How can a storyteller teach his audience about themselves? There are two tactics commonly employed. One is to start with scenes from the daily life and slowly venture beyond, to a vantage point from which new things can be seen. The other is to start in the wilderness, traveling back to civilization and reminding the audience of its roots. Key the Metal Idol takes a hybrid path, blending elements of the mundane, sometimes cold, real world, with a growing sense of mystery and mysticism. Is it a criticism of the idol industry and the hypocrisy beneath it? Is it a lament for the Japanese, whose humanity is sacrificed for the sake of society? Or is it something more subtle? Perhaps all of the above.
Unfortunately, it is too early for a discussion of Key's true philosophical depth. However, there are a couple of things that might be considered while watching the story unfold. The first of which is Key herself -- what is Key really, and what made her that way? What is Key's connection to Ajo Heavy Industries, and what threat does she pose them? How does being with Key change Sakura's life? And what does it really mean to be Key's friend?
Key is one of my personal favorite OVAs, a story complex enough to deserve the nearly ten hours of airtime it occupies. The sophisticated cinematography and dark visual tone are credits to its creators, especially director Satou, for whom this is his directorial debut. Look forward to an increasingly dark, increasingly intriguing story as the semester progresses.