don't know either. The only ones that do are Mycen, Rudolf, Massena and Desaix (implied). Everyone else is out of the loop on his true heritage. So it's not like he can use his position to his advantage, like Berkut, Fernand or even Clive can and have done before. And let's be honest here for a moment: It was heavily implied that the leader of the Deliverance would be made king of Zofia after the conflict was over, so Alm would have likely ascended a throne anyway, royalty or not.

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7 hours ago, CatManThree said:

That was the idea in Gaiden. In Gaiden Alm is a lot more...rough around the edges. He is thickheaded with a more "ready to fight" kind of personality.

Was he though? The only thing that implies that is the "I'll crush these bastards" line. Otherwise, Gaiden!Alm was pretty much the same as SoV!Alm.

 

ANYWAY, this was an interesting analysis of Celica's character and it further strengthens my belief that she's probably the best written female Lord.

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1 hour ago, Armagon said:

Was he though? The only thing that implies that is the "I'll crush these bastards" line. Otherwise, Gaiden!Alm was pretty much the same as SoV!Alm.

 

ANYWAY, this was an interesting analysis of Celica's character and it further strengthens my belief that she's probably the best written female Lord.

Okay, bear in mind thst this is based on a fan translation, so I don't know how accurate the nuance is or how creative (or incompetent) the translation team were.

Spoiler

 

Gaiden

Alm:
Ah, Gramps!! What are you doing at the castle of Sofia?

Echoes

Alm: Grandfather?! What are you doing here?

Alm uses a more poilte name in Echoes and uses one expclamation mark to denote surprise. While in Gaiden it's two giving it more of rough lower class feel. Like he's kind of barking the words.

 

Spoiler

 

Gaiden 

Alm:
That’s right.
When we were little, we grew up together like siblings.
Always playing together, just the two of us.
Cellica, when all of a sudden, you were no longer there —
At that time, I… I held a serious grudge against Gramps.

This line, specifically about him holding a grudge against Mycen is completely dropped in Echoes. At least the English version.

Gaiden

Cellica:
That’s a sad thing, isn’t it…
As for me, I don’t think Emperor Rudolf is as evil of a man as everyone says.
If we meet with him and talk, we’ll definitely be able to come to an understanding…
Unless, Alm, now that everyone’s holding you up as a hero, you want to become the king of the country as well?

Alm:
What! That’s mean, Cellica. I don’t have those kinds of ambitions.
I just want to protect the people of Sofia, that’s all.
Besides, it seems that the royal family of Sofia’s only remaining princess is still alive, so I’m planning to search for her.
As soon as I find that princess, I’m returning to the village.

Cellica:
There’s no such thing as any princess of Sofia! The royal family has already been wiped out!
All right, that’s enough. I get it, Alm. You go ahead to Rigel.
I’m going to go with my companions to the Temple of Mila.

Alm:
Cellica!?

Cellica:
Good-bye, Alm…

Echoes

Celica: That’s not… Well, so what if it is? Maybe you should go become king if it’s such a damnably easy job!

Alm: What? Celica, that’s not—

Celica: You’re awfully free with accusations for a boy with no idea what royalty entails! And now that you’re a “hero,” I imagine the throne is next on the list, is that it?

Alm: No, it’s not like that at all, Celica! I just want to keep Zofia SAFE! Besides, there’s an heir. A princess of the royal family may have survived. If she turned up and fixed all this, I’d happily return to Ram. You could…come with me, you know? It’d be like old times.

Celica: Come on! There’s no secret princess! The Zofian royal family is dead!

Alm: But how can you be—

Celica: Enough! Just…enough. Go fight your war if it makes you happy. I’m going to the Temple of Mila. …Good-bye, Alm.

Celica: You…you stubborn JERK!

Alm: Celica… You’re one to talk about stubbornness, geez… Ah, damn it all. I didn’t even get the chance to ask her about the village… About why she had to leave. Oh, Celica… I had so much I wanted to say to you. How did it end up like this?

In Echoes when Celica suggests Alm wants to be king he immediatly back peddles (he was getting slightly annoyed with her before that) and tries to calm Celica down while she barely let's him get a word in. In Gaiden, he retaliates and calls her 'mean'...Which is pretty tame as far as insults go, but it is a significant difference.

 

Spoiler

 

Gaiden

Alm:
Ah, Gramps — what in the world is going on!?
How could such a despicable man as Emperor Rudolf be my father!!!
That’s awful. Did you know nothing of this, Gramps!?

Mycen:
Alm. Your shock is understandable…
It’s true that you are Emperor Rudolf’s only son.
And now you have also become the only remaining heir of the royal family of Rigel.

Alm:
But why did something like this…
Why could I not avoid fighting against my own father?

Mycen:
Don’t cry, Alm…
This is something I also wished to tell you before. It was due to the gods that this land Valencia came to be divided into North and South.
And in doing so they mistakenly involved themselves too deeply with the concerns of mankind.
As a result, the people of Sofia forgot the meaning of toil, and the people of Rigel forgot the meaning of leisure.
As things were, we would all certainly come to ruin.
It was due to such considerations that Rudolf took it upon himself to become a destroyer, to instigate the appearance of true heroes in the land.
For the sake of creating a new era, he decided to become a sacrificial piece.
And to meet the hero who would bring about his defeat, even if it were his own child, he could not have been happier…
Thus was I informed when he delivered his newborn child into my hands.
Even now, I cannot forget the expression on Rudolf’s face at that time…
‘This man would consign himself to the fires of hell!’
When I realized that, there was already no way I could possibly refuse him.
And so, I left everything to fate.
Alm. You must not grieve forever.
You must not let Rudolf’s sacrifice be in vain by refusing to take over from here.
Head to the underground temple. Return the evil god Doma to the shadows.
If you don’t hurry, great danger may befall Cellica’s party. You mustn’t let that happen!

Echoes

Mycen: So you’ve come, Alm.

Alm: Grandfather, what the hell is going on? What are you doing here? Rudolf said I was his son, and now all these people are calling me a prince!

Mycen: It’s only natural that you’re feeling confused. But there is no denying fact—you are the only son of Emperor Rudolf. Scion of the Rigelian imperial bloodline, and true heir to Rigel’s throne.

Alm: …How could you? You knew all this time, and yet you kept it from me… You KNEW, and you still sent me off to kill my own father!

Mycen: Please remain calm, Alm. *sigh* Let me explain. …Best I start at the very beginning. As you well know, Valentia has always been divided north from south— split between the two gods, Mila and Duma. But their involvement with mankind eventually grew too deep. When madness takes a god, man is lost. And where gods meet ruin, men die too. That is the plight Valentia now faces.

Alm: You’re saying the gods are…dying?

Mycen: I fear so. Rudolf was among the first to understand the signs. He saw Duma’s growing madness and knew it for a harbinger of ruin. But then you were born, Alm.

Alm: What does that have to do with any of this?

Mycen: You bore the Brand—sign of the hero who would rise to save Valentia. Hearing that prophecy, Rudolf knew you must be kept hidden from the Faithful. He concealed the news of your birth, and entrusted you to me in Zofia. I will never forget the pain on his face when he placed you in my arms…

Alm: ……

Mycen: That day marked a change in him. He donned the mantle of one who would destroy the old world order— one who’d free men to live by their own power, even if they hated him for it. He knew such heresy would bring forth those who wished for his death. So for that death to come at the hand of his beloved son was…a mercy. He told me himself that he could imagine no more peaceful end.

Alm: And what of my peace?!

Mycen: This is not the time for mourning or self-pity, boy. Rudolf’s purpose now falls to you. The true foe you must defeat is Duma. As well as the zealots tainted by his madness who seek control of Valentia: Jedah and his Duma Faithful. If you do not hurry, Celica’s life will also be in peril.

Alm: Oh, gods. Celica! She set out in search of Duma in order to save Mila.

Mycen: A passage beneath this castle leads to the Temple of Duma. Go, Alm. Go and finish this. Return the mad god Duma to the darkness from whence he came

This one's rather long in Echoes, but the key difference here is that Alm approaches Mycen first and calls Rudolf a despicable man. There's also, once again, the copious use of exclamation marks in Gaiden and Alm calling Mycen gramps.

 

Spoiler

AlmExpression.png.9e9d73e8c253389bff4a7df1cc4ae9a9.png

So you see how even if most of the dialogue is kept almost word for word, what isn't makes a huge difference. In Gaiden, these are practically Alm's only lines and they are conveying a certain image. While in Echoes, Alm gets plenty of other scenes and dialogue that dilute things considerably, with these scenes being the ones where he's most emotional, but him being mellow in most other conversations. The last example in the Throne Room with Mycen is a good display of it, Alm only has two lines in Gaiden, and these two lines are retained with the intended emotion, but then Alm goes on to say several other lines in Echoes to make the conversation flow more naturally.

Of course, I once again stress that this is the comparison between a fan translation and an English localisation. Alm calling Mycen Gramps could still be retained in the Japanese version of Echoes, or could have been added by the Gaiden team (though I should note they do have Celica calling Mycen Grandfather so it wasn't just their natural tendancy). And yes, I could be over anaylzing a bit. But what we do get in Gaiden was the basis for his lines in Awakening where he actively derides Celica's suggestion about showing compassion to enemies.

Spoiler

...What's that? My attire? This is dread-fighter garb. A dread fighter battles to win, to better himself, and to protect those he loves. They are my world's most fearsome fighters. Of course, Celica thinks I should take a more compassionate approach to enemies... But really, it's a battlefield! How do you compassionately stab someone? It may sound barbaric, but that's just how I feel. If you hurt me, I hurt you back...tenfold. What about you? Do you have compassion for your foes?

And then for bonus points, the indication that Alm is meant to soften gradually by Celica's influence,

See? It's not easy. ...Though for a moment there, I thought you were going to say "yes." No man is a saint. When an enemy wrongs us, it's natural to try and wrong them back. Celica has her own opinion. "Two wrongs don't make a right," she says. "Two rights don't prevent the next wrong," I usually answer. But maybe I'll change one day...

I also just discovered this checking the Awakening dialogue

>Deathquote
Alm
Grandpapa... I've lost my way...

Which is another indication that Alm uses a less formal way of addressing Mycen in the original script.

So yeah...for me, there's a stark difference in the approach to the character. In the original he's more like a proto Ike. Ike's comment to Micaiah before their battle about how he doesn't want to fight, but will show no mercy to his enemies is very reminiscent of Gaiden!Alm, but something I have a harder time imagining Echoes!Alm saying. The only time I really felt Echoes!Alm was speaking in a similar way to Gaiden Alm was during his fight with Berkut where he mocks him for not fighting. Of course Gaiden is also so minamilistic that I can see why someone would disagree with basically everything I said. When you have about 12 lines of text, a lot of things become quite subjective.

Edited by Jotari

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16 hours ago, Armagon said:

Was he though? The only thing that implies that is the "I'll crush these bastards" line. Otherwise, Gaiden!Alm was pretty much the same as SoV!Alm.

 

ANYWAY, this was an interesting analysis of Celica's character and it further strengthens my belief that she's probably the best written female Lord.

I'm pretty sure this analysis of her character wasn't to prove that she's well-written, quite the opposite. 

OT: I think you're confusing selfishness with stubbornness. The reason why Celica doesn't listen to her friends and Alm isn't because she's selfish, but because she believes her way is right and even if she pisses everyone off, she's doing it for what she perceives to be the greater good. Pretty sure selflessness is Celica's defining character trait so saying its a facade seems rather biased.

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2 minutes ago, Icelerate said:

I'm pretty sure this analysis of her character wasn't to prove that she's well-written, quite the opposite. 

OT: I think you're confusing selfishness with stubbornness. The reason why Celica doesn't listen to her friends and Alm isn't because she's selfish, but because she believes her way is right and even if she pisses everyone off, she's doing it for what she perceives to be the greater good. Pretty sure selflessness is Celica's defining character trait so saying its a facade seems rather biased.

Well she does admit just before the final battle that the whole reason she embarked on the quest was to try and save Alm, not Valentia.

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Just now, Jotari said:

Well she does admit just before the final battle that the whole reason she embarked on the quest was to try and save Alm, not Valentia.

Okay well then she's not completely selfless but still a selfless person. 

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On 3/29/2018 at 11:08 AM, Jotari said:

Well she does admit just before the final battle that the whole reason she embarked on the quest was to try and save Alm, not Valentia.

That's one way to look at the text I suppose, but whose to say that's her sole reason and not just an additional, more personal incentive to the bigger issue of Valentia? Perhaps her dream of Alm might have been the final straw for her to go, but to call it the only reason would be twisting her words.

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On 3/27/2018 at 4:37 PM, Johann said:

I think her revealing herself as princess is more of the "attracts danger/may start a civil war" thing, which I buy. Elincia has a similar issue in PoR, which is why they make a big fuss about her not fighting.

 

Elincia not fighting was because she was the sole survivor of the Crimean royal family left, if she dies, what does Crimea have to rally justly around against Daein? Ike is a disposable mercenary who can be replaced eventually with no such issue. 

The civil war aspect was about Renning. Renning was declared heir to Crimea by Ramon when he would never have a child (and Renning has no children nor even a wife it seems- why is the future of Crimea's royal family so barren?), and then Elincia was born later. The civil war would have been whether the presently declared heir or the heir by inheritance traditions (assuming they would favor a daughter of a ruling king over his brother), deserved the Crimean throne. Ramon didn't either have the power to quash the feuding it'd create, or had no stomach for the internal chaos in the first place. Otherwise if he had a strong hand, he could have changed the inheritance to Elincia upon revealing her and then silence the opposition to the change, with no real issue.

 

I can't say much of the SoV discussion at hand, but why did Rigel have an aristocracy? A power-based/meritocratic society shouldn't have a hereditary inheritable nobility. Although should Zofia have one either if Mila seems egalitarian? Unless she supported a Medieval/Early Modern European corporate society, as in "Everyone has a place, and everyone in their place", breaking from your place, a good place in a glorious happy system of places, brings chaos and ruin. Does hereditary aristocracy have a place in either Rigel/Duma or Zofia/Mila? Or was this move an addition of SoV not in the original game that was not necessary?

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3 hours ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Elincia not fighting was because she was the sole survivor of the Crimean royal family left, if she dies, what does Crimea have to rally justly around against Daein? Ike is a disposable mercenary who can be replaced eventually with no such issue. 

The civil war aspect was about Renning. Renning was declared heir to Crimea by Ramon when he would never have a child (and Renning has no children nor even a wife it seems- why is the future of Crimea's royal family so barren?), and then Elincia was born later. The civil war would have been whether the presently declared heir or the heir by inheritance traditions (assuming they would favor a daughter of a ruling king over his brother), deserved the Crimean throne. Ramon didn't either have the power to quash the feuding it'd create, or had no stomach for the internal chaos in the first place. Otherwise if he had a strong hand, he could have changed the inheritance to Elincia upon revealing her and then silence the opposition to the change, with no real issue.

 

I can't say much of the SoV discussion at hand, but why did Rigel have an aristocracy? A power-based/meritocratic society shouldn't have a hereditary inheritable nobility. Although should Zofia have one either if Mila seems egalitarian? Unless she supported a Medieval/Early Modern European corporate society, as in "Everyone has a place, and everyone in their place", breaking from your place, a good place in a glorious happy system of places, brings chaos and ruin. Does hereditary aristocracy have a place in either Rigel/Duma or Zofia/Mila? Or was this move an addition of SoV not in the original game that was not necessary?

It wasn't an addition to Shadows of Valentia. Alm and Celica were always royal heirs.

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