Posted by psgels on 2 January 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

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.

Suggestions:
Mushishi
Mouryou no Hako
Darker than Black

19 Responses

  1. Juno says:

    Yup. You are going to love Urusawa-sensei. This is exactly what he’s good at. I might say, though, that it is only overseas that this series isn’t as well-known as his other series–likely because of publishing and distributing on the part of the ones marketing/advertising the series.
    When I was in Japan, I heard about as much of this as I did of 20th-Century Boys and I heard even less of Monster and Pluto (I didn’t read them until I got back to America). I only wish I could give you a reason that it wasn’t marketed well here… It’s just as good as his other series. Probably not enough “action” for this side of the world, though… that’s just my assumption. =P

  2. joojoobees says:

    I’m glad you reminded me of this series. I am one of the first to complain about there not being enough adults playing real roles in anime, and how great it is when we get to see people doing the work of professions (other than cop, spy, and giant robot pilot). So why haven’t I finished this series? I started it some time in the past, and experienced some sort of computer disaster (I don’t even remember which one any more). One thing led to another, and I forgot all about this show. Definitely something to go on my “things to do in 2012″ list!

  3. CJ says:

    Glad you like Master Keaton! The OVA is basically more of the same, of course when it’s this good is that really a problem? I know it says “OVA”, but it seems more like a “Back by popular demand, here are more Keaton eps!”
    Sadly for me, the manga will likely never come over here due to some legal disputes between Urasawa and Katsushika, I’m just happy I got the anime for cheap before disc 5 became like, $50+ to obtain. Geneon didn’t even distinguish between the TV and OVA, there really isn’t any point in doing so. But being a big manga person, this is kinda a letdown for me, you just know 18 volumes resulted in more than 38 stories.

  4. Keira says:

    Yes, the point is, Naoki Urosawa is an expert in building very realistic characters and doing insane amount of background research. You would sure to love it, it’s visible in his other work as well.

  5. gan says:

    I was thinking of looking up to Master Keaton now that I have finished 20th Century Boys,this review was quite helpful ^_^
    If you’re seeing Monster next,I have to keep my fingers crossed about your review.Monster is excellent without doubt,but one flaw which I found about Urasawa’s works is that they drag out really long.I realized this after I read 20th C.B. The thriller/suspense is excellent at first but then you get used to it.However it is still very well done.
    Since Master Keaton is an episodic series,I feel each story still remains fresh.
    Well let’s wait for your other review ;)

  6. Chiarissimo says:

    You should know : Naoki Urasawa has only done the art for the Master Keaton manga, and contributed very little to the storyline, despite what he may have said (I don’t see why he would have shut up about him being the scenarist of his manga…)

    The big problem with Naoki Urasawa is that he is way too politically correct, this can be seen in his Pluto manga, in which he completely misses the point about what Osamu Tezuka really intended to do with his work, and his Billy Bat series, which is most probably the blandest and most odourless thing he has created.

    His 20th Century Boys manga is amazing in its first 12 volumes or so, and then it turns into an utter mess. He gets lost in his own tracks and hints, he pulls bullshit after bullshit plot developments out of his ass and it concludes in the most mundane and corny way imaginable.

    Really his only real consistently good work is Monster, which has to be one of the best anime and manga out there. A lot people also complained about the ending, which I thought was satisfying enough and its lack of impact is more than justified by the sober nature of the series.

    Anyways, just so you know. There’s some seriously overrated crap in the manganime industry, such as the Gundam franchise and Naoki Urasawa.

    • gurdlo says:

      T thought 20th Century Boys was fantastic, but it did have some rather ridiculous plot-twists. As for Pluto, he missed the point of Tezuka’s work, but that shouldn’t matter at all to someone who hasn’t read it, forgoing it’s ties to it’s source material, it’s stil a solid read.

  7. ojisan says:

    I actually came at Master Keaton from the other end – as a fan of Yawara. Yawara has a lot of charm and a lot of repetitious tournament-style tropes. You can see him get the hang of the ‘professionalism’ thing, write himself into and out of corners, and learn his chops. Chiarissimo may be right about how much (or little) he contributed to Master Keaton, yet I see a lot of Yawara in Master Keaton beside the odd character designs, so I think there’s a lot of Urasawa in there too.

    I still consider Master Keaton to be a guilty pleasure – it’s wonderful, but a bit too squeaky-clean somehow. I like it best when, as in Monster, he shows how political history shapes personal destiny.

  8. someloser says:

    great! from the sound of it, you’re really going to enjoy monster if you find yourself pleased with this already. sad thing is it seems monster is the only series that is out in anime form, while pluto and 20th century can only be read. (though there is a live action of 20th i think…) good news though is that monster follows exactly with the original manga, almost image by image, so almost nothing is altered, totally worth the 74 episodes.

  9. Guigas says:

    I watched/read all Urasawa works and i still think Monster is the best of them all followed by 20th CB. Yup, Urasawa is a genius, my favorite mangaka right now, and considering I already read tons of mangas, that means something.

    “These past 24 episodes told me enough: whoever wrote this did a ton of background research”
    No doubts you’ll love Monster. It is highly realistic and detailed, with even more background research than Master Keaton. You can see the building of the towns matching reality, the distinct culinary of each region of Germany, etc.

    • Chiarissimo says:

      And every Turkish man with the same face and mustache… :P

      • Guigas says:

        Hahaha, that’s also true :D

        In fact the character design of all Urasawa works are too much alike.
        Dr. Tenma(Monster) has the same appearance of Mr. Keaton (Master Keaton), and Epsilon (Pluto) has the same appearance of Johan (Monster). I guess Urasawa is lazy when it comes about thinking about new character desings :P

    • Animeguilol says:

      “with even more background research than Master Keaton.”
      You should read the manga of Keaton before saying that.

  10. K.K. says:

    Monster was fantastic, I can’t wait to see your review of it. It’s too bad that it was so long though, since it puts off a lot of people from watching it, but I still try to recommend it to any anime fan that will listen.

  11. zewho says:

    Chiarissimo, you may think Naoki Urasawa is overrated, but when I think of how great his villains are, from my perspective, I can’t help but disagree with you.

    Johan is my favorite even though he is inspired by one of Osamu Tezuka’s characters from “MW” or so I’ve been told. It is figuring out what Johan’s true mentality, feelings, consideration, and perception of others might be that he hides so well that makes this show such a great mental challenge to think about.

    The mood, suspense, and atmosphere in “Monster” is so thick you can cut it with a knife. (I kind of think of it as an Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allen Poe, or almost an “Adams Family” kind of morbidity that’s lurking in it). So, if dark or depressing isn’t desired by the viewer, avoid “Monster” because at points I thought it was even more depressing than a majority of anime I’ve seen, including “Bokura no.”

    “Monster” is not really to be taken as lightly as “Master Keaton” just as a forewarning, Psgels. Seriously, it should come with a warning sign that says “WARNING this show is a whopping 74 episode slithering beast.” Wait, nevermind, the very first episode does start off with a very creepy passage. I feel this is what makes Naoki Urasawa almost like a mad genius to so many people. There’s a parody fan art that I could post that would sum everything up very nicely. It’s the one where Johan has sprouted Kyuubey’s ears.

  12. Chiarissimo says:

    Go reread what I’ve said.
    Monster is indeed great, and I agree with everything you just said about it and then some; I’m talking about the rest of what he’s done, which is really pretentious in terms of its real quality compared to its ambition and self-sufficiency. I’m not afraid to say that the last 10 volumes of 20th Century Boys (and all of 21st) is a steaming pile of shit; I wouldn’t go as far with Pluto and Billy Bat because they don’t deserve to be called that, considering how inexistant they are.

    • zewho says:

      I definitely read what you said. I’ve read a lot of what critics have said, too, and they can make some very good points. But pardon me if I’m being way too hopeful. I simply want there to be a 95+/100 score on this site, and I seriously believe “Monster” could be it. I’m not 100% positive that it will reach that score, but I’m fairly positive. I will simply shut up and wait and see. I don’t really care if you think “20th Century Boys” deserves a 10/100 score, either.

      As for whether that manga is a masterpiece worthy of being toted as the number one manga of all time I don’t know. I believe you and others have the right to be very skeptical of that claim. I still feel, however, that Urasawa is not overrated in many aspects i.e., his villains are really awesome.

      As for the whole politically correct issue, I wish I could comment on that criticism, but I’m not sure I can yet. I suspect that such a thing may not bother me very much in the same way Tenma’s pacifism did not bother me. I could be wrong, who knows? I’m definitely not not a sharp professional critic here.

    • Guigas says:

      @ Chiarissimo

      I only agree that the ending of 20th CB (last volume) and all of 21st are disappointing. I wouldn’t go as far as you did and say that the last 10 volumes are bullshit… but hey, everybody has it’s own opinion, I guess you have your reasons for thinking like that and I respect that.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 09:06 AM)
    @SuoerMario: oh you’re Aussie man? Cool. One of my booth girls is from Sydney, and has just moved to SF about a year ago. She said it was a fairly easy process- well, at least in contrast to getting here from the midddle east. So many people out at these events have thrown everything into the wind and taken the plunge, it’s nearly mad. One guy wanted to hitchhike back to Hague in Netherlands. Not sure if he was aware of the Atlantic ocean.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 09:01 AM)
    I’ve seen most of the good acts on the roaster, but would like to catch Robyn, Eagles of Death Metal, The London Souls and Cold War Kids. Other things like Kanye and Deathcap for Cutie put me off tho. I also like to camp at my festivals, that’s a big part of the fun, and the wild tribal community that forms within the campgrounds.
  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 08:56 AM)
    @K-off: yeah I’ve heard good things about TGB. This year’s line-up ain’t bad and pretty eclectic, which I do enjoy, bit it’s also in just a few days, sold out, and all the way in NYC- unlike you I don’t hop coasts as much.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 05:23 AM)
    Qualidea Code is a collaboration of 3 authors. I look forward to Qualidea Code because it has Watari Wataru involved. He wrote Oregairu, and it was very well written. I’m not entirely sure how much influence Watari will have, but he gives this show some potential. The other 2 Authors involved don’t particularly seem to be anything special, but who knows.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 03:34 AM)
    Ah the moment only Prisma Illya Drei, 91Days and Berserk catch my attention. Everything else is pretty Meh.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jun 1. 2016 03:32 AM)
    @K-Off, That’s rather disappointing. Playing it now and they really do paint it black and white. Nohr are assholes, Hoshido are super amazing fun people. It’s all rather shallow.
    Considering what my friend told of Zestia it doesn’t give me much hope for the plot and I am not keen on Tales games to begin with.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, May 31. 2016 10:41 PM)
    You mean you don’t look forward to ufotable’s Zestiria X? It’s obviously going to be as good as the game…
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, May 31. 2016 10:29 PM)
    @Aidan There were only 2-3 original locations for each, the rest are shared by both games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 31. 2016 06:02 PM)
    I am beginning to do a write up of next season’s preview and currently doing the research. So far next season isn’t looking good with not many interesting titles.
    When I get something decent made up I will send it out to all you guys to make comments or add your two cents.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 31. 2016 05:41 PM)
    Hmm..I would have thought the missions would be different at least.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Flying witch 08c

Flying witch – 08

Watching Flying witch really feel like listening to a classical music, where the long running time flies by and we actually feel it more than try to understand it. This week we continue what was left off last week, with Makoto, Chinatsu, Kei meeting the owners of the café shop and their regular customers. This […]

Mayoiga 09c

Mayoiga – 09

Now the trick to enjoy Mayoiga is to expect the unexpected. Anything could happen, and probably will. The series has successfully tweaked our noses weeks after weeks, then if Mayoiga stops being ridiculous and becomes conventional, I would be very disappointed. The fun is again on par this week and we have one of the […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 09 2

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 09

This week I happened to see the result of delaying the release of Re:Zero on a certain message board. It was pure pandemonium as there were those too lazy to google demanding the next episode, trolls trying to convince people the episode was delayed to next week with fake screenshots of twitter posts, haters and […]

Kiznaiver - 08 1

Kiznaiver – 08

In my last post I assumed that this episode would be about Tenga as the episodes title seems to suggest but it turned out to be more an episode about Agata than anything else. It basically confirmed my previous assumptions about Agata and Noriko being involved with the previous Kiznaiver project when they were children […]

Bungou Stray Dogs 08a

Bungou Stray Dogs – 08

I have to say more than anything this is Bungou Stray Dogs’ special episode, in a sense that in one hand, the show produces one of its most brilliance ever, but on the other hand, there are still many shortcomings along with the greatness, producing an episode that mostly entertainment but uneven. The introduction of […]

Joker Game - 08 1

Joker Game – 08

Well Joker Game managed to pull a twist I didn’t see coming and what makes it rather amusing is that it did it unintentionally. For you see it took the entire episode for me to figure out that I wasn’t watching the antics of another spy of the D-agency only to figure out that this […]

Flying witch 07b

Flying witch – 07

One of the thing that Flying witch always does it right is how it establish the chemistry between any characters, while at the same time maintain the consistency in their personalities. It feels like if you give them any random characters in any random situation, pretty much the show can hit it off. Last week […]

Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu - 08 1

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 08

I feel bad for the artists and animators who made the opening and ending for this show as they don’t seem to be getting much use. Not that I am complaining of course as if the choice is between a catchy theme song and more content then content wins every time. Though it is a […]

Kiznaiver - 07 4

Kiznaiver – 07

To some this may be the strongest episode of Kiznaiver to date. However to someone like myself I find myself mixed on what I just witnessed. I have said before that what I like about this series are the aspects which are distinctly Trigger which would be it’s sense of wacky humor and character chemistry. […]

Latest Reviews

romance of 3 kingdoms

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 4: Chinese Traditional Animated shows

Welcome to the last part of our Chinese animated guide. This part will cover Chinese traditional art style, for me personally this is the most enjoyable group. The first thing you might notice in these shows are they were in different format ratio, lean more towards the Academy ratio format. I always find their traditional art […]

20160513001913_1

Lucid9: Inciting Incident Video Game Review – 85/100

It’s not often I pick a game up without prior knowledge. I abhor the act of pre-ordering and at least do a google search on the title to get a general idea of it’s overall quality. Gone are the day you walk into a game store and buy something purely on a whim or the […]

The Totem Warrior

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 3: Haoliners inputs

This part we explore one Chinese animation studio’s works. I choose Haoliners partly because they are independent studio, and their works are not hard to find. Just established in 2013, Haoliners is an indie studio but gathered more reputation in the last few years in their homeland. My experience with them through those titles below […]

Cover

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress OST Review

This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime […]

Nüwa’s Growth Diary

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 2: Chinese Anime shows

As much as I hated the term Chinese Anime (Anime stands for Japanese animation, strictly speaking), this is the exact term for those shows. Their influence from the Anime was so heavy that apart from the voice cast and some scene settings, you can’t tell those apart from the original anime. With that said, judge from […]

If anyone have been followed animation closely for the last few years, they will notice a recent rise of Chinese animation (call it a wave if you like), both in feature and in series. While it does not have much of an impact in any English speaking world like anime has been, they are really popular in their mainland and some parts of Asian countries. With the success of Kung Fu Panda (half-produced by China) and its power on movies industry (China IS the main market for feature films now), it is worth it to take a look on this current trend and see how they are different from anime.
While my fellow bloggers are the ones who more specialize in Games and Manga, I will be the one who cover World Animation (by that I mean anything animated other than anime and American big studio animation – they got way too much coverage already). Like majority of you guys I am not from China, my Chinese is as good as my Japanese (which is to say NONE), so this is actually goddamn difficult to look for titles, and the information I could find are sacred here on top of that find a suitable sub for it, most of them does not even have an English name, thus the title and the synopsis that I give you here are just a rough translation. So behold. This is our very first attempt to cover the animation of china.

Chinese Animation Guide – Part 1: Computer Animated Wuxia shows

If anyone have been followed animation closely for the last few years, they will notice a recent rise of Chinese animation (call it a wave if you like), both in feature and in series. While it does not have much of an impact in any English speaking world like anime has been, they are really popular […]

asagao to kase-san

K-Off’s Ongoing Manga Recommendations (embedded links)

If you frequent the frontpage of Imgur or r/manga often, you may have seen some of my past manga recommendation lists before, but here’s some ongoing manga that I’ll recommend for now. This is in no particular order of best-worst, I’ve also embedded the links to the scanlations into the images for your convenience. 1. […]

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

New Manga Spotlight – Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne, Shoujo Fujuubun and Shimanami Tasogare

Konya wa Tsuki ga Kirei Desu ga, Toriaezu Shi ne Two chapters so far. Ah love, that sweet nectar which all seek to experience. And truly there is nothing more romantic than gathering up your courage, inviting the girl you love up to the roof, taking her by the shoulders and proclaiming with all your […]

kQtrlYU

Langrisser Re:Incarnation Tensei video game review- 35/100 (avoid it like the plague)

To preface, I’d call this the poor man’s Fire Emblem if it wasn’t so damn expensive for its quality, not to mention so difficult to find. Here in New York City outside of lower Manhattan, there’s game stores in Brooklyn, Queens, Flatiron, and Newport, to a total count of 12 game stores in a 20 […]