By Dustin Cabeal
Master Keaton is a difficult series to review. Not because it’s bad and not because it’s complex, but because it would be a bit like reviewing every episode of a procedural show that’s solving a different case every episode. In many ways, that’s exactly what Master Keaton is doing, solving cases every episode.
Keaton, for those somehow unfamiliar with the series, is an insurance investigator that wants to be an archeologist. The timing in his life never works out because he’s always in the middle of helping someone, as is the case in this volume which finds him giving up an interview to help a POW from WWII find the site of his disavowed camp. That’s one of the many brilliant things about Master Keaton is that it’s well-researched and comes with numerous history lessons. In this particular story, it’s about POW camps that were on the mainland of Japan, that Japan said never happened.
While Keaton is almost always the person to solve the case or at the very least be the party responsible for the conclusion, there was one story this volume that was out of character for him. It’s difficult to knock the story though because it is very entertaining, in it, Keaton is looking into the murder of a woman and ends up getting help from the elderly neighbor across the street. It’s entertaining in that the old woman is on the hunt to solve the case, but also must cook dinner and attend her husband. The only problem is that she solves the case and is the responsible party for pushing the plot forward. It’s as if Keaton forgets how to be a detective which again, is out of character for him. Still, it was an entertaining story and stays with you due to the entertainment value.
The short story concept behind Master Keaton is what gives the series its greatest success. That and it takes place in an era before the internet when information was at the tip of your fingers, and true knowledge was respected and obtained through hard work. The short stories are what keep the series interesting, even though it’s fair to assume that Keaton will get out of any predicament he finds himself in because otherwise, his journey wouldn’t be as interesting. Just following his desire to be an archaeologist wouldn’t fill the thick volume this book is, but rather makes for a reminder that he’s working towards a goal. Will Keaton every become a professor and archeologist or is he exactly where he needs to be?
The artwork is frankly stunning. The variety of characters and their varying nationalities are wonderfully illustrated. It’s not quite photorealism because there is an actual style to the series, but it’s damn close. The details and the world are photorealistic, even if the people are stylized more. It’s strange because this isn’t a style that I usually gravitate towards, but now I can’t get enough of it.
Master Keaton is enjoyable every time. Due to its short story nature, you can jump on with any volume and experience a masterpiece of storytelling. There’s plenty to enjoy, especially if you like a good detective story.
Master Keaton vol. 10
By: Naoki Urasawa
Story By: Hokusei Katsushika, Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature