Life and Memory: An Overview of Programmatic Introductions and Mnemosyne

– The Most Artistic Detective Anime (That isn’t Really a Detective Fiction)

From a programmatic perspective, the opening scene of this anime is perfect. Both scenes. The only thing I could think to change would be the placement of the opening (put it after the opening scene, not before it! It’s more dramatic that way.)

Before I begin, let me set up the program for this review. I’ll be covering the first part of Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi, localized as Rin: Daughters of Mnemosyne. Although, more accurately it can be translated simply as: Mnemosyne: Daughters of Mnemosyne. I will cover:

  • The first opening
  • Meeting Maeno
  • The Hotel Scene

So, with that out of the way, let’s begin.

The Opening Scene(s)

With the exception of the very “fast” final episode, Mnemosyne is a very tight, well-managed anime. By that I mean that every scene, almost every action, has its place. There would be something missing if you cut five or ten minutes from this show. Compare this to other anime or even television shows—think of how many scenes are just there for fun and may not add anything to the overall story—and you will quickly see why this is a complement.

The opening scene is a great example. Any good anime, television show, novel, play—any art form with a temporal aspect should tell you what it will be about within the first twenty or so minutes of the experience. The simple explanation is that you need to make sure your audience knows what they’re in for. Some people, certain academics anyway, call this the “program” of a narrative. Like the program you get if you go to a play or performance, the program of an anime tells you what’s going to happen, but skips the juicy details. If you’re in, your mind will ready itself for the payoff of the show. If no,  you can switch away knowing that you won’t be missing anything you wanted to see.

Mnemosyne opens with the intro song, which I might get into later, and then an opening scene. A woman is running up a stairwell from someone, a predator—a mercenary, sent to kill her. The setting is dark and urban, I might even call it noir, but I don’t know enough about the noir genre to correctly categorize anything. Who we presume is our hero makes it to a door, wearing only a button up shirt. It’s locked! Moving fast, she pulls out some steel and picks the lock, locking it behind her. Running up the stairs, she makes it to the rooftop just as the mercenary breaks the door down behind her. The, the mercenary arrives, armed with a shotgun. She spots her target and shots are fired. Rin sprints beneath the night sky and jumps to the other roof. Our hero didn’t make the jump—she’s hanging by one hand. The mercenary smiles, and shoots her. We watch Rin  fall to the ground, dead, followed (rather artistically) by her dismembered arm. The mercenary leaves, but not before crushing Rin’s fallen  glasses beneath her foot.

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So, is this programmatic of the anime? Simply put, yes. There are a few important elements. The first would be the violence. Not just blood, but a full disembodied limb. It’s enough to give it its well-earned R+ rating at the very least. Later, there are at least two scenes of torture, so an audience had better be expecting something along those lines. The touch of nudity is also important, if only because there’s a bit of sexuality and nudity in the anime. Violence an nakedness are ever-present aspects of Mnemosyne, so a viewer should know right away that there’s a potential for their depiction. More important than the violence, however, is Rin’s reaction to it. She is very calm, despite her doom. This is also meaningful. It is a valid expression of the overall tone of the anime. Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi is a calm, intelligent deliberation on the value of life and immortality.

After this opening scene, Rin wakes up in her bed. A scene later, she’s in an office, wearing standard professional clothing, complete with a vest and tie. Is this a flashback? We’re left wondering for quite a few more scenes. We find out that Rin’s job is something of a jack-of-all trades type private investigator. Almost a Jessica Jones, without all the edginess. Shortly after, we meet another very important character, the character with the problem for the episode. He’s being hunted by some men in suits, and using swift and deadly combat abilities she saves him and they begin to talk.

The man, named Maeno, says he doesn’t know who he is. The scene is rather therapeutic, with him sitting on a red chair, facing perpendicular. “Amnesia?!” Shouts Rin. “No, I have my memory. I also know my address and phone number.” He explains. Maeno has a far worse problem, one a little more original. I won’t give it away, this episode is well worth the forty-five minutes. Right now though, neither party knows what’s wrong with him, although it is revealed by the end of the episode.

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There are some beautiful scenes in this anime, held back only by its budget. This image is the scene on which I’ll end my analysis of the introduction. Rin is on the phone. We don’t know with whom, and we won’t know until well past halfway through the series. This is important for the program though, as it alludes to something going on behind the scenes. (As does Rin’s references to the name “Apos,” and the appearance of the partially-incorporeal figure at the end of the hotel scene later.)

I have a lot more to say about this terrific and oft-missed anime, but I will end it here for today. But first, I’ll reveal whether or not the second scene is a flashback. Or rather, I’ll let the mercenary reveal it for you.

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20:32 (The Hotel Scene)
Rin is immortal, she survived the fall, and regrew her arm.

Mnemosyne: Mnemosyne no Musume-tachi is a brilliant, bloody and artistic series. It’s loaded with symbolism and detail that even after analysing, I don’t think I’ve completely come to understand. It is not perfect. I believe that it needed on more episode, as the final one was a little too rush-paced. But that aside, if you’re looking for something truly unique, and with the ethos of an “anime was produced to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the AT-X network,” then Mnemosyne is not an anime to be passed on.

Daniel Triumph.

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Hajimete No Gal: A Raucous Manga

What?

I don’t think it’s fair to call Hajimete No Gal a romance manga, in the same way it isn’t fair to call it a “rom-com.” There’s an important distinction to be made; romance implies Shoujo, that is, manga marketed towards girls. Usually that means either mahou shoujo like Sailor Moon and Precure, or wistful romances like Fruits Basket or Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii. Certainly, this is not a Shoujo. The reason it fails to be a “rom-com” (and a second reason it isn’t a shoujo) is that the pair are together for a majority of the series. Like, this kind of together:

Hajimete No Gyaru begins with the main characters pairing up, and I think that’s why it caught my eye. I can remember being a young, lovestruck tween, rifling through shoujo and seinen romance anime searching, hoping for a series where the main pairing got together before the final episode!

Please note that this post is an update/rework of a previous review. If you’ve read that one, fear not, this one’s mostly new!

Hajimete no Gyaru

I originally found this manga by its anime. The art was nice, and the main female protagonist, Yukana had something about her… something so rare in female anime character expression; Yukana had confidence. This girl is overflowing with confidence, and confidence is key. The male character, Junichi is no pushover either. The author makes it quite clear, very early that he’s no stock seinen protagonist. He confesses in chapter one, and continues to impress throughout with his steadfast commitment and his inner teenage struggles.

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A note on the anime: It is nowhere near as good as the manga. They mess with timing, and axe most of the protagonist’s development in order to force an implied “harem” that never happens. I would recommend skipping the anime, and heading over to the manga.

The Relationship

This is the core of the story, so we might as well start here. Junichi and Yame’s relationship is… fairly realistic. I want to say it’s the shounen flip of the idealized shoujo manga, and the lack of stupid or petty arguments might give that thought some weight. However, I feel like it’s a step up from that. The relationship they share is something you could imagine existing in real life.

When they get together, neither of them expected it, and they aren’t sure what to do. They start off by doing what is expected, standard societal norms, like karaoke, a movie, and this…

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Arcade game, if you’re confused.

Then, later they do more interesting things, like a group trip, and most recently, a comicbook convention… comima I think.

The relationship is pretty stable. Junichi is initially bombarded with a couple of rival lovers, as if he suffers from harem-anime-syndrome. After a couple volumes, thankfully, these pretty much go away. Although, for the record, both are perfectly justified, and have a plot function. They show us the true character of Junichi; that he’s ultimately committed to his present relationship with Yukana, and that he will even stave off a nude childhood friend in that name. I guess we’ll go there next.

The use of Ecchi, aka Fanservice

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The fanservice in this manga can, at times, be fairly overt. The scene with Nene… in fact, both her initial scene, and her swimming scene are pretty blatant. But, I think it is very rare that the ecchi gets out of hand, or even detracts from the story.

Let’s use the Nene scenes as examples. (She’s the one on the far left, above.) Nene is the childhood friend of the main character, Junichi. When she meets up with him after so many years, and finds out he’s dating, she becomes immediately jealous, and uses her physique to try and sway him from Yame. Multiple times. Each time fails. The swimsuit issue actually turns into a bonding experience for the two, and shows us what their true relationship is after the awkward reunion; that is, they are only friends.

There’s actually more though.

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Yame as either doctor, or nurse.

There’s actually a positive aspect to this, interestingly enough. Like Oretach Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai (an anime I think I’ll have to make a review of eventually), there ecchi is used to actually aid the plot, somehow!

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Because the manga has the ecchi tag, the mangaka is allowed more liberties with the intimate scenes between the main pairing… and also with the main character’s fantasies.

I’m actually interested in what the writer will do with this… freedom.

There’s more. Since I’m here, I’ll expand on the point of the utility of the ecchi, if we can call it that. Fanservice is used very tactfully in this manga, especially compared to things like Dog Days’ season 2, or even Nozoki Ana, a manga I actually really like that seems to have a quota for sex scenes. Hajimete no Gal, after the first few chapters, uses their service license tactfully. It never gets in the way of the plot. If anything, it accents it.

“Realism”

There’s no way that Hajimete no Gyaru falls under the genre of realism, but it is realistic compared to other romance manga, with the exception of things like Saotome Senshu. The primary relationship is fairly rocky, but overall strong. The characters have realistic motivations, and realistic problems.

I’ll point out that none of their lover’s quarrels are stupid. Anyone who consumes romance will know what I’m talking about. Usually it’s either something small that gets blown out of proportion for no reason, usually due to a stupid misunderstanding. The other is when a character overreacts about something trivial or arbitrary. Both of these feel artificial, and neither of these are present (in this exaggerated form, at the very least) in Hajimete no Gal. Everything makes sense, or fits with the character, and it’s very refreshing.

The other thing is characterization. Both Yukana and Junichi are very well developed. They have believable character traits, and understandable teenage motivations. Junichi is low-key horny, and confused a lot, and Yukana holds a confident front, but within she’s just as confused as Jun. It works out great, and the characters reveal new facets of their personalities as new situations hit them.

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Sakamoto, Junichi’s friend

The supporting cast is quite three-dimensional as well. Yame’s friend Ranko has her own protective motivations, and a consistent personality. Junichi’s friend Sakamoto is consistently abrasive, as you might expect a glasses-wearing nerd to be. He’s pushy, but helpful, and I was surprised that the “initial derp friend of the MC” remained relevant, and actually continued to contribute to the plot after the beginning of the story.

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Yui, Nene, Ranko

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Nene remains present after her stunt, mentioned above. Yui (the one to the far right of the diagram way up, who isn’t Junichi) seems to be a consistent rival/threat to Junichi and Yukana’s relationship, so her presence as one of their friends keeps up the story’s tension.

Humour

I almost forgot; this manga is laugh out loud hilarious—literally. I almost can’t read it at night.

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Wasted.

Bad example, but I’d rather not sift through the manga to find something… I recommend you seek it out on your own 😉 .

I’ll keep this section short, because I feel like explaining jokes ruins them. I’ll put it this way: I don’t laugh out loud when I read anything. It’s very rare. There are five things I can remember offhand that have made me verbally laugh.

  • Diskworld novels
  • Slayers, and Slayers Next
  • John Dies at the End
  • Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai
  • This manga.

I’ll let you be the judge.

Closing Remarks on the Main Characters

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The plot of Hajimete no Gyaru is, admittedly, not what pulls this story along. I think that’s okay, since it lets the main cast shine, but so far nothing amazing or unique has happened—aside from between characters.

The lead’s relationship is what keeps things moving. Junichi does more than just pull his weight. He’s a true second half in this relationship, whether his girlfriend is there to babysit his emotions or not, which can be rare in anime. Yukana picks on him, flirts with him, and tests him. She asks Ranko for advice and considers Junichi fairly when he makes an advance. (Although most of the time she turns his advances down. She’s not sure what to do in a relationship either!) Neither of them has been in a relationship before, it’s new and exciting.

Conclusion

If you like more realistic characters, a developed side cast, a good relationship that actually bothers to happen (instead of stringing you along for 24 episodes), and you like to laugh, check out Hajimete no Gal.

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Verdict:

To my surprise, Hajimete no Gal still holds up since the first time I reviewed it. It gets an 8 out of 10. I love it, and if it gets translated officially, I might buy it… when I’m not a student with no money anyway.

Mostly, I write stories, so if you’d like to check one out, click here. If you don’t want to have to chose one, I suggest this. Also, if you’re interested in a more in-depth, but less well-written post on the same topic, as well as ecchi and gyaru sub-culture, check out the previous Hajimete no Gal post.

Daniel Triumph.

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for art: DeviantArt and Instagram.

Saotome Senshu, the Boxing Manga

After I caught up with Hajimete no Gal, I struck out in search of another romance manga, and I’m happy I did. I found Saotome Senshu.

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The champion and her trainer.

Story

Like many romances, Saotomi Senshu has chosen to lower the complexity of the story in order to focus on the romance. Let me tell you a secret. In manga, this is a game-winning idea. Most of the best romances have decent stories, but what they trade in for story, they gain in character.

The reason I think Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu has a rating of 7.32 on MAL (as of May 2018) is for two reasons:

First, the two main characters get together early on, and their relationship has actual progression. You never feel like you’re being led on, or that filler is being thrown in for something meaningless—things found in other manga, such as the author being afraid of actually letting the main couple get together. This is notable for me anyway, as I used to watch a lot of romance anime when I was a tween, and the main pair would either get together at the end, or never get together at all.

Second, I’ve never seen a coach/athlete combo. Not just romance either, like, in anything ever. (Although, I guess I don’t have enough sports manga experience to really see it). Points for originality.

Story? 7/10*

Characters

And here we go. The main character is timid and shy. Oh no, you might be thinking, a cliche right off the bat! Well, fear not, he’s also dedicated, driven, and focused. Satoru is a huge boxing fan. He knows all about it, but he’s quite bad at actually boxing.

Saotome confesses to him, something I’ve never seen a female manga character do. And then they have natural relationship progression!! Augh! Finally!

Anyway, that aside, the coach makes Satoru into Saotomi’s trainer, so that they have an excuse to be together all the time. (Because Saotomi is famous, and you don’t want people talking, right? Honestly, I feel like the secrecy is just put in for tension, but I guess tension is good…) I remember there was a scene where their really pushy friend / manager Mito asks them what they’ve done together.

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Remember manga reads right to left

Sex? No. Kiss? No. Have you two even held hands?

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The couple just stares at her, proud and sparking like they’re in a shoujo.

Among all this, the pacing remains natural. They really get to know each other before they move to the next step. This manga isn’t like Akikan or Elfen Lied where they’re just immediately making out all the time.

Back to characters; Mito is fairly interesting. I think we all know someone who loves shipping characters, right? Well, Mito has shipped the main characters—but, she’s actually in the story with them. So what happens? Well, I think it’s enough to say that she acts on her ship. Mito becomes quite the orchestrator in later chapters.

Characters? 8/10*

Art

The mangaka has a fairly unique style. It looks like heI’m a huge fan. Satoru looks really shabby but entirely lovable, and Saotomi has a stoic, piercing gaze. Expression is top notch, with people like Mito giving us all sorts of interesting looks.

Also, it seems to be a trend among artists to not give their female characters (even warriors) any muscle mass whatsoever. I personally live by a very simple principal: if a character uses weapons, give her the muscles necessary to wield those weapons. (It’s similar to my clothing principal. A character should dress in a way you would expect them to dress themselves.)

Art? 8/10*

Enjoyment

Honestly, this might become my new favourite manga. Hajimete no Gal is great, but its release schedule is really long, like once or twice a month. I’m not sure what Saotome Senshu’s is, but it’s really fast. Weekly maybe?

Overall, if you like romance or boxing, or sports, or just a good drama, read Saotome Senshu, Hitakakusu. It’s wonderful!

Verdict? 8/10.

It might even get higher, depending on how Hajimete no Gal goes, and how this goes. Both series are just starting, and I need a lot more information before I can place a final score on either.


*Update as of May 2018

(Or chapter 68)

Old Scores
Story
Characters
Art
Total
7
8
8
8
Updated Scores
Story
Characters
Art
Total
8
7.6
7.1
8

As of chapter 68, I have a better grasp of Saotome Senshu. The story has more depth than I had previously expected, although conversely the characters aren’t as amazing as I initially thought. Sort of the reverse of Hajimete no Gal.

Eventually, I’ll write a fully updated review. Hope to see you for it Feel free to follow this blog.

Daniel Triumph.

You can follow me:
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for art: DeviantArt and Instagram.

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

EDIT: Looking back at this review a couple months later, and I gotta say, it’s awful. I could barely get through it, I write like I’m a whiny 10 year old! I honestly want to go dig for my notes and re-write this, it’s so bad. I must have been in a poor state of mind. Or drunk.

So, before the actual review starts, let me just say that the following are still true.

  • Deathly Hallows felt like a let down after Half-Blood Prince.
  • Deaths in this book were handled far worse than in other books. They had far less impact, and I only remember a few.
  • A lot of things that were built up fell flat.

The biggest reason, I think, that this review is so angry and pouty, is because I think I felt betrayed by Rowling. The Half-Blood Prince was so polished promising, and in comparison, Deathly Hallows felt rushed, and shallow. The writing quality dropped back down to that of books four and five, and so my hopes were dashed.

Hopefully I find time to come back and fix this in the future, to be more fair. Until then, here’s a rather rude rant-review. Sorry if it offends, but it even offends me, the writer of it. :/

I would like to start this (long awaited) review with this.

Link to Quiz

Your in-depth results are:

Gryffindor – 15
Ravenclaw – 11
Slytherin – 10
Hufflepuff – 9

To be honest, I fancied myself a Slytherin or a Hufflepuff. I guess Gryffindor is in between, eh? Anyway, I didn’t take the official test on Pottermore because I refuse to make an account.

Start Weak

Everybody agrees that Deathly Hallows part I, the movie, was one of the worst in the series. Well, the first 2/3 of the novel was very boring as well. Even when it bothered to get interesting, it would quickly get boring again. The whole horcrux thing was a great idea, but it was played off really poorly.

Deaths

No deaths in the entire Harry Potter series was handled perfectly. Sirius was handled pretty well, but he was quickly forgotten, as if he had never existed. Dumbledore was the same way, but I will admit it was done much better.

In Deathly Hallows the people who died were so forgettable that I don’t even remember them while writing this review! I could go look it up, but if they were so minor I can’t remember them then… why bother mentioning them in a review? Oh! There was Moody. Right. The guy who was super interesting and clever until he got replaced by his real self. right. See my point?

The Hunt for Horcruxes

Look, the horcux thing was cool. Harry finally had a mission. But… this should have come about way back in book two or three, or four. Not six. And then IT’S THROWN ASIDE HALFWAY THROUGH??

The Deathly Hallows

What was the point of the Hallows? They could have never been mentioned. Actually, no it’s a motivation for Voldemort. he’s finding the wand throughout the entire book, so we need that at least. Well then what about horcruxes? It seems like, if Rowling had bothered to ever write a second draft of anything, which I doubt she ever did, then she would have found and remedied this redundancy.

Redundancy is a huge issue with Harry Potter.

The horcruxes really did serve no purpose whatsoever because it never mattered. It was a useless obstacle for two reasons.

  1. Voldemort is only really encountered when all of the horcruxes are destroyed already.
  2. Harry never fights Voldemort head on while he has the horcrux safety net.

The only thing that really mattered here was the Hallows. Horcruxes should never have come into the story.

Voldemort is an Awful Villain

This goes without saying. Why? Because he’s evil because he’s evil. There’s no reason for him to be bad, he just is. Nothing happened to him, he doesn’t really have a selfishness that makes people go bad, he just likes causing misery.

Why?

We can never get an answer to that question because there isn’t one.

The Ending was not Memorable

I don’t remember how this ended, except for Harry and Volde coming out of the trees and confronting a line of wizards, then Neville killing the snake. After that it’s a blur. I also remember the short, pointless epilogue.

Why wasn’t the ending memorable? Well, it’s because

All the Build Up Went Nowhere.

Remember Grawp? Hagrid went through a whole lot of trouble and abuse to get him. He even had a connection to the half-giant, it’s his brother! What did Grawp, for all his trouble, do? Shove Hagrid through a window and that’s it.

Remember the Deathly Hallows? Well we had one already, the other we also had. The wand Voldemort found, and then what? Not much really. Pointless.

How about Dumbledore’s army! No, wait, Harry disbanded that in book six. Or the Order of the Pheonix? Well, after Harry went off with his two friends to do nothing for a few hundred pages they faded into the background and did @#$% all for the rest of the book.

Lupin had a whole book. Moody sort of had a whole book. Sirius… nevermind. But there were a lot of huge HUGE characters in the series that did nothing in the final fight. Why? Remember all the trouble Harry and Dumbledore went through to recruit Slughorn last book? Well Rowling didn’t.

The Payoffs that did Land Fell Flat

Horcruxes? Yeah, we had to destroy those! Three down by this book. And then… there was no payoff. Nagini died and that was it, it didn’t feel like a victory. That slog, torturing Dumbledore, and at the end of it all we feel unfulfilled.

Then Snape actually did something good for once. We all knew that deep down he was a great character, just misunderstood! I awaited the moment when he would get over himself and start helping out the main cast. Instead, after becoming Harry’s friend, he died. Sirius all over again! No deep attachment was made yet, but bam! Gone!

Defeating Voldemort though, that must have been great, after seven books of buildup, right? Well, no, not at all. He’s floating somewhere ethereal right now, like purgatory or something. He’s a crying child which, by the way, makes no sense. Like, he was a vile trickster even in his orphanage. What’s he crying about? Who cares?

I Don’t Know what to Do Now.

See, Harry Potter is beloved by so many, and while I don’t really hate it, I also can’t recommend it. I watched three of the movies, but there’s no rewatch/reread value whatsoever for me aside from maybe seeing what Luna looks like as an actor.

The worst thing about the whole series is that it’s not even a bad story, it’s just delivered poorly, and in bad prose.

It’s as if Rowling never learned how to be a writer, and just decided to write a series regardless. Oh wait…

JK Rowling ignored the advice that was given in rejection letters. Advice to take a course, or otherwise improve her writing. She just kept submitting, and got turned down more than fifteen times. By refusing to improve, she not only let’s down Harry Potter, but also her fans.

Verdict

Harry Potter and the Nothing Happens is a book about just that. It felt kind of Hallow to be honest. I didn’t feel Deathly, or even let down. I didn’t feel much of anything, which isn’t a good sign. I just didn’t.

54/100, not memorable. I honestly hope Rowling tries to improve her writing in the future so that her next series is a masterpiece that people love far above Harry Potter.

Want to chat? Check out the Reddit post.

You can find all the reviews at the Harry Potter Table of Contents.

Daniel Triumph.
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Interested in getting the book yourself? You can buy it here, Deathly Hallows (Amazon Affiliate Link)