Key The Metal Idol
Tokiko Mima doesn't even look like a regular 13-year-old. Pale, emotionless, with only the most distant of voices, she seems like a robot struggling to gain humanity. In fact, she is. From her creation, her doting "grandfather" has been helping her to grow, in body and spirit. But now he is gone, leaving only one cryptic clue: make 30,000 friends, and she will be truly human. What does this impossible-seeming task really mean? How does one make so many friends, especially when she is a lonely android unknowing of the human heart? What is her connection with the idol singer Miho Utsuse? And what is the real purpose of the one named "Key"?
Just when we had resolved to the fate that Viz was only going to release more and more Ranma 1/2, never to acquire new series again, this title came along. And it's really something else.
For starters, this is *real* idol singer stuff, especially in the music department. The opening and closing songs (and the rest of the soundtrack, for that matter) are utterly breathtaking and really catch the mood of this series, with is thick with tension, discovery and danger being just around the corner for little Key. The art and animation, as well, are nothing less than top-notch. You just don't see a lot of series with this much going for it.
Now, the "friends" premise does seem far-fetched...but with more and more clues as to the real purpose of this deathbed message, Key does seem to have more to her than meets the eye. Yes, she looks like a 13-year-old girl, but she (like any android) has potentially destructive capabilities, and there are people who hunt her down for it. At the same time, she does have a few friends, like the plucky and industrious Sakura, who you can't help but root for. The characterizations are well-rounded, with very real-seeming people populating this OAV series, some of whom are as frightening as any real-life villain could be. And watching Key learn who are and *aren't* her friends is one of the things that just brings life to this series...and to Key herself. She learns, as do we, about human nature, and you can't help but ache for more at the end of each OAV episode.
This series is NOT for everyone, though...there is plenty of disturbing imagery in here, particularly as you realize what Key's first "friend" in Tokyo is planning to do with her, and another character has an obsession with androids that borders on the purely disgusting. Much of this series relies on pure imagery, and it works well, for good or ill. You follow the pure mood of this series with each scene.
If you can get past the sheer strangeness of it all (and it *is* strange), it's definitely worth a watch. Personally, I just want to keep watching this to follow Key's journey, and hope that, quite possibly, she can really succeed. She has, after all, made yet another friend on her way to humanity.
I truly hope this keeps up. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: NOT for children. Disturbing sexual overtones and violence prove this is one for the mature teens and adults. However, the intelligent viewer can really get something out of this outsider's look at the human race that is truly worthwhile. Also very emotionally taxing, as well -- don't watch this on under five hours of sleep.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (5/15)
Key The Metal Idol © 1994 Hiroaki Sato / Pony Canyon / Fuji TV / FCC / Studio Pierrot
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