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Key Visual Arts

Key/Visual Arts is a Visual Novel 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 One Kagayaku Kisetsu E, 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 plot-heavy eroge just as marketably viable as its Porn Without Plot counterparts. Most of Key's games are of the utsuge variety, with a lot of emphasis on melodrama and sad storylines.

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

Key/Visual Arts seems to have had a deal with both Toei Animation and Kyoto Animation in that both studios will adapt their works. At first, Toei made a 13-episode version of Kanon. Years later, Kyoani made a 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, P. A. Works did the animation for Angel Beats! in 2010, and the Little Busters adaption is under the direction of JC Staff.

Key is also known for its seasonal imagery in its more famous works. Kanon makes full use of Snow Means Love and may have defined the modern Sad Girl In Snow; AIR does the same for summer, and CLANNAD for spring, though the 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 Robot Girl without a purpose hid in a planetarium with a refugee, and Angel Beats!! 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 Key Visual Arts works have their OP songs sung by J Pop artist Lia (true in AIR, CLANNAD, and Angel Beats!).

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. When They Cry and 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 Signature Style.
Key/Visual Art's' works include:

  • Kanon (adapted into two TV series, light novels and a manga)
  • 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)
  • CLANNAD (adapted into CLANNAD and CLANNAD ~after story~, as well as a movie, manga, and 2 Alternate Universe 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 ~the reverie of a little planet~
  • Little Busters!! (adapted into manga and an anime)
    • Kud Wafter (like Tomoyo After, it's a spinoff sequel based on a minor heroine)
  • 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.)
  • Angel Beats! (which is their first work that wasn't originally a visual novel, it was an Anime First with a VN announced for 2014)

Tactics' works with the original team include:

Their favoured tropes include:


Kevin McHaleAdministrivia/Creator Pages in MainKhalil Gibran
JM AnimationNames to Know in AnimeKK C&D Asia
Alice SoftVisual NovelNasuverse

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