Key and Sakura

EXIT is the final episode of Key the Metal Idol, and a surprisingly difficult film to write about.  It is also strangely disappointing, and not as good as I remember.

The extended opening song intersperses flashbacks from the series with the original opening credits. It is a fitting way to recap the series as the final episode starts. The scenes of Sakura here are particularly poignant.

The screen goes black as the official credits roll, mixed with scenes of a younger Snake-Eye struggling through the forest before being waved to by a young girl, Snake-Eye’s temple being raided by PPORs, Sakura fleeing a PPOR, Tsurugi recovering consciousness, and Sakura being drained of Geist [1].

I’m not going to do a detailed synopsis but over the course of the film everyone who has touched, or been touched by Key, is drawn together to help her hijack Miho’s farewell concert. 

For example Snake-Eye was saved by the spirit of Key’s mother Toyoko in the Mamio Valley, and he can sense the release of Geist.

This includes Snake-Eye [2], Toshihiko [3] Tamari [4], Aoi [5] and the Miho fan club who were hearing Lullaby over the net, all conspire to make this happen.

There is also a lot more infodumping going on during this.  I will grant that Tomoyo may have a point when he worries about Human-Key still being a child due to sleeping for 10 years. The suggestion that Key’s drawings are in fact the internal structures of Ajo’s PPORs, and that Ajo may have inspired the Robot-Key persona is just creepy.

Before that Key, Tomoyo, and Tataki are drawn to the main Ajo Heavy Industries to rescue Sakura.  Tsurugi dies during this sequence because he puts Key in a position of having to choose between saving him, or saving Sakura. The raid on Ajo Heavy Industries is well handled [6], but ultimately futile as Sakura dies at home shortly afterwards.  

I really don’t like what happens to Sakura: for such a vibrant, caring, character to be so casually disposed of really annoys me. Grieving for Sakura is enough to briefly awaken Key, but only enough to ask for Sakura’s burial next to Key’s mother and grandfather.

The scene where Key picks up her bag and leaves Sakura’s apartment is terribly sad.

It is also the last moment that deeply resonates with me in Key the Metal Idol.

The second half of the film is about hijacking Miho’s farewell concert, and interfering with Ajo’s plan to completely drain the geist from the audience. This is when the other characters start rallying round.

During the hijacking of the concert there is a nice scene in Key’s mindscape of the Mamio Valley where the human Key meets her robot personality.  The best bit is when Key does awaken as a human, faces the grief and pain of life, and tries to retreat into her shell.  This is when Toyoko, or her spirit, forces Key to take responsibility for the people who revived her.

Ultimately it is Key’s singing that destroys Ajo’s machine, and restores the drained audience to life.  The song takes on almost messianic overtones with Key using the geist stored within her, and that of the audience, to be almost everywhere simultaneously. The imagery of Key crying tears, and then a flood, of gel that fills the auditorium is certainly a powerful image. Key searching for, and finding the canister of Sakura’s geist is also moving to an extent [7], but only to an extent.

The epilogue implying that a recovering Miho now has Sakura’s geist is a nice touch, but not enough to save the ending. I do wonder if it further cheapens Sakura’s death.

The ending is suitably heroic but somehow empty.  It works well enough, and fits neatly within the mythology established throughout the series, but somehow lacks the resonance I was hoping for.  It does end with a fully human Key, but at a terrible price.

I think the problem is that EXIT needed an ending that could overcome the tragedy of Sakura’s death, and it’s just not there. Sakura was the one who did most of the heavy lifting needed to reconnect Key to humanity: Sakura deserved to be there to see it.  Having Sakura’s geist used to restore Miho only emphasises that she was ultimately a sacrifice.

Overall Key the Metal Idol joins the list of series that are good almost to the last drop, that have a good set up, but don’t quite deliver an ending to matc.

I’ll think about this some more, reread the other posts in the series, and start on the wrapup post soon.

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 – Staging Key the Metal Idol
Day 17 – VIRUS II
Day 18 – SYSTEM
Day 19 – EXIT
Day 20 – Looking Back at Key the Metal Idol


[1] There is a comment from the minions that Sakura survived (barely) the extraction of 20 packs of gel.  I think that this confirms that Sakura is part of the Mamio Valley family.

[2] Flashbacks reveal that it was the geist of Toyoko who saved him from the snakebite in the Mamio Valley.

[3] Whose parents have been killed by PPORs attacking the temple, for no reason that is ever explained on screen. He is currently in the “care” of Prince Snake-Eye.

[4] The porn producer/talent agent.

[5] The (now) ex-President of Production Minos.

[6] The hologram is creepy though.

[7] There is also a side plot with Maestro and a Sakura-bot here that I think confirms that Maestro was Sakura’s and Key’s father.  The sideplot ends with Maestro’s suicide.