By Dustin Cabeal
I’m often sent comics and manga (in particular) well into a story’s run. It’s not something that scares me off, but that doesn’t mean I’m always able to or have the desire to review something that’s well established. I thought that would be the case with Master Keaton.
The art was the first thing that caught my attention. Sure, it looked well-drawn, but it’s not a style I gravitate to when reading manga. Upon finishing the ninth volume, I wanted more. Not only that, I wanted more manga to write in this style. For comic readers, the best way I can describe it is that it’s a bit like an anthology stories starring one character and several different stories from their adventures. That is to say that there’s no overarching storyline that Master Keaton is following. It does brilliantly keep track of his timeline, though.
Each chapter is a standalone tale, though, usually finding Keaton either in danger or solving a mystery. There’s a great balance between the adventuring and detective work that keeps each chapter fresh. That’s not to exclude the chapters that focus on Keaton’s life and those around him that are sprinkled in for good measure. The storytelling is masterful. Keaton is extremely likable, but also well-rounded and deep. You do feel as if he has a rich and interesting background that has developed him into the character before us.
The artwork grew on me. Again, it’s not a style I seek out, but I couldn’t deny the talent that was there. The linework was clean and beautiful from beginning to end. The entire volume had a consistency that’s so rarely seen anymore that I was able to appreciate it even a bit more. The character’s designs were also very impressive in that there was a wide range of characters with different national origins. This story is truly diverse and worldly. That alone is a hell of a task, but it’s made to look easy in the pages of Master Keaton.
I’m not often surprised by a comic or manga, but I was with Master Keaton. In a million years if you had told me what this series was about I wouldn’t have checked it out. For that, I’m very happy that it was sent to me for review. This way I can save you from making the same mistake. If you like detective stories with a big slice of life mixed in, then you’ll most certainly enjoy Master Keaton.
Master Keaton vol. 9
By: Naoki Urasawa
Story By: Hokusei Katsushika, Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature