Camera Obscura

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Created by: Dr. Kunihiko Asou
Other names: Shadow Obscure, Black Camera and Shaeiki
Games: Fatal Frame, Fatal Frame II (DCB), Fatal Frame III, Fatal Frame IV, Spirit Camera and Fatal Frame V

Quote: "So this is the Camera Obscura... It takes pictures of impossible things..."

The term Camera Obscura defines a camera within the Fatal Frame Series that has the ability to exorcise ghosts using different types of film. It is the main device (weapon) used within the games by players to fight against the ghosts and spiritual entities encountered throughout the stories.

The camera is one of many paranormal devices created by Dr. Kunihiko Asou, an occultist, philosopher, and folklorist. His research and terminology involving the cameras is known as "Mystical Science". Dr. Asou created his first prototype camera which he entrusted to the descendants of his family, noting that while it captured images of strong thoughts on film, he was certain it could be improved to capture spirits as well.[1]

It was known that Dr. Asou continued his research to find bigger and better ways of ultimately improving his Camera Obscura, including using occult and mystical artifacts such as a piece of the Holy Mirror and the masks of Rougetsu Island.[2] While Dr. Asou invented the Camera Obscura, he didn't create/build all of them, as there are many that were built and developed by his assistants.

After Dr. Asou's death, his Camera Obscura became a popular collectible for enthusiasts. Many of the cameras are scattered throughout Japan; however, most of them do not work any more. For example, the camera that Rei finds in her former fiancé Yuu's Room, is broken.

It is also used to catch images and ghosts in the area which give you clues on where you should go next. Its filament detects violent and non violent ghosts nearby, showing red/orange for violent and blue for non-violent. The camera can be upgraded during game play (each camera's method is different; see upgrading the camera for more info), and there are three abilities you can upgrade; maximum value, range and sensitivity. Each of them has a corresponding value of points needed to upgrade it. The higher the level, the more effective the camera will be. The Camera Obscura can also be equipped with several types of lenses that can be found and earned during the game and for fulfilling certain objectives to make the camera more powerful.

Dangerous Side Effects

Main Article: Overexposure

The Camera Obscura is still considered a dangerous object, as over-usage of the camera can inflict disastrous side-effects on its user. Overuse of the camera may result in the user being driven insane by what they see, and this can cause them to commit suicide.

Main Article: Spirited Away

Extended use also increases the risk of being attacked by spirits, and in some cases being Spirited Away, leaving only the Camera behind. In modern times, rumours of these dangers spread, but collectors are still known to seek them out.

Cameras in the Fatal Frame Series

Fatal Frame Camera

Main article: Camera(FF)

The first camera in the Fatal Frame Series is actually never called by the name 'Camera Obscura' in the game. However, this camera is considered to be one of Dr. Asou's completed Camera Obscuras. It uses a piece of the Holy Mirror from the Himuro Mansion to work properly. The camera is given to Mikoto Munakata by the girl in the white kimono. How the camera ended up in the mansion in the first place is a mystery.

Fatal Frame II Camera Obscura

Main article: Camera Obscura(FF2)

The second camera in the series is considered the 'prototype' for other cameras encountered in the series. Dr. Asou gave this camera to his friend Seijiro Makabe to aid him in his research, while he went on to perfect his Camera Obscura creations. It is in Fatal Frame II that the term 'Camera Obscura' is first used. Mio Amakura finds the camera tossed away in a corner of the Osaka House in Minakami Village.

Fatal Frame II FPS Camera Obscura

Main article: FPS Camera Obscura

This camera was specially designed for the Xbox release of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. It is used in the FPS mode of the game, and has its own unique capture circle and camera interface. For plot purposes of the series, it is considered to be the same prototype camera as the normal Camera Obscura seen in Fatal Frame II.

Fatal Frame III Camera Obscura

Main article: Camera Obscura(FF3)

Another one of Dr. Asou's cameras. This specific camera exists both in the real world and dream-world. The version of the camera that exists in the real world does not work (and is also a save point in the game), while the camera in the dream world does work properly. The real world version of the camera was sent to Yuu Asou by Kei Amakura, who found it in the ruins of the Kuze Shrine. It is unknown how this particular camera arrived at the shrine, although folklorist Akito Kashiwagi is mentioned as having a camera with him. (It is unknown if Akito's camera is also this same camera.) This camera is not to be confused with Rei's Camera from the same game.

Fatal Frame IV Camera Obscura

Main articles: Camera Obscura(FF4) and Misaki's Camera Obscura

Main Camera Obscura ("Lunar Eclipse" Camera Obscura)
This camera has a moon and cloud-like design, reminiscent of cloudy-moon carvings that are significant on Rougetsu Island. Its charge circle mimics the stages of the lunar eclipse, from the full moon to the actual eclipse, similar to the theme of the ritual performed at the island. Dr. Asou donated this camera to Rougetsu Island as a token of his appreciation for their assistance, which helped him improve the design. It is found by Madoka in a broken display in the Kunihiko Asou Museum. Interestingly enough, there are other cameras in the room all displayed on a separate case than the Inside the Director's Office in the Hospital, though it is unknown if these cameras function the same way as the other camera obscuras. In the game, there are multiple carvings bearing a pattern which resembles the camera's outer edge design.

Misaki/Asou Family's Camera Obscura

Misaki Asou's Camera Obscura has a very different design from the camera used by Madoka and Ruka. She brings it with her to the Rougetsu Island, and finds it on the floor after she blacks out for the first time. The design of the camera very closely mimics the design of Fatal Frame I's Camera Obscura, except that the camera is decorated with a gold-colored metal that has rusted and worn down (most likely from years of use). The camera seemingly focuses on recovering lost memories from the past, and more photos of past scenes are taken with it than Ruka's camera. This camera is also one of Dr. Asou's prototypes, which he deemed a more successful and stronger example of his work, and it was handed down in the Asou Family. Fatal Frame 2's Camera Obscura is also considered a prototype, though it is not known which camera was created first.

Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir Camera Obscura

Main article: Camera Obscura(SC)

Nothing is known about the history of the Camera Obscura used in Spirit Camera: The Cursed Memoir, except that it appears to have belonged to the player character since before the start of the game. Unlike other cameras in the series, the Camera Obscura in Spirit Camera is quite basic. It cannot be upgraded and only consumes one type of film, which seems similar in damage and recharge period to Type-14 Film. Like in the original game, combos and Fatal Frame shots cannot be achieved. When the player takes damage a "cracked glass" effect appears on the screen for a few seconds. Its few lenses are used to solve puzzles rather than to aid in battle.

Fatal Frame: Deep Crimson Butterfly

Main article: Camera Obscura(DCB)
DCB Camera Obscura.jpg

This camera's origin and history are exactly the same as the Camera Obscura in Fatal Frame II, but changes were made in terms of gameplay. For the first time in the series, this camera allows players to use multiple lenses (up to three) simultaneously, rather than switching between them. Charge depends on how long the ghost has been inside the capture circle rather than its proximity to the protagonist, and Fatal Frame IV's lock-on feature has been added as an adaptation to the Wii Remote. Additionally, Spirit Orbs are no longer used; only spirit points are necessary to upgrade.

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

Main articles: Camera Obscura(FF5) and Ren's Camera Obscura

Main Camera Obscura

FF5 Camera.png
This camera was given to Hisoka Kurosawa by an old woman, who also taught her about Shadow Reading and other folk traditions local to Mount Hikami. Hisoka, Yuri Kozukata and Miu Hinasaki are all shown using this camera, while Ren Hojo carries a different one.

Ren's Camera Obscura

Ren's Camera.png
A camera passed down in a branch of the Asou Family and inherited by Ren Hojo. It was put away in a box along with a book and a lock of hair. Ren lends the camera to Hisoka, asking her to find out about its history, and she confirms it is a rare Camera Obscura. Ren uses it to investigate Mount Hikami.

Cameras in Expanded Universe Material

A Curse Affecting Only Girls & Fatal Frame: The Movie

Movie Camera 2.png
In the novel, the camera belongs to Susumu Kusakabe. He inherited it from his late father, who owned a photo studio. The history of the camera is unknown, and in the novel, it is never referred to as a Camera Obscura (shaeiki). It is noted to be able to take pictures of spirits invisible to the naked eye, but it is not used to exorcise spirits, so the extent of its power in that regard is uncertain.

Shadow Priestess

SP Camera Concept.png
This Camera Obscura is an heirloom of the Washizuki family, who have served as Shadow Priestesses at Karasawa Shrine for generations. It belonged to Sara's great-great-grandmother; it is not known where she obtained it, or whether it was a creation of Dr. Asou. The Camera Obscura was passed down in the female line of the family, and used by the Shadow Priestess to purify evil spirits. The power of the camera depends on the strength of the priestess's will.

Taking Pictures


The viewfinder is the screen that appears once the camera is raised. Entering viewfinder mode allows you to take photographs. Viewfinder mode shows the selected Basic Function/lens, capture circle, health bar and filament. In Spirit Camera, viewfinder mode is the default view throughout the game.

Photo Album

Photos taken with the Camera Obscura can be saved to photo albums on the PS2's memory card, or into the Wii's memory.

The album can be accessed through "Album" on the menu at a save point. Photos can then be placed into the album and saved. Each album has a photo limit (24 for Fatal Frame, 16 for the others). Pictures can also be deleted from the album from the menu inside the album screen. If the album is not saved after each edit the changes will be lost. After filling an album a new one must be created or old pictures deleted from the filled album.

In Fatal Frame IV, any photos not saved to an album at the end of each chapter will be automatically deleted.

Spirit List

The Spirit List is included in every game of the main series. In the first games it lists most ghosts photographed (attacking, vanishing and hidden ghosts all appear), whereas in Fatal Frame V, vanishing ghosts are no longer included, and there are no hidden ghosts to be photographed.

Fighting Ghosts

The main feature of the Fatal Frame series is fighting ghosts with the camera. Upon being attacked by a hostile ghost, the character must use the camera to exorcise and fend off the ghost.

Capture Circles

Main article: Capture Circle

Each camera in the Fatal Frame series has its own unique capture circle. This circle is the targeting system for the Camera Obscura. It serves as an indicator to find hidden spirits, spiritual phenomena, or as a way to attack hostile ghosts. In each installment of the series (and even sometimes within console versions) the camera/circle are different.


Main article: Filaments

The Filament is the coloured bar that appears on the Camera Obscura and game screen, that tracks ghosts and indicates the presence of ghosts. When an attacking, vanishing or hidden ghost is nearby, the filament will react and begin to glow. The glow intensifies as the spirit gets closer, or is more accurately aimed at.

Types of Shots

Main article: Camera Shots

Throughout the series, there are many different shots the camera can take to battle ghosts with.

Upgrading the Camera

Fatal Frame, Fatal Frame III, Fatal Frame V and Deep Crimson Butterfly

Points obtained from photographing ghosts must be used to upgrade each of the camera's functions or power-up lens levels. In Deep Crimson Butterfly, Blue and Red spirit stone shards will also award the player a random number of spirit points.

Fatal Frame II

Before a function can be upgraded with points, a spirit orb must first be used in the slot you wish to upgrade. Spirit orbs must be obtained from battling ghosts and around the village before they can be used with a slot. After inserting the spirit orb, obtained points can be used to upgrade the function or lens.

Fatal Frame IV

Blue and red crystals must be found around the island, or in Mission Mode, to upgrade basic functions and lenses. The amount of each crystal picked up is random. Points are no longer used for upgrades.

Camera Equipment

Camera Films

Film 07 FF2.png
Main article: Films

In the Fatal Frame Series, there are several different kinds of film that can be used in conjunction with the Camera Obscura. Over the course of the series, different kinds of camera film have been available for use. These films range from the weakest Type-07 film to the strongest Type-零 film.

Camera Lenses

Main article: Lenses

Lenses were first introduced in Fatal Frame II. They have many uses, such as inflicting higher damage on ghosts. They are picked up like normal items around the game.

Camera Functions

Main article: Functions

Functions (called Special Functions in Fatal Frame, Equipment in Fatal Frame III and Enhancements in Deep Crimson Butterfly) are special abilities in each game that are significant upgrades to your camera. They are unlocked in various ways, from beating the game on certain modes to completing the spirit list or Mission Mode. Uses of these functions include the ability to zoom in and out, automatically track ghosts, and shoot without expending film.

Spirit Orbs

Spirit orb.png
Spirit Orbs are used to upgrade the Camera Obscura in Fatal Frame II. They are found randomly when defeating ghosts and around the village. One must be put into each empty slot in the camera's functions and lenses, and then used with points to upgrade.


In Fatal Frame IV, blue and red crystals are used to upgrade the Camera Obscura and the Spirit Stone Flashlight. They replaced the old upgrade system of points and/or Spirit Orbs. They reappear in Deep Crimson Butterfly, but are not directly used to upgrade the camera. Instead, they are worth points.

Special Abilities

Main Article: Special Abilities

Only in Fatal Frame III, these are special character specific add-ons that are used in conjunction with the Camera Obscura.



Fatal Frame

Fatal Frame II

Fatal Frame III

Fatal Frame IV

Spirit Camera

  • Player character - owned a camera since before the start of the game

Fatal Frame V

Misc. Info

  • The word 'Camera Obscura' is an actual photography term. In the real world the camera obscura was the predecessor to cameras. They were darkened enclosures in which images of outside objects were projected through a small aperture or lens onto a facing surface. They were basically portable dark rooms in which pictures were taken. There are no similarities to the Camera Obscura in the Fatal Frame Series and the real world camera obscura save for the name.
  • In Latin Camera Obscura means 'dark room'.
  • In Fatal Frame III, Rei, Miku and Kei initially use a normal camera which can take pictures of ghosts, but has no exorcising effect.
  • During Fatal Frame V, Miu briefly uses the camera while in a dream, directly effecting the ending received.

See Also

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Player Characters
Miku Hinasaki - Mafuyu Hinasaki
Major Characters/Ghosts
Kirie Himuro - White Kimono - Lord Himuro - Kirie's Lover - Junsei Takamine - Koji Ogata - Tomoe Hirasaka - Ryozo Munakata - Yae Munakata - Mikoto Munakata
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Mr. Hinasaki - Masato Hinasaki - Miyuki Hinasaki -Tokitada Kyuki - Blinded Maiden - Bound Man - Broken Neck - Clock Boy - Crawling Girl - Female Head - Floating Face - Floating Woman - Former Rope Shrine Maiden - Girl in the Well - Hand From Floor - Headless Priests - Long Arms - Long Hair Woman - People Killed - Wandering Man - Wandering Monk
Blinding Ritual - Calamity - Camera Obscura - Ceremony of the Ropes - Demon Tag - Demon Tag Children - Demon Tag Ritual - Flashlight - Folklorist - Himuro Family - Hinasaki Family - Holy Mirror - Kagome, Kagome - Laceration Rope - Malice - Munakata Family - Overexposure - Rope Curse - Rope Shrine Maiden - Spirited Aways - Strangling Ritual
Abyss - Backyard - Blinding Room - Buddha Room - Burial Room - Cherry Atrium - Demon Mouth - Doll Room - Dungeon - Entrance - Fireplace Room - Fish Tank Room - Five Gods Shrines - Grand Hall - Hell Gate - Himuro Mansion - Koto Room - Library - Mask Room - Moon Shrine - Narukami Shrine - Rope Altar - Rope Hallway - Square Garden
Camera - Save points - Films - Flashlight - Lenses - Functions - Fatal Frame Spirit List - Health items
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Mio Amakura - Mayu Amakura
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Sae Kurosawa - Yae Kurosawa - The Kusabi - Seijiro Makabe - Itsuki Tachibana - Dr. Kunihiko Asou - Chitose Tachibana - Miyako Sudo - Masumi Makimura - Akane Kiryu - Twin Doll - Ryokan Kurosawa
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Ryozo Munakata - Yoshitatsu Kiryu - Azami Kiryu - Mutsuki Tachibana - Veiled Priests - Mourners - Utsuro - Woman in Box - Fallen Woman - Limbo Man - Limbo Woman - Sunken Woman - Broken Neck Woman - Minakami Villagers - Children Playing Tag - Man In Dark - Woman in Dark - Escaping Twins - Hanging Twins
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Ruri - Dr. Kunihiko Asou - Tengai Narumi - Naoya - Masumi Makimura - Miyako Sudo - Ozawa - Serizawa - Musubi Osaka - Tsuzuri Osaka - Makie Kuzuhara - Kozue Kuzuhara - Kiriko Asanuma - Shizu Amakura - Engravers - Men in White - Kizuna Himuro - The Kusabi - Stroller Grandma - Black Shadow - Engraved Men
Amakura Family - Asou Family - Boat of Passing - Camera Obscura - Crimson Butterfly - Echo Stone Earrings - Final Impalement - Handmaidens - Handmaiden's Song - Himuro Family - Impalement Ritual - Impaling the Sin - Indigo ink - Ink of the soul - Igushi Doll - Kushimi Doll - Kuze Code - Kuze Family - Lost Patients - Miasma - Outsiders - Piercing of the Soul - Red ink - Rite of Commandment - Rite of Spirits - Sacrificial Pillars - Snake & Holly Tattoo - Spirit Tree - Spirited Aways - Tattooed Curse - Tattooed Priestess - The Rift - Rite of Purple Ink - The Tearing - The Unleashing - Worshippers
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Marie Shinomiya - Tomoe Nanamura - Fuyuko Shiratsuki - Yoriko Sonohara - Kazuto Amaki - Iori Aiba - Natsuki Shiono - Tadayuki Kaido - Tomoko Hinuma - Asagi Hizuki - Shoji Katagiri - Sanae Houzuki - Katsuhito Kariya - Kageri Sendou - Watashi - Shie Sonosaki - Masanobu Fuchiki - Michihiko Ikushima - Sato Mizunoe - Tsubaki Tono - Yuukou Magaki - Yuuzou Takemura - Kyouko Kitazume - Miyoshi Tsukigase - Takashi Aiba - Himiko Kiriya - Takahisa Kouzuki - Souetsu Yomotsuki - Kaoru Sendou - Souan Yomotsuki
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Amakore Bay Police Station - Haibara Clinic - Haibara Hospital (List of Rooms) - Kusanagi University - Lunar Eclipse Hall - Lunar Underworld Hall - Moon Reflection Well - Rougetsu Hall (List of Rooms) - Rougetsu Island - Rougetsu Tunnels - Tsukuyomi Beach - Tsukuyomi Peninsula Lighthouse - Yomotsuki House
Camera Obscura - Misaki's Camera Obscura - Save points - Blue Crystal - Red Crystal - Spirit List - Lenses - Spirit Stone Radio Recordings - Functions - Films - Flashlight - Health items
Tsukiko Amano - Zero no Chouritsu - NOISE - Tsukimori Song
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Mio Amakura - Mayu Amakura
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Sae Kurosawa - Yae Kurosawa - The Kusabi - Seijiro Makabe - Itsuki Tachibana - Dr. Kunihiko Asou - Chitose Tachibana - Miyako Sudo - Masumi Makimura - Akane Kiryu - Twin Doll - Ryokan Kurosawa
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Ryozo Munakata - Kureha - Yoshitatsu Kiryu - Azami Kiryu - Mutsuki Tachibana - Veiled Priests - Mourners - Woman in Box - Fallen Woman - Limbo Man - Limbo Woman - Sunken Woman - Broken Neck Woman - Minakami Villagers - Children Playing Tag - Man In Dark - Woman in Dark - Escaping Twins - Hanging Twins
Altar Twins - Camera Obscura - Crimson Sacrifice Ritual - Crimson Sacrifice - Crimson Butterfly - Cutting Ritual - Folklorist - Hidden Ceremony - Kiryu Family - Kurosawa Family - Osaka Family - Outsiders - Remaining - Shadow Festival - Spirit Stone Radio - Spirited Aways - Tachibana Family - The Darkness - The Repentance - Tsuchihara Family - Twin Shrine Maidens - Sacrificial Song
Abyss - Cell - Decayed Tree - Deep Path - Earth Bridge - Heaven Bridge - Kiryu House - Kureha Shrine - Kurosawa House - Minakami Cemetery - Minakami Village - Misono Hill - Mizukami Dam - Osaka House - Rope Temple - Storehouse - Tachibana House - Twin Houses - Twins' Room - Whisper Bridge
Camera Obscura - Dark Return - Haunted House Mode - Health items - Films - Flashlight - Functions - Lenses - Night Shop - Save points - Spirit List - Spirit Stones
Tsukiko Amano - Kurenai - Sacrificial Song
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Maya - Kaito Hasebe - Woman in Black
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Seamstress - Akira - Shiori Hasebe - White Hand
Camera Obscura - Hasebe Family - Spirited Aways - Tokoyomi Ritual - Vessel
Old House - The Village
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Dr. Kunihiko Asou - Hisoka Kurosawa - Fuyuhi Himino - Haruka Momose - Kazuya Sakaki - Keiji Watarai - Kyozo Kururugi‎ - Miku Hinasaki - Ose Kurosawa - Rui Kagamiya - Shiragiku - Tsumugi Katashina
Minor Characters/Ghosts
Akari Narumi - Akira Oinuma - Chiaki - Emi Mikomori - Flamekeepers - Funeral Celebrant - Guardian - Hiori Magabuchi - Hiromichi Kashima - Honoka Mikomori - Inori Mikomori - Kirika Reizen - Koji Kakimoto - Koto Okudera - Kyoko Narumi - Mafuyu Hinasaki - Masaki Tsujiura - Mizue Fukatsu - Nao Migiwa - Natsuho - Pale Mistress - Sachi Iyama - Shadow-touched - Shino Kururugi - Shion - Shiranui - Shizuku Mikomori - Shizuma Amaki - Tadahito Koizumi - Tall Woman - Tomoki Harakawa - Tsuyuno - Twisted Guardian - Wedding Celebrant - Yukiho Tomine - Yurine Uno
Asou Family - Black water - Boat of Passage - Bridegroom - Children of the Shrine - Dark Sun - Forbidden Flame - Effigy - Ghost Marriage - Hinasaki Family - Immortal Flower - Kurosawa Family - Maiden of Black Water - Mikomori-san - Netherworld - Returning to Water - Pillars - Postmortem Photography - Pure Water - Reliquary - Shadowborn - Shadow Reading - Tokens
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Hojo House - Kurosawa's Antiques - Mikomori Region - Mount Kagiroi
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Sara Washizuki - Tousei Ryuuzaki
Secondary Characters
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Minor Characters
Takeru Ugajin - Mikiko Hashiki - Chizuru Mizuki - Shizuka - Narumi Amanuma's Classmates
Camera Obscura - Dark Seal - Necromancer - Shadow Priestess - Spirit Stone Flashlight
Fujisawa University - Karasawa Elementary - Karasawa Shrine - Karasawa Village - Mount Kegare
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Zero Media Mix
Major Characters
Aya Tsukimori - Headmistress - Kasumi - Mary - Maya Tsukimori - Michi - Risa - Susumu Kusakabe - Takashi Saginomiya - Taruho Saginomiya
Minor Characters
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Ophelia Album - Ophelia's Song - The Girls' Curse - Yuukon
Saint Loudun's Academy for Girls
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The Girls' Curse - Ophelia's Song
Kusanagi Photo Studio - Seijitsu Academy
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Zero Media Mix
  1. Dr. Asou's Notes 3
  2. Dr. Asou's Note 1