Shuichi Tataki

RETURN, episode 9 of Key the Metal Idol, is slowly raising the tension but there is more info dump than action [1].

The tag shows Miho being injected with gel and called upon to wake up by Ajo [2].  Key is, apparently, present during this scene but I suspect that this is either Miho’s dream or Key’s subconscious as a wandering spirit.

An exhausted Key is sitting by the window as detritus from auditions litter the table in the living area. The doorbell ringing turns out to be a couple of masked telephone repair persons, one male and one female, and obviously fake to anyone but Key.

Next is a bizarre sequence of Ajo being attacked in his office by Key as Sergei is restrained by a PPOR. Suddenly they are on the roof, Sergei is in his hospital bed, and Tomoyo is in the background doing something on his laptop. With her hands around Ajo’s neck Key explodes into flames, and Sergei awakens from his nightmare. 

I’m not sure how anatomically correct it is but the internal view of broken ribs is probably justifies the amount of pain Sergei is in.

Back in the truck with the 5 PPORs the two minions are talking about using the controller.  Apparently controlling the gel of other persons is impossible, and that only gel from one person can exist in the same container. 

This is the technical limit that Ajo is trying to get around, and the minions are not confident.  It is necessary for the PPOR to become marketable. Sergei is something special in that 4 packs of gel can be extracted from him at a time, provided he gets replenishment.  Extracting 10 packs, especially from a normal human, will basically result in a zombie.

They also speculate that the only way for the project to succeed is to capture Key and extract all the gel from her, that Key has “the power” necessary.  Apparently Sergei has claimed this previously. The minions also wonder if the boss is afraid of Key.

They are talking out of school in this scene and belatedly wonder if they are being monitored.  This is a fairly clumsy infodump that is primarily there to establish the threat to, and the potential of, Key.  I can forgive it in context, especially as Key the Metal Idol is usually better written than this, and it is also necessary information for later episodes.

In the video store, Sakura is looking through magazines for more audition opportunities for Key.  Tataki comes in to return a bunch of videos, all of his videos in fact, as he is about to leave on a trip.

As an apology for the earlier argument Tataki produces a list of old friends who are in the entertainment industry.  Sakura apologises in turn.  Tataki asks why Sakura is helping Key and finds out it is in no small part due to his criticism of Key during the rain storm.

Sakura is clearly sacrificing her own hopes and dreams, whatever they are, to help Key.  Sakura claims that she will dust off her own dreams once Key is happy, and thinks they should be easy enough to achieve.  I think that this is where Sakura begins to emerge as a tragic figure, there is a sense here of an irrevocable mistake on Sakura’s part.

Tataki clearly isn’t convinced but makes the polite noises anyway. After typing “baka” [3] into the video store computer Sakura sends Tataki away with a smile.

Down by a waterfront park a couple are getting it on in the bushes when that action stops. The interruption is a line of PPORs marching down the path with loud clanking footsteps.  There is a pervert spying on the couple, as well as Tomoyo observing the PPORs.  Seeing the four in a line is slightly amusing.

The minion is struggling to control the PPORs, and confusing Tomoyo in the process.  He manages an about face and sends them back where they came from.  Basic movement is the limit of the minion’s control as Ajo calls for a status update.  The minions report a successful experiment, which is stretching the truth a fair bit, in order to not have their gel extracted.

Ajo prepares to start marketing the PPORs whilst flicking through photos of naked girls. He is selecting Miho’s replacement and I find that the complete lack of sexual overtones makes this scene even worse.  In Ajo’s eyes he is selecting a commodity to market, nothing more, and this is extremely creepy to watch. He selects the 16 year old Beniko Komori, and she will appear in coming episodes.

The phone is ringing and Key stares at it for a little while.  Eventually she answers and finds herself talking to Hikaru Tsurugi, the judge from the audition earlier, to ask for a meeting tomorrow.  Sakura ends the call due to worries about stalkers etc.

On finding out it was a judge Sakura panics a bit, and it takes her a while to notice Key’s comment about the telephone repairers.  Sakura finds one bug and rousts Snake-Eye from the garbage.  The repairers were the parents of the boy that Key saved.

Basically Snake-Eye is attempting to “save” Key from the temptation of show business.  Sakura has not disposed of the bug and is talking to Tataki whilst holding it.  Snake-Eye is not amused by being called an amateur.

Tataki is also not worried, as if it were serious Tomoyo would intervene.  This worries Snake-Eye as the scene cuts first to a flash back of Tomoyo in action and then to Tomoyo relaxing on a park bench somewhere.  Tataki offers to tag along for any meeting with Tsurugi.

Tsurugi rings again and the meeting is arranged.

Sergei is having another nightmare involving carving a sculpture of a naked Key.  When he drives the chisel into the bridge of the statue’s nose, the stone to one side falls away to reveal a real eye.  A ghostly Key then attacks Sergei and he awakes to find Ajo looking in through the bars of the cell.

Sergei has been given a computer to analyse the previous malfunctions.

Sakura and Key are approaching Tataki’s friends, who are consistently more interested in Tataki than in Key.  Sakura puts a brave face on it but it is a frustrating sequence (if quite funny to watch), and even Key gets some snark in afterwards.

Ajo has arrived at Miho’s bedside and the doctor is again attempting to protect her.  This doesn’t end well.  Ajo gives her an injection of gel.

Sergei is attempting to use the computer.  He should have stayed in bed.

Tataki arrives at the meeting.  The waitresses [4] are wondering if Tsurugi is who they think it is. Tataki clearly recognises Tsurugi and begins to approach. Snake-Eye is listening in somehow.

Miho begins to wake up.

The meeting begins in silence as the credits begin to roll. 

RETURN is an episode with relatively little action but a growing sense of impending doom.  The selection of Miho’s replacement is ominous, as is Tataki’s recognising Tsurugi.  The latter raises the question of whether Tataki deliberately omitted Tsurugi from the contacts list he handed Sakura. If so, why?

Then there’s Sakura’s sacrifice of her own hopes and dreams.  It is clear that her dreams have shattered before, and this raises the issue of whether helping Key is attempting to keep the hurt at arms length. For that matter the question of why a 17 year old is living on her own in Tokyo has never been adequately answered [5].  I can’t help thinking that Sakura is making a terrible mistake here, but also that this is part of her appeal as a character.

Finally I think I now have enough in mind to write the gender post so that will be tomorrow’s meta post.

Day 1 – START UP
Day 2 – CURSOR I
Day 4 – Sub vs Dub?
Day 5 – ACCESS
Day 6 – SCROLL I
Day 8 – The extra bits
Day 9 – RUN
Day 10 – GOTO
Day 11 – RETURN
Day 12 – Gender and Key the Metal Idol
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] It is also an example of Never Trust a Trailer: what looked like some fairly serious action scenes in the trailer at the end of GOTO turned out to be something else entirely.

[2] To the tune of the Hokey Pokey: You take the life force out, you put the life force back…  Of course it isn’t that simple.

[3] Neatly subtitled as “jerk” as it happens.

[4] In the inevitable maid outfits, some tropes are a lot older than people think.

[5] As I recall it never gets answered.