Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria

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Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria, or The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria, tells the sinister story of Kazuki Hoshino, who is almost madly attached to his everyday life, and his antagonist Aya Otonashi, who suddenly transfers into his class—for the 13,118th time. She majestically announces to “break” him, without paying heed to anyone else around them.

This is but the start of a dark roller coaster ride that turns the two against themselves, the people around them and the one who may be god. Read on as their relationship slowly changes as they go against their most basic values in their struggle against the world itself.

Associated Names
One entry per line
Hakomari
The Empty Box and Zeroth Maria
Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria
Zerowa Maria i puste pudełko
Пустая шкатулка и нулевая Мария
空ろの箱と零のマリア
虛空之盒與零之麻理亞
Related Series
N/A
Recommendations
Gekkou (2)
Zaregoto (1)
Kamisu Reina wa Koko ni Chiru (1)
Tatakau Shisho (1)
Tsukumodou Kottouten (1)
Shuuen no Shiori (1)
Recommendation Lists
  1. masterpieces
  2. 9+/10 stuff
  3. Done LN/WN
  4. I'll read it soon....probably
  5. Novels that influenced my life

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30 Reviews sorted by


Shio
Shio rated it
November 29, 2015
Status: --
If you could wish for anything, what would you wished for?

The premise of 'wish granting that turn into tragedy' is not something new. It has been used over and over again. What made Hakkomari different from the rest is, probably, the amount of 'concept' it absorbed and that most wish maker actually got what they are wishing for. There's no over the top malice from the being that grant wish. The theme of each volumes are:

First Volume: Groundhog days/repeating days.

... more>> Second volume: taking another's body.

Third and Fourth volume = battle royale.

Fifth and Sixth = revolution

Seventh volume: the closure that ties all loose end. I was kind of disappointed with the ending (I don't really support the main pairing), but overall, it's a nice read. Great character, all important character went through some changes and growth. Most importantly, all character finally find their "happiness" even when it's not the conventional type. <<less
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rozenmaiden
rozenmaiden rated it
July 1, 2016
Status: v7
Even the most innocent human have a its own weakness and darkness.
Yeah, that's the feel I get when I read this novel. IF, Remember IF you have a 'power' that can make your dream come true, what will you do? And remember, for your dream, you must get the consequences in exchange. It's either your loved one, your body, your feeling and many more.

Well, this is this novel's superiority in my opinion.
1. The Romance isn't something that grow in single night.
This LN's romance is growing up as... more>> the story line forward. From adoring to loving, it give you a step of loving someone. And he will sacrifice many things to protect his love. A thorny path of romance that require sacrifice to get. I LOVE IT.

2. Character Development
Character Development of Hakomari isn't just for MC and Heroine. It give a chance for other characters to grow in depth. It make this LN isn't bland and instead, give the color for this LN. Not only MC, but another characters too. I could even confidently said it, This LN isn't got just one MC, but instead, almost everyone of this novel is MC in their own right.

3. Decisive Execution
Well, this LN has a very decisive conclusion. Every single loose end is tied by author. Love this kind of novel that give you a decisive conclusion about characters.

4. Not-All-Happy-Story Type.
OK, this is a bit of rant for me. How the hell a MC get ALL things that he want to easily? Why he didn't get some problem that sheke him enough to despair? How the hell MC can do anything he want and anyone obey him? I.T'.S.U.N.R. EA.S.O.N.A.B.L.E!!!!!

Ehem, Well, I'm a sucker for Weak-to-strong MC, but not kind that trained and get strong or use nakama power to overcame everything. What I mean is His Mentality. His mentality is becoming stronger everytime problem come. And It doesn't mean he is becoming more stronger without sacrifice. He will be despairing over it. ANd he would jump and overcame. And this novel get that side. 5/5 Stars from me. <<less
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Rwings
Rwings rated it
July 6, 2016
Status: v4
The story and plot are interesting, but I've never hated a main character more then I did while reading this. I'm not saying the main character is poorly written or that the book series is bad. Just that every chapter I read I wished the main character would be killed off.

My rating of the story is based off my own enjoyment of the series. Not of the series itself.
14 Likes · Like Permalink | Report
DeifiedHope
DeifiedHope rated it
February 27, 2016
Status: --
Yeah. One of the best. No argument there.

Its a horror story with great plot, almost no cliches and very good plot twists, whats there to not like?
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Garknight
Garknight rated it
December 27, 2015
Status: --
One of the best light novels... And it is one of my all-time favorite novel that I have read. Some of you may think I’m over exaggerating but I can say with out most confidence that this is my all-time favorite...

Utsuro no hako is an occult story where our innocent protagonist finds himself stuck in a series of loops.

The plot is very well made. The characters are very well proportioned. And the back stories of the side characters are pretty well laid. The story is written in a... more>> journal-like description in the first volume. So, sometimes it goes to the 1st loop then time skip then goes 22nd loop.

It is very thrilling to read! <<less
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Bloodraven2k15
Bloodraven2k15 rated it
October 27, 2015
Status: --
Probably the best completely translated light novel you can find.
Read it. I can't recommend it enough.
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arrogantyoungmaster
arrogantyoungmaster rated it
August 17, 2017
Status: v7
Why is this not adapted to an anime there a lot of garbage typical animes out there and still this masterpiece not animated yet. It have everything you want mystery. Psychologic. Action. Drama. School life. Mind blow time loop. Romance and not any romance an actual good romance bunch of characters whit different personalities and not bland and a happy ending and still waiting for an anime
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Mizura
Mizura rated it
October 7, 2016
Status: v7
I found the first arc and parts of the last arc to be quite exciting, but the middle portions to be extremely cheesy.

In particular, the MC (and some other characters) are textbook cases of Chuunibyou, first falling dramatically into despair (... repeatedly. It gets Real old), then making grand speeches about his own ideals, and somehow triumphing magnificently at the end by crushing the opponent one way or another (usually in a not-too-convincing manner, sadly). All this time, there's this creepy guy in the background that's absolutely obsessed over the... more>> MC, even when he's being a whiny kid. There's also this face-palming moment where the MC thinks how much better he'd have handled things instead of a another character, except he spent most of said event moping in self-pity.

Maria? A bland robot who needs some sense slapped into her.

Characters: 4/5 for the first arc, 2/5 for the rest because of regression and chuunibyou.
Mystery: 2/5. The mysteries in the series aren't particularly good. Half of the time the culprit is quite easy to guess, and even when you don't guess it, the answer doesn't feel particularly clever and is within guessable ranges.
Concept: 4/5. In the first arc in particular, the way the time loop is used is quite impressive, and the ensuing arcs at least gain points for originality and complexity of setup.

Overall, I rather wish I'd read the first arc and left it at that. <<less
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LuqKim
LuqKim rated it
September 18, 2016
Status: --
My favourite LN so far. The description may not seem that appealing but trust me and just read it.

There are 5 different arcs and every ones of them link perfectly to each other. You might be wondering some questions but as the story progress, the questions are revealed one by one. Characters are unique and not your common LN troupes. Their backstory is well proportioned and they developed through the series and doesn't get "forgotten" by the author.
For example

... more>>
Spoiler

We got to know more about Daiya past. Then, we learn more about Aya Otonashi and "O". The conclusion is well made and leave us with an happy ever after kind of ending.

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<<less
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rifle
rifle rated it
September 23, 2021
Status: v7
This is certainly a great novel for my taste, for various reasons other people have already mentioned.

But I can also see why some people don't like this novel, it's messy, full of unnecessary philosophy that seems to be there just to fill space, with characters repetitively falling into desperations and a bunch of small "twists" that don't actually add much to the main plot.

But I like it, personally, I don't know if its just me having moderate experience in literature, or me being accepting of the characteristics even when it's... more>> not good, or maybe others are just taking it too seriously, idk.

I think the philosophies in this novel really shows what "maximalism" really is, a bunch of excess thoughts and many strange interpretations of concept and events we don't often talk about. Its a waste of time and resources, nobody needs it, but its fun to think about, and its also what makes it different and special in my book.

Characters falling into despair over and over again just show how hard it is to reach for something, and that determination can surpass every limit, I don't think its excessive, but necessary to show us that fact.

The "twists" are there just to create tensions, but it wont work if you keep thinking that the protagonist is going to success nonetheless, it really depends on what kind of mindset you have reading the novel, I admit that in such settings the "twists" don't seem to work too well, but when I was reading it I still felt the tension, just because I have faith in the antagonist also.

Maybe its 'cause Im not good at constructing a good storyline, but I think not every details have to contribute to the main plot somehow, they could be there just for the sake of it, but if they are good details individually, I don't mind having some, personally those are tolerable.

this is just my very subjective review of the novel, maybe not even a review but more of an argument to those who don't like the novel for these reasons, there are some other things but ill just stop here. I just want to understand others thoughts and share my thoughts on their's. Who needs this? No one, Im just bored I guess, but these are my true thoughts.

All in all, a good read, I really recommend reading it, my fav so far, not that I have read that many LNs anyway. But I really think this is on there with the few quality stuffs that at least this place has to give. There should've been more like these instead of the current trends, it's not like this one is very original in concept or anything, but still better than "those" I guess. <<less
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moon-bunnies
moon-bunnies rated it
July 5, 2021
Status: v7
Man, that was pure ass.

The plot was alright, but the characters? You got a squadron of manic pixie dream girls who can't pass the Bechdel test, and a protagonist with so little personality, it's gotta be a ploy to allow readers to project themselves onto him.

Everyone tries so hard to be edgy, preaching some sort of philosophy while trying to sound profound but it just falls flat on its face. Like wow! Kazuki you're so quirky but deep with your obsession with every-day life!

*review regarding each arc ahead*
... more>>
Spoiler

Arc 1 (Vol 1) : This arc was pretty interesting. But I don't know why the author had to make it so that Maria repeats this timeline 27k times. Completely sobers up my suspension of disbelief because I doubt anyone can psychologically survive that, and could've got the point across by saying a more believable number that's at least under 3k or something.

Arc 2 (Vol 2) : Personally, I just found it so boring that I skimmed most of it so I can't say much.

Arc 3 (Vol 3-4) : I thought the idea of a death game here was so cool, but this whole time I'm wondering, is Maria ever going to give us more character complexity? Sure, she's a "box", her entire gimmick is to not have any human attachments except to Kazuki. But forreal? We're really rolling with an extremely beautiful human doll as a female protagonist instead of a girl with an actual personality? This story just screams it was written by a man. And I got another bone to pick with the depiction of Nana Yanagi, Kazuki's oh-so-beautifully-tragic first love. She clearly has some form of bpd or bipolar disorder, chronically self-harms and has manic episodes, and invested her whole being into her boyfriend, who she emotionally cheats on with Kazuki. And Kazuki just licks her tears off and is addicted to it? But then he blows up at her so she runs off with her boyfriend never to be heard from again, w/ the possible theory she killed him? That is so corny, I'm seriously wondering if the author's ever had a girlfriend.

Arc 4 (Vol 5-6) : So this was supposed to be the golden part of the whole story but idk, it was aight. Kazuki finally grows some back bone, but that's about it. I couldn't invest myself in Daiya/Kokone/Miyuki's backstory. Like if the whole point of the arc is to depict human trauma, then it should've done it more eloquently instead of a sequence of melodramatic scenes that rely on female infatuation with men. And I could not feel any empathy for Daiya who is a personification of the madonna-who*e complex based on how he either idolizes women he respect or dismisses the ones he doesn't as sluts. That, and he just came off as a Light Yagami wannabe.


Arc 5 (Vol 7) : I guess it's a nice resolution to everything. But again, my suspense of disbelief was killed by the expectation I should believe Kazuki relives the same day 400k times, commits mass genocide, then regains his sanity in only 3 years? And Nana Yanagi and her boyfriend just hops back all happily and re-integrates into their school life like nothing happened? Can anyone tell me what's one personality trait Mogi had other than a "sweet smile" and an obsession with Kazuki? Like I know this whole story was supposed to romanticize yandere romance, which I get, I love that sh*t too, but when the female characters are so flat it doesn't work. Kokone was the only character that felt complex to me.
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Tldr; I am reading forum threads of people begging for anime adaptations of this series and bemoaning how this novel isn't popular in Japan in comparison to its oversea audiences, and that's just about the most satisfying thing I've gotten from reading this. I hope this novel dies in obscurity. <<less
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Jackson100000
Jackson100000 rated it
December 8, 2017
Status: Completed
First off Hats off to u author Eiji Mikage-sensei. I really did have a whole lot of fun reading this whole series. It was dark, it was thrilling, it was enlightening, it was really a piece which was an epiphany to me. The story moves forward in a way that ties up all the loose ends in a very satisfactory manner save for one or 2 points which aren't really points to be considered on a whole truly speaking. Humans truly are a mass of emotions as is depicted perfectly... more>> in this novel. Fueled by our egos we even deny that common sense of ours and justify our selfish/inhumane acts by spouting petty words such as justice, welfare, for the sake of the world etc etc.

I believe this novel was for the sake of enjoying a good time while broadening our horizons above our own petty views (at least I think so). Well I did have fun so I can justify my defense for this novel. A must-read!!! <<less
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Anikiman
Anikiman rated it
April 28, 2017
Status: --
A story about wishes, desires, and boxes.

A "Box", an strange system that grants wishes, has appeared in possession of a certain person. Our protagonist Kazuki Hoshino meets a mysterious girl named Aya Otonashi, who asks him to help her find the person who activated the "Box". In a cyclic world where everyday is the same day, this pair must find the one in charge and take them down.

Volume one: Day repeats again and again. The story goes back and forth, telling things that happened before the story started in order... more>> to explain what is going on (not that it helps). Confusing.

Volume two: Body stealing... Very confusing if you focus on the details or the culprit's motive.

Volume three/four: The protagonists get caught in a deadly battle royale arcade video game. A simple story arc with a ominous ending.

Volume five: People start behaving like dogs because of some unknown phenomena. Megalomania at its finest. Revolution.

Volume six: The megalomaniac gets trapped in a cinema. Someone gets stabbed in order to stop the revolution. Novel's Title finally makes sense.

Volume seven: The darker version of volume one. Is there a better place to end everything than the place were it al started? Every missing information is given. Everyone is going crazy. Spoilers:
Spoiler

A dog is murdered!

[collapse]

Loved the ending. Enjoyed the story. Felt a desire to punch the author more than once. <<less
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Valixiant
Valixiant rated it
March 22, 2022
Status: v2
Alrighty, I had a lot of recommendations to read this, and I got bored of reading through various copy and paste novels so I decided to try this out. However, this novel was pretty dissapointing.

First off, volume 1 was pretty great. It was a solid 4/5 in my opinion. The author set up a foundation in which they can give the characters more depth. The plot was pretty decent, even if I have already seen it a few times.

Volume 2 is where the novel fell off. It drove straight off... more>> a cliff in this arc, I'll explain why.

First off, the main character. He quite literally has IQ below room temperature. I've never seen someone so s*upid. Someone in volume 2 threatened the main character with a bunch of empty threats. Not only, would the person fulfill those threats, since it goes against their goals, but they couldn't. So, the main character, with his unlimited IQ, as shown at the end of volume 1, falls for them completely. He also has zero willpower, for which I am amazed.
Spoiler

Surely you have to have some form of willpower to persist in finding the exit to a never-ending loop. Even he doesn't remember all 27, 000 iterations he still has memories of some of them. Shouldn't he have a little bit of willpower?

[collapse]

The plot in volume 2 was even worse.
Spoiler

The main character's body gets taken over, and they have to figure out who it was. Before they even mentioned the main character's body getting taken over, I already knew who did it. It was terribly obvious and it pissed me off how I had to go over half a volume watching the two stooges trying to find someone who wasn't even trying to hide in the first place. Listen, I get you could just say O was erasing the main character's memory, but that clearly doesn't work too well on him. Also, thats such a shitty way to do a mystery novel in the first place.

[collapse]

Oh also, how can I forget the romance. This is basically a harem. We have a bunch of people who are in love with the main character, and some don't even try to hide it. The thing I find amazing about this, is the author can have a whole arc about a single one of those characters and STILL manage to make that character's personality perfectly flat.

Overall, I dislike the way they do mystery in this novel, it doesn't feel that satisfying even when the mystery is uncovered. The plot was full of whole in volume 2 that it can barely be considered a plot. Furthermore, the characters are flat, despite having whole arcs about them. <<less
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Kien An
Kien An rated it
November 27, 2021
Status: Completed
HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

To me, this series is the greatest psychological drama light novel that I ever read.

Things make sense, great plot twist, beautiful illustration.

... more>> The author took me to the deep of every main character's mind, make me link the content with my real life.

------SPOILER ARLERT------


--------------------------------

In Daiya's chapters, it made me think more about things I'm gonna do, think about the consequences of my actions, to me and to the others that maybe got involved in.

In the last arc, when Kazuki tried so damn hard to reach Maria, I was really into it, imagine spending 400k days, which means over a thousand years in the circle of hell and he still not gave up, even when he almost lost everything but his love to Maria, that really touched me. <<less
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Fr0stb1te
Fr0stb1te rated it
February 17, 2021
Status: v7
To make sure we don't have a wrong impression, this is a romance light novel with a heavy emphasis on mystery. Not a mystery LN with a sprinkle of romance. With this, the overall goal of this work can be understood. Of course, there are other end points or lessons that can be learned.

Well, now that I look back. What made me feel attracted to this novel? Looking here, many reviews made me rediscover why I fell in love in this novel. Obviously from other reviews, there are also flaws... more>> that are true. Glaring flaws even. Let me say it in my own words.I love boy meets girl stories. It is my favourite type of plot. It is fun, but sometimes it's just boring, even unrealistic. Strange. How can you wish for a piece of fiction to bring you realism with this genre? Isn't the purpose of this type of stories the opposite, something that will never happen? A look back and I finally got it, a sense of realism produces this spark of life that makes me feel as if these stories happened somewhere in another world. A real experience. This novel managed to intertwine various genre that adds a breath of life to it. Of course, the novel sacrifice parts of its 'essence' in exchange for the change in direction, but this 'change' managed to entrance me in its story.

Ah, I'm sure you noticed or maybe I'm too self-conscious. My wordings present me as someone who is a little grown-up but is still too childish and idealistic (I don't deny it). This does reflect my taste in novels unfortunately. I'm often torn between web novels aimed at teenagers and another at adults. For teenagers, I actually quite like its wish fulfillment. What I don't like is it actively 'ignores' 'too much' aspects of life. For adults, it actively 'acknowledges' 'too much' parts of life and seems pessimistic or too pragmatic. I love 'both parts' of it but I don't want just the other only. It's hard to find a novel that manages to srike a balance between the two. Yet this novel indeed hit the spot on the mark.

Let me rephrase what I've read from a certain Amaz#n review.

My first impression of Kazuki Hoshino is your average jp MC who is indecisive about everything. A typical MC in your romcom or harem novel. He places an extreme importance on his "everyday life"as seen throughout the story. That is until a certain incident in which he meets someone... What I find fascinating is Kazuto Hoshino's decision to discard his "everyday life" to save someone that is important him. He disregard his peaceful life because that person had become a part of his life everyday life. To force through and change when faced with problems, even if some of his ways does not strike me as a proper way to solve problems, I find him admirable.

One thing I learn is that you will never be free of sins. But that is not the end. I believe you have to bear it and live through life until the end. while redeeming yourself of course. With that mindset, I started to enjoy flawed characters go through this journey and also just flawed characters. What made them become like this?How to fix their problem?What do I do to not repeat the same mistake? (Of course, I'll still dislike a character if his level realization does hit the coordinate I'm looking for, this is where that balance I'm talking about comes in) Before you say it, to apply it in real life is of course difficult.... I'm just a so called netizen philosophist....

I think that wraps up my thoughts for now. I didn't talk much about the story as other review have already expressed enough. I feel like this review is lackng just a little bit. Might edit in the near future if I remember it. I really feel the chuunibyo in this review.... whatever <<less
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LongT
LongT rated it
June 8, 2020
Status: Completed
The story is incredible. There might be some parts that do not make sense, but the plot is 10/10. Characters' emotions and development are clear and interesting. Some mysteries of the stories are not perfect at some part of the story, but they are still thrilling for the readers.

Totally Recommend HakoMari
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VictusNoctus
VictusNoctus rated it
July 17, 2019
Status: Completed
Disclaimer: I was searching for 'dark' novels, not mystery novels so personally feels like a 3 but I feel I should give at least a 4.
Was really hyped to read this after seeing the reviews. While the first few volumes were mind-blowingly interesting and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it with a 5/5 review. It just felt dragged out with same old mystery solving stuff by around halfway in and then things got weird in the final volume, as in weirder than usual. At the very least the conclusion wrapped... more>> things up nicely though. <<less
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Touch Me
Touch Me rated it
May 15, 2018
Status: --
Yeah, like Shio said I also don't like the main pairing, but I also don't dislike it to the marrow of my bones, but I'd rather prefer the pair of Kazuki Hoshino and Kasumi Mogi that's all I want from this story= ((
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Mahesvara_
Mahesvara_ rated it
July 17, 2022
Status: Completed
Tldr: It's very engaging. Volume 7 also makes me crave for more. But it's already perfect so it's good ending overall. For starters, the volume 1 is gonna f*ck your brain, it's good and very engaging although the Non-linear story telling is bit too much, author overdid it. But overall it's very good to me.

I'm gonna drop minor and indirect spoilers, after volume 2 I started reading spoilers for myself and I get good results since I don't think i'll be able to continue to read without spoiling myself. The... more>> story is nothing like those shounen stories with two dimensional characters. There's a drama but all those drama all had depth in them and you can relate with your heart. Unlike most japanese shounen stories where people cry and goes emo for really s*upid reasons. Although they use quite a lot of metaphors it's nothing too edgy. If you want a cool and badass main character then this might not be for you. Although it has a great character growth for the Protag. Kazuki Hoshino the Protagonist is basically wimpy and indecisive in the beginning— to be exact From volume 1, 2 & 3 all the MC do was rely on someone. This first 3 volumes has interesting plot but still a bit of a chore to read, I don't really like the early game MC but he's still relatable character. In volume 4 he started trying to do things on his own, he's become better since he finally know what to do and path he should walk on. He's become a lot better at Volume 5 as he's already completely changed with goals by then and even better at volume 6, it's the peak of the story. He just keeps getting better.

As for Volume 7. It doesn't really have any complex plot, theres still a plot twists but nothing complex. The Protagonist is basically a full blown broken guy already, this volume can be very sad but I enjoyed the hardships of the MC trying to endure so much for the one he loves. It also has a great ending, it's very lovely, heartwarming and filled with hope compared to the essence of the whole story.

Finishing this put me a bit at loss. I still keep coming back rereading some scenes, I just don't want to move on because I know it's pretty rare for story like this to appear. I feel like i've lost a something. I wish there was more after story but the story already had a perfect ending. <<less
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