Key the Metal Idol

In the beginning, we meet Tokiko Mima, nicknamed Key. Key is a robot, the only one of her kind. She is like a human in every way except she cannot show emotion, not even a smile. She has been created by her grandfather, and even attends school. Her body is upgraded periodically to keep up with her age. But her life is thrown into chaos with the death of her beloved creator. In his dying words, he tells her that she might become human, if only she could find enough friends, such that would cry for her. By his calculations, she will need around 30,000 such friends.

Key is driven to fulfil this goal. She is pushed by the certainty that she will terminally malfunction soon and pulled by the desire to be human. As there are not quite a hundred people in her village, she strikes out for Tokyo.

Some background: Key is more unique than she knows. The company that sponsored her grandfather did so in order that he would create a fist sized power source for androids. They conduct experiments in Tokyo, letting their robots (PPORs-Psychological Power Operated Robot) roam the streets as tests. Too bad they have the tendency to go insane and kill people. After killing her creator, they are in search of the miniature power box. Little do they know that it is in her. . .but the operator Sergei (D) is hunting her down regardless. He is ruthless, and the PPORs are vastly superior in both strength and numbers to Key. . .

Key has only three things going for her: her friends, Tomoyo Wakagi, and her own wondrous powers. She lives with her only childhood friend Sakura, through whom she meets Tataki Shuu'ichi, the president of the Miho fan club. When cornered by D, she is rescued by her grandfather's mysterious assistant, Tomoyo Wakagi. He is sort of her field technician, keeping watch over her vitals by remote and interceding to save her. He completely beats Sergei in one fight.

But most important of all is Key's inner power. During brief moments, when people around her are praying for her, she gains nearly unlimited abilities, such as levitation, super strength, and pulverizing PPORs. When she is around PPORs she seems to disrupt them, and she exhibits odd behavior, as when she throws a rose with sufficient strength to completely impale the PPOR Miho, although she doesn't know why she does that.

I was a little confused by the back story of Key's grandmother and mother, so here it is as best I could figure. Key's Grandfather, Mima, meet Key's Grandmother, Tomiko, when on a business trip to Mamio Valley to see the local preistess' annual puppet dance. He's trying to see if it will help him figure out how to move robots realistically. To his colleague's surprise, Mima proposes to Tomiko at supper that night. She accepts, and they move to Tokyo where Mima tries to study her powers. While there, she becomes weaker and weaker. After a while they have a baby daughter, named Toyoko. While holding her, Tomiko is stronger in her ability to move things. After his lab and equipment are wiped out in WWII, they move back to Mamio Valley. Mima begins experiments on Toyoko to see if he can learn the secret from her. What he doesn't realize is that the source of the power is the people's geist around them. The Mamio priestesses are able to absorb and use it. Around this time, Ajo shows up for the first time. He knows that Mima is on to some sort of advanced robotics. Ajo is very powerful, so Mima can only hold him off by giving him his old research. Tomiko has continued to grow weaker, so Toyoko has to do the festival puppet dance that year. During the ceremony, Tomiko passes away. When she returns home, Toyoko vomits up gel, the first time anybody has ever seen it. She tells Mima that it's what he's always been searching for. Gel is the physical medium that people's geist is stored in. The gel she vomited up was the last of her mother's geist. Sometime later, Toyoko becomes pregnant. It's likely that the father is Sakura's father. When Toyoko dies, Mima and Wakagi find a large store of gel that Toyoko had stored with some other person's help, probably the father of her child. In order to preserve the gel from Ajo and safeguard baby Tokiko, Mima and Wakagi infuse all the gel into her. They estimate that the gel there is the equivalent to 30,000 regular person's gel. The process has the unfortunate side effect of leaving Tokiko catatonic, very robot-like. Mima encourages this belief in order to trick Ajo into believing that the there are no more Mamio priestesses.

Sakura's life defines tragedy. Her father left when she was very little. Her mother died while she was in middle school, so Sakura had to leave the valley for Tokyo, where she has to work three jobs just to make ends meet. When Key arrives, Sakura puts everything aside to help Key become human. The man she loves is completely oblivious. Ajo kidnaps her to trap Key, and extracts all of her gel. When they finally rescue her it's too late- Sakura dies by nightfall. I was somewhat upset with this part of the story. It almost seems like Sakura was created just to suffer. Even her death was beyond her control, one last capping injustice to a lifetime of them. When Key finds her gel at the end, I almost hoped that Key would use it to bring Sakura back to life, but that's not possible. I think that Key was happy just because she can interact with the geist. In this way a part of Sakura lives on.

I also am not real sure about the past of Wakagi and Sergei. I get the feeling that they were at one time mercenaries or soldiers, but the brief flashback scenes where they fight make absolutely no sense. At one point Ajo referred to Wakagi as Sergei's double. It's possible that Sergei and Wakagi were both once soldiers under Ajo, but there just isn't enough to go on. It's also not very clear if Wakagi survived the last fight. I think he did since it wouldn't make much sense for Key to save him two minutes before Sergei kills him. However the last episode didn't really make that clear.

Even so, I really love this series. The story is so appealing- there's something of Key in all of us, something lonely and misunderstood that could use 30,000 supporters. Everyone should see this. Special thanks to Big James for the Key MIDIs!!

This anime is fifteen OAVs.


These are the best pictures I could find for Key the Metal Idol. Feel free do view, download, and enjoy.

Principles in the series

Close up on Key

Key needs 30,000 friends

Sakura and Key

Key and Sakura

Key with gears in background

Promotional picture

Key demolishing a PPOR

Key outside of a building

Miho impaled on the rose

Key on stage

Key getting a recharge

Key holding a rose

Key and Sakura as school kids

The seiyuu for Key

The seiyuu for Miho

The seiyuu for Sakura

Key sleeping

Wakagi saves Key again

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