As SCROLL II ended I was reminded that it would have been the last episode on the second Laser Disc of the original release of Key the Metal Idol in Japan [1]: SCROLL II ends on one of the most effective cliff hangers in anime history.

The tag is also unusual in terms of what has been seen previously: it is a flash forward to a late point in the episode with Sakura facing the half PPOR in the garbage pile before looking up Tataki’s details.  There is also a scene of her sitting alone in the darkness and saying that she’s the worst.  I’m not sure but I think that this is a flash back within the flash forward.  This is the sort of scripting that is almost as hard to follow as the much later Baccano!

The dub of the opening credit song In the Night is still pulling a “meh” reaction. There is also an amusing typo on the episode name page: “SCROL II”. On the other hand the “wonderous” typo from last episode has been fixed to “wondrous”.

In the temple Key is changing from her soaked clothes into a set of traditional robes [2].  As she is getting dressed Prince Snake-Eye is discussing some true believers who came to him with a sick son seeking faith healing. Snake-Eye is an odd cult leader: he supports medical science and is at least a little ashamed of how his followers have misinterpreted him.

Sergei is parked outside the temple with a PPOR.

Snake-Eye is also dealing with a number true believers but cannot help the boy.  It turns out that the parents are doctors, and Key’s unknown powers are the boy’s last chance.

Sergei activates the PPOR as Tomoyo lurks nearby.

Snake-Eye introduces Key as his first disciple, returned from a long journey.  The scene with the worshippers is uncomfortable to watch as parents and others crowd around begging for help.  The boy, Toshihiko, is lying before the altar as Snake-Eye makes a promise he probably shouldn’t have.

As the prayers begin the clockwork sound track is faintly heard.

In the truck Sergei is having trouble getting the PPOR to move correctly.

Back at Ajo Heavy Industries, Ajo is leaving the control room. One of the minions protests too strongly, and is selected as the subject in a “Gel extraction” experiment.  There is no honour among minions apparently.

Ajo is having some sort of incident in the elevator, there is a hint of a PPOR observing him from above, but he cheers up when the door opens and he sees what I presume is the Miho-bot looking in.

The attempt at faith healing is not going well, the clock work sounds continues to be heard as Key is asking Grandfather what to do in her mind. Key is denying her power and thinking that the child will die.

Key asks for help from all the characters she has met so far and there is an image of a robotic torso being taken over by flesh as Sakura suddenly looks up.

Key starts crying  and collapses on Toshihiko.

Sergei cries out in pain.

Whatever Tomoyo is monitoring starts beeping rapidly.

Sakura looks out her window and sees the PPOR in the garbage dump.

In the control room the malfunction is happening again and the minions observe D being attacked by the PPOR. They try to shut it down remotely, but that never works. Unnoticed the telemetry from the Head shows Sakura standing with an umbrella nearby. As it starts moving Sakura panics and screams.

Sergei is fighting the PPOR and manages to break its eye with the finger from the PPOR that Key destroyed in ACCESS.

The minions notice the telemetry cut out, and also notice that the telemetry from the Head has also cut off.  Sakura may have panicked, but she has also managed to put a stick through its eye.

Snake-Eye is trying to convince Key to try again. Meanwhile Key is trying to tell Snake-Eye that she has no powers, that she does not remember the events of ACCESS.

Snake-Eye argues that her heart is suppressing the memory to hide her powers, that he has seen them, that he truly believes in the powers, and that he was secretly praying for her return.

Sergei is gearing up to enter the temple as the PPOR lies abandoned in the truck

The other worshippers are also begging for Key to help when they return to the main room.  A flash of brown hair, the fingers of the PPOR twitch, Key grabs her head in pain, the soundtrack morphs from clockwork to a heartbeat.

Suddenly Key is in the forest clearing surrounded by everyone she knows smiling at her as the Miko holds Toshihiko. The Miko hands Toshihiko to Key to a soundtrack of beating temple drums. The observers fade and a pink light envelops Key.

Back in the temple, Key is collapsed over Toshihiko, smiles, coughs up a lot of blood [3], and collapses.

Toshihiko rises from his bed. Sergei demands that Key be handed over.  Snake-Eye resists but he and his followers rapidly discover that bringing prayer beads to a gunfight is not a good idea. To his credit Snake-Eye stands up to Sergei.

Tomoyo meanwhile has brought night vision gear and a sling shot to a gun fight.  He manages to disarm Sergei but then gets knocked into a wall.  There’s mention of rock salt needles that should disable Sergei’s hand permanently but he hasn’t noticed yet.

Tataki is setting up a cassette in a tape recorder.  A frantic knock on his door is Sakura telling him that Key is going to die, that they will kill her.  The mysterious voice is heard again.

Ajo is playing with a knife over the Miho-bot.

The drugged minion is lying on a table near the abandoned observation room where the telemetry briefly shows a forest.

In the truck the PPOR is missing.

Tomoyo is attempting to get up, a panicking Snake-Eye is holding the unconscious Key, Snake-Eye also has Sergei’s gun but clearly isn’t ready to use it, Sergei is beginning to advance as the credits roll.

I can only imagine what this ending was like for the original viewers who would have run into this without knowing when, or if, the next episode would be released.  Even now I had the “What? No! It can’t end there!” reaction of the truly classic cliff hanger.

In ACCESS I noted that Snake-Eye’s initial appearance was well into creepy stalker territory, and wondered how that impression would be altered.  SCROLL I doesn’t do much to alter that impression, but SCROLL II is a fascinating character study of a flawed but nevertheless good hearted priest.

Similarly the relatively small screen time afforded to Sakura also showed significant character development.  There is a sense of real resolve in Sakura now, a willingness to fight for instead of against Key, as well as the courage to face her fears.

The extent to which Key’s powers depend on the faith, and support, of others is becoming clearer.  It is beginning to look like Dr Mima may have known what he was talking about.

This is a strong episode that leaves the viewer wondering what the heck just happened, as well as wanting more right now!

At this stage I haven’t picked the meta post topic.  I’ll think about that 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] The Wikipedia page indicates that the episodes were released individually on VHS, or as 3 episode Laser Discs.

[2] Oh look, the fanservice for the episode. Sigh.

[3] A large amount of the blood ends up on Snake-Eye’s face which is more than a little gross.  To his credit he seems more worried about Key than his appearance.