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Master Keaton Volume 2 Review: An Anthology of Mysteries
Those who saw some of my articles on Leviathyn may recall a certain manga series I reviewed known as Monster. The man behind that series, Naoki Urasawa, has done several manga series and I recently read a volume of one of his earlier works known as Master Keaton. While it is similar, visually speaking, to Monster, Master Keaton tells a completely different story in a similar setting.
Master Keaton follows the day to day events of an insurance investigator known as Taichi Keaton. Keaton has an interesting resume between a career as an archaeologist, the SAS, and his current job. Now Keaton takes on cases that tend to be very difficult to solve, and is able to crack said cases seemingly effortlessly using various methods. From rescuing hostages to finding stolen property, Keaton seems able to do anything and everything except for saving his marriage.
Where Monster followed a more traditional style of storytelling where one event leads to the next, Master Keaton is more a series of short stories involving the adventures Keaton goes on. Each story is usually wrapped up by the end of the chapter and a new one begins. Unfortunately there are times when a story doesn’t feel like it reached a proper conclusion in Master Keaton. In some cases, events will be skipped over in favor of just having a box of text explain what happened. It would be better in these cases if time had been taken to show the story rather than pull a Xenogears and tell the reader what happened after the fact.
Another weak point in Master Keaton is all the constant boxes of text that explain all the necessary background story for each particular case and what may have been going on at that point in history. All that extra information makes Master Keaton a slow read at times, which may cause the reader to lose interest if they were not looking for large amounts of exposition. However, the dialogue makes up for this with great character infractions and some great (occasionally funny) lines said by one or more characters.
Master Keaton has a very similar art style to the one used in Monster. While this is to be expected given that it is the same guy writing this manga, it felt like there was little attempt to distinguish the two series on a visual standpoint. You can compare two separate pages and it will feel like you are reading the same manga at a first glance. That said, this art style works and results in some highly expressive characters throughout the manga.
For the second volume of Master Keaton, readers will not have to have read the first one to have any idea what is going on. The first chapter or two may be a bit confusing, but after that it all makes sense given that each story is self contained. Master Keaton is significantly less violent than Monster, but Monster tends to tell a more engaging story more often than not. Although Keaton and his various escapades are often entertaining enough to make it a page turner for those that can handle the sheer amount of text. If that doesn’t deter you, then I recommend checking out Master Keaton.