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Key the Metal Idol

Key the Metal Idol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the end of Twenty Days of Key the Metal Idol I have discovered that I don’t like this show as much as I thought I did.  

Despite the expert deconstruction of the idol singer fantasy, despite the internal consistency of the universe, despite the generally engaging characters, I only like this show; in retrospect I don’t love it enough to have justified this series of posts.

This is unexpected; I certainly didn’t have this reaction at the end of my series of posts on Record of Lodoss War [1], The Vision of Escaflowne, or Haibane Renmei.

I think that most of the problems lie in the ending that doesn’t quite live up to the set up.  Partly it is an excess of infodump in SYSTEM, partly the casual waste of Sakura in EXIT.

This is a shame in many ways.  Although there are many anime where the supernatural will make a casual appearance [2] in an otherwise scientific setting [3], the anime where the meeting between science and mysticism is so carefully thought out are much rarer.

On that level alone Key the Metal Idol remains a stand out series for the rigorous internal consistency of how the geist/gel works, the mistakes made to learn that, and the horrible price paid by the women of the Mamio Valley for their powers.

The characters of Key the Metal Idol are well realised, despite the gender issues [4], and this generates a fair degree of sympathy for their trials.  One problem here is that the viewer is more likely to be sympathetic to Sakura than to Key: Key is too alien to truly like sometimes, Sakura is nearly impossible to hate.

Finally, at least until the final episodes, the series doles out answers sparingly.  Such answers as are provided usually generate more questions that support endless speculation.  The excess of infodump in the last episodes does somewhat ruin this.

I sometimes draw a distinction between “I like this” and “this is good” [5]. For me Key the Metal Idol is now more the latter than the former.

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] OK, I did notice some issues with the gender roles but overall I still adore Record of Lodoss War

[2] Exhibit A: Rocket Girls.  It’s in the novels too.

[3] Exhibit B: ARIA. And it isn’t really necessary: Aqua would be just as magical a place to live if it was founded by a humanity that had just… grown up.

[4] Which only got worse as the series wore on: Key was pretty much the only female character left standing at the end, barring a partially recovering Miho.  The finale is mostly engineered by the men surrounding Key.

[5] Inspired by my reaction to Neuromancer and Downbelow Station, which are unquestionably good but I don’t like them.