Episode 4: Access

First, let me address a contradiction introduced in the previous guide – I stated that I found great satisfaction in the idea that all of the mysteries in Key had answers, which made them more powerful since the story felt like it had direction. This seems directly contrary to my statement that nothing is more boring than a mystery solved. I think both are true. I do not want the enigmas in my anime (a medium which seems to attract the mysterious types, or perhaps just one that wears its plot conventions on its sleeve) to be arbitrary, based on nothing but withheld information. However, as long as there is ample evidence that an answer is to be found within them, I don’t need everything spelled out for me.1

I open with the above disclaimer for two reasons: first, I think it’s important that there is some sort of coherent criticism coming from the Goat, lest these episode guides become the sort of deadly dull plot recitation one can find anywhere. Second, this review will b pretty short this time around, and I needed padding.

Seriously, this is an episode that is plot heavy, and involves moments of tension instead of revelation, so that any sort of serious analysis becomes a kind of formal bore. It does include some more explicit revelations of information hinted at before – specifically on the emotional transformation that overtakes Key, visually noted with her hair becoming brown, and the power she seems to have over the trench coated robots.

While Key is hanging for her life, there is a terrific dream-fantasy sequence that acts like an eye in the middle of the episode’s storm. The sound turns off, Key sees herself in a shrine with her mother, and all of her friends are looking on. It is a perfect little moment in what is otherwise just a “good” episode.

But besides the story tension, “Access” mainly reinforces things we already know – that Key is a special little girl, whether or not she’s a robot. It ends with two touches that are emblematic of what makes Key: The Metal Idol a great show. First, after Key is returned to Sakura and Tataki is making his way home, he stops and shouts out what we’re all thinking: “What the heck is going on?”

Second, at the very end of the episode Tataki and some other fanboy friend of his hear a strange singing voice on their computers, which cuts off when Key awakens. More mysteries, more intrigue, and every riddle has an answer that introduces more riddles.

An afterthought: I had intended to spend some time discussing the pre-credit sequences, which always contain animation that is thematically linked to the show, but doesn’t necessarily relate directly to the plot of the episode. I forestalled the discussion because, as I watched this episode’s opening, I had no clue what it had to do with anything. It is a montage of Sakura moments, most of them involving her looking at Tataki, culminating in her presenting him with a pizza as a gift. The intention is obvious, if a little superficial: Sakura likes Tataki. We can see that from the beginning. But I think that the opening helps to create a stronger emotional resonance in the final shots of the episode – where Sakura is hugging Key, and then says, “You went to a concert with Tataki?” Just a statement of fact which reinforces a theme throughout the episodes: that life isn’t fair, and that because of her nature Key is able to do the things that Sakura would like to (in this case, go out with Tataki) but for which life refuses her the opportunity.

1A non-anime example: in the original Psycho Norman Bates was a sexual pervert, and it was guilt at his sexual voyeurism that led him to murder. The knowledge of this, that sex was the point behind his sneaking a look at Mary, fills the scen
e with tension. The Gus Van Sant remake decides that it must be made explicit, and has Norman wanking while looking at Mary. It kills the scene by telling us something we already know and don’t need pointed out. Back to the show.
Rating :B

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com