Lesley Aeschliman

Manga Review: Master Keaton Volume 2

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Master Keaton Volume 2 focuses on Taichi Hiraga-Keaton, the son of a Japanese zoologist and a well-born Englishwoman. His parents divorced when he was five, and Taichi moved to England with his mother. As an adult, he studied archeology at Oxford University, and this is where he met his wife. Taichi and his wife later divorced when their daughter Yuriko was five, and she was left in the care of her mother. Taichi left Oxford and joined the British Army, becoming a member of the S.A.S. and reaching the rank of master sergeant. At this point in his life, Taichi works as an insurance investigator at Lloyd’s of London and is also an archeology lecturer at a college.

Master Keaton Volume 2

Master Keaton Volume 2

Written by: Hokusei Katsushika
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Buy Master Keaton, Vol. 2 on Amazon!

Many of the stories included in Volume 2 focus on Taichi as he works as an insurance investigator. However, during the course of this volume, he loses his lecturer job in Tokyo. He finds a job as an instructor at an adult education center in France, but he loses the job there due to the school closing. After losing that position, Taichi spends the rest of the volume focusing exclusively on his work as an insurance investigator.

During the various cases that Taichi takes on as an insurance investigator, he gets the opportunity to meet a lot of people with interesting backgrounds and stories to tell. The cases range from finding missing items or people to uncovering insurance fraud. There are also times when Taichi finds himself in danger and his life on the line. Fortunately, the skills he learned while he served in the British Army help him overcome those who would try to harm him. My favorite investigation in Volume 2 had to do with Taichi trying to locate a 10-year-old young girl for her mother, because I really enjoyed seeing the interactions that Taichi has with the girl. Having a daughter himself, he understands how to act around a girl that age.

There are a couple of stories in Master Keaton Volume 2 that work on developing Taichi as a character rather than on his investigations. The first of these is the story where he teaches in France right before the school closes, and Taichi reveals his admiration for a former teacher named Yuri Scott. There is an incredible, yet unexpected, scene that takes place at the end of this story, and as a reader I felt it made for a touching ending. The other character development story sees Taichi reuniting with a former classmate named Hazel Milton. Without realizing it, Taichi brings some much needed help after Hazel loses his wife and his job. I also appreciated seeing Taichi showing a more childish side in this story, since he’s usually shown being serious and focusing on his investigations.

There’s also one story in here that doesn’t involve Taichi at all. Instead, Taichi’s father takes on a case to locate a missing dog. What he uncovers shows there’s more to the story than just as missing dog. And thanks to Taichi’s father, the situation that’s presented in this story seems to work out in the end. I thought this story perfectly illustrated that Taichi is more like his father than he likes to think that he is.

Master Keaton Volume 2 was originally written in the late 1980s, which explains why the story has references to West Germany, as well as why there are no cell phones or other modern technology that’s utilized in the series. Taichi also references historical events that were either current at the time this manga was originally written, or had an impact on people living in the late 1980s. I thought that including some information on these historical events helped to establish the time period that Master Keaton is set in.

Naoki Urasawa provides the art for the Master Keaton series, and I really enjoy his style. Urasawa has quite a way of capturing characters’ emotions and inner thoughts through their expressions. The expressions that Urasawa utilizes for the characters really add to the overall feel and tone of this series. When VIZ Media released this volume, they presented it with re-mastered pages that help make Urasawa’s art look crisp, clear, and engaging.

I would recommend the Master Keaton series to manga readers who enjoy mysteries being solved by a compelling lead character going through a lot and learning from both his investigations and the events he experiences in his day-to-day life. Readers who have already read the first volume of the series and enjoyed it should also have an appreciation for the stories that appear in Master Keaton Volume 2.

The reviewer wad provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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