Master Keaton – Omnibus Vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa, Story by Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki (A J!-ENT Manga Review)
March 12, 2015 by Dennis Amith
An exciting, smartly written manga series…”Master Keaton” is highly recommended!
© 1989 Naoki Urasawa/Studio Nuts, Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki. All Rights Reserved.
MANGA TITLE: Master Keaton – Omnibus Vol. 1
STORY AND ART BY: Naoki Urasawa, Story by Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ SIGNATURE/Viz Media, LLC
RATED: OT for Older Teen
RELEASE DATE: December 16, 2014
Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and a noble English woman, is an insurance investigator known for his successful and unorthodox methods of investigation. Educated in archaeology and a former member of the SAS, Master Keaton uses his knowledge and combat training to uncover buried secrets, thwart would-be villains, and pursue the truth…
When a life insurance policy worth one million pounds takes Master Keaton to the Dodecanese islands of Greece, what will he discover amidst his scuffles with bloodthirsty thieves and assassins?
In 1998, “Master Keaton” was a manga series serialized in “Big Comic Original”.
Created by Hokusei Katshika and Naoki Urasawa, the series was released through 1994 and ran for 144 chapters. In Japan, a total of 18 tankobon volumes were released and in 1998-1999, a 24-episode animate adaptation was aired on Nippon Television plus an additional 15 OVA episodes were created and were once released in the United States.
In 2012, Urasawa would create the sequel to the series titled “Master Keaton Remaster” with writer Takashi Nagasaki and the series was serialized in “Big Comic Original” and was set 20 years after the original series ended.
And now, Viz Media is releasing an omnibus of the manga series which includes 12 chapters and part of the Viz Signature imprint.
What is “Master Keaton” all about?
The story of “Master Keaton” revolves around a man named Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of Japanese Zoologist Taihei Hiraga and Englishwoman Patricia Keaton. Because his parents separated when he was young, Taichi was raised in England by his mother.
He studied archaeology at Oxford University under Professor Yuri Scott. While married, like his father, he also divorced and has a daughter named Yuriko who was raised by her mother but recently has been visiting her father now that she is a high school student.
While Master Keaton teaches archaeology at Kotozawa University and is often taking jobs as an insurance investigator with Lloyd’s of London that require his expertise. Sometimes the job can be very dangerous. But the other side of Keaton is that he was also a member of the British Army, and its SAS (Special Air Service) division…special forces. Keaton was a survival instructor and saw combat in the Falklands War and one of the team members who responded to the Iranian Embassy incident.
He skills of survival but also combat is remarkable but his knowledge of archaeology and antiques are also uncanny. And now, he must take on various jobs around the world that puts him and his clients at risk.
“Master Keaton” is an entertaining and smartly written manga series.
On the outside, you think Keaton is just a normal man but not only is he able to outwit anyone who tries to hurt him, his survival skills are uncanny. But yet, he is a man with faults and that lies more in his life as a father (he’s so busy that he hasn’t really been there for his daughter) and his concern for his ex-wife (he no doubt loves her but also too busy to be a married man).
While I won’t go so far as calling him a James Bond-ish type of character, as he isn’t actually suave, he is a survivalist and an knowledgeable about ancient history and antiques.
Not many know of his special forces training, they just know of his knowledge of antiques, and thus he goes into areas that are a bit dangerous.
In one chapter, Keaton is sent to Greece as an insurance investigator and he is to help a widow who’s husband has mysteriously died. But why are other men trying to pursue her?
Another chapter features Keaton working with ethnic cavalrymen in Far west China, but when a group of archaeologist desecrate tribal land, Keaton and the men are left in the desert to die. How will Keaton save the day?
While another chapter features Keaton trying to help an elderly woman he meets on the train. But the woman turns out to be someone who has been wanted by German authorities for her underground activism during the separation of Germany.
And we get a riveting chapter which helps explain why Taichi Hiraga-Keaton is known as “Master Keaton”.
Often there are lighthearted chapters that feature Keaton’s daughter and his father. In one chapter with his father, Keaton is sent by his father to help a woman, who may be his father’s illegitimate daughter? In another chapter, his daughter is trying to get both her father and her grandfather to admit they are similar and are still in love with the women they divorced.
The art and the ancient history portion of various chapters are well-researched and Hkokusei Katsuhika did a wonderful job, while the artwork by Urasawa is wonderful as always.
It’s absolutely wonderful that Viz Media has released the “Master Keaton” omnibus in North America and I can’t wait to read volume 2!
“Master Keaton” is highly recommended!
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