Key's Self-References

I guess you could say they’re part of the same… KANON!


So I’ve attempted to find every instance of what I call “Kerokey”, an image of Keropii holding a key. So far I’ve found these four:

This one is just obvious:

There’s one on a fan in the staff room in Clannad:

In this one I think he’s actually holding a musical note, but I’m not sure. And of course in the top right corner we have Key’s shameless self-promotion. Actually, I think it’s supposed to say “Key Sounds Label”, which might be why he’s holding a musical note rather than a key.:

Edit: Well…
I was unaware that it was the actual Key Sounds Label logo.

And of course the one in the drama club room in the bottom left:

There are other instances where you can see what is presumably Keropii, like on Akio’s apron, an Akane CG in Rewrite that’s really obvious, the ace of spades Sakuya’s holding in a CG - if you look at it closely, and you can see Nayuki sleeping with Keropii in a CG, but I don’t count those because they’re not holding anything.

Edit: Unrelated, but I just found this One/Nanase reference in Mio’s route of LB!

LB!, where a random female student is being asked to translate a line:

And One, the scene where Kouhei translates Nanase’s line for her:
And yes, they use the same Japanese phrase when speaking, don’t let the differences in the written English sentences fool you.

Edit 2: Well, that didn’t take long…

Well Riki… I’ve got your answer:
Akane would.


I haven’t seen this one picked out before, from the Sunohara route


Summer Pockets, all of it. Too many homages to count. But just to have something specific, on the last day of the trial you can help the boys as they try to take care of a beehive. They fail horribly and end up getting told of by Nomiki how kids shouldn’t try to do something so dangerous. Whatever could she be talking about…?


Not exactly Key, but close enough:
I was rereading Moon. when I noticed this background image
moon ver
Which I of course recognised from One
one ver
Bit of a stretch to call it a reference with just that, but I do feel it was intentional because in that scene in Moon. (spoilers for both) Ikumi talks about going to the end of the sky and wishing time would stop forever. (Which isn’t exactly rare for Maeda, mind you, but topics like that aren’t usually touched on in Moon.)

From Rewrite, one of the optional quests



Charlotte seems to be full of Key self refs, one of a certain character in AIR in Summer…


As it is stated in this post, the LOLICON brand is a thing that often appears in the earliest works of the Key staff but did you know that its first appearance was in Dousei?

It’s one of the places where the protagonist can work.
The background CGs of this game are made with real photographs. Does it mean that the LOLICON Brand was real since the beginning!? :shock:

In AIR, it’s very hard to see normally but if you play the VITA version with the HD CGs, you can see that Michiru wears a pair of “KEY” shoes! :ohhh:


The CLANNAD manga has quite a lot of references that are really well hidden.

The first one I’ve seen is a cameo of Yukito and Misuzu during the Founder Festival.

The funny thing is that Yukito also appears during the festival in the anime released later.

2 panels later, we can see a girl that looks a lot like Ikumi from MOON.

I’ve also seen some girls looking like Sayuri and a young girl at the end that resembles a lot to Misuzu but since I’m not 100% sure they’re cameos I prefer to not post them.

In the office where Tomoya works we can see a calendar where there is a picture of Piro on a cutted trunk!


Finally, at the very end of the manga, there is an exclusive scene where Tomoya participates to the school race that he wasn’t able to attend in the first timeline. Yukito is on the starting line.

(Sorry for the bad quality of the picture, the scans of the end of the manga can’t be found on the internet and I had to take a photo of my french exemplar)


I’m pretty sure the girl next to her whom you can only see the back of her head is Yui too:


Oh yeah, I didn’t see the ribbon on the top of her head!

Good job finding all of these details ! I didn’t know that we could see Yukito in the anime, I will have to be very attentive when I will watch the anime again. :umu: By the way, where have you found a french exemplar of Clannad’s manga ? I would like to buy one too :flustered:

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Thanks! I’ve bought the tome 3 to 8 on (they’re still available). I’ve bought the tome 2 on priceminister and I had to buy the tome 1 on leboncoin because it’s hard to find (however it was cheap and in an excellent state). But if you can’t find the first tomes, you can read the beginning of the English fan translation.

To talk a bit about the manga. The English translation stops just before the graduation of Nagisa (near the end of the tome 5), this translation was stopped years ago and will probably never continues. To my knowledge, outside of Japan, the manga was only released in China and France (since manga are very popular in our country).

I don’t recommend reading the fan TL because the manga is pretty much a slow burn and the fact that the translation stops before the best parts of the story is really frustrating, however if you can read it entirely, that’s a pretty good adaptation, covering pretty faithfully the main story with quite a lot of interesting thoughts and added stuff. I really liked the caricatural/fan service drawings and I absolutely loved the last tome, living again the end of After Story through a manga was really something.
(sorry for the short off-topic)


Thank you very much for your advices :happy: next time I will send you a message directly sorry :sorry:

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Today I wanted to talk about one of the most obscure Key characters: Key-chan (and her sister Kuu-chan).

Key-chan is the forgotten mascot of the studio and… it’s honestly very hard to find any info about her on the web so I’m going to be the most exhaustive possible and share everything I know about her. I hesitated to create a topic dedicated to her but since she has made some appearances in Key works I think it’s better to talk about her here.

Key-chan first appearance

It’s hard to say when was the first appearance of Key-chan but it seems very probable to be in 1998, when Key was founded.
Regularly, Itaru Hinoue made a new drawing to illustrate the front page of the Key website of the time, at the beginning she only made drawings of Key-chan and then she created a new character: Kuu-chan, the sister of the mascot. According to this page, their real names are Kisato Asamiya (麻宮姫里) and Kuu Asamiya (麻宮空).
Key-chan was also used to illustrate the banner of the website.

Kuu-chan first appearance

The Key website is totally different today than before but by using we can find most of what it was before. If you go here, you can find nearly all of the illustrations used for the front page (you can also find one more Kanon related picture in the old gallery).

Key-chan appearances in Kanon:

The first appearance of Key-chan in a Key work was in the cafeteria of Kanon, she’s on the left:

As you can see, she has the same appearance as in the front page picture n°3 :

In Kanon '06, episode 17, she also appears in the cafeteria with her sister Kuu-chan:

(a bit spoilery)

Key-chan also “appears” in the CG were Makoto is reading manga while eating nikumans. Take the magazine on the bottom of the pic, flip it and you’ve a part of the front page picture n°4.

Jun Kitagawa was used in the front page pictures made before the release of Kanon (see here and here), according to this page (and the Crunchyroll one above), Kitagawa was planned to be the older brother of Key-chan and Kuu-chan, this fanart seems to illustrate this:

Key-chan and AIR:

Key-chan doesn’t make an appearance in AIR however, there was a nice front page picture with the mascot sisters to promote AIR at the time:


A third girl with pink hair was also created at the time. She’s apparently the rival of Key-chan (the alt of the picture in the source code of the front page says キィちゃんにライバル登場?). So she has a sister, a brother and a rival, now you know everything about the complex lore surrounding Key-chan :ahaha:

Key-chan appearance in CLANNAD:

She makes a final appearance in CLANNAD, in the VN (Fuko’s story spoiler):

In the anime (episode 9):

…and that’s about it for the official works. The 19th October 2004, the design of the Key website was changed, removing the front page picture, and Key stopped to use Key-chan.

In Kanossyu 2:
The two girls appear in their CLANNAD uniforms in this doujin shoot’em up. You need to unlock them if you want to use them. There is a small description in the manual, of course Key-chan is supposed to be among the strongest characters.

We can find some drawings and commentaries about Key-chan in some of the extra works of Itaru Hinoue, like at the end of the Kanon artbook (or in Ganbare! Kaeru-kun, Aqua Lovers 3, …):

We can also find her in some merch:

And also in some fanarts:

Notice that she’s holding a Keropii like in her second appearance (be careful, the link is a bit NSFW).
(If you’re interested to know, the two girls with the white hat are Kanon and Shion, they were created to promote the 20th anniversary of Visual Art’s. If anyone knows who is the girl with the Little Busters uniform at the top of the picture, I’m interested.)


Hmm, I’m surprised to see the gallery is down. It stayed in perfect condition for years… It didn’t look like that however, so maybe I’m thinking of a different link…
Ah, hang on, I did some searching and found the current version.

That’s Kirara. She was the mascot of Key Net Radio around the 10th anniversary, created as part of a segment in the show. I’m sure you can tell, but she’s basically Haruka. Essentially she was to the 10th what the twins were to the 20th.


Thanks, taka! :happy:

I’ve searched again but I can’t find a link leading to the gallery on the current website. I guess it’s not referenced anymore or it’s because I don’t search well enough.

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They did remake their site a few days ago, and it’s probably not something they use anymore

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Wow, that’s some pretty obscure stuff right there! I honestly never realize that Hinoue insert character (I was too busy distracted by all the Saitos lol). Really grateful you brought that up :slight_smile:


I wanted to put a few other references before the end and it’s funny that you talk about Saito, Pepe, because the first ones are Saito references :yahaha:

I’m sure that someone already brought it up but I don’t see any screenshot of it on the topic so here’s the very first appearance of Saito/Saitou:

I’ve searched in the scripts of AIR and Saito never appears in it so CLANNAD is the second game of the series where he makes a (glorious) appearance.

Saito/Saitou (斉藤) doesn’t appear in ONE but her “sister” Sato/Satou (佐藤) makes an appearance in the Nanase route:
According to Nanase, she might be one of her friends from primary school but given the situation it’s very probable that it’s a name invented on the spot by Nanase.
I’ve searched in the Japanese scripts of the game and the kanji 藤 (which is the common kanji between Saito and Sato) only appears here in the VN. Now, I don’t know much about Japanese so I don’t know if it has any kind of meaning but I think it’s interesting to point it out :ahaha:

Kanon '06 references a lot the Tactics VNs and a lot of the references are already present in this topic however there is one reference that I don’t think a lot of people have noticed, it happens during the last episode when Shiori is talking about the dream that Ayu is making and the wishes theory:
(Kanon spoiler)

(ONE spoiler)


And that’s my favorite reference of Kanon. Pretty nice to notice that while the characters have exactly the same pose and kinda the same white background, they also both look like child versions of the cover girls. I really don’t think that’s a coincidence, especially when the anime has already a lot of references about MOON and ONE.

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It was mentioned about Nanase from ONE in Kanon and just discussing it with Sep7 elsewhere but here she is, a pic to immortalise it before the forum closes!