Key the Metal Idol
Image of Sakura

Kuriyagawa Sakura

Nagasawa Miki (Japanese)
Megan Leitch (English)

Sakura is a girl from Mamioda, Key's hometown, and is the oldest of Key's friends save for Dr. Mima and Tomoyo. Sakura has known Key since their days together in junior-high; Sakura first reached out to Key because Sakura herself was shy and somewhat of a recluse, and perhaps saw something of herself in Key. (Actually, there is more truth to this than one might realize--Dr. Mima used Sakura as the "model" on which he based Key.)

Sakura lives on her own in Tokyo, working no less than three jobs to make ends meet. Sakura rescues Key from an awkward situation at the studio of Tamari Seiichi while on the job, an event that later results in Tamari striking a nerve when he tries to talk Sakura into letting him be her talent scout. Tamari, we learn, scouted the now-famous Miho, and now wishes to do the same for Sakura. She actually pauses a moment to consider the offer. One of her daydreams was to become an idol singer--and here was a real chance. Key being on the scene, however, reminds Sakura what Tamari was scouting Key for, and Sakura refuses him in a fit of anger.

Sakura does not truly believe Key is a robot. She is convinced that Key's growing up in the house of a robotics researcher, perhaps coupled with a childhood traumatic experience, has induced a semi-permanent autistic or catatonic condition on Key. (Side note here: if there is any truth to this theory, the traumatic experience almost has to be what happened in that enigmatic photograph of the child Key and Dr. Mima at a Shinto cermony. This is a point of real mystery, and even through episode thirteen the truth remains veiled.) She is genuinely concerned for Key, and will help Key recover. Sakura decides to buy into Key's notion of becoming an idol singer in order to get 30,000 friends; in this way perhaps Key's human nature can be restored.

Sakura has a good friend besides Key: Tataki Shuu'ichi. Tataki's favorite favorite stunt is to mispronounce Sakura's family name as "Chuukawa," for which Sakura will correct him ("Kuriyagawa desu!") in a not-overly-friendly tone and then laugh over it with Tataki, as if it were a more or less ritual greeting. Sakura knows Tomoyo Wakagi from childhood, from before her move to Tokyo.

Sakura becomes Key's manager, creating the letterhead "Production Key" as the official front into getting Key into the idol business. Of course, this isn't as easy as it appears...

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Christopher S. Rider ---