Take one girl, high school age and living alone. Add one old friend with a few odd habits and delusions of stardom. Throw in a boyfriend with connections and a bit of a nosy streak. Toss in a few cultists, top executives, show-business agents, and assorted scientists and mystics. And some killer robots. Bake for thirteen episodes. Sounds like a recipe for big trouble?
You ain't seen nothing yet.
Key the Metal Idol is an OVA series with an unusual structure. The first thirteen episodes are standard 25-minute television-like installments. The final two are each 95 minutes long, practically movies unto themselves. The total duration rivals most TV series, and, like most TV series, Key is centered around several story arcs, conveniently labeled "Programs". The first of these covers the first seven episodes leading up to the showdown at the shrine of the serpent deity. The second involves Key's attempt to enter show business and Tamari's investigations into Key's past. And in the third story arc, which encompasses the final two episodes, all hell breaks loose.
Well, I suppose most of the hell breaking loose happens in episode 15, where the ultimate plan of Ajo and his henchmen is unveiled. Prior to this moment of reckoning, however, there are still many questions to be answered about precisely what Key's true past is and precisely what sort of being she is. Episode 14 is mostly concerned with setting forth the history of Dr. Mima's research, leading up to the time of his death. While not all of the beans get spilled, questions as to Key's "robotness" should be settled once and for all. And truth, as everyone knows, is always stranger than fiction. In any case, the stage is fully set and the rest of the unilluminated corners become lit, paving the way for the grand finale, which will occupy a place of honor in this semester's Marathon. Look forward to it!
Since this is a complex series and defies description in short pedantic newsletter articles like this one, I thought I'd drop a couple pieces of trivia instead. This series is the production debut for the director, Satou Hiroaki. That Pony Canyon would entrust a first-timer with the obviously sizeable resources used to bring Key to fruition bespeaks a very admirable willingness to take risks for art -- the same willingness that made Imagawa "Giant Robo" Yasuhiro's Violinist of Hameln TV series a reality. In fact, Pony Canyon has been one of the leaders in bringing its titles swiftly out on DVD in Japan, evidence of more leadership spirit. Also interesting is the seiyuu for both Miho and Beniko, Shibahara Chiyako. She had originally intended on a career as a singer and not a voice actress, but the requirement that the seiyuu for the idol stars in Key must actually sing their songs seems to have lured her into the business. Her credits after her role in Key include an 8 1/2-tailed were-fox in Hyper Police, a pink alligator in a kid's anime called Harimogu Harley, and roles in Pokemon and the Card Captor Sakura movie. Watch for her career to go places.
In any event, I hope you've enjoyed journeying with Key so far, and I think you've got a lot to look forward to in the final two episodes. Will you be one of Key's 30,000 friends, too?