Master Keaton (vols. 3-4) by Naoki Urasawa, story by Hokusei Katsushika and Takashi Nagasaki, translated and adapted by John Werry
Well, I’ve done it now – binge-read two volumes of my latest favorite manga obsession. I really was trying to space out the fabulous adventures of Taichi Hiraga Keaton, our British/Japanese hapa professor/insurance investigator (ha! of course, he’s so much more than that!), but once begun … well … just like there’s no stopping the good man, readers will be hard-pressed to close any of the volumes until the final frame.
Alas, we now must wait – Stateside, anyway – until the end of the year for our next fix, egads! [Patience is so overrated!]
For those of you discovering the series for the first time here, please do stop already and find volumes 1 and 2. Yes, each installment is a compilation of Keaton’s many exciting exploits, but you really need to read them in order to get the full backstory on our ever-surprising hero – his past, his relationships, his hopes, his mess-ups even!
Volume 3 opens in Scotland with a bunny Keaton can’t refuse – his first case here has to do with Saint Francis of Assisi and his alleged Wall of Joy. He next travels to Wales to find an ex-pat Japanese executive who’s been kidnapped, and helps a war veteran reunite with his true love. He stops a bombing in London, solves murders in Spain, learns the gift of wasting time with his family in Japan, returns to Britain to deal with ancient history better left alone, and experiences a transformative snowball fight on the holiday-decorated streets of Frankfurt.
He’s still in Germany when volume 4 begins – where he gets embroiled in a multi-murder case chasing gypsies and their unfinished business connected to the heinous events of the Holocaust (what a history lesson interwoven there!). Back in London, he thankfully witnesses the kindness of strangers, and goes home to his daughter to learn that she’s quite a rebel for justice, too. He reunites a mother and child in Germany, survives an Italian avalanche, and exonerates a former criminal in England. His father appears in the last two segments, and the two fall prey to ironic (oh, so fittingly funny!) assumptions about hapas by book’s end.
For now, that’s all there is, folks … until mid-December, anyway. Seeing as the gift-giving season will be upon us soon enough, you might want to consider adding Master Keaton to your holiday lists – both to get and, even better, to give!
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 1989 (Japan), 2015 (United States)
Master Keaton © Naoki Urasawa/Studio Nuts, Hokusei Katsushika, Takashi Nagasaki
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan