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Eighteen Serious Questions Raised By Key The Metal Idol

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Key The Metal Idol is an anime from 1994-1997, with fifteen episodes released direct-to-video over three years. A teenage robot girl is sent by her dying grandfather to find 30,000 friends so she can become human, while a deranged megalomaniac tortures a pop star and steals peoples' life forces. This anime used to be bigger in America and France than Japan, but is all but forgotten everywhere else. (France still loves it, though.) Potentially this anime is the best mindfreak anime ever, maybe even better than End of Evangelion. I am fulyl aware of what I've just said and I am prepared to hear high hell for it.
 
This article, like the previous Eighteen Questions, is going to be littered with spoilers, but I'll do my best to resist the major spoilers (although Lingering Midday Moon was an exception because it was just that bad). The Key DVDs have been out of print since 2001 and are currently for sale on eBay by vultures. It's available in English on Youtube, and unlike Giant Robo's dub of the same era, it's a very watchable dub that's possibly even better than the original Japanese version. This show is next to perfect.
 
 

1. How come Key passed out in the shower?
 
I put up with a lot of the mysterious things in the show, and I attributed this scene to being a warning of her battery running out, meaning that she was running low on time to find friends, but that theory dies as soon as you get to the mindfreak sandwich in episode fourteen. Did she absorb geist briefly and snap into human mode? That's the only remaining explanation.
 
 
2. Does Viz just not give a shit?
 
Viz, the original licensors, made a few grammar errors, translation errors and rushed subtitles. To top it off, they rushed all DVDs out the door in limited quantity, dooming future generations to have to stab a man just to watch KTMI. They re-released the series in 2004 under similar circumstances, and then never touched the Key license again. At least with Media Blasters and Giant Robo, MB does more than its share of going "HOLY CRAP YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS SHOW".
 
 
3. If C and A hated Ajo so much, why didn't they just secretly team up against him?
 
It's clear in the last episode that plotting out loud against Ajo will make D paranoid and strangle you with a Sipe, so D won't be a part of it, and Ajo won't get suspicious if D's not acting funny. After all the times the guys had to sit in a viewing box monitoring Miho's concert, did neither one of them consider just smuggling a pistol in? I mean, Ajo was always just standing there. A couldn't get away with it, since he's slow and anxious. C was the steady one, and nobody expects a fat little guy who sounds like Michael Dobson to kill them.
 
 
4. Is Hikaru Tsurugi gay?
 
Tsurugi seems like a poorly-brewed cocktail of every negative gay stereotype imaginable...he's hyper-emotional, he's a diva, he dresses overly-fabulous, he cries a lot, and his best friend is a young woman he tries to give advice to, sitcom style. His personal life is not depicted on screen in any way, although he says "love me or leave me" to Key before he falls down an elevator shaft. I'm pretty damn sure that's from a song, and Tsurugi would probably be prone to randomly quoting songs, like when ordering a pizza or yelling at one of his dancers-in-training for failing to be fabulous. Not to mention that he dresses like some sort of Brokeback Gypsy Hobo, as no straight man dresses like the above unless he's been paid to be at your bachelorette party.
 
If not a totally gay diva, the man must be batshit insane....he destroyed everything in his living room because someone asked him a question over the phone, and his idea of voice training is to punch through a plate glass window. He probably dropped down the elevator shaft because he thought a trampoline must be at the bottom.
 
 
5. Does Shuichi Tataki serve much of a purpose?
 
Early on, he's useful as a love interest and guardian for Sakura, helping Key during the day and trying to figure out what happened to her family. But really, towards the end of the series, all he does is stand behind Wakagi and yell "THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!" at him. He is useful in the first few episodes, but really, is there anything he did that Wakagi couldn't have done?
 
 
6. Is Gel like crack?
 
The only way to keep the human Miho functioning and peaking is to inject her with gobs of Gel. Without Gel, D turns irate and hysterical, doing crazy things just to get another hit. Is the physical manifestation of human life force really that addictive? And while we're on this...
 
 
7. Why the hell did D kiss B in the jail cell?
 
 
 
Somebody gave me the theory that D was desperate for Gel, and tried to siphon some of the remaining traces from B's corpse. This involves frenching him hard and fast for several seconds, before passing out naked.
 
The best part of this was how I first saw this episode when I marathoned the entire second disc, back when I woke up violently ill at four in the morning and needed to stay awake. Surprisingly, it was the least crazy thing I'd seen that morning.
 
 
8. Is Key in love with Miho?
 
There's so much left open about Key's idolization of Miho. Key becomes emotionally attached to her immediately, buys Miho roses twice in the series, befriends a schizophrenic gay man to try and go to Miho's concert, and tries to be like Miho. It seems like Key has a crush on her, and amidst all the exploding heads and sexual imagery, this crush is oddly sweet.
 
 
9. Does Ajo have a robot fetish?
 
I remember watching a certain episode with a friend, and going, "Oh crap, it's this scene." Immediately we cut to Ajo grunting heavily in a room, wearing the face of one of his humanoids, seemingly jerking off over a pile of robot pieces. My friend's face was priceless, and by the end of the episode, she wanted him to get killed off more than ever.
 
There are grown men whom have watched that scene and gotten disturbed by it. The director never outwardly says that Ajo has a robot fetish, but he doesn't confirm a lot of things either, so it's up to us to try and figure out what the hell Ajo was doing there and if it was exactly what we suspected upon first seeing it.
 
 
10. How did Key blow up the TV?
 
"Miho, I love you...my fingers touch your face and it almost feels like a 19" Panasonic detonated." 
 
 
11. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
 
 
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA? AAAAAAH NOOOOOOOOOO AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, AAAAAAAH DEAAAARR GOD MY EYES AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! WHAT WHAAAAAT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
 
 
12. Are Key and Sakura half-sisters?
 
This has been the lead fan theory ever since the late nineties. It's stressed in either language option of the show that Sakura and Key are like mother and daughter, although there's only one year between them. An unofficial source claims that both their mothers had the same douchebag absentee father, and honestly, I want to believe they're siblings. It takes away from the awkward crust of the fanbase (as small as it is already) that believes the two must be scissoring.
 
The best part of the debate, however, must be the part in episode fourteen when Wakagi is asked who got Key's mother pregnant, and he turns away to casually drawl, "It wasn't me."
 
 
13. What's up with the way the English versions handled Key's voice?
 
Here's where the dub loses points. Key's voice is dubbed with a tinny, automated effect to it when in her non-human mode, and it's really strange to listen to, but not in the good way. In the subtitles, she speaks in the third person, but the Japanese audio clearly has her saying "atashi". Atashi is an informal, female-exclusive word for "I/my/me", so while the subtitles are telling you that Key's talking like a crazy automaton, she's clearly talking like a normal teenage girl.
 
 
14. What was up with that kid?
 
You know, the one who Key heals in the temple, but then a Sipe kills his parents and Prince Snake Eye adopts him? It was nice that they didn't let the kid die, but for the rest of the episode, he just tags along like a non-useful Tails Prower. I must say that the best sides of this situation were seeing Key and the kid be like brother and sister, and how the kid was dubbed by an actual child in the English version.
 
 
15. What was the dealio with Key's grandfather?
 
I'll keep away from vital spoilers, so let's just look at this gradually. When we first see him, he's like the Ochanomizu to Key's Astro, building cute little robots and helping upgrade Key without being a total creepazoid over a naked child robot. He lives with his brawny assistant/bodyguard and his grandchild in a little village, and he seems like a really nice guy...
 
...Until you find out that he spent whole evenings testing heavily on his family to the point where his wife died of exhaustion, and he pumps so much Gel out of his daughter that she's legally registered as a toothpaste pump. Then, his daughter has a baby, and he can't resist the urge to mess with that baby until he finally does, and it's so screwed up afterwards that it haunts him for years.
 
An aside...my film school teacher looked just like Dr. Mima. He didn't test on his family, but he did have some sort of Buffy fetish.
 
 
16. How come my original theory behind that picture of Key as a kid is so much more awesome than the actual explanation?
 
Get a good look at that. When I saw that, I thought it was a rare photo of a human Key before she was killed in an accident, where part of a festival shack detached and crushed her. From there, Dr. Mima tried to rebuild Key as a robot, but Key's distraught mother either ran away or killed herself. I'm not gonna say what really happened, but it was stupid and not intense.
 
 
17. What the hell was up with Prince Snake Eye's outfit?
 
It's like he got up in the morning planning to go to a renaissance fair, but then gave up on the headgear and decided on the Rapist Clown Fetishist look.
 
And now for the biggest question on my mind, which unfortunately contains a spoiler so vital to the mystery of the show that I need to have it after a long gap in the page. I always try to avoid unleashing something this big on any 18Q page, but this time, I needed the following up somewhere. If you don't care, or have seen the end of the show, highlight the zone between the dotted lines for the following...
 
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18. Why did Key need to be human the whole time?
 
There was something so undeniably creepy about the whole premise of the show. All the times we saw organs and tissue rush through Key's body right as she was briefly becoming human...I got chills the first time I saw that happen. But then it turns out that Key was human the entire time, only losing her ability to convey emotions because of a Gel injection operation gone wrong, and her ability to take the love and energy of people around her is because she's hereditarially psychic.
 
It's possible to be like this and still be human, if you suffer damage to the amygdala. However, it's futile to wonder if it's possible to have no emotions in a universe filled with robots powered by thought, life forces with physical form, and secret multipurpose megalomaniac organizations. The scene where Key's song is transmitted through Tataki's modem makes much more sense if you think of Key being a robot at the time, rather than making the song appear with her psychic powers. It also makes sense if she were a robot when you consider how she blew up all those femmebots, was able to hold grown men up with one hand, jettison herself in the air, knock down robots, switch from one persona to the other, go days without ingesting more than water, and stay awake all night.
 
It destroyed some of the naive charm and explanations for behavioural problems that Key had in the previous thirteen episodes. I associated very closely with Key in high school, and a bit of her charm was hacked off when I realized she was as messed up a human being as I was.
 
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