Hikaru Tsurugi: The prodigy himself.

BUG is about connecting disparate Key the Metal Idol plot lines whilst introducing some key back story.  Along the way Tataki starts experiencing the weirdness that is Mamio Valley in an episode with a relatively simple script [1].

The tag however is not so simple, interspersing a number of scenes, including one scene that is only in the tag.  One sequence foreshadows Key’s difficulties with learning to be an idol under Tsurugi’s instruction in SAVE [2]. Another reminds us of the pain Miho is being subjected to as part of recording her new single.  In Mamio Valley Tataki is noticing the marble used by Sergei in Key’s home.  A funeral urn is being dropped on the ground with no indication of who is responsible [3]

The main storyline resumes with the meeting between Key, Sakura, and Tsurugi in the smoky restaurant.  It is thus far silent: Tsurugi is drinking coffee and observing Key, but not saying anything. Sakura pulls Tataki aside when he arrives.  After a brief conversation that reassures Sakura she passes the still live bug to Tataki and returns to Key and Tsurugi.

There is a discussion of Key being a robot whilst Tataki is at another table opening the bug with a fork.  Tataki disables the bug as Tsurugi promises to make Key human.  In the street an embarrassed Prince Snake-Eye is looking more suspicious than usual.

Key gives the spiel about 30,000 friends, and whilst it may be the lighting, her hair appears to darken during this speech. Tsurugi writes a phone number on the Production Key card and returns it to Key.  It is the only number that will work, and then only one time in ten.

As Tsurugi leaves Tataki succumbs to a nerdgasm as he finally realises just who Tsurugi is and that he might really be able to help Key.

In the hospital the recording session that the medical staff here unable to prevent is about to begin.  Miho is up, sort of, but clearly in pain as her mouth opens.  This is a mostly silent scene with the only sound heard by the viewer being Miho’s heart monitor. As usual with scenes involving Ajo in smug mode this is a quite disturbing sequence.

On a pedestrian bridge Sakura is talking about the media prodigy Tsurugi as Key stares off into the distance [4]. The flash back to the conversation with Tataki shows that the nerdgasm hasn’t abated, but on the bridge Sakura is still uncertain.

Sakura asks Key what she wants to do, and lays out the options of Tataki’s other contacts.  The view contracts to a headshot of a brown haired Key turning around with the clockwork soundtrack. Key is almost smiling naturally, and Sakura definitely notices.  As Sakura rushes forward Key’s hair is back to the normal shade.  Initially Key doesn’t answer an increasingly frantic Sakura, and Tomoyo is monitoring some falling power levels beneath the bridge.  This worries him somewhat.

Tsurugi is confronted by Prince Snake-Eye. Meanwhile the parents of Toshihiko are ringing all of Tataki’s contacts to warn them off [5] employing Key. The parents are unhappy about doing this, and Toshihiko isn’t all that pleased either.

Prince Snake-Eye is warning Tsurugi of disasters and bad spirits following Key.  This does not get the expected reaction: Tsurugi is even more interested, and also calls for the misfortune to land on him. Tsurugi has never been unhappy, and wants to try it.  If Prince Snake-Eye can’t do it, Tsurugi threatens to poke out Snake-Eye’s other eye.

Here Prince Snake-Eye is an example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions.  He is trying to keep Key from sin, but is resorting to deceit and blackmail to do so. Given his courage in facing Sergei in SCROLL II and RUN this is somewhat disappointing to see.

Ajo is flying somewhere. 

Tataki is preparing for his trip to Mamio valley.

In the theatre group Tsurugi is getting violent towards one of the actresses when the phone rings.  The conversation with Key is odd, and it is a little disturbing to see how possessive of Key Tsurugi has become in such a short time.

Tataki is travelling by train.

Sakura is apologising to Key, and a little relieved that Key can act on her own initiative.

The minions are working on the PPORs and somewhat relieved that they won’t have to do another experiment for a couple of days. Even worse there is only enough gel for a couple more experiments, and they aren’t sure where, or rather who, the next set will come from. Out of self preservation they semi sabotage the work on the PPORs to drag it out.

Sergei is trying to work on some analysis, when he can keep awake.

Prince Snake-Eye is in a convenience store with a photocopier running off posters to warn people away from Key.

Tataki’s train trip is an extended one: overnight on one leg, then another on a rural line.  After disembarking in the summer heat he starts walking towards Key’s haunts, finding the high school. This sequence starts getting very strange as images of Key, Sakura, as well as Tomoyo lurking behind a tree appear.  It isn’t entirely clear how much Tataki is seeing in the heat, and how much is his thoughts about what happened.

Leaving the high school Tataki walks past a ruined house with “Kuriyagawa” on a crooked name plate.  I don’t recall seeing this on previous viewings, and it may be the only on screen clue to Sakura’s back story.  The implication is that Sakura is now an orphan, and is working the various jobs to get by due to a complete lack of other options.  Since he doesn’t stop I think that this is solely for the benefit of the viewer, i.e. I don’t think Tataki sees this as he walks by.

Moving into the valley things continue to get stranger.  There are translucent images of Key hiding behind a tree or moving ahead up the path, but never where Tataki is looking. By the side of the path there is a doll tied to a stone marker, which also probably goes unnoticed by Tataki.

The view pans away from Tataki through the forest to a desecrated grave marked as the Mima Family Grave, with a shattered urn on the ground.

Tataki is having some food at a shrine when he notices some wreckage off to one side. He suddenly sees an image of the building that used to be there – the shrine seen in Key’s dreams as it happens. Then there’s an image of fire and flashes of people gathered before the scene reverts.

Tataki clearly saw this but thinks he was hallucinating [6].

At the Mima home Tataki finds the photo of Key and Sakura that Sergei wrecked in CURSOR I.  When Tataki picks the frame up two photos fall out, the second is not clearly seen but seems to be a night time photo.

Ajo is experiencing a flash back to the murder of Dr Mima.  This time there is a conversation between Ajo and Mima. Dr Mima says that what Ajo is looking for was buried with his daughter 17 years ago [7].  As he comes out of the memory, Ajo notices Tataki’s shoes in the entry, and then Tataki.

He challenges Tataki who comes up with an excuse of just looking for water.  Tataki handles this fairly well, even going so far as to apologise for the intrusion and asking “Sir” if he lives here or knows who does.  Despite this I don’t think that Ajo is fooled.

Tataki definitely recognised Ajo and is very worried by the fact.

Sakura is directing traffic at the day job.

There is a scene of men, some in uniform, shaking hands as they look over a table with machinery on it.

Sergei is still working.

A PPOR on a workbench looks to be a new Miho, or possibly her replacement.

Beniko Komori enters the Production Minos office.  The president is saying goodbye: Beniko has been summoned to the Miho project and he doesn’t expect to see her again.

Tataki is searching the Mima house and finding the destruction from the previous ransacking.

Key is standing in Tsurugi’s studio and being asked if she has no desire or voice to sing with as the credits roll.

BUG is a fairly sedate episode but still commands attention from the viewer.  There is a lot of information being revealed here, and it is striking how much better the writing is here compared to the fairly clumsy infodump in RETURN.

I like the slow introductions to the newer characters.  Tsurugi was basically seen in GOTO, introduced in RETURN, and interacts with Key and Sakura for the first time in BUG.  Beniko’s introduction is following a similar pattern: an image was seen in RETURN, and she only briefly appears in BUG, albeit in a slightly ominous manner.

The heart of BUG is Tataki’s trip to the Mamio Valley where he is beginning to discover Key’s background. This trip is well handled, and shows a dawning awareness that there is much more going on than he realised.

Overall this is a good episode that gives the viewer, particularly the alert viewer, a lot to chew on.

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] Well, relatively simple for a Key the Metal Idol episode at least.

[2] SAVE is the next episode.

[3] Probably Ajo, the aftermath of this is referenced later in the episode but it isn’t actually seen.

[4] Tsurugi is described as having done several things ranging from acting, dancing, choreography, essays, lyrics, etc and is effectively at the top of show business in Japan.

[5] Some of the calls involve the mother pretending to be Key’s mother, others involve threats of “accidents”.

[6] The dub dialogue references hallucinations directly, the subtitle is more ambiguous. Under the circumstances I prefer the latter.

[7] It has been a while since Key the Metal Idol has had gratuitous coincidences: Key is 17 years old.