Episode 5: Scroll I

Key: Key goes away with cult-leader Prince Snake-Eye when he tells her he can conjure up as many as 30,000 believers to come and see her. His religion seems to be somehow analogous to certain American Indian1 beliefs – he went for a spiritual quest on the mountain top, was bitten by a snake, then rescued by some Apollonian figure wrapped in a golden snake. He was there when Key threw Tamari up to the roof, and he believes that she can be the prophet (or saint – I’m mixing my religious terms here) that he needs to flourish.

Snake Eye is bizarre – he seems a shyster, but his desire to bring glory to his religion has a lick of the true believer. This adds dimension to Key’s quest – what is she really looking for? What would 30,000 friends be to her? As a pop idol or a religious one, she would be seeking worshippers.

The ascension that Key seeks is something of a religious one – the desire for humanity. She’s looking for the dignity of flesh and blood, but it isn’t a hubristic act. She doesn’t want to become God, but man. Ajo, whose mechanical creations he calls his sons2, is acting the role of Dr. Frankenstein. He wants to recreate life in his own image, with no concern for the pain it could cause others – in fact, he revels in his deistic cruelty to the tortured Miho.

Discerning this duality and gleaning meaning from it is two different things. There are a number of cards yet to be played, and to try and evaluate too early what all of this means is probably a fool’s game. Characters are still being introduced, ducks placed in a row.

Sakura: Sakura doesn’t like Key. Again, she may enjoy the girl’s company, and she likes somebody she can dominate without putting any effort into it (thus saving herself from the guilt of actually being domineering) but Key is a constant reminder of a world that Sakura came to Tokyo to forget. We never learn why Sakura ran from their little village to the big city, but it is hardly surprising that at the end of this episode, even after a long talk with Shuichi Tataki about how she has to help Key come to terms with her humanity (or robot-icity, if you will), she decides she can’t live with Key, and throws her out. Key is a connection to a time Sakura wants to forget, and in their short time together, Key has been throwing wrenches into all that Sakura has struggled with. Key’s presence is a constant reminder that Sakura has been living in half-measures. She, “independent” in Tokyo but a slave to three jobs and unable to express her feelings for a boy she obviously likes. Tataki, alone and obsessed with an idol singer and electronic voices coming from his computer. Ajo, who sees people as puppets, and his automatons as real. Key: The Metal Idol is populated with the sick and the mad. You could even argue that Key, since she is the one seeking some way to change her status, is the most well balanced of all of them.

1If there is some sort of Shintoist connection here, I am missing it through cheerful ignorance. Prince Snake-Eye’s religion seems a little less civilized than Shintoism (which itself is fairly animistic, but doesn’t seem to me to be as Totemic as this Snake-Eyes golden snake stuff).

2This episode begins with perhaps the most disturbing of all the opening scenes in Key – Ajo fondling and bleeding on a female robot brought out of a deep freeze, calling her his “son” (which might be the result of bad translation, but to me just seems super creepy).
Rating :B+

About Kent Conrad

To contact Kent Conrad, email kentc@explodedgoat.com