Master Keaton Volume One is a manga by Naoki Urasawa, and it was released in North America by VIZ Media’s VIZ Signature imprint in December 2014. Like with the recent Monster The Perfect Edition releases, Master Keaton also includes some full-color content; these full-color pages appear right at the beginning of the volume and pages 137 through 140. The series is rated “T+” for older teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.
Master Keaton Volume 1
Written by: Naoki Urasawa
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 16, 2014
The main character of the series is Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and a well-born Englishwoman. His parents split when he was five, and Taichi moved to England with his mother. As an adult, he studied archeology at Oxford University. He met his wife while he was at Oxford and they married; however, they divorced when their daughter Yuriko was five and she was left in the care of her mother.
Taichi later left Oxford and joined the British Army, becoming a member of the SAS; he reached the rank of master sergeant, saw combat in the Falklands War and was one of the team members responding to the Iranian Embassy incident. In the series, he works as an insurance investigator at Lloyd’s of London and is also an archeology lecturer at a college.
Many of the stories in this first volume focus on Taichi as he does his work as an insurance investigator. These jobs take him to locations such as Greece, Italy, London, the Talamakan Desert, and Germany. I found many of the cases that Taichi investigates to be quite fascinating, and I really enjoyed how Urasawa is able to use the stories to impart details about Taichi’s past. Taichi is definitely good at what he does, and his earlier training in the military comes in handy as he’s up against the antagonists who are trying to stop him from completing his investigations.
Of these stories, my favorite had to be the one in Germany, where Taichi meets an elderly woman who comes across as a selfish liar. The twist at the end was wonderful, and I hadn’t seen that coming at all..
We also get to see Taichi interacting with his junior high age daughter during times he’s back in Japan. We get to see how much Yuriko looks up to him, as well as the fact that she’s trying hard to get her parents back together. When Yuriko tells her father that her mother might be getting remarried, he finds himself worrying about it to the point that it distracts him from his work. From what we see, it appears that Taichi might still have feelings for his ex-wife, but knows well enough that it probably wouldn’t work out if they ever reconciled. But Yuriko seems to be bound and determined to not only to see her parents reconcile, she’s also determined to see her grandparents reconcile as well.
There are a couple of stories that focus more on Taichi’s backstory than on his job. Through these stories, the reader is able to learn about Taichi’s mother, as well as to become acquainted with his father. There was even an interesting story where Taichi meets a woman who could potentially be his half-sister. I really enjoyed that particular story, especially after we learn a bit about the woman who could be Taichi’s long-lost relative.
As I read this volume, I found myself riveted by the stories that were presented. Taichi is such a compelling character, and the investigations and adventures that he finds himself involved in help to enhance his already compelling character.
I really enjoy Urasawa’s art style, and it looks like this release from VIZ Media has captured it in a similar way that the re-mastered pages for the Monster The Perfect Edition releases did. Urasawa has quite a way of capturing characters’ emotions and inner thoughts through their expressions.
After reading this volume, I definitely want to read more of Master Keaton at some point in the future. I would recommend the Master Keaton series to manga readers who enjoy mysteries being solved by a compelling lead character who goes through a lot and learns from both his investigations and the events he experiences in his regular day-to-day life.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Master Keaton Volume One that was provided to me by VIZ Media.
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