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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  • ratsgnoF
    (Tuesday, Jun 30. 2015 07:27 AM)
    @Emma I agree. When you look back, teenagers are retarded and do a lot of stupid stuff.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Jun 30. 2015 01:51 AM)
    @ak184: Sporadically mildly entertaining with an enjoyable final stretch. Though at times I found myself falling in and out with the series.
    @Aidan: I would be more than happy to read your yahari review.
    @RatsgnoF: Looking back at being a teenager, I can’t say that moment of a persons life isn’t free of melodrama.
  • ak184
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 11:53 PM)
    Out of curiosity, for those who were watching it, what did you all thought of jojo stardust crusaders? Now that it has recently ended
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 05:35 PM)
    IMO I think that emphasizes how important their relationships are with each other. It shows how the characters have developed and change. They’re very vocal about how they feel and what they want. To the point where it would seem melodramatic.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 03:17 PM)
    @Emma, I never disliked the movie. And I do think it did that archer vs Shirou fight much better. But the problem with it is that it basically removes coherency from the story. People would just be downright confused watching it if they have no knowledge. The movie is pretty much fan service.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 03:13 PM)
    I was actually thinking of writing up a Yahari review. Overall I enjoyed it but I felt that it got far too melodramatic at points over relatively little. It just felt like the characters where making mountains out of molehills.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 07:59 AM)
    That exactly why it’s so good. It’s not very cliche like most animes. The characters themselves have very interesting personalities. Personalities that are actually unique. Not those personalities that every main lead has. Very cliched anime is bad. I can literally predict what happens next watching it the first time. Seeing those 3 interact and struggle is very enjoyable It’s kinda down to earth in a way.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 07:02 AM)
    I think, watching Yahari, that its time I stopped bashing the “Too many teenagers thing in anime”, better to make the teenage characters we get actually interesting people.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 06:57 AM)
    If they do plan a season 3, it probably won’t be out for about a year or two. The last 2 episodes were adapted from volume 11 which was released 5 days ago.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 06:48 AM)
    That final episode of Yahari’s second season pretty much left me saying “Season 3 where and now”
    And “You can’t end this here”.

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