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June 22, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Master Keaton volume 2

masterkeaton2Title: Master Keaton
Author: Naoki Urasawa (original story by Hokusei Katsushika)
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 2 omnibus, $19.99
Vintage:  March 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Detective, mystery

[Volume 1 review.]

Master Keaton, Insurance Investigator. Archaeologist. Professor. Unassuming. Adorable (you can fight me on this one, but you’ll lose). He’s back, and ready to crack down on some insurance fraud! Now, that may not sound exciting, but if you’ve read my previous review, or dived into the series yourself, you know this is going to be a page turner. Up first, Keaton is charged with tracking down a stolen Olympic medal. He stumbles onto a story about two competitive friends and the way professional racing changed their lives. It’s one of his easier jobs. Life insurance fraud is next, as Keaton searches for a man once involved in a major theft from the Italian mafia. Rather than turn the man in, Keaton helps him escape, and solves a mysterious past crime in the process. While examining the strange death of a client, Keaton winds up in the middle of a medical mystery, and what could be the cause of a series of murders at the hands of one man. The story takes a personal turn as the college Keaton has been lecturing at regularly is forced to close. During his last lessons, Keaton rediscovers a passion for history and archaeology through the eagerness of his students, and the memory of a professor who kindled his own joy for learning. While on another case, Keaton is stopped by a group of bounty hunters looking to nab a crew of terrorists, one of which is supposed to be turning herself over to Keaton. The bounty hunters aren’t happy to have their job interfered with, but as usual, Keaton proves himself more than meets the eye. Another case shows a softer side to Keaton, as he must escort a young girl back to her mother. While Keaton is off spying on old soldiers, his father helps a woman track down her lost dog, and a lost love. Things get deadly when he helps a man escape a group of hunters, then charming as he chases down a famous ice cream truck with a former colleague. Finally, Keaton helps a woman escape from an abusive relationship.

Keaton always seems to be in the exact right place at the exact right time. Given his talents, it’s hard to believe it’s always a coincidence. He gravitates toward interesting looking people, and he’s extremely perceptive, so I have no doubt some of the people he “accidentally” comes across in these stories were purposefully followed. That’s just the kind of guy he is – always curious. The book moves quickly, with all but one of the stories taking up single chapters. Each of those chapters has a clear beginning and ending, and lots in between. Keaton’s personality shines through on every page, whether he’s examining something interesting, studying another person, creating ancient weapons from scratch, or daydreaming about history. He can be frightening when he gets serious, reminding readers of his past as a secret agent in the military. But he can also come across childlike, chasing an ice cream truck through London, or becoming giddy over a tiny shell on the beach. He’s quietly impressive, tossing out a seemingly random observation, or providing useful pieces of information. Few people really understand who or what he is, until they see him in action, and even then they’re not always sure. After all, he’s just an insurance investigator and part-time archaeology professor. Well, mostly insurance investigator now, since all of his teaching gigs have ended. But that means more time for pursuing his dream of real archaeology, like his controversial interest in a previously unexcavated area along the Danube River in Europe. Viz Media again does an excellent job on the book’s presentation, with a lovely cover design, and a good number of color pages inside.


Review copies provided by Viz Media.



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