Master Keaton 2

Master Keaton 2
Master Keaton 2 review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Viz - 978-1-4215-7591-9
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 1989
  • English language release date: 2015
  • Format: Black and white
  • UPC: 9781421575919
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Drama, Manga, Mystery

This second volume is even better than the smart and enchanting Master Keaton 1. It’s another dozen stories taking insurance investigator Taichi Keaton around the world, and making good use of his observation and deduction training, archaeology degree and time spent with Britain’s elite S.A.S.

It’s the name of artist Naoki Urasawa prioritised on the cover, and he’s delightful, disciplining himself to the story’s needs being a constant hallmark throughout his career. Yet his is such a naturally attractive style, fine-lined, strong on personality and his establishing locations are pictures of great beauty, still resonating when much of the remaining story concentrates on people.

Writers Hokusei Katsushika and Takashi Nagasaki again stimulate and surprise, offering an erudite view of so many historical subjects, all researched long before the internet simplified such tasks. They’re not afraid to stray into controversy either. The troubles in Ireland supply the background to the opening tale locating the stolen medals of an Olympic athlete, and a later story is unflinching in pointing the finger at Germans who’ve never lost their taste for persecution. It focuses on what Turkish “guest workers” went through in 1970s and 1980s West Germany. Katsushika and Nagasaki use these moments as springboards, though, and inform without preaching.

As Keaton is an insurance investigator by trade, most stories concern him having to solve some kind of mystery, but often diverging from the conventional pattern. There’s a spiritual quality to some, the sentimentality of a young girl used as a hostage by rich grandparents, dips back into the past informing the present day Keaton, building on what was revealed in Master Keaton 1, and even a solo investigation for Keaton’s father in Japan when a dog goes missing.

Anyone wanting a series of character-driven mysteries that educate along the way is going to love what Katsushika, Nagasaki and Urasawa produce, and there’s plenty more, beginning with Master Keaton 3.