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Key The Metal Idol: A Retrospective

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When I was about thirteen and starting to get into anime, I held the belief that if a series was made before I was born and considered a classic by many, I believed in that and made sure I watched at least some of each "classic" before making judgement. I briefly despised Robotech for overshadowing Astro Boy back in 1985 or so, but after seeing the Macross Saga on air in 9th grade, I changed my mind right away.
This frame of mind is also what introduced me to Key The Metal Idol.
I remember walking into Tramps Books and Comics one day in late 2009, finding a new entry into the used DVD section. This was Key The Metal Idol: Awakening, the first of three DVDs from 1997. It was only $11.99, generally that Tramps location's cheapest price for an anime DVD, which I thought was a bargain for something classic like that. With a vague idea of what I was going to see, and how rare the DVD actually is, I bought the DVD and took it home. It sat safely on my shelf for a few months while I got through homework and a pile of anime before Key that I had been planning on watching. Giant Robo was one of these.
Eventually, I felt bad for the robot girl bursting out of a bigger robot and decided to finally watch her show, this being the tail end of 2009 now. The first episode introduced us to Jinsaku Ajo, essentially the creepiest man on Earth, whom was planning to sell barely-safe humanoid robots as international weapons.
One afternoon, semi-emotionless 17-year-old robot girl Tokiko "Key" Mima is called home from school to find out her kindly pupper craftsman grandfather Murao is dead. His assistant Tomoyo Wakagi is able to play for Key her grandfather's will, recorded on tape shortly before his death. He promises Key that if she can find 30,000 friends before her battery runs out, she can become human. Key takes his plea and moves to Tokyo to try and find more friends, with Wakagi tailing along in secret to monitor her as a bodyguard. Jinsaku Ajo is the leader of Ajo Heavy Industries in Tokyo, with his tiny crew controlling Sipe robots, including pop star Miho Utsuse, whom is actually a tortured woman controlling the onstage-Miho from afar. Meanwhile, Key is almost conned into posing for an adult magazine by lovable sleazebag Tamari, but is rescued by the pizza girl Sakura, Key's former best friend in school. Sakura helps Key get out of there and lets her stay at her apartment. That is only the first episode out of fifteen.
Here is everything I described, condensed into a minute and forty-six seconds.
This intro and Cowboy Bebop's intro are outstandingly the best anime intros of all time for me. Everything flows with the music seamlessly, and it gives you glimpses at everything and everyone you're going to see.
Occasionally in the earlier episodes, there was fanservice, particularly with Sakura. After running home, Sakura is panting in the foyer of her apartment, with her Japanese voice actress doing her best to make each of those sound sexual. Moments later, we see her naked in the shower. I put up with this, since I considered the rest of the show and had been trained by Hideaki Anno - it's a trap. If you fall for the fanservice, everything will go to hell. I got this right away, after watching one of Ajo's Sipes punch a man into a narrow alley, only to have him fly through the air and be crushed between the walls.
Right after, the guy controlling him, a huge possibly-Russian guy named Sergei (nicknamed D) feels terrible but his assistants tell him to try and let it go. Oddly enough, the dub reverses this; D doesn't give a shit about killing two dudes, while his assistants are freaking out. The dub is pretty good, but there's lines changed all over the place and the Ocean Group is sometimes hamming it up. Michael Dobson played C, D's short, chubby assistant, and I always love Dobson's voice. The same for Key, Wakagi and D...they manage to match, of not excell the Japanese performance.
I tried to watch only one episode at a time, for a while. I wanted to balance everything out evenly and give myself time to think about all that I'd seen, but it was hard to with each episode flowing into the next. And Key was a fascinating character...this is going to sound incredibly stupid for something a sixteen-year-old would do, but I pretended to be an android like Key. I walked carefully and steadily, each head turn or arm movement was smooth, I thought hard before speaking, and I examined my surroundings carefully. This was after what wasn't a very good part of my life, but acting like Key made me feel calmer and better about everything.
In episode five, Key almost becomes human, and showcases an insane feat of blowing up one of Ajo's Sipes by blowing at it, and blasting herself upwards, all the while saving Tamari from having his head crushed like a grape. Somewhere in the middle of this, I realized I needed to see more. There were a thousand currents of ideas and event happening, and I wanted to see the end. And then one night, while my brother watched TV, I sat in the corner of his room and watched episode six on a pocket DVD player. This episode was the most tense one on the disc.
In the episode, kinda-doofy cult leader Prince Snake-Eye encourages Key to come to his cult and work miracles, because he can sense some incredible power in her. After Key helps calm a sick little boy by kissing him, followed by her puking up what could have been his ill blood, D shows up with only a gun, with Wakagi trailing behind. D begins shooting random members of the cult, ordering Snake-Eye to hand Key over, but Wagai shoots a capsule of Halite fragments at D's hand, puncturing it all over, with Wakagi promising the flesh in D's hand will be poisoned by it and never fully recover. D rips off his glove, taking big chunks of skin off his hand, and gives Wakagi a back-handed superhuman punch into a wall. Wakagi tries to get back up but collapses, D's hand is bleeding like shit, and Snake-Eye is left with only a gun to protect his followers and the unconscious Key. Cue my screaming and crying.
It was the first time I'd ever seen something in an anime that truly disturbed me on the spot...I thought D had killed Wakagi, because that's what it looked like, and any character I remotely like in a show always dies. I started to feel stupid when the next episode's preview showed D and Wakagi fighting some more, with Key safely back at home. I plowed through episode seven, and then I got this:
I needed more.
I finally went online and looked for disc two...the cheapest I could find was one for about $13 in total, but I saw how disc three was the hardest to find and the one the most marked-up. It's constructed rarity, though...people would buy up any copy of the third disc they could find and sell it for triple its original worth online. At one point this box set listing was going for $500 in total, but the guy marked it down to $200. If any of you don't think this is a stupid, low-down thing to try, then you're a stupid prick. Anyways, I escaped with a well-priced copy of volume two.

All written material here is 2007-2011 Fauna Crawford, along with any images identified as such. All other copyrights belong to their respective owners and creators. Permission is required to use any original material from this site.