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Key the Metal Idol DVD 1: Awakening
Violence: high
Sex/Nudity: a little nudity
Runtime Episodes: 28m/15
Overall Rating: B
Artwork: B +
Story: B
Comments: You can get the audio CD's for this series if you look for it.  I just ordered vol.1 that has the full versions of the songs sung by miho, the opening, ending, and final song, and the one song sung by the character Beniko.  I'm enjoying the CD, especially Fugitive and Lullaby, which are both done by Miho in the anime.
Voice Acting English: A -
Voice Acting Japanese: B +
Genre: Android
Extras: stills of viz products, such as graphic novels, magazines, several of what appear to be vhs tapes.  There is a text interview with the director, a text version of frequently asked question, which can be rather handy being that the plot is rather complex, character profiles for key, Sakura, Grandfather Mima, Tomoyo Wakagi, priest Snake-Eye, Miho the pop Idol, evil Ajo, miho fan club president Shuichi, and finally, but not least D.  There are 43 pages of concept art, which is rather nice, but I wish it were a little larger and had titles for the images.  lastly, there are the credits for the voice actors.

Date Reviewed: 1/4/09 Last Updated: 10/26/09

Basic Premise: Key is an android grandchild of the late great Mima Tokiko from a small village of no more than 100 people.  Dr. Mima is also an accomplished robotics specialist.  Dr. Mim dies before being able to transform Key into a real life girl.  Dr. Mima's last recorded words are for Key to make 30,000 true friends before her current battery wears out; a daunting task, but one that Key feels she has no choice, but to attempt to accomplish.
Review: This is a new take on the story of the robot who wants to become human.  Key is the granddaughter of Dr. Mima Tokiko the robitics specialist.  Dr. Mima was able to do what no other Dr. was able to do.  He could create autonomous androids.  His crowning achievement was the creation of his granddaughter Key.

Key was born a little girl, if you could say that she was born, and every year or so she would be given a new body that is a little bit older.  Key always got a new body around her birthday that was maintained by her grandfather.  Key was very proud of her grandfather and the body that her grandfather gave her.  Key went to school with other girls, but key was the only android.  Being the only android she was often teased and made fun of because of her delusion that she was a robot.  No one else believed that she was a robot and that she was perpetually pretending, but they could not get her to give up that fantasy.  Key knew the truth though, that she was a very well constructed robot.

Sadly and all too soon, Key's Grandfather dies and key is frightened that she too will soon die as her body has always been maintained by the good Dr.  When Key goes to see her grandfather she is given a final mysterious message that she must make 30,000 true friends in order to become human.  It seems strange, but Key undertakes the mission and travels to Tokyo to attempt to do just that.  Along the way she meets her childhood friend Sakura who gives her a place to stay.

This is really not a very well known anime and more of a cult classic.  I have never seen the enthusiasm for robots anywhere in the world that comes even close to what Japan has for creating lifelike robots.  Their research and technology is astounding and is a very popular theme in pop culture in Japan.  This anime is just one example of the many facets of robotics fandom seen in Japan.

Is Key a robot or just a delusional girl?  That is the persistent question that seems ever present in this show.  There's reasons and evidence that support both ideas, for example you never see her eat and she never seems to get tired after doing things like run and yet she also has fainting spells and displays some mild emotions at times.  Actually there are a lot of mysterious things in this series, like how was key constructed in a small village?  Who is Ajo and what is his relationship to the superstar singer Miho and how is this related to his work on militaristic Robots?  How do all of these things tie into Key?  It gets really complicated and I have seen the series several times now.

In the english version Key is given a somewhat digital voice, but Sakura seems a bit incredulous of the idea that Key is a robot.  In the Japanese version Key does not have a digitized voice and Key's friend Sakura is a lot more willing to indulge in Key's version of reality.  Besides that the translations are pretty close.  

I really do like both language tracks for this series.  In particular I really enjoy the English voices for Sakura and her somewhat tomboyish voice, D who is very deep and mysterious, and Key's digitized voice.  The rest are much better in English as well.  In the Japanese version the voices are actually quite good as well.  There are times when the voices seem mildly silly, but the music of Miho must be listened to in Japanese!  Wow, her singing and all of the music in this show is great.  I even ordered the audio CD just a few minutes ago and I hope it is as good as the music in the show.  

So far the pacing is really not too bad and you get a chance to get to know the characters and they really feel authentic too.  I don't think this is too much of a personal preference, but I feel like there is just a little too much of the show that is wrapped up in mystery.  Too much mystery can be a bit hard to follow and can actually take away from the story somewhat.  There is nudity in this anime, but honestly!  there is no need for it at all!  In Perfect Blue the nudity was vital to the storyline, but not in this one.  It is like it was done because the director did not feel the story was strong enough to draw in the audience on its own merits.

There are 7 episodes on this DVD and the animation is a bit dated compared to todays animation styles, but well done.  

Conclusion: An enjoyable DVD with short snippets of memorable songs.  The plot can be a bit complicated to pay attention and you may have to watch it more than once.  It is a female version of Pinocchio and if you look at it that way it is a lot of fun.

Publisher: Viz
Related Website: None yet.
Where Found: You can still get the DVDs easily enough at amazon.
Copyright: 1994/1997
Author: Hiroaki Sato
If you enjoyed this anime try: Noir, Lain


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