Prince Snake-Eye with Eyepatch

VIRUS I is the first episode of Key the Metal Idol to really hint at how much Key’s power is subconsciously driving events and the characters around her towards a dramatic convergence [1].

The tag is a particularly overloaded example of multiple scenes, and also one in which the sequence is harder than usual to pin down:

  • A magazine on the street that is an example of animation short cuts. Initially the scene shows blank pages blowing in the wind, but as the shot zooms in text appears of a news report.  The headline is referring to an increase in missing persons [2]
  • Sergei is struggling with a controller. This doesn’t happen in this episode at all.
  • Sakura is turning around in her seat in a concert hall. 
  • A couple of PPORs are moving forward. The crowd is cheering in the concert hall. Tsurugi is raising his hand.
  • Sergei is in his cell attempting, sans equipment, to suck gel from the mouth of the drooling minion last seen in GOTO [3]. This is obviously before the controller scene.
  • Ajo is facing the now costumed Beniko and Miho bots. In turn the bots appear to be looking at Ajo and seeing different shades of gel [4]
  • Key is asking to be taken somewhere [5].

The president of Production Minos is calling Tsurugi about the Miho concert.  Tsurugi is apparently having something of a nervous breakdown trashing his house in the process.  Apparently his “greatest masterpiece” is about to be realised. Given how little progress has been made with Key this is a somewhat surprising scene.

In the video store Sakura is surprised that Key didn’t know about the concert, but only has one ticket.  Sakura is enthusiastic about the prospects of Tsurugi taking Key to the concert however.  To cheer Key up Sakura starts playing the Miho concert tour tape.  As before Key is entranced by the video (the dubbing of the songs still sucks), and her hair slowly changes colour to brown.

Tataki is still staggering through the crowds when he wanders down an empty alleyway.  Bumping into Prince Snake-Eye he discovers the “stay away from Key” flyers. This is where Tataki finally puts the pieces together about the bug and the interference with Key’s career [6]. Prince Snake-Eye flees but Tataki is prevented from pursuing by Tomoyo who tells him to leave the extras alone.

The doctor staggers by, drooling, and Tomoyo takes the opportunity of the distraction to disappear again.  There is a sound of a crash and Tataki leaves the alleyway to find the doctor dead from having walked into a car.

Sergei is desperate for some gel and tries to manually suck it from the mouth of the hapless minion currently sharing his cell.

Key is still watching the Miho video.

Tataki is looking at the flyer, at Key’s drawing of her robotic internals, and at the dark photo of the shrine collapsing. He works something out, possibly the perspective matches where he was sitting at the shrine when he was in the Mamio Valley, but denies it. It could be something else, the photo is never fully or clearly seen so most of the information comes from Tataki’s reaction to the photo.

Key appears to be inside the Miho video with fully brown hair, shaking, with tears falling from her eyes.

Next morning a silent Sakura has awoken and is sitting up in bed.  Key is in her usual position on the balcony. It is worth noting that Sakura has usually had something to say in scenes like this.

Ajo is dealing with the replacement doctor.  The replacement is surprised, but acquiesces, when Ajo says that he’ll be taking Miho away in the afternoon. (the bodyguard may have had something to do with that)

Sergei returns to the computer and finally manages to find the access code to the security system.  He promptly opens every door in the facility, manages to force the cell door open, and make his way to where one of the minions is preparing to leave.  Even wounded Sergei is powerful enough to bully the minion into providing him with gel.

Key is leaving for the day and Sakura reminds Key to ask Tsurugi to take her to the concert.  There is another sequence of Sakura watching Key from the balcony, clearly wanting to say more, but staying silent.

At the concert hall there is the creepy gel like image of Ajo from the perspective of the bots.  He turns at a knock to find a flunky suggesting that the audience be let in.

Tataki arrives at the concert hall and flashes back to meeting Ajo in the Mamio Valley. He notices a poorly disguised Prince Snake-Eye (still wearing the geta), rousts him, and gives chase. 

Tomoyo is somewhat disgusted but doesn’t intervene further, and then dodges into the crowd.  The dodge is clearly to avoid attention of the newly arrived Sakura.  Sakura is annoyed that Tataki isn’t there to meet her.

Key is asking Tsurugi to go to Miho’s concert. Tsurugi wants to know how she found out about the concert and why she wants to go.

Sergei is injecting several doses of gel [7] to speed his recovery.  He asks the minion where the concert is.

Key asks if Tsurugi has to attend the concert as the choreographer. Tsurugi continues in the vein of property and personal damage by breaking a window and then explains that his work is done.  Once the concept is sold it is Miho who executes it, not Tsurugi, so why would he care how it turns out?  This doesn’t sound like the typical reaction of an artist to me, so I was wondering if something else was going on here.

Key persists, Tsurugi refuses again.

Tataki has caught Prince Snake-Eye in an back street somewhere.  The conversation reveals Prince Snake-Eye’s motivation for “saving” Key: he thinks that progress in show business will only bring unhappiness to everyone around Key, whilst taking her further away from salvation.

In the concert hall Sakura is waiting for Key and Tataki.

In the control room a smug Beniko is ready to operate her controller whilst the suffering Miho is just getting by as best she can.  Ajo is satisfied, but the other minion hasn’t shown up yet to operate the scenery.

Said minion is asking why Sergei thinks Key will be at the concert hall as he continues to inject gel. Sergei is worried about Miho and Beniko becoming casualties.

Tsurugi is warning Key that she cannot become human by imitation, let alone by imitating Miho. He dismisses Beniko as a mere imitation, and neatly critiques the idol singer industry in the process.

Key disagrees and insists that Miho is different, that her true heart is special.  Tsurugi claims that there is a dark mirror in Miho’s heart, that no one can understand Miho.

Tataki is walking back to the concert hall, clearly confused by Prince Snake-Eye’s words about powers.  It looks like he nearly faints before bumping into someone shocks him out of it.

Key is insistent that she must see Miho and become like her.  Tsurugi is dismissive and mocking as the expression on Key’s downturned face changes.

Sergei asks for two PPOR units to be put on standby.  The phone rings but Sergei ignores it, and rises apparently fully healed.

The other minion puts his phone away, and is told by Ajo to operate the background.

The concert hall darkens, and the controllers begin.  Beniko is beginning to feel some strain at this point.

Key is shaking her head; Tsurugi is not handling this well.  Key raises her face to show the tears beginning to fall as the credits roll.

There are a lot of strange reactions in this episode:

  • It is possible that Tsurugi was always unstable, but I find myself doubting that.
  • Tataki is still not dealing with the effects of his visit to Mamio Valley in BUG and SAVE.
  • Prince Snake-Eye’s words have a deeper impact on Tataki than they should.
  • Sakura is oddly subdued throughout the episode, supportive of Key but clearly suppressing her doubts in a couple of scenes.
  • Sergei’s obsession with Key is also driving him to the concert hall, and he seems strangely concerned for the safety of Miho and Beniko.

I think that the clue was given in SAVE: the people of Mamio Valley worshipped Toyoko, and probably for good reason. At this point it is likely that Key is starting to generate the same effect but cannot control it.  Tsurugi is going out of control from prolonged, and focussed, contact with Key.  Tataki didn’t realise what he was walking into in the Mamio Valley, and Prince Snake-Eye is already worshipping Key, etc.

Likewise I think it is Key’s power that is subconsciously drawing everything, and everyone, to the concert hall for some form of confrontation.  This helps to explain some of the coincidences that have been occurring throughout the series: as people come into Key’s orbit they are captured and stay there.

VIRUS I is another example of Key the Metal Idol slowly building the pressure.  Something has to give soon, but what?  VIRUS I is a solid episode but I am beginning to wonder if the set up is being drawn out just a touch too long.

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] The trailer for VIRUS II seems to support this, but then again Never Trust a Trailer.

[2] The gel has to come from somewhere…

[3] No vampiric references here. No, not at all. And if you believe that I have a coat hanger shaped bridge to sell you. 🙂

[4] In case the gel = life force relationship wasn’t explicit enough already.  However the varying shades may be saying something unhealthy about Ajo.

[5] The dub refers explicitly to the concert, the sub relies on context.

[6] Took him long enough.

[7] Sergei isn’t addicted to the gel. Honest.