Okay, I know. I’ve been keeping up with this blog for quite a few years now. And only now was the first time I witnessed a work of the living genius Naoki Urusawa. I figured that before watching Monster, I’d check out another adaptation of his: Master Keaton. It consists out of a television-series and a 15-episode sequel OVA (this review covers just the former, a review of the latter will come up soon). And here is the thing: out of all of Naoki Urusawa’s works, you hear the most raves about Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto. Master Keaton is completely overshadowed by them. I cannot imagine how good these series could be when they overshadow a brilliant series like this.
These past 24 episodes told me enough: whoever wrote this did a ton of background research. This is a completely episodic series about a guy named Taishou Keaton. This guy is a former member of the SAS, studied archeology and works as an insurance advisor. And at all of these, he is very knowledgeable. This anime convinced me that he indeed is.
Professionalism is a big theme of quite a few of the episodes in this series. The thing with writing very smart people is that they’re much harder to write than stupid people. This anime manages to perfectly portray how much knowledge Keaton has about his area of interests, and the action related episodes turn into really good battles of wit because of this, because most of the people that Keaton goes up against are visible professionals too. Once in a while this show also takes detours into other fields of study, for example in a very excellent episode about wine-making. Those too succeed in portraying craftsmen.
The episodes of Master Keaton can be divided into two broad categories: thrillers and heartwarming stories. The thrillers rock because the abovementioned professionalism, not to mention the wide variety of people that Keaton faces as an insurance investigator who sometimes gets to play for detective. The heartwarming stories also really succeed in what they set out to do due to very good characterization, and playful storytelling that toys nicely with all sorts of twists.
The beauty of Master Keaton is that every single story is just one episode long, and yet every episode is interesting and delivers. I did not see one weak moment, and a lot of the people that Keaton meets feel very much like real people. My one criticism is that there are too many “generic thugs” tropes walking around in this series, although it does subvert a few of those when you don’t expect it.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Intelligent, well paced, especially considering how this show consistently is able to tell interesting stories that are just 20 minutes long.|
|Characters:||8/10 – Keaton is very well acted and portrayed as a genius, the people he meets feel real, although the set-up leaves little room for actual character-development.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – The animation is nothing special, although the character designs are very good and the soundtrack is nice as well.|
|Setting:||10/10 – Very well researched and very authentic. Top-notch in how it describes various European cities, and all sorts of fields.|