WARNING! Semi-spoiler!

Anime in which Mima Tokiko, usually just called "Key", is a little girl who thinks she's a robot, as a result of certain experiments her grandfather performed on her when she was quite young. Her grandfather is now dead, leaving her with instructions to make 30,000 friends in order to become "human."
The premise of the series sounds goofy, but it's actually very good and ends up not being at all what you'd expect.

"There's one thing that I have yet to do, Key, and the thought that I'm going to die before I can do it is so frustrating, I can't stand it! That one thing is to make you human, Key. To make you my real granddaughter. That's right, Key... I couldn't let you stay a robot your whole life. You can become human, Key! That's how I had hoped to make amends to you, your mother, and your grandmother. I'm so sorry that it's come to this. But please understand, you are the only one in the world who can do it. You'll have to become human after I'm gone. You'll need power. Great power. Find friends. You need the power of friends, true friends, who think only of you, who cry for you and only you, and you can be born again as a human. You will need...about 30,000..."

Key the Metal Idol is a fifteen episode OAV available on eight VHS tapes or in a three DVD set from Viz Video. KtMI was directed by Hiroaki Sato and was produced by Studio Pierrot, Pony Canyon, and Fuji TV in 1994. The series is divided into 8 volumes, the 7th and eight volumes being movie length features. Volumes 1 through 6 contain half hour episodes.

    Volume 1
  1. Startup
  2. Cursor I
  3. Cursor II
    Volume 2: Awakening
  4. Access
  5. Scroll
    Volume 3: Believing
  6. Scroll II
  7. Run
    Volume 4: Dreaming
  8. Goto
  9. Return
    Volume 5: Searching
  10. Bug
  11. Save
    Volume 6: Longing
  12. Virus I
  13. Virus II
    Volume 7: Knowing
    Volume 8: Singing

Inspired by the old story of Pinocchio, Key is a fascinating anime about a young girl named Tokiko Mima, or "Key". (It is interesting to note that "Kii" is Japanese for "strange".) Key is a robot girl created by her grandfather who lives a quiet life in the countryside, attending school with real children. The other children tease Key, thinking she is crazy to believe she is a robot.

Her grandfather dies, and Key realizes that without her grandfather's maintenance, she will soon die too. However, he leaves her a recording informing her that if she obtained 30,000 friends, she can become as human as any other girl.

Key the Metal Idol is a thought-provoking series that grows deeper and deeper with every episode. Is Key really a robot? You'll be asking yourself this question again and again, right up until the final minutes of the show. This is a definite watch for people who appreciated the philosophical themes behind Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain.

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