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Waywardpaladin

Coiled Snake

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So it seems like the Emperor just drops the mic there at the end when he says to Shoju basically,  "you got this bro.  I'm out."  The Emperor does feel weak here.  Not just physically frail from old age.  The guy lacks confidence and passion.  Feels like the Emperor himself sets up the idea that Shoju and Dairu might have instigated the conflict to begin with for their own reasons (though he backs down almost immediately).  I like to think Shoju legitimately wants to help his friend here and is not just influencing him to his own end.  Though it's Shoju so he is hard to read, and we've not spent much of time in his head to get his story.

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Daisetsu: Virtual Paragon of Bushido, has a nice ring to it.

They should make Sotorii Ambassador to the Ivory Kingdoms or some other gaijin realm. Far from the throne, chance to die of malaria, win-win.

Edited by shineyorkboy

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4 minutes ago, phillos said:

So it seems like the Emperor just drops the mic there at the end when he says to Shoju basically,  "you got this bro.  I'm out."  The Emperor does feel weak here.  Not just physically frail from old age.  The guy lacks confidence and passion.  Feels like the Emperor himself sets up the idea that Shoju and Dairu might have instigated the conflict to begin with for their own reasons (though he backs down almost immediately).  I like to think Shoju legitimately wants to help his friend here and is not just influencing him to his own end.  Though it's Shoju so he is hard to read, and we've not spent much of time in his head to get his story.

I think he trusts Shoju, but he was asking if Dairu had an ulterior motive. Which Shoju readily admits his son did, to make a name for himself and ingratiate himself to Dai, but he also pointed out that Dairu felt loyal to Dai, despite the better play having been to try to get in good with the heir apparent.

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" I will not bow...not now, not ever...it isn’t right, it isn’t fair, I wasn’t wrong, I was right, the Heavens are wrong, everyone is wrong— "

There is the tension that vibrates at the heart of Sotorii.  Because, of course, he is wrong yet at the same time has been told all his life that as Heir then Emperor he cannot be wrong, and that contradiction only feeds the anger inside him.  I find it notable that when Sotorii thinks on the coiled snake within, it's the time he's being the most honest with himself.

And Jodan? He's just done.

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1 hour ago, Waywardpaladin said:

I think he trusts Shoju, but he was asking if Dairu had an ulterior motive. Which Shoju readily admits his son did, to make a name for himself and ingratiate himself to Dai, but he also pointed out that Dairu felt loyal to Dai, despite the better play having been to try to get in good with the heir apparent.

I  had failed to grasp it a at first, but Dairu, even if unwittingly, did make a **** of a political statement about future Scorpion policy right then and there.

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Great story but I'm hoping we can move on quickly. I've been waiting far too long to see the empire's reaction to the epic power shift. These stories were great as far as character development, but spending so much time on flashbacks does nothing to advance the plot.

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54 minutes ago, phillos said:

I suspect that has to do with the product delays.  Children wasn't suppose to take so long to come out, and all this stuff is thematically tied to Children.

I won't presume to speak for FFG and their release of products--not my place at all. However, I will say that this story was conceived of, and written, quite some time ago, as part of the overall ongoing L5R story. It was really important for the readers and fans to gain some insight into the inner thoughts, motivations, etc. of the Emperor and his sons, because they're so integral to where the story is about to go. And, that's where I slam headlong into my NDA, so I'll keep it to that.

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Sotorii remains a poster-child for why inherited rulership is a lousy concept.

Jodan's formal abdication is precisely that- a formality- at this point.

Given what we know of Shoju, he's probably... less than happy with how things have shaken out, and now he gets to handle Sotorii's rage and draw fire from those who will see the whole thing as a Scorpion power grab.

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@Shiba Gunichi makes a strong point. Becoming regent is the opposite of Shoju’s plan for himself and his clan. Kachiko will be thrilled, however.

It was so good to see Shoju caught out on not knowing how the Emperor immediately heard what happened at the Scorpion guest house. The worst mistake writers can make with Scorpion is portraying them as conveniently omniscient just because.

When Part I came out, I assumed Dairu stepped in to insure Sotorii would win, thus earning Daisetsu’s gratitude and sparing Sotorii’s pride. But it makes more sense that Dairu was acting out of unironic/straightforward loyalty to Daisetsu. He may be the son of the Scorpion Champion, but he is still an idealistic child.

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6 hours ago, Manchu said:

But it makes more sense that Dairu was acting out of unironic/straightforward loyalty to Daisetsu. He may be the son of the Scorpion Champion, but he is still an idealistic child.

This. He was being polite about it, but the impression I got was that he was offended and annoyed by Sotorii's intrusion as well, he just knew his place socially well enough to know he wasn't allowed to get angry, and - whatever he felt internally - kept a lid on it publically.

"I agree that you are an honored guest, Hantei Sotorii-sama,” he said, his voice solemn, “but your behavior has been…” Dairu swallowed. “It has been inappropriate. I must object to it on behalf of my clan, whose hospitality you currently enjoy."

For someone to say that directly to the Imperial Heir, before witnesses, is pretty serious stuff.

18 hours ago, Waywardpaladin said:

I think he trusts Shoju, but he was asking if Dairu had an ulterior motive. Which Shoju readily admits his son did, to make a name for himself and ingratiate himself to Dai, but he also pointed out that Dairu felt loyal to Dai, despite the better play having been to try to get in good with the heir apparent.

This. Regardless of the behaviour of the other two, Bayushi Dairu comes out of this whole escapade looking like a very promising samurai - courteous, competent, and honest. Of course, that's not necessarily an entirely promising scorpion samurai.

8 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Given what we know of Shoju, he's probably... less than happy with how things have shaken out, and now he gets to handle Sotorii's rage and draw fire from those who will see the whole thing as a Scorpion power grab

This. Whilst the old version of the Scorpion Clan Coup isn't happening (because characters who died in it are already dead and the story is moving in a different direction) we might well have something which looks very much like it because a lot of people will assume it's a coup if it's handled wrong.

Akodo Toturi knows first-hand the Emperor's intentions but even his own clan aren't taking his leadership all that well, and - if he's going to start being completely honest, he also knows (or at least suspects) the scorpion tried to 'fix' the Emerald Championship.

Added to the fact that Doji Kunawan would probably blame the Scorpion Clan for his father's death by sheer spinal reflex given half a chance, and the Scorpion's sudden acquisition of the Empire's second city via Imperial Protectorship, and the concept that it's all actually a scorpion plot to functionally replace the ruling family sounds painfully credible in-character

.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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On 2/14/2019 at 3:37 AM, Doji Hyōkin said:

re is the tension that vibrates at the heart of Sotorii.  Because, of course, he is wrong yet at the same time has been told all his life that as Heir then Emperor he cannot be wrong, and that contradiction only feeds the anger inside him.  I find it notable that when Sotorii thinks on the coiled snake within, it's the time he's being the most honest with himself.

 

Other than the fact that he allowed his anger to overwhelm all other senses, something plenty of samurai do often enough, he really wasn't really wrong. Well, not regarding that one narrow situation in which he found himself in at that moment.

When he stated that he would be involved in something, which is something he had every right to do, he was not only refused but gravely insulted. And by the rules of Rokugan, he had no choice but to issue a duel.

And instead of facing Sotorii himself even though he is the one who made the insult, he hid behind the superior skills of Dairu.

Sotorii had been told all his life that if you do a duel, the person who is in the right will win. Not that whomever wins the duel is right because they win, but if they are in the right, as he was, then he would certainly win.

He bought into the fundamental lies of Rokugani society and had the lies laid bare before him. It is why he snapped.

In fact, I would think that quite a lot of samurai in Rokugan will have such idiotic lies that underpin their society laid bare to them at some point. Although probably most of them have it laid bare for them a lot sooner in life. They don't end up so naive, because they aren't so coddled.

We have already seen in a previous story why his swordsmanship sucks. He gets the best swordsmen in the land as his teachers, but rather than correcting his technique or just flat out beating him in a spar so he can see how much farther he has to go to reach the level he wants to be at-- they just out and out let him win no matter how sloppy his technique is. People expect him to be psychic in order to read the other person's mind in order to realize they let him win? Or to even perceive that when his entire focus is on trying to hit them? Naturally that isn't going to be possible. In the very least he would need to know what it looks like when someone doesn't let you win in order to know what it looks like when someone does. And so he walks away from such scenarios having bested the best of the best in the empire, naturally he would think that he is more skillful than he really is.

And that's probably not just swordsmanship. That probably extends to all teachers of all subjects who have always given him top marks even when he deserved failing marks. And without failure, he would never be able to learn from failure. And with nothing but success, he would ultimate put in less and less effort because people don't generally put more effort into things than necessary to achieve success.

And that's why he fully bought into the lies of his society and never questioned him. Because all the lies he was told about the society ultimately favored him instead of challenged him, so why wouldn't he have bought in fully?

And this is why he massively overestimates his own abilities, this is why he feels upon hearing that the Empire is falling apart, that he could just fix it if he had the opportunity because he has never been allowed to have the experience of facing a scenario that he could not win.

 

What we are seeing here is actually quite well-written and is not possession of an evil god of Jigoku. It is a character whose failures all stem from simply being a human put in the particular situation he has been put with only a limited amount of life experience, none of which would have prepared him to act any differently than he currently is. And he is certainly not sociopathic like others have suggested-- this isn't Hantei the XVI at 6 years old killing his older brother and stuffing his body in a vase to become "heir" before he even knows what that is. It is a very human, though wildly deluded and misguided teen.

 

And, really, "paragon of Bushido" is insulting a senior and then hiding behind your more dangerous buddy when they try to get back at you? Again, the favorable reading of Daisetsu by all the other characters is beyond ridiculous. But what virtues Daisetsu does have come from having Sotorii in his life. He has a better assessment of his own strengths and weaknesses because he has someone to measure himself against. Also, since all the lies underpining Rokugan society were already slanted against him, he had every reason to question them. In fact, it seems he questions them more than the average member of the noble caste does. Which means he can cut through those illusions and choose the more practical, rational and grounded choices (which is what I thought was typical of Imperial Family members anyway). But there is definitely an arrogance and darkness about him too, it is just more subtle than with Sotorii. And I guess side-by-side, those sinister aspects of Daisetsu can just be entirely overlooked.

 

I think the one world-building question remaining in this though is the issue of how it is that not every generation of Hantei has turned out exactly like Sotorii if the way he has been treated is typical. As long as one is never challenged, always told one is perfect and wins at everything without any effort, they are never going to simply wake up one day and instantly be a more humble, polite, thoughtful and considerate person. They will retain the temperament of a spoiled toddler until the day they die should that never be changed.

I would think the answer in most generations would be that the Hantei heir would usually be surrounded by a cadre of Otomo, Miya and Seppun who would be free, if not outright encouraged, to best the heir at whatever subjects they happen to be best at. So there would always be competition for the prince and he would always have to strive to be better. And when he ascended to the throne, all his childhood buddies/rivals could take positions as his ministers, generals and champions at whatever they happened to be better than the Emperor at in order to act on his behalf in those capacities. That is how it would typically work in a society such as Rokugan.

And if such a thing was typical, and nothing has outright said it isn't what happened for the majority of the other 36 generations of Hantei heirs we haven't seen, then it gets back to the point I made in my comment on the last story-- why exactly are Daisetsu and Sotorii looking for validation from the Scorpion heir rather than being surrounded by a gang of kids from the "Imperial Clan"? What exactly made this particular generation such the exception that no one else in the Imperial Families sent their kids to go train, study and socialize with the princes? We know they are followed about by adult Seppun, but nothing has been said about those their own age. Because that really seems to be the key missing element that would have prevent the situation from turning out the way it has.

Maybe it has to do with this empress who was mentioned once and has never been seen or mentioned again? Maybe she had some grudge against the Imperial Families that meant she used what influence she has to keep all the ones who son's own age far away from her precious kids? Maybe she made not-so-subtle threats against any teacher or appointee who might ever think to fail or discipline her kids? Maybe she is even part of the whole Kolat conspiracy actively working to take down the Imperial system, having been drawn into it by the Emerald Champion?

 

The lack of any mention of the boys mother is quite odd. Because Sotorii and Daisetsu both exhibit the kind of personalities you get from when you have a helicopter mother who constantly praises her kid and refuses to allow anything outside of her personal influence to ever reach or affect them.

I really wonder how much of the ideas about the characters the writers are leaving off the page here. Because what is on the page reads pretty genuine. And that hasn't always been true of L5R characters who are often 2-dimensional or simply never put into situations where more aspects of their personality or psychology can be explored. In fact, historically within this setting we have had characters whose actions and motivations have simply not even tracked from story to story.

 

Best thing that could happen to Daisetsu would be to take almost all rank from him, make him a magistrate or some other basic task that means he actually has to face real challenges and keep busy and has to take care of himself. And maybe assign a few people to him who don't have to obey him or be gentle with him, but are ultimately tasked with keeping him alive and stopping him from committing criminal acts.

Edited by TheHobgoblyn

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1 hour ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

@TheHobgoblyn, I have a feeling that Sotorii and Daisetsu have different mothers.  Or am I getting confused with Kaede and Tadaka?  If Sotorii's mother died when he was young/in childbirth, I could imagine his father either ignoring or doting on him, leading to a similar result.

Could be both.  Kaede's the eldest, daughter of Doji Ninube and Tadaka is the child of Isawa Ieku, Ujina's 2nd wife after Ninube disappeared.

Hantei Daisetsu is definitely the son of Hantei Hochiahime, Jodan's current wife.  In Old5R, though, Sotorii was the son of an unnamed Crane concubine after the death of the Emperor's 3rd wife, but before his marriage to Hochiahime and I don't know if that's still the case.

If so, it's interesting that Sotorii may have grown up with the knowledge that even though he is the eldest son and heir, he's the child of a concubine while Daisetu is the blood of the sitting Empress.

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3 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

When he stated that he would be involved in something, which is something he had every right to do, he was not only refused but gravely insulted. And by the rules of Rokugan, he had no choice but to issue a duel.

When he ramrodded himself into a situation with an appalling lack of tact or grace (evidently something else nobody has been bothered to teach him- his upbringing and training remain a bizarre blank. As you note, if every Hantei had been as coddled as he apparently has, they'd all be more or less like him) and got snubbed, he responded by issuing a challenge even though literally no one involved in the discussion was a samurai yet and therefore technically had no right.

The mess was then compounded by Dairu- who clearly has a better notion of the gravity of the situation than Daisetsu- accepting the challenge.

They then proceeded to have a farce of a duel with bokken, as the adults around them evidently wanted to give everyone involved a taste of consequences without the full danger.

Probably not the first time, guessing by the behavior of all involved. But this time, the kid-glove treatment didn't work, because it was a kind of a duel, not just a scrum, and Sotorii- convinced of the rightness of his cause- had to face the fact that the unfairness he perceives around him even extends to arenas where it's supposed to be absent.

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I don't find it entirely strange that the imperial children are socializing mostly with Great Clan samurai. I don't know if old canon ever quoted population numbers for the Otomo, Miya, and Seppun (and given the track record on that front, they were probably wildly implausible), but my impression was always that they were much, much smaller than any Great Clan families. So first of all, you would have many fewer children of suitable age to hang out with the heirs. You also don't necessarily have enough of them to run the entire imperial bureaucracy -- and since it's well-established as a canonical fact that positions like Emerald Champion, Imperial Advisor, and so forth are routinely filled by Great Clan samurai instead of members of the imperial families, then it makes perfect sense that Sotorii and Daisetsu should be building social ties to those groups instead of remaining insular.

Now, does it make sense to have Great Clan samurai running things instead of the "imperial clan"? Eh, six of one, half a dozen of the other -- I can see arguments both ways. Since Rokugani clans are different beasts from real-world clans in any society I'm aware of, there isn't a good historical parallel; certainly for a while there in Heian Japan you couldn't turn around in the imperial bureaucracy without tripping over a Fujiwara, and they're a blatant model for the Crane, but that's one family instead of a conglomeration of multiple families, and the population numbers for the clan as a whole weren't nearly so high. Also, as previous discussions have chewed over, the way Rokugan essentially runs as a federation of separate nations all paying homage to a "high king" is different from Japanese history. So in the end, it's its own thing. But taking that thing as a given, then no -- I wouldn't expect to see Sotorii and Daisetsu socializing with and building ties to only the Otomo, Miya, and Seppun. They should be doing exactly as they're doing, and making sure they have connections among the people they will both rule and be working with, when one or both of them wind up taking the throne.

(Realistically, yes, some imperial samurai kids should be around them, too, as well as children from multiple Great Clans. But story space is always limited.)

As for "how did all the Hantei not wind up this bad" -- the people around Sotorii have resoundingly failed him. It is entirely possible to educate someone properly even while showing him respect: if the Emperor tells you to do so, then it is not only your right but your obligation to correct the heir's failings. Politely, of course, but you serve your Emperor very poorly if you praise everything the heir does and let his mistakes pass unremarked. The amount of kid-glove treatment Sotorii has apparently gotten is egregious . . . and at this point, the next best thing to irreparable. But I don't think that has much to do with whether it's Great Clan samurai or members of the imperial families they hang out with.

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1 hour ago, Kinzen said:

I don't find it entirely strange that the imperial children are socializing mostly with Great Clan samurai. I don't know if old canon ever quoted population numbers for the Otomo, Miya, and Seppun (and given the track record on that front, they were probably wildly implausible), but my impression was always that they were much, much smaller than any Great Clan families.

I've never really felt that made any sense. The Seppun was the first tribe to join the empire and the Otomo was maybe the second. So they started off with a sizeable population. And the Miya family was probably made up of mostly a bunch of peasants/ronin when it was spun off from the Otomo in the first generation.

When you consider how most of the clan families formed, there can be little doubt that they were initially larger than many of the standard clan families. Exactly how many Yogo can there really be, for example, given that the Yogo blood curse means specifically that any Yogo have to be descended from the first and not just merely retainers and probably causes a ton of them to do stupid, suicidal things before they even get old enough to have children.

In addition to that, the Imperial families are the absolutely least likely to be slaughtered in mass in battles with the Shadowlands or in inter-clan conflicts. One really has to wonder how there can be any members of the Crab clan left given that they daily fight bloody, brutal battles with the Shadowlands and die faster than they can breed and only adopt people once a year and only /if/ those people can find and kill 7 goblins in the Shadowlands before getting tainted.

And population in the game was highly variable.

The Mantis Clan was a "big" Minor Clan, but stated to be smaller than any main Great Clan family-- and the Wasp and Centipede were stated to have only maybe 100 members each. But somehow the moment they become a main faction in the game, they are no less than maybe 20% smaller than the smallest Great Clan and can match any of them in skill and easily have equal representation to any Great Clan in any given field.

The Spider Clan was made up of the maybe dozen people who wandered into the Shadowlands and managed not to be slaughtered or turn undead or go entirely insane. Oh, and didn't get slaughtered off when the collective Great Clans beat the Shadowlands forces again and again and again in a short couple generations. But the moment they become a major faction, there are thousands of them that can easily match the force of any Great Clan. And the moment they get recognized but are likely to have to face all the Great Clans? Well, suddenly they can match even the greatest of the Great Clans in numbers and have more than enough power and force to face off with and fend off the entire united forces of the other Great Clans if need be.

So population within Rokugan is entirely variable and directly related to how much the writers felt like a given faction deserved attention. And it could easily swell up to 10, even 1000 times its previously stated size in the matter of a singe story arc if that was what was needed to progress the story.

The sole reason the size of Hantei's Children was unreasonably and exaggeratedly small was simply because the writers had 0 interest on focusing on those families. In fact, they weren't really even written into the story as something that existed originally. There was no thought about there being an Imperial "clan" at all.

And probably the initial conception was that all Seppun and Otomo and Miya were all descendants of some Hantei sometime in the past. And within that concept, particularly after the slaughter by the Scorpion Clan, it made sense that they would be collectively no larger than the Akodo or Hida or Bayushi or so on.

However, as the setting developed, backstories for these families were developed and based on the new backstories it no longer made sense to claim that they were smaller than a Great Clan family. In fact, that metric isn't even particularly useful because given the backstory for some of the Great Clan families, it would make all the sense in the world that they would be considerably smaller than just about any other Great Clan family. And those families are no doubt smaller than any Imperial Family to boot-- maybe even smaller than some of the Minor Clans. Any family whose nature causes them to self-destruct or charge head-first into lethal situations or dissuades them from breeding is clearly going to lag well behind the other families.

Now, that being said, given that the Imperial families have to oversee the entire empire and they have duties that are going to drag them half-way across the land-- whether it be that every puny Brotherhood Monastery gets at least 1 Seppun family to guard them and the rest of them are on either Magistrate duty where they have to deal not only with inter-clan matters but also entirely handle unaligned lands or Imperial Legion duty that means they need to go be a show of force everywhere the clans are misbehaving and they might need to intervene, that the Miya's whole job is to deliver messages from province to province and update all their maps and census and negotiate peace deals and that the Otomo make up the basic workers of the entire imperial governmental offices as well as serving as the official imperial envoys to each of the courts across the land....

Well, that means they are going to be the most diffused family in the entire empire. They are so scattered to the corners of the empire that any attempt for them to gather any real force together would be out-and-out pathetic if they actually had to fight any of the Great Clan's armies without being able to call upon the other Great Clans. Likely even the Fox or Badger Clan could put up a better military resistance than the Imperials could on their own unless they had nearly an entire year to prepare and call back and gather their forces from across the empire.

 

But, regardless, that there are no Imperial Family members that Sotorii and Daisetsu interact with. The fact that the only time we have seen either of them interact with a member of their own faction was when Daisetsu was kind and polite to a girls face, then nasty and cruel behind her back-- it is very odd and something I would think is atypical of previous generation's relation to the other Imperial Families.

The story says the Emperor is surrounded by others from Imperial Families at times but they are speechless decorations thus far, and his sole interactions have been with Shoju and Toturi and at court he relies fully on Kachiko and Yoshi. There has been no indication that he takes any counsel from those families meant to be closest to him.

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On ‎2‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 9:27 PM, TheHobgoblyn said:

 There has been no indication that he takes any counsel from those families meant to be closest to him.

The closest we've had is his interplay with Shoju of "wait....how did you know what happened in the Scorpion Guest House?" - that is deliberately left open as to exactly what happened but at least goes some way to showing that the Emperor can do sneaky scheming as well as the Scorpion.

I assume, but obviously can't know, it was an Imperial agent keeping an eye on the boys.

Whoever passed him the message must have been someone pretty far up the hierarchy, or otherwise able to short-cut it, since the princes met for their duel an hour after the 'incident' - simply getting access to the Emperor within an hour of wishing to is probably quite an achievement, let alone getting access to him with time to spare for someone to go and find the Emerald Champion as well and drag him from whatever he's doing, and get both of them into the dojo before at least one of the princes arrived.

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I do wonder if Toturi can help Shoju with the Sotorii problem by throwing Matsu Tsuko into the equitation. Everyone wins with this deal: Toturi gets rid of Tsuko, Shoju buries Sotorii under 120 pounds of grrrl power, and the happily married couple can bond over their anger management issues! 

Just sayin'

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