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!

    -Tom

  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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  • Asuka111
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 04:03 AM)
  • Bam
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:29 AM)
    @sonic: That just shows that they have budget issues and problems with asset management. Deen tends to hire a lot of commission contracts so the talen behind each work, and hence the quality, varies greatly.
  • sonicsenryaku
    (Thursday, Oct 23. 2014 03:06 AM)
    Deen’s art has certainly improved and their cinematography has gotten a slight bump in refinement but their animation still could use some work and they still have trouble keeping their art and animation consistent through their series. All these critiques apoply to their tv series productions by the way; some of the movies they have worked on as well as they co-production works are pretty good
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:49 PM)
    @Emma I think Deen makes some really good looking anime. People tend to give them crap for some of their mid-2000 stuff and justifiably, but their recent stuff and early stuff is really quite visually arresting.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:43 PM)
    Now granted,deens adaptation of sankarea had some pretty neat visuals behind it.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:14 PM)
    Granted that none of those manga had the type of mass appeal that Sankarea has, but they’re some pof the best manga I’ve read within their specific genre (sentimental ecchi comedies/romances). I love his art style too. It just works so well for sappy romantic stuff. Inu Neko Jump will always be one of my favorite manga.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 11:12 PM)
    On the subject of Sankarea, I’m about as big of a Hattori Mitsuru fanboy as anyone could be and I have to say that Sankarea is my least favorite manga of his. His strengths and weaknesses just don’t lend themselves very well to that type of horror/drama plot. Umisho, Inu Neko Jump, and Otogi no Machi no Rena even were all better manga.
  • k-off
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 08:47 PM)
    To be fair to the series though, I thought that the owl was pretty cool.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:18 PM)
    But I’ve heard complaints about the fanservice of rea not making sense considering her past/background and I’m inclined to agree.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 06:16 PM)
    Ha, and once again another shounen ruined by not being a seinen manga.
    @Aidan: Sometimes..sometimes I feel its the fans that should be writing these things instead…well the good ones =P

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