I enjoyed the first volume of Master Keaton. While the manga wasn’t anything like I was expecting it to be, I still found the collection of short stories to be genuinely engaging to read from beginning to end.
With the second volume coming out now, can Master Keaton continue to bring the . Is it good?
Master Keaton Vol. 2 (Viz Media)
Art By: Naoki Urasawa
Translated By: John Werry
Like the previous volume, this is another collection of short one-chapter tales that involve Taichi-Hiraga Keaton, our trusty insurance investigator and archaeology adept main character. We see him involved in a couple of more investigations, running into some old friends, and even getting caught up in some crime fighting. There’s are two exceptions in the book; one where we focus on Keaton’s father and another tale that is a two parter, but that’s it. Basically, there’s no big, overarching storyline going on here and it’s all about the adventures and shenanigans that Keaton gets wrapped up in.
Overall this volume was better than the last. The two major reasons: the pacing is much better and the stories weren’t as overloaded. What I mean by this is that writers didn’t try to do too much in each chapter and instead made them tight, focused and non-convoluted (like Keaton helping a man get away from the mafia after he stolen money from them) or simpler, heartfelt tales like Keaton befriending a young girl who is being held against her will by her spiteful grandmother. The most complicated story, one about a serial killer, is actually told in two chapters so there’s much more room for it to develop. None of the tales feel all that rushed and allow for some good drama and emotion, instead of being bogged down in exposition or having corners cut (a few stories unfortunately have abrupt endings, but not all).
Ha! Made you look!
Keaton is in the majority of the chapters and the writers continue to do a great job fleshing him out and adding to his backstory. The entire chapter with Keaton lecturing at a college and learning more about his friendship with his old professor is really fantastic stuff, granting much better understanding at how he became the person he is now. Besides Keaton, only his dad and daughter appear in the volume and only for one chapter each. There’s not much new with Yuriko, but Taihei’s chapter where he searches for the dog is great development for him; it paints him a pretty good light as he tries to figure out the bigger story behind the dog and tries to help the woman in another way. I really hope to see more from him and other characters in the future.
The artwork by Naoki Urasawa continues to look absolutely wonderful. The characters all look very distinct from one another, right down to their race (Japanese people look Japanese, Germans look German, etc.), and they’re all very expressive and emotive. The layouts are put together well, the attention to detail and locations shown in the book are abundant, and the coloring is quite lovely on top of it all. There’s only one tiny nitpick to be found and that’s the fact that one chapter has a recycled background. Seriously, every chair, every bottle, even the bartender is exactly the same in these two panels with the only difference being the person at the bar. I get what the writer and artist were going for, but it feels just a bit lazy to me personally.
Is It Good?
Master Keaton Vol. 2 is a very nice step up from the last volume, improving on a bunch of problems that the first had and really finding its groove. The stories are very enjoyable and well-written, the characters are strong, and the artwork looks great. This is definitely the kind of manga I would recommend to anyone looking for a more mature read, even to non-manga fans.
Master Keaton is available from Viz Media, with the third volume of the series coming out on June 16, 2015. The original series ended back in the early ’90s, but a new series written and drawn by Naoki Urasawa himself (since the author sadly passed away) is currently going on in Japan and has also been licensed by Viz. There was an anime adaption of the series that was licensed by Geneon, but the company is out of business and the DVDs are considered out of print as well.