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Key/Visual Arts is a VisualNovel developer, usually in the {{Romance}} genre, whose works have become very popular in recent years. They are especially well-known for creating heartbreaking stories that appear perfectly normal at first but always contain some thread of the supernatural from the beginning, which becomes more obvious as time goes on.

The company began after a lot of workers broke off from Tactics after the creation of the game ''VisualNovel/OneKagayakuKisetsuE'', which has been adapted into a 3-episode {{hentai}} {{OVA}} as well as a 4-episode all-ages OVA. They then created ''Kanon'', which was incredibly hyped before its release and even today is considered one of the best romance games, as well as the game that made the [[PornWithPlot plot-heavy]] {{eroge}} just as marketably viable as its PornWithoutPlot counterparts. Most of Key's games are of the {{utsuge}} variety, with a lot of emphasis on melodrama and [[TearJerker sad storylines]].

Later games got more popular, more tragic and more adventurous. ''[[{{Planetarian}} planetarian: Reverie for a Little Planet]]'' and the last two segments of ''AIR'' venture into KineticNovel territory as well as... well, we won't spoil it. ''CLANNAD'', Planetarian, ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters!'' and ''VisualNovel/{{Rewrite}}'' are entirely clean rather than eroge, though Little Buster's got an UpdatedRerelease as "Little Busters: Ecstasy" that included H-content along with its other additions.

Key/Visual Arts seems to have had a deal with both Creator/ToeiAnimation and KyotoAnimation in that both studios will adapt their works. At first, Toei made a 13-episode version of ''Kanon''. Years later, Kyoani made a [[TwelveEpisodeAnime 12-episode]] plus OVA version of ''AIR''; Toei followed up with its own version, a movie that cut out many of the characters and changed the dynamic to a more overtly romantic story. Then Kyoani made its own ''Kanon'' in return. The setup part of it synchronized in the fall of 2007, where their versions of ''CLANNAD'' aired at almost the exact same time as The Toei film came out in September, and the Kyoto Animation TV series came out in October. Kyoani cuts less out and stays faithful to the original, while Toei opts to change things for its own means and make the story shorter. However, Creator/PAWorks did the animation for ''Anime/AngelBeats'' in 2010, and the ''Little Busters'' adaption is under the direction of JCStaff.

Key is also known for its seasonal imagery in its more famous works. ''Kanon'' makes full use of SnowMeansLove and may have defined the modern [[FragileFlower Sad Girl In Snow]]; ''AIR'' does the same for summer, and ''CLANNAD'' for spring, though the [[SnowMeansDeath snow plays a darker role]]. They're not limited to seasonal settings, though; ''planetarian'' was set in a {{Dystopia}} where robots had taken over the world and one good RobotGirl without a purpose hid in a planetarium with a refugee, and ''Anime/AngelBeats!'' is set in what appears to be a world where no one can die (affectionately dubbed as Purgatory).

Most of the anime adaptations of the KeyVisualArts works have their OP songs sung by JPop artist Lia (true in ''VisualNovel/{{AIR}}, VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}, and Anime/AngelBeats'').

Since they've made a strong impression and changed the genres they write for, Key is cited as a major influence on a lot of writers and studios. ''Franchise/WhenTheyCry'' and ''Webcomic/{{Megatokyo}}'' are both outright stated by their creators to be strongly inspired by Key's works, even if they go in completely different directions from Key's SignatureStyle.
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Key/Visual Art's' works include:

* ''VisualNovel/{{Kanon}}'' (adapted into two TV series, light novels and a manga)
* ''VisualNovel/{{AIR}}'' (adapted into ''AIR'' and ''AIR in Summer'', as well as a movie and a manga; the setting was used for the ''Kanon''/''AIR'' {{crossover}} manga, ''Kanon & AIR Sky'')
* ''VisualNovel/{{CLANNAD}}'' (adapted into ''CLANNAD'' and ''CLANNAD ~[=after story=]~'', as well as a movie, manga, and 2 AlternateUniverse bonus episodes following the Tomoyo and Kyou routes)
** ''Tomoyo after: It's a Wonderful Life'' (adapted into the manga ''CLANNAD ~ Tomoyo After: Dear Shining Memories'')
* ''[[{{Planetarian}} Planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~]]''
* ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters!'' (adapted into manga and an anime)
** ''Kud Wafter'' (like ''Tomoyo After'', it's a spinoff sequel based on a minor heroine)
* ''VisualNovel/{{Rewrite}}'' (adapted into manga)
** Rewrite: Harvest festa (a Fan Disc set after the events of the first game. Kind of like the After games, but each girl has a story instead of a focus on just one.)
* ''Anime/AngelBeats'' (which is their first work that wasn't originally a visual novel, it was an AnimeFirst with a VN announced for 2014)

Tactics' works with the original team include:
* ''[[VisualNovel/OneKagayakuKisetsuE ONE ~Kagayaku Kisetsu e~]]'' (adapted into two [[{{OVA}} OVAs]], one general-audience and one hentai version. Ironically, the shorter hentai OVA has a more coherent plot.)
* ''{{Dousei}}''
* ''MOON.''

Their favoured tropes include:
* ArtisticAge: The hatedom just loves to claim that the characters are children, and when it's pointed out that they clearly aren't, point to the art style and say "well, they ''look'' like it!".
* BaseballEpisode: Key seems to have [[AuthorAppeal a thing]] for baseball. ''Little Busters!'' centres around it, a story arc in ''CLANNAD'' shows the main cast playing baseball, in ''Angel Beats!'' one character's backstory heavily features baseball and the characters play it on occasion, and a ''Kanon'' drama CD references baseball often as well.
* {{Bishounen}}: All the male protagonists.
* BittersweetEnding
* BleachedUnderpants: To a minimal extent. All the visual novels come in clean versions, which in some cases are better for the lack of a shoehorned sex scene.
* BromanticFoil: It's usual for protagonists to have just one male friend, almost always a ButtMonkey, whose plot relevance is somewhere between moderate and very low.
* CharacterDevelopment: A lot of their works, but even moreso with Anime/AngelBeats and VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}. Also, it's the whole point of the story in ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters.''
* ChickMagnet: Ya think?
* CloudCuckooLander: It's rare to find a Key girl that isn't at least a little odd.
* ColourCodedForYourConvenience: Key seems to have a colouring scheme to determine what year a character is in. Green is freshman, red is sophomore and blue is senior. Appears in ''{{Kanon}}'' and "Little Busters" in the form of ties on the uniforms (though in LB! its rather Pinker than red) and in ''VisualNovel/{{CLANNAD}}'' as a patch on the uniform.
* DarkerAndEdgier: {{Rewrite}}. Full-stop. Having Romeo Tanaka and Ryukishi07 on staff (In addition to Yuto Tonokawa) probably contributed to that.
** ''MOON.'' is this for their Tactics era. We go from a simple story about high school sweethearts moving in together (''Dousei'') to a story about a girl investigating a murder in a creepy psychic sex cult.
* DeadpanSnarker
* DeusAngstMachina
* DiabolusExMachina: You'd think God has it out for these guys when you see the kind of stuff they're put through. Especially when the downers happen.
* DisneyDeath (usually reserved for minor heroines, although [[spoiler:Ayu from ''{{Kanon}}'' and Nagisa from ''VisualNovel/{{Clannad}}'']] got one each too, and in ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' [[spoiler:everyone ''except'' the protagonist and main girl undergoes one in ''Refrain''.]])
* DownerEnding
* DulcineaEffect: Extremely visible in CLANNAD with [[CoolLoser antisocial]] Tomoya becoming obsessed with helping [[IntelligenceEqualsIsolation Kotomi]], [[IllGirl Nagisa]], [[StudentCouncilPresident Tomoyo]], [[IAmYourOpponent Yukine]], and [[CuteGhostGirl Fukko]]. Also with [[{{Kanon}} Yuuichi's]] [[TooDumbToLive unhealthy interest]] in [[ActionGirl Mai]].
* DysfunctionJunction: ''No'' Key character is without a DarkAndTroubledPast, save for maybe the odd comic relief side character. Justified in ''Angel Beats!'', where [[spoiler:a tragic childhood ending in premature death is one of the requirements for living in the particular Purgatory that makes up the setting]].
* EarnYourHappyEnding: It will be hard, you'll be put through Hell, but when you get there [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming it WILL be worth it.]]
* {{Eroge}}: The company in general seems to go back and forth on this, with some games getting H releases and others not, which is quite odd considering practically none of the sex scenes in them impact the plot anyway.
* TheGadfly: Half of their work has one of these as the main protagonist. The other half just has at least one as a secondary or minor character.
* IllGirl
* {{Joshikousei}}
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Most of the protagonists, with the main pairings tending to have the troll-and-derp dynamic. Strangely enough, in ''Angel Beats!'', Otonashi isn't the jerk, it's Yuri.
* KilledOffForReal: Usually reserved for major heroines, although again, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule.
* KineticNovel: KeyVisualArts is notable for lending the name to the term for non-interactive novels, but has since then been used to describe novels of a similar nature.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia
* MagicRealism: Very, ''very'' present in their works, as while the focal points of their stories are character interactions and school life, the framing for the story usually ends up being something supernatural. Depending on how much {{foreshadowing}} leads up to the eventual reveal, the magical element is used to either greatly explain or {{handwave}} many of the story developments. [[AWizardDidIt How the magic itself works is rarely explained]].
** Rewrite takes this trope and runs wild with it to the point where it becomes a straight-up UrbanFantasy.
* MundaneFantastic
* OfficialCouple: Even though they are visual novels where you can end up with any of the heroines, there is always a girl the protagonist is "destined" to be with.
** Though ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' is something of an exception - Riki and Rin are only shown to be together in a bonus epilogue scene that only plays after finishing Refrain for the second time. The first time, [[NoRomanticResolution the game goes out of its way to make it clear that he likes someone, but that 'someone' could be anyone.]]
* OnlySixFaces: Or less of the characters in the same game, especially girls. The arts change each game, but this trope does not.
* PrettyFreeloaders: Used straight in ''Kanon'', inverted in ''AIR'' where the male protagonist is freeloading off of the heroine, and twisted in ''CLANNAD'', where the male protagonist freeloads off his male friend when he can't stand to be at home and one of the minor heroines freeloads off the major heroine.
* QuestionableConsent: A lot of the sex scenes have a bad habit of employing this, [[NotIfTheyEnjoyedItRationalization and then acting like nothing]] [[RomanticizedAbuse went wrong]]. Particularly infamous examples include Makoto's sex scene in ''VisualNovel/{{Kanon}}'' where [[spoiler:Yuuichi elects to have sex with her when she's already ''well'' deep into her mental regression back to the fox she once was ([[BestialityIsDepraved they even use the doggy style position!]])]], and Komari's sex scene in ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters [[UpdatedRerelease Ecstasy]]'' where [[spoiler:Riki coerces her to have sex with him while she's still in the middle of [[FreakOut her mental regression and breakdown]] after remembering the death of her older brother]]. The scenes are often OutOfCharacter on the part of both participants at least a little, too, and much of the fanbase [[FanonDiscontinuity ignores them]]. It's gotten better over time, though, or at least the studio seems to be recognizing it; the unhealthiest sex scenes in ''Little Busters! Ecstasy'', including the one mentioned above, are relegated to the bad endings, and despite a spike in {{fanservice}}, the company announced that ''Rewrite'' will never get an 18+ release.
* RidiculouslyCuteCritter: If the work has a mascot, it's one of these, usually belonging to (or a stray that attaches itself to) one of the minor heroines.
* SnowMeansDeath/[[SnowMeansLove Love]]: Whenever snow is used, expect either a corpse or a kissing couple soon after. Mostly the former. (Though [[VisualNovel/{{AIR}} summer will not save you.]])
* {{Tearjerker}}: Key specializes in [[{{Utsuge}} Utsuges]], so all of its works are well known for their tearjerkers.
* ThemeTwinNaming: [[VisualNovel/{{Clannad}} Ryou and Kyou Fujibayashi]], [[VisualNovel/{{Kanon}} Shiori and Kaori Misaka]] although they're not twins), [[LittleBusters Haruka and Kanata]].
* ThereAreNoPsychologists
* {{Utsuge}}: All of their visual novels. For the most part they're [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism very optimistic]], [[{{Moe}} cute]], ([[DownerEnding usu]][[BittersweetEnding ally]]) have happy endings [[EarnYourHappyEnding in spite of the struggles faced to get there]], have plenty of comic relief scattered about, and are especially lighthearted towards the beginning of the game. But once you start a girl's route, expect the tone to darken quickly [[DarkandTroubledPast as you learn more about her life]] and/or [[CerebusSyndrome as bad things begin to happen in the present]].
* VerbalTic: Abused to no end in ''VisualNovel/{{Kanon}}''[[note]]Uguu...[[/note]], and there's usually at least one per game, [[LittleBusters wafuu~]].

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