master keaton
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Manga: Master Keaton Volume 3
Published: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Retail Price: $19.99

In the first two volumes of Master Keaton, we are introduced to the insurance investigator and archaeology professor named Taichi Hiraga Keaton. Taichi Keaton is also ex-military and a very adept man with a wide range of knowledge of various survival tactics and random insights. The series started with a fun approach to his character, but they slowly introduce us to the many sides to Keaton, with his rocky relationship between his parents, his worrisome teenage daughter, and his desires to rekindle a relationship with his wife (who we barely see.) For the most part, this volume casts his personal storyline aside, and embraces the more chapter oriented stories and assignments he will face which were also showcased in the first two novels.

Keaton spends a majority of this volume in Europe (where his assignments are mostly based) and the cases continue to prove as important and difficult mysteries, proving he just can’t seem to catch a break. Of the many stories in volume 3 that you can expect: a chapter that uses religion and faith to help carry the narrative while teaching the importance of forgiveness, preventing devastating attacks from bombers in London, and slightly more character driven arcs. There is one story in particular that spans over two chapters (which is a rarity for Master Keaton) involving a very dire kidnapping that brings the series back to the more serious tone they exhibited in the early volumes of the manga series. A middle aged man who is a higher-up for a company it taken along with his driver, and the kidnappers demand a ransom. When his wife finds out about the predicament, she is sent into emotional turmoil and is threatened to not involve the cops. The company he works for can’t come up with the hefty price tag on his head, and that’s when Keaton is brought in to accommodate damage control. As a hostage negotiator (seriously though, Taichi Keaton can manage every skill necessary.) Keaton takes it upon himself to calm the wife of the missing business man, and supplies tactics to help them gain insight on the kidnappers. There is a constant feel to the story that builds tension, and the stakes for the case feel important enough to span over multiple chapters as one of the more dramatic storylines for volume 3. The family’s agony is expressed extremely well, and for a short story you will find yourself attached to the results of the intense case, that does provide a conclusion (just in a brief way.)

Another important story (that does give more focus on Taichi Keaton himself) is the story centered on his desire to return to Japan to pursue his love and desire to teach archaeology. After being previously laid off, the character took on a sadness stemming from a lack of passion for his insurance investigative ways. That has always been a major contributing factor to the intrigue of Master Keaton. The character provides so much help for others, and performs essentially crucial life-saving or altering tasks, but he really just wants a simple life of teaching. I’ve expected him to embrace the good he can contribute to the world, and in moments he does – but nothing quite fills the void of his passion of knowledge. When reunited with his father and daughter, the two provide him with positive vibes that he can make it happen, but things don’t always pan out the way we hope they will. His father seems to be the person who surprisingly grounds him, reminding him of the many blessings bestowed upon people in unexpected ways, and brings one of the most saddening stories to this volume when he introduces his son to an elderly woman whose mind is giving out on her. This specific story successfully reminds us that life can change in the blink of an eye. The brief moment in particular struck a chord in me that understood the fragility of life and how precious moments can become a faded memory. A very powerful scene in the volume that forces you think about life in a deeper way.

Master Keaton is unlike most manga series I have read, for the fact that it really does provide many facets. The series adds a historical awareness that introduces different culture, religion, walks of life, while incorporating real life humor, mystery, and grief that in ways – captures the essence of our humanity. I have to commend Naoki Urasawa for bringing this series to life, and for being three volumes in I can tell that the longevity of Master Keaton is sparked by the creative talent put into the series in terms of art and story.

Overall Score: 8.7/10

Aedan’s Final Thoughts:

-The story in volume 3 is on par with volume 2 (though more emotionally moving stories provide a slight edge in this volume)

-I still hope to have more Taichi Keaton oriented stories in the upcoming volumes including his father, daughter, and ex-wife.

-I can’t help but adore the character Taichi Keaton, he’s written as one of the most genuinely kind characters, who manages to bottle up his true emotions. Hopefully he gets to find the happiness he so clearly deserves.

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