Key the Metal Idol

OVA (15 eps)
1994 - 1997
3.365 out of 5 from 1,080 votes
Rank #8,756

Murao Mima has created a robot daughter named Key, but after raising her for a very short time, Mima dies, leaving behind cryptic messages telling Key how she can become human. Key must struggle alone to learn the harsh lessons of life and search for the 'key' to her own dream: the power of 30,000 friends to make her a real human girl.

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Story The story for Key the Metal Idol is good.  There were a lot of things I couldn't guess at, or that I guessed wrong- and for me that's a good thing because it spoils an anime if I can predict all of the plot events.  Part of the reason I think it was hard to predict was because of how bizarre it all is.  The plot was also interesting, and there are smaller sub plots going on underneath the surface to follow, as well.  There are a lot of things to pay attention to.  For the most part the plot sticks to the scifi and mystery elements of the series and problem solving- any romance in the series is only one of those subltle sub plots I was talking about. I think it's worth noting that sometimes the english dub doesn't explain things as thoughly or clearly as the subtitled japanese dialogue does.  I watched the dub with the subtitles visible (something rare for me- but the dub sounds good and it was nice to be able to look away for a second and not miss something. ) so I could see differences and not miss anything- and the differences weren't huge, but they were notable and could sometimes alter your perception or understanding.  I thought the english subs explained the "gel" better, for example.  The plot is coherent and you can follow one thing to the next- although at some parts I had to rewind to make sure I didn't miss anything, or go over it again.  I watched a couple episodes twice because I watched them half awake and felt like I didn't get it all. This anime doesnt really spoon feed revelations to you- sometimes the scene where you learn something will be very short- or the explanation won't be long or detailed- but I think this is on purpose so everything is slowly revealed in its entirety, keeping you curious and on your toes to look for small clues hidden throughout the episodes.  This isn't an anime to watch casually while you do something else.  the end, there are a couple of things I still wonder about but they are very small questions.  For the most part they manage to tie all the loose ends and it's pretty obvious what happens.  (spoiler alert- I wish they had done one more episode showing everyone's life after the ending events, where everyone ends up and how they live on.)  Animation I don't really think the animation for Key is anything special-  maybe it is a little better than some other titles studio Pierrot put out in the 90's, though.  It wasn't, in my opinion, noticably jerky, awkward, or filled with distracting stillnesses-  but it wasn't anything noteworthy.  The art is pretty standard looking, with the exception of Key's odd character design, which stands out compared to the ultra standard looking Sakura and Shuuichi. Sound I really liked the english op/ed for this series,  I think they will make it on to my Ipod ;)  There is something haunting about them and I found myself listening to them fully almost every time.  For the english dub the voice acting is very good!! There weren't alot of great dubs around this time period in my opinion but this is an exception.  However it does what a lot of dubs of the time period did, where certain things get lost or slightly changed in translation.  (I think more recent efforts to adapt anime into english have made an effort to cut down on this compared to in the 90s where a lot of titles changed significantly when they were translated, sometimes becoming almost different shows ... which is why alot of people, including me, have become subtitle snobs for the most part.) The Japanese seiyuu sounded good too, although to be honest I did mostly watch the dub with the subtitles playing for this one.  There were alot of interesting sounds used thoughout the anime indifferent ways- the sounds of a robotic body, the ticking of a clock, the lullaby that plays through the pc...  aurally, this anime is pretty intriguing. Characters I think that Key the Metal Idol had really good characters.  There was something about them which made them more than 2 dimensional,  they had multiple facets to their personalities like real people.  They weren't perfect- even the good ones were sometimes selfish, or weak, or surprisingly immature.  Lisewise, most of the bad guys (with the exception of the insanely evil Ajo) also have things about them which make them understandable, human, and sometimes even kind of likable.  The subtleties of the characters really makes this show great.  You want to figure them all out but you feel like- just like real people- you can't know everything.  They don't have just one motive like most simple anime characters- and sometimes their actions are a little difficult to decipher the motivation for. I absolutely fell in love with Sakura Kuriyagawa! Loyal freind, strong woman with good common sense and street smarts and a tsundere personality akin to Akane from Ranma 1/2-  with a classic beauty like Madoka- she looks and acts like she could have come right out of a Rumiko Takahashi manga on the outside.  But underneath that is a more complicated person-  a person who can't help but being a little bit selfish sometimes.  A mature person with secrets, and hopes and dreams that aren't all obvious.  This next part may be a spoiler for those who haven't seen. Use caution ;) I think the realism of the surrounding characters really points out the lack of humanity in Key.  It's obvious that she is the least explained or fleshed out personality in the series, despite being the main character I had a feeling the whole time that I didn't really know what she was thinking, what she was capable of doing, or if she was really "good" and would save the day, r choose to be selfish instead.   Some people really don't like this about Key, I've noticed in a couple reveiws people were very annoyed by the lack of personality in the MC.  However, I think this is a purposeful point of the anime.  For most of the story Key is supposed to be a robot, the show creates tension from her lack of a personality and sometimes frustrating or tiring lack of understanding and humanity.  You see how it is hard on Sakura to live with such a person.  The anime explores themes of humanity and what makes us human-  I don't think it's any accident or failure of the writers that Key seems so boring, flat, and unknown compared to the well rounded, imperfect humans around her.  Sometimes watching I felt like "screw Key, what about Sakura and Shuuichi? What will happen to them as they try to save a girl with no personality who can't help herself or anyone else?" and I became more invested in the humans.  Its easier to care about them, It's not surprising because watching it we feel like we don't know Key- which is true, because her human self still lies dormant.  We only see it for breif moments- a glimpse of the person we never get to know, because the whole plot of the anime is setting her free.  When we finally do see her it's obvious she's someone we've never met, with emotions and feelings completely new and seperate from Robot Key- emotions that wouldnn't be so surprising, moving, or impactful if they were fabricated before to make Key more "interesting" early on.  I dont think this anime lacks for having Key be so flat and frustrating- I think it succeeds!  Overall I really enjoyed watching this anime.  It's a keeper and I'll probably watch it again.  It wasn't the best anime ever,  or even in my top 10, but it definately deserves a solid 8.   If you find yourself attracted to the 90's animation and the mysterious, unique plot- give it a watch~! I dont think it will dissapoint you.   It might dissapoint you if you are one of those people who like very scientifically accurate sci-fi, though. 

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