Manga Review: Master Keaton Vol. 3

I became an instant fan of Naoki Urasawa in 2004 when I saw the Monster anime. Psychological thrillers are definitely NOT my cup of tea, but he had me hooked with his combination of realistic artwork and gripping plot. As such, I was thrilled when Viz Media decided to release a translation of an earlier Urasawa action/adventure: Master Keaton. Read on for the review of Volume 3! (For my review of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and an English noblewoman, 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…

The Review

Although Keaton wishes to devote himself to academia, he remains unable to find a university position. As such, the content of Volume 3 is for the most part related to his insurance investigative work. Except for Chapter 8, all the stories take place in Europe, but he still manages to run into a number of Japanese citizens during his adventures.

Of this installment, “Wall of Joy” and “A Family Moment” are the weakest. The narrative offers no explanation of what happens at the end of “Wall of Joy,” and it’s difficult to guess from the black-and-white illustrations what is going on. As for “A Family Moment,” the story seems a mishmash of unrelated events that just provide an excuse for daughter Yuriko and dad Taihei to make an appearance.

However, the rest of the 12-chapter volume makes up for these weaknesses. Lloyd’s apparently deals with kidnapping insurance, and “Rules of Negotiation” and “Rules of Ransom” (the volume’s only two-part story) maintain a high level of tension and intrigue throughout. In other chapters, Keaton’s SAS background takes prominence with him disarming a bomb, turning the tables on a military trained dog, and investigating a former Pinochet officer, which should please those who enjoy the series’ thriller aspect. Archaeology only really factors in Keaton’s insurance work in “White Goddess,” and “Wall of Joy,” but an encounter with one of Keaton’s military acquaintances provides the basis for a chapter about science history.

Extras include the first pages of Chapter 1, Chapter 9, and Chapter 10 in color and a sound effects glossary.

In Summary

Master Keaton provides another set of episodic adventures. The stories cover everything from Latin American military culture to animal behavior to chemistry, which definitely keeps the content fresh and varied. In contrast, Keaton’s personal life remains stagnant, and I’m thinking his ex-wife will never actually step into the story. However, if you’re mostly interested in watching Keaton’s eclectic set of skills at work, you won’t be disappointed.

First published at the Fandom Post.


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