Ever wondered what would happen if Bruce Wayne, Indiana Jones, and MacGuyver had a love child? I’d name him Bruce Jones MacWayne. While that does sound awesome, the closest we’ll ever get to an anime like that is Master Keaton.
Taichi Hiraga Keaton is an English/Japanese of many professions and many talents. He is a former SAS operative, an insurance investigator for Lloyds of London, a part-time college teacher, an archeologist, a private investigator/negotiator, and a devoted father to his daughter, Yuriko. Keaton hops across the globe, solving cases and running into dangerous situations. Anything can happen in an episode. Keaton could be negotiating with domestic terrorists or just tending to a garden.
Right off the bat, it should be stated that if you’re one of those people who hate the inaccuracies of movies like Indiana Jones or National Treasure, this show may not be for you. Keaton makes new discoveries of archeology and history that would make a historian’s head spin. I’ve heard several people complain about this aspect and to them I say this; IT’S FICTION! Not every show needs the Magic School Bus ending where they explain the inaccuracies.
The series’ biggest strength is undeniably the characters. Keaton is a character who is so hard to hate, it’s almost frustrating how likable he is. Despite his role as supreme jack of all trades, he is neither condescending nor pompous. He’s more likely to help someone out than kick them when they are down. He tries to find the best route that won’t result in killing someone, even in highly dangerous situations involving multiple gunmen. He’s like Batman without the utility belt.
Other side characters, such as Keaton’s father and his daughter Yuriko, serve to be more useful and interesting rather than being stock. Throughout the 39 episodes, we get to see every regular side character develop in some real way. Yuriko receives an episode where we see how much of Keaton’s skills she’s retained over the years. Keaton’s partner, Dan, who always seems like the chipper sidekick, has a rather somberly satisfying romance episode.
What I love so much about the series is the unpredictable nature of the show. One of my favorite episodes involves Keaton being chased by a wild dog in the Spanish mountains. It’s such a simple premise, but it plays out so brilliantly that it’s like a canine version of Predator. Other episodes include murder mysteries, hostage situations, bounty hunting, treasure hunting, and food hunting. Probably the most shocking of all the episodes is the two-part finale in which Keaton is forced into bringing down a drug cartel. It’s the darkest of all of his cases and becomes surprisingly violent. Though the tone is vastly different from the other episodes, it’s executed perfectly.
Final Verdict: While Master Keaton tries to be so much, it manages to hit all the right notes. It has the elements of being a drama, action, mystery, thriller, and slice-of-life. There is a little something for everyone in this show that it’s hard not to recommend it to any viewer. In fact, the only people I could see hating this series would be the historian majors who nit-pick Indiana Jones. But then again if have to nit-pick the historical inaccuracies of Indiana Jones, you’re kind of missing the point.
Editor’s note: Mark is right, Master Keaton kicks ass. Best of all, it’s partially created by the modern legend, Naoki Urasawa. He’s only responsible for the artwork this time, but it’s debated by fans that later parts of the manga is all him.
Unfortunately, Master Keaton is out of print now, and slowly becoming rare even online. A few years ago you could find the whole series on Rightstuf for less than $5.00 a disc, but its currently no longer listed. However, you can find a few volumes at Used Anime Store.
But fear not, because you can still easily find Urasawa’s other creations like Monster, Pluto, and 20th Century Boys. If you purchase any of those titles using the links provided, a percentage of the sale will go to fightbait.com.