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Last Updated: 9/19/03


    Key: THE METAL IDOL--sometimes described as "the weirdest idol story ever made"--started life as a project commemorating studio Pony Canyon's 10th year in the OAV business. Fuji TV, another company with a past history of idol productions, also jumped in, and the series--originally intended for seven 25-minute episodes--was born.

    KEY, based on character concepts by Kunihiko Tanakaha, developed into an original story by director Hiroaki Sato. Character designs and animation direction are by Keiichi Ishikura; art direction is by Yukihiro Shibuya, music by Tamiya Terashima. Studio Pierrot, makers of the DEBUT OAV (based on the simulation game about, appropriately, three aspiring idol singers), took over the animation.

    Combining elements of PINOCCHIO and robot anime, old-fashioned idol singers with a self-conscious modern sensibility, KEY is daringly subtle for a mainstream release. Beginning with its heroine's nickname, Key ("Kii" is Japanese for "strange"), the series enters weird waters from the beginning. Exploitative idol producers want to use the incredibly young-looking Key for nude photos. Religious cults lurk in the background. The line between machine and human blurs. But despite the dark setting, Key and her friends are hopeful, charming characters -- even Key, who manages to be sympathetic while showing no emotion at all.

    KEY was an experiment in more ways than its story; in Japan, the first volume was value-priced at 1000 yen (around $10U.S.), and subsequent releases were only 2500 yen. This in an economy where new anime is often sold for 5000 yen or more! The risky venture succeeded financially as well as artistically, leading to the second season of six additional KEY episodes, as well as two forthcoming KEY movies. Viz Video will present the series in English, both in dubbed and subtitled versions, in eight Volumes. Volume One will contain the first three half-hour episodes, Volumes Two through Six will contain two half-hour episodes each, and Volumes Seven and Eight will contain 95-minute concluding movies.

    Pony Canyon, who is in charge of planning and sales of this title, is celebrating their tenth anniversary of producing the original animated video this year. Pony Canyon has been producing a number of successful animation including Project A-ko(1988) and Vampire Princess Miyu(1988) since the original animated videos started to be made, while they have also been selling videos of major theatrical animation. They put all knowledge and experience they have acquired into this title.

    The leading TV station in Japan, Fuji Television is fully involved in this title as well. Fuji Television has been successful in broadcasting various animation. In fact, this is their first involvement in the original animation, and they are contributing their great power to this project. Fuji Television is planning to broadcast the spots and to introduce this title in various programs intensively before the video release.

    The role for Fuji Creative Corporation if to make efforts in distributing this title to all over the world at the same time in Japan with their sales network. Fuji Creative Corporation has been distributing a lot of Japanese animation to Europe, North America, Asia, etc..

    And the Studio Pierrot creates the animation for KEY. Their works include Enchanting Creamy(1983-1984), Magical Emi(1985-1986), most successful Lamu, The Invader Girl (1981-1986), and the first original animation for video in the world Dalos(1984). Yuyu Hakusho(1992) is their recent success. Studio Pierrot's high quality has been greatly acclaimed and supported by animation fans.

    1994 Hiroaki Sato/Pony Canyon/Fuji TV/FCC/Studio Pierrot. Exclusively licensed throughout the United States and Canada by Viz Communications Inc.

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