Episode 9: Return

It would be easier to take if Key: The Metal Idol were a smaller idea, with less going on. Some series have no ideas, and require filler. But Key is a complex and mysterious show. The gel, the PPORs, the battery supply, Key’s identity and the religious connection, not to mention her mother and the robot/real girl conundrum, Wakagi’s surveillance and the mysterious singing and Key’s powers and Sakura’s dilemna, Tataki’s attraction and deepening interest. It should, I think, be impossible to create an episode where almost nothing happens. But now we’ve had almost two in a row.

In “Return”, one of Ajo’s workers manages to use the PPOR controller. A judge from that morning’s audition calls Key, turns out to be famous. Tataki is going somewhere – he doesn’t leave this episode, he just lets Sakura (and us) know that he is going. Prince Snake Eye bugs their phone, but it gets discovered almost immediately.

But, except for some exposition on how Gel works and Sakura baring a bit of soul as to why she’s helping Key, nothing new happens. Ajo’s workers are still scared of him, Key is still weird. Snake Eye is still following her around, and Sakura and Key are still having trouble getting anyone interested in her. That guy calls. In another show, that might be the major plot point. And they do meet him, at the very end of the episode, as the credits roll. The pacing sags. Had I purchased this series for almost $30 an episode, as it was first released in Japan, I might be incensed.

And a seediness has crept in, one I can’t quite thematically justify. In the scene with the PPORs walking (itself none too interesting) we meet a couple making out in the park. He’s got one hand down the top of her skirt and another working her crotch. Now, besides being the second show I’ve reviewed with explicit female masturbation, and for setting up a cute visual gag (when the PPORs interrupt the foreplay, three people pop their heads out of the bushes, the manually stimulative couple and a pervert a few feet behind who was watching the proceedings) it could be argued that the pervasive sexuality of the show works, since the creation and perversion of life are the plot’s main concern. Ajo is creating children, but without love. Key was a product of Mina’s love, and thus is a weird but functionally semi-human. Ajo is like the pornographers, the guy jerking off his girlfriend, all the people who want to make money of Sakura. Sex without procreation, procreation without sex. The intersection between modernity and nature, Japan’s natural animism and Ajo’s technophilia, are the conflicts Key is playing out. If only it could do so with more stuff blowing up and folks getting shot, we’d be getting somewhere.

Rating :C-

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com