Cover: Key Volume 2

SAVE continues the trend of set up episodes in Key the Metal Idol.  I think I’ve forgotten how much is left to the movie length final episodes, and this means that the lead ups are necessarily slower paced character episodes to set up the finales [1].

The tag is again a mixture of interspersed scenes.  A naked Miho-Bot and a Beniko-Bot are being decanted and starting to walk.  Tataki is experiencing nightmares related to the dark photo and his trip to Mamio Valley.  Ajo is digging up Toyoko’s [2] grave and shattering the urn, although it isn’t clear what he is looking for. Sergei is still struggling with his analysis. Sakura is asking why Tataki went there.  Key is collapsing in Tsurugi’s rehearsal hall.

Out of the Mamio Valley a shop at the Koma Station is closing when Tataki staggers up and asks “got milk?” [3]  When asked why he was in such a hurry there is a flash back to Tataki fleeing the valley, with flashes of Ajo.  Tataki doesn’t answer the shopkeeper. The next scene is Tataki leaving on the train and asking why Ajo was there at all.

Then there is another flash back to Tataki leaving Key’s house to be confronted by the traditional angry mob of elderly villagers. He is accused of desecrating Toyoko’s grave and told to go home. During the confrontation the scene transitions from being a flash back into a dream sequence.

It is quite subtly done; the main indication is a change to the designs of the villagers that renders them more abstract.  Tataki then sees Key in the house and runs inside.  The room he saw her in is empty, the house is dark with damaged walls, and he finds Ajo holding a funerary urn in the main room.  Ajo turns to face Tataki, says something that is not heard, and drops the urn.

As it hits the ground and shatters the dream heads deep into nightmare territory: the explosion of blood covers everything in the room, including Tataki.  Tataki opens his hand to find that he’s caught an eye that is moving in his hand. Tataki screams, and appears to wake up in a sterile room with a ticking clock. However the nightmare isn’t over as a wall crumbles away to reveal a decayed corpse of Dr Mima [4].

This time Tataki does wake up for real in his own room, the one filled with manga and other geek stuff. He’s been having this nightmare for a month.  He is also wondering why he recognises Dr Mima when he never met him.

Examining the darker photo from Key’s house reveals a terrified Dr Mima looking up and a much younger Key surrounded by people.  There is clearly something happening, possibly a fire or a building collapsing.  Tataki recalls the headline of Ajo Heavy Industries giving up on bipedal robot development, and realises that Ajo is connected to Dr Mima somehow, and also that Ajo was the grave robber.

As Tataki is speculating about the possibility of Dr Mima’s death being murder rather than an accident he is interrupted by a slightly irritated Sakura.  This is a rather neat scene change to a cafe where Tataki is catching up with Sakura. 

Sakura is not impressed with Tataki not calling or showing up at the video store for a month.  Given the passage of time the resulting conversation is something of an infodump, but quite deftly handled, especially the interspersed scenes that relate to the smoothly flowing conversation.

The first piece is that Key has been getting instruction from Tsurugi alone and Sakura is working full time again. Cut to the rehearsal hall where nothing much is happening.  Tsurugi plays something, and Key just stands there.

Tataki is angry that all of his connections fell through at the application stage.  Sakura feels that someone was interfering.  Cut to a flash back of a message on Tataki’s answering machine indicating that Key called off the opportunities.

Tataki is certain that Key didn’t do that, but wonders if Tsurugi did.  Sakura has her doubts [5], but neither of them thinks about Prince Snake-Eye or any other third party.  This is a bit of a scripting failure given the subplot with the bug.

In the rehearsal hall Tsurugi is confronting Key.  For an entire month she has not spoken, sung, danced, or done anything.  On being confronted Key apologises and says that she could not do any of those things as a robot.

If she had, Tsurugi would have thrown her out for futilely attempting to imitate being human. Tsurugi says that Key cannot become human whilst she hides behind the steel skin that she wears. Tsurugi asks Key to shed the steel skins, layer by layer, and this leads to a staring contest.

In the cafe Sakura is finally asking where Tataki went.  Tataki asks about Key’s mother Toyoko and whether Toyoko was the priestess of the Mamio shrine.  Home is clearly a sore point with Sakura.

In retrospect, given how closemouthed the villagers were, Tataki agrees that asking Sakura would have been a better idea. He keeps quiet about Ajo, and on mentioning the shopkeeper gets told that only valley people know about the valley. 

Tataki manages to irritate Sakura again by mentioning her home again.  This draws the angry response that her home has been gone for a long time, and to change the subject Sakura demands a souvenir of the trip. Instead she receives a ticket to a mini-concert with Miho featuring a special guest “Miss Crimson”.

In return for the ticket Sakura shows him a drawing done by Key showing her internal workings as a robot.

The staring contest is continuing and all external stimuli such as a ringing phone are being ignored. Key is starting to sweat and this triggers a reaction from Tsurugi.  He takes it as a sign that he is starting to get through to Key.

Miho’s condition is starting to worsen and the doctor calls Ajo asking for some of the medicine [6] used previously.  This is a mistake: it results in the doctor being used as the next extraction subject.

Tataki receives a tape from Production Minos.  Although it isn’t heard Tataki is seen flicking back and forth between the preview tape and the recording of the strange voice heard previously.  Clearly they are the same and he’s wondering what is going on.

The minions are working on the Miho and Beniko bots seen in the tag as Ajo comes in with the doctor.  It turns out that they have also been extracting gel from homeless people.

Tataki is trying to get in to see the president of Production Minos without success.  The president is observing on a closed circuit camera and notes that he’s just as excluded.

Sakura is typing “Baka” over and over in Tataki’s records at the video store.

Canisters of gel are coming off the production line.

Sergei’s analysis is not going well, and he collapses in pain.

Tataki is wandering through the city in a daze, and Tomoyo is following.

Ajo comes in to see the Beniko and Miho bots.

Key enters the video store and is warmly welcomed home by Sakura as the credits roll.

This episode hides a deeper subtlety within the smooth transition to the nightmare sequence.  The two things that are not explained is why Tataki is having nightmares in the first place, or why he has again drawn the attention of Tomoyo.

In BUG it was clear that Tataki was seeing signs of the past, and that there were manifestations that he wasn’t noticing.  Whatever power lurks in the Mamio Valley has affected Tataki, but this isn’t obvious during the episodes.  It is only something realised after watching, and only then if there is a gap between episodes.

As I mentioned above my memories of these episodes is clearly faulty as I’ve been expecting events to happen faster [7].  Overall though I’m quite happy with the pacing as I’m finding that the slow build to the crisis point is working quite well.

There is still a sense of threads interweaving here, and a deepness that catches the mind.  Overall a good episode, but not the best in the series.

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] This is not the first time that this has happened to me.  Viewing single episodes when you have previously watched blocks changes the perception of events.  This was particularly surprising for me around The Blue-Eyed Prince episode of The Vision of Escaflowne

[2] Key’s mother’s name.

[3] I think that this is a reference to a Japanese advertising campaign. The same one that Haibane Renmei would later parody as “got wings?” The dub mistranslates it as a request for water, but this is fair enough given that most western audiences wouldn’t know about the ad campaign.

[4] Said corpse has maggots in one eye, and is missing the other. Really not a pleasant visual even in cel animation.

[5] Tsurugi may not be paying Key or Sakura, but the “lessons” are free, which is influencing Sakura to trust Tsurugi to some extent.

[6] i.e Gel.

[7] It has been several years since the last time I watched Key, possibly not since the DVDs came out.

PS: Oh, one little oddity at the end. When I redocked the laptop after drafting the synopsis it shut down without warning.  Without the autosave I might have been forced to re do it. 

Title of this episode: SAVE.

Make of that what you will. 🙂