Posted by psgels on 26 September 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

Watching Key the Metal Idol really makes me appreciate how awesome art from the 90s can be. Sure, the past decade has also put forth a fair amount of beautifully drawn anime, but there definitely is a charm to the cell animation that dates from the time when there was no CG yet. The designs in Key the Metal Idol in particular are beautiful, only made better by some terrific animation. But how does the rest hold up?

Well, very impressive. This is an OVA that shines in its direction, which knows exactly how to keep you guessing, interested and caring about the characters. It really draws you in with its strange plot, and the way it plays around with its characters (especially Key) gives them all a unique feeling.

Key the Metal Idol made really well use of its OVA format to try out new things, in an attempt to be unique. The premise of this series is that robot girl Key wants to be human, but needs to become friends with 30.000 people, but this is only the tip of the iceberg in this. As the series goes on, more and more very creative idea pop up and make sure that even fifteen years after it originally aired, this series still stands out as fresh and original.

With 13 episodes of 25 minutes, plus two episodes clocking in at a whopping 90 minutes both, this really is one of the longest OVAs out there (aside from Legend of Galactic Heroes, of course), and it really shows. While most OVAs are just way too short for their story, Key the Metal Idol does for once have plenty of time to show its entire setting, and it makes really well use of this and takes its time to let the story slowly unfold.

This gets taken especially far in episode 14, which is really nothing but ninety minutes of non-stop talking. It’s those kinds of things that are risky, and will either have you love or hate the series. I personally loved how it built up and very carefully explained exactly what was going on in this story, but you don’t want to watch it with a short attention span and it also violated the “show, don’t tell”-rule at times during the exposition.

The final episode in its turn suffers a bit from hasty and convenient explanations, that may leap logic a bit too much at times. On top of that, the budget also seems to have dropped in these episodes. It’s a bit sad for the finale of an otherwise excellent series, but it’s not like this final episode is bad either. It’s just… not as solid as the other episodes.

Nevertheless, Key the Metal Idol really has a lot to like. Because it was released over the course of four years the producers really had the time to make this series as solid as possible, and aside from the final episode this worked very well. The cast of characters is imaginative and very varied, yet every character feels unique, the storytelling draws you in and the dialogue is deep and meaningful as well. A great example of OVAs done right.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

7 Responses

  1. indyk says:

    Yeah, the art is like in Memories – magnetic rose or Ghost in the Shell. It’s a shame that nobody develops this kind of character design nowadays

  2. Wyrdwad says:

    Ahhh man, this is a classic, right here. Haven’t thought about Key for ages, but I sure did love it back when I was first getting into anime. I should watch it again sometime!


  3. Camario says:

    Yet another anime I haven’t watched, but it still sounds like something I could enjoy by watching the series in the right mindset. Thanks for the review.

  4. DL says:

    Two things I’d mention:

    The music is also excellent (and the English dubbed music is ALSO good) and the opening animation is very clever.

    Felt the ending did not quite hold together but the journey was worth it.

  5. marebito says:

    Yup, a classic. One of my absolute favorites from when I really got into anime. I also loved how they actually ‘dared’ to just let the characters talk so long before the finale and explain the plot’s background so well and detailed. Even for today’s standards I consider episode 14 to be awesome in that aspect.

  6. lisa says:

    Well this is nostalgic! It’s been a long time since I saw this show, and reading the review makes me want to watch it again.

  7. Koji Oe says:

    I think those non stop talking episodes ruined the series for me. Totally hated that garbage. It was an interesting show up until that point too… It turned to crap after that.

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  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 29. 2015 03:25 AM)
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 10:22 PM)
    @Aidan: it does seem like you’ve actually seen Xavier, in which case I’m impressed. Didn’t think you had it in you.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 09:35 PM)
    Speaking of errors, can anybody else open Evil Genius Scanlations page? I keep getting a gateway error. I know there should be a new Berserk on there but some force is keeping it from me. This is messed up.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:38 PM)
    @Bam, Easy. 404 not found
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:45 AM)
    It takes a true magnificence to propose such a grand question as: What dot life?!
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:42 AM)
    @Kaiser: the show does vary in quality, but for the first season they generally crank up the insanity with every episode until a very remarkable season finale where Xavier faces his worst enemy.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Bam: Oh in symphogears case, I certainly laughed but I wasn’t supposed to.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:39 AM)
    @Bam: While it didn’t always work, that first episode of renegade angel was amusing, I particularly liked the part where he went on about Aids being invented.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:22 AM)
    and don’t be fooled by the simple graphics, the crudeness is completely intentional.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 28. 2015 05:21 AM)
    @Kaiser: as far as Xavier goes I implore you to download and watch the first episode to get the gist of it. That show is the pinnacle of absurdist and meta humor. It’s strangely adored within the animation circles, getting very high praise from the industry, but it’s very dense and bizarre so people either love or hate it. If you’re anything like me it might become one of your most beloved shows.

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