Prince Snake-Eye

SCROLL I is a fairly disturbing episode of Key the Metal Idol that is driven at least partly by unrecognised jealousy on Sakura’s part. The other main driver is the suppression of Key’s memories of her other self, a suppression which simply does not compute to the robot persona.

The tag is an extremely creepy scene of Ajo fondling a nude, and just removed from liquid nitrogen, Miho-bot and referring to it as “My son”.  The cold on his hands draws blood, and the bot’s eyes open when a drop of blood falls on the body.

The main storyline starts the morning after ACCESS with Key and Sakura listening to a radio report of the events of the previous evening.  Tamari is identified by name as Sakura is preparing to leave for work [1], and Sakura is fairly critical of Tamari getting the public involved in “his schemes” [2]. Key on the other hand is almost comatose; not reacting until Sakura repeatedly calls to her and asks her to stay home today.  Sakura has a lot that she wants to talk to Key about and also wants to return to a lit home for a change.

Ajo is paying a visit to the real Miho who is lying in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs and monitors.

Key is trying to remember what happened last night and is failing.  The failure is so distressing she starts calling out to her grandfather saying that “her head must be broken.” This is quite a distressing scene as it highlights that some of Key’s memories are being suppressed, and also makes Key quite a vulnerable character at this point in time.

Ajo is conversing with Miho as if she wants to continue performing despite her clear distress.  I’m not certain but I suspect that Miho is in the Idol Singer dress from the CURSOR II tag.  If so this is disturbing on several levels. 

As he turns to leave Miho manages to reach out and grab Ajo’s coat, and he is horrified by this.  Once again we see how deranged, and misogynistic, Ajo is. 

After leaving Miho’s room he asks his minions how long Miho will last, and rejects any last minute attack of ethics on the doctor’s part.

Prince Snake-Eye is at Sakura’s door and having an interesting conversation with Key.  Sakura has warned Key against religious type, but somehow Snake-Eye manages to hit the right buttons.  This is especially true when he mentions the events of the previous evening, and mentions 20 – 30 000 believers [3]. I think though that the mention of the previous night is the main factor: there is hope here of answers that Key has already been shown to be desperate for.

Tataki is sleeping amongst a pile of printouts when the fellow Miho fan from the telephone e conversation shows up.  The initial conversation is about the aborted Miho concert, and the general lack of information about Miho, before turning to the weird midnight voice.  The other fan holds up a DAT tape.

Somewhere else in Tokyo, in a rundown shrine, the “Church of the Wondorous Golden-Snake Saviour” [4], Key is listening to Snake-Eye. 

There isn’t much on the DAT tape, apparently the sound was only coming through the speaker cones.  There is also a news item about Ajo Heavy Industry giving up on the development of bipedal robots.

Snake-Eye’s story is a fairly standard religious tale of wandering in the mountains suffering thirst and hunger when suddenly…

Tataki is walking lost in thought when a whistle stops the truck that was about to run him over.  The whistle was blown by Sakura in her traffic warden job.

…Snake-Eye is bitten by a golden snake…

Tataki and Sakura are discussing how Key came to believe that she was a robot.  Sakura fills in the background of Key’s grandfather’s work.  Tataki speculates that there must also be a direct cause, such as some robotic related trauma.

Sakura talks about her first encounter with Key, about how alone she was, and claims to have become friends simply because Sakura was also alone and hated her classmates. Tataki isn’t buying that reason, and Sakura does admit that Key needs someone to stand by her or she’ll disappear.

…and found himself in a desert facing a magnificent man with a golden snake wrapped around him claiming to be god…

Sakura and Tataki are discussing Tomoyo and his appearing / disappearing act whenever Key is in trouble.  Sakura thinks Tomoyo is a nice guy, and mentions that he was Dr Mima’s assistant.  The conversation moves to the events of the previous ending and Tataki cannot describe the surreal events that took place.  There are flashes of Key and the clockwork soundtrack here.

Tataki can sense that something momentous will happen and they will be the witnesses.  Sakura is serious about Key becoming an idol, about her getting the popularity, and hopes that Tataki can free her from the delusion of being a robot.

Tataki asks if Sakura is going to help, which implies the phrasing is somewhat detached on Sakura’s part.

I think that this conversation is multilayered.  On the one hand it is passing information between characters as a means of infodump to the viewer.  This gets a pass from me as it is nice to see characters intelligently exchanging notes every once in a while.  It also is a superficial counter to the misinformation that is the basis of so much romantic strife in anime. 

On the other hand the entire conversation is an example of the misinformation that causes so much romantic strife in anime.  I think that, to some extent at least, Sakura has fallen for Tataki but hasn’t realised this yet.  Seeing Tataki’s interest in Key triggers a level of unrecognised jealousy despite [5] Key being Sakura’s best friend.

The oblivious Tataki assumes that if Key can be cured that all three will be happy.  Sakura isn’t sure that she is happy now, or thinks that she used to be happy until Key came.  Sakura denies this and claims it was a joke but I’m not so sure.  The conversation comes to an end as a storm begins to brew.

…Snake-Eye is attempting to initiate Key into the cult of the golden snake without success …

Sakura returns to an empty and dark home in the middle of the storm.

A PPOR is removed from cold storage as the “Gel Recharge” is complete.  As the temperature rises Sergei / D reports Key’s return home (there is a PPOR hidden in a garbage pile nearby).

Sakura and Key are talking about religion, and Sakura is unhappy about Key leaving home for that.  The conversation turns to how Key needs to work harder to be an idol like Miho, as well as saying that Key relies on Tataki too much, and that Tomoyo is in Tokyo.

There is a lot of anger in this conversation, and I really don’t think that Sakura fully understands where it is coming from.  Part of it would have been Key not being home when Sakura got home, but a large part of the rest would have been that unacknowledged jealousy.

Sergei activates the warmed up PPOR and mocks Ajo using the voice circuits.  Given Ajo’s obsession with the PPORs as his “sons” this does not end well, especially when the PPOR mauls Ajo a bit.

Key thanks Sakura for her hospitality and leaves. Left alone Sakura blames Key for everything that has gone wrong in her life, and it is clear to me here that Sakura has no idea why she reacted the way she did.

The PPOR in the garbage activates as Sergei rolls out in the truck with the other PPOR.

A pensive Sakura sits alone, Ajo considers the PPOR hand marks on his arms, Sergei drives through the stormy night, and a soaked Key arrives at the Snake God temple as the credits roll.

Although hinted at previously SCROLL I brutally deconstructs the Idol Singer dream by showing just how callously the producers (Ajo in this case) regard the property, excuse me, the talent.

SCROLL I is only half a story [6], it breaks on a pause in the action rather than having an actual ending. The subtleties, and tensions, of the character interactions make this a fascinating episode to watch but also a frustrating episode when there is no resolution.  I think SCROLL II resolves some of these issues but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Day 1 – START UP
Day 2 – CURSOR I
Day 4 – Sub vs Dub?
Day 5 – ACCESS
Day 6 – SCROLL I
Day 8 – ???
Day 9 – RUN
Day 10 – GOTO
Day 11 – RETURN
Day 12 – ???
Day 13 – BUG
Day 14 – SAVE
Day 15 – VIRUS I
Day 16 – ???
Day 17 – VIRUS II
Day 18 – SYSTEM
Day 19 – EXIT
Day 20 – Looking Back at Key The Metal Idol


[1] And running late as well.

[2] The fine tradition of jumping to conclusions from the limited information in news reports is alive and well.

[3] Isn’t it funny how often 30,000 turns up in casual conversation around Key?

[4] Yes, that spelling is really how it is subtitled.  I do wonder if this was a subtitling error, or an acknowledgement of an error in the original kanji.

[5] Because?

[6] If the Wikipedia page is correct and Key was originally sold in 3 episode blocks then SCROLL I is actually the middle part of a trilogy.