Key the Metal Idol

Key the Metal Idol

Infobox animanga/Header
name = Key the Metal Idol


caption =
ja_name =
ja_name_trans =
genre = Drama, Mecha
Infobox animanga/OVA
title =
director = Hiroaki Sato
studio = Studio Pierrot
episodes = 15
released = 16 December 1994

"Key the Metal Idol" is an anime OVA series that was released in Japan in 1994, continuing through 1997. The series consists of fifteen episodes divided into three "programs". "First Program" consists of episodes 1 through 7. "Second Program" is 8 through 13. "Third Program" and "Final Program" are episodes 14 and 15 respectively. Key is a serious and somewhat dark drama with elements of science fiction, supernatural, and action.

The central character of the story is Mima Tokiko (aka "Key"). Key is a robot, crafted by her scientist "grandfather", Mima Murao. Every year, on her birthday, "grandpa" builds Key a new body--one size larger. Upon his deathbed, Murao reveals that Key no longer has to remain a robot: she can become human with the aid of 30,000 friends. Key must do this quickly before her battery runs down. However, some very powerful men are after Key and the secrets her body contains.

Key the Metal Idol is a unique series in many regards. It was originally produced and sold as an "experimental" title. Therefore, the original release media (VHS Tapes and LDs) were priced very low, at 2,500 yen for a single-episode tape or 5,800 yen for a 3-episode LD. This was less than half the typical price of OVA titles at the time. As the series progressed, the episode lengths and volume costs continued to increase. The final volumes were priced 9,500 yen each, which was in line with other titles at the time.

Key is also unusual in that the episodes are of varying length. The first thirteen episodes are approximately 25 minutes each. The final two episodes are 95 minutes each.

In addition to the OVA series, music CDs and Radio Drama CDs were issued.

The anime series was released in the United States by Viz Video

Main characters

*Mima Tokiko / Key Mima Tokiko, commonly referred to as Key, is the granddaughter of Mima Murao and Mima Tomiko. She appears as a somewhat autistic child throughout the majority of the series. Key, like her mother and grandmother before her, exhibited strong supernatural powers. However, Dr. Mima used "gel" extracted from Key's mother to suppress her powers--and her humanity--in order to keep her safe from Ajo. He encouraged Key to believe she was just another of his many robots in order to deceive Ajo. The will of 30,000 people is required to reverse Dr. Mima's treatment and to restore Key's true self. However, Key is able to awaken and use her powers for short periods during moments of extreme emotional stress. Key's presence is disruptive to PPOR robots. This, and the fact that Key would be capable of producing an extremely large amount of quality Gel, makes her a target for Ajo and his henchmen.
*Mima Murao / Dr. Mima is Keys grandfather of Key and a scientist and puppet craftsman. His expertise in engineering and puppeteering led him to become one of the leading pioneers of robotics. His research originally became stalled due to the lack of suitable technology available during the 1920s and 30s. However, upon meeting Tomiko in Mamio Valley, he became interested in the use of supernatural powers in robotic design. He later developed a technique for constructing and operating robots based on this research that became known as the "Mima Formula". However, Mima eventually halted his work for moral reasons: the research was taxing on the subjects--his wife and daughter.
*Mima Tomiko is Key's grandmother and Murao's wife. She was a Miko at the Shinto shrine at Mamio Valley, and possessed extraordinary supernatural powers.
*Mima Toyoko is Key's mother. Like Tomiko, she was a Miko in Mamio Valley. She possessed the same supernatural powers as her mother.
*Tomoyo Wakagi is Dr. Mima's research assistant, and later functions as Key's bodyguard and protector. He has a military background and carries a wound from past service. He is a skilled and capable fighter and wields many unconventional weapons, including a wrist-mounted slingshot that fires explosive bullets. He also carries an electronic device resembling a laptop computer which is capable of detecting gel emissions and tracks their source.
*Suichi Tataki is a good friend of Sakura, and later, of Key. He is a big fan of Miho Utsuse and is the president of her fan club. A look around his room suggests that he is a fan of manga and weightlifting as well. He professes to be a martial arts otaku.
*Sergei / D Sergei, known most often by his code name D, works for Ajo and is charged with special missions--especially those requiring violence. Sergei is skilled at operating "PPOR" robots. He also possesses superhuman strength and endurance as a result of artificial enhancement. It is not clear if his body contains robotic parts, but he is known to inject himself with gel. D also has one peculiar ability: he can spit marble-like objects with enough force to cause serious injury.
*Janome / Prince Snake-Eye is the leader of a religious cult: "The Church of the Golden Snake Savior". He has no supernatural powers, but he is a bit of a con man and manages to convince others that he does. Janome professes to have received divine revelation from "The Golden Snake King" when he was bitten by a poisonous snake during a trip through Mamio Valley. Janome is among the first to realize that Key has some kind of real power, and strives to make Key use her powers for the benefit of his cult. However, Janome later realizes the truth about Key and becomes one of her friends and supporters.
*Kuriyagawa Sakura is Key's oldest friend, independent and kind. She and Key attended the same secondary school in Mamio Valley. Sakura and Key became friends because they were both outcasts in school and both had absentee fathers. Sakura has moved to Tokyo where she works several jobs: delivering pizza, clerk at a video store, and directing traffic at construction sites. She and Key meet by accident In Tokyo. She gives Key a place to stay, and decides to help Key realize her goal of becoming human. It is quite possible that her father is also Key's father, making the two of them half sisters.
*Utsuse Miho is an extremely popular Idol singer / rock star. After viewing one of her concert videos, Key decides that she wants to be like Miho. Miho becomes Key's role model; if she can muster tens of thousands of fans like Miho, then surely Key will become human. Miho was scouted into showbusiness by Tamari. As she gained popularity she was moved to "Production Minos".
*Hikaru Tsurugi is a showbiz protegy: He is not only a famed dance choreographer, producer, and director of live performances, but he is also an author of literary works and screenplays. He lives a flamboyant lifestyle complete with cutting-edge fashion and an exotic sportscar. Tsurugi was hired by Production Minos to assist with Miho's promotion. He was responsible for directing her performances in addition to acting as a voice coach, choreographer, etc. After Miho's rise to stardom Tsurugi became bored with her and had little involvement with Production Minos. However, Tsurugi later came to discover Key and offered to take her under his wing.
*Sei'ichi Tamari is the owner of V&A, a seedy company that produces low-budget adult videos. He also acts as something of a talent scout, finding girls who might make it big as Idols, and then delivering them to major talent agencies in exchange for commissions. It was Tamari that originally scouted Miho into the music industry. Tamari is very interested in scouting Sakura as well. Tamari is not above using coersion or violence to further his business. However, after becoming involved with Key he has a change of heart and joins her as a strong supporter.
*Jinsaku Ajo is the president of "Ajo Heavy Industries" and is also involved with various other businesses--legal and otherwise. He has a strong fascination (possibly even a fetish) for mechanical parts and mechanisms--especially clockwork automatons, which he collects. Ajo was originally an officer in the Japanese Army during World War II. His fascination with Automata and his military experience sent him into the weapons business. He developed the PPOR robot, partially from his own work and partially by stealing research notes from Dr. Mima. His goal is to perfect the PPOR as a remote-controlled robot soldier, and for that he needs secrets that only Dr. Mima knows.
*Maestro is never referred to by his real name, only his nickname given by Ajo. He was a contemporary of Mima Murao, and likewise was an extremely talented engineer in the field of robotics. However, whereas Murao refused to help Ajo willingly, Maestro became jealous of Murao's success and fell for the high pay offered by Ajo. Maestro is responsible for crafting the robot idols used by "Production Minos".
*Staff "A","B" and "C" are three scientists who work on Ajo's secret (and often illegal) projects for both "Ajo Heavy Industries" and "Production Minos". The true names of these men are never revealed, only their code names. They are usually seen doing PPOR repairs and Gel extraction. Though they are highly paid, Ajo is not above using violence to ensure they obey his orders and maintain secrecy.

Important Places & Things

*Mamio Valley is a small town in a secluded, rural, area of Japan. It is the hometown of Maestro and Mima Tomkio. Dr. Mima eventually moved to Mamio Valley. The Shinto shrine at Mamio valley is dedicated to Ame-no-Uzume. The maternal line of Tomiko's family were traditionally miko at that shrine, and all exhibited supernatural powers.
*Ajo Heavy Industries is a very large corporation. Jinsaku Ajo is the President and CEO. While Ajo Heavy Industries is not legally allowed to export weapons, Ajo is using the company to develop and illegally sell his robot soldiers to foreign countries.
*PPOR Robot The PPOR is a type of humanoid robot developed by "Ajo Heavy Industries". It is also called a Sipe. In its standard configuration it looks quite a bit like a humanoid skeleton. PPOR robot technology is based on the "Mima Formula". The robot is powered and controlled by a component Ajo calls the "power box", which is filled with "gel". The PPOR is both significantly stronger and heavier than a human. They are capable of performing many of the same actions as a human, including running, climbing, and fighting. The operator of a PPOR can talk through a microphone; the words are in turn "spoken" by the PPOR. Controlling a PPOR is an extremely taxing process and they are prone to malfunction, as their development is far from mature.
*Gel is a substance that contains a person's will and "life force". It was originally discovered by Dr. Mima when his daughter Toyoko creates some as a physical manifestation of her supernatural powers. Gel is a pink gelatinous material. In its natural form it is extremely cold (colder than dry ice), and therefore it must be kept contained or it will dissipate into the air. Gel can be forcibly extracted from a person through the use of the proper kind of machine. However, this process weakens the person significantly, as gel extraction is literally the process of pumping away a person's life. If too much gel is extracted, the person becomes comatose and may even die. On the other hand, gel is a powerful medicine that can heal many ailments. If a healthy person is injected with Gel, they become stronger than a normal human, as is the case with Sergei (D). Dr, Mima discovered that Gel may be used as power source for robots, but once he learned the truth about the gel extraction process he abandoned his research on moral grounds. However, Ajo Heavy Industries collects gel from human sources--such as homeless people or enemies of the company--in order to fuel PPORs.
*Production Minos is a show business production agency that is wholly owned by "Ajo Heavy Industries". Production Minos officially exists to market Miho Utsuse's music and concert program. In reality, it is a front for the further development and promotion of the PPOR robot.
*Mima Formula The Mima Formula is a set of principles or rules for the construction and operation of robots, based on gel as a kind of fuel and control mechanism. The basic principle is that Gel can be extracted from a person and placed into the robot. The gel then powers the robot and also allows it to be controlled by the person who provided the gel. The Mima Formula states that gel that has been extracted from a person will only work with its original owner, and that gels extracted from different people cannot co-exist in the same container. This is why Sergei can control the original PPORs quite well (the gel powering them came from him), and why Ajo's scientists cannot properly operate the PPORs in later episodes (the gel in the PPOR was not from the scientist controlling them).
*V & A is a company owned by Tamari Sei'ichi. V&A's main business is the production of pornographic videos and magazines. Key ends up at the V&A "office" during the first episode. The name "V&A" is a bit of a joke. In Japan, pornographic videos are often abbreviated "AV" for "Adult Video". "V&A" is just these two letters switched around.

Cast

External links

* [http://pierrot.jp/title/key/ Studio Pierrot's Key official website]
*


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