Master Keaton Vol. #2 (of 8) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, August 24, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2003
What They Say
His job is Danger, his office is the World! Trouble always finds Taichi Keaton, but even the most violent cases are overpowered by his razor sharp ntellect! Keaton begins his adventures at an archeological dig in England where and old friend uses the techniques her mother used to fight Nazis in WWII to save an ancient burial site. Next, Keaton returns home to Japan for a quiet vacation with his daughter, but his father arrives along with a heat wave! Then it’s back to Europe to tackle kidnappers in England, old ladies on German trains and a murder case involving the famous detective, Charlie Chapman. From secret treasures to hidden killers, you can’t lose with Master Keaton!
After the first five engaging standalone episodes of Master Keaton, the second volume has the challenge of continuing to provide more of that feel that will get me to be interested in the remainder.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. Though a fairly recent show, the stereo mix here is pretty simple with little in the way of depth or directionality. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout it and we had no issues with distortions or dropouts.
Though it originally aired back in 1999, this show has a much older feel to it with its look and style, giving first impression of it being at least a decade older. There’s a good side and a bad side to this. The good side is that it really serves the shows distinctive style well, giving it that world weary feel yet at the same time showcasing it nicely. The downside is that there is a lot aliasing going on here, though thankfully it’s much less this time around than with the first volume. One other oddity we had, specifically with our Panasonic RP-82 player, is that the time remaining part of the disc was unusable, providing only a PLAY message on the deck. The Toshiba TV/DVD combo did allow access to the time remaining though. I think this has happened with one other Pioneer disc lately, something I continue to not like.
Going again with the strong headshot look, this cover looks really nice with its character layout and the green imagery in the background. The logo itself is rather sizeable, probably a bit more than it needs to be. The back cover provides a short series premise and then lists the five episodes on the disc by title and episode number while giving a one or two line rundown of the story. The discs features and production information is clearly listed, though a bit small in font. The insert provides another large headshot of Keaton while taking the style of the back cover and providing shots from each episode and their respective chapter listings.
My favorite menu designers are back again here, with Nightjar providing a great subtle menu that has the front cover headshot with a world map behind him to the mixed colors and waving British flag all while playing a few moments worth of some of the instrumental music from the show. The menus are nicely laid out with excellent access times and very fast loading menus.
The only extras included are a textless version of the opening and ending sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the first volume having surprised us since we had little expectations or foreknowledge going into it, our interest in the remainder of the series went up pretty sharply afterwards with the thought that if the second volume can pull of pretty much the same material since the series looks to focus on its standalone nature, we’d be pretty set for the entire run.
We’re excited about the rest of the run.
The five episodes here run pretty much in a similar style to the first volume. Each episode contains its own storyline and runs through it from various starting points and concludes when Keaton’s involvement in it ends. There’s also one episode that focuses on the family and personal side of Keaton which does a good job of continuing to build up that aspect of his life, keeping it from being purely about the work.
Keaton runs across a fair number of old acquaintances in this volume. The opening episode has him at Guinevere’s Tomb in England where a former college classmate is trying to unearth the ruins after people have been kept out of it since about forever. While it’s said to be the resting place of Queen Guinevere, she’s convinced that it’s one of many places that was built much farther back by a people who believed in the White Goddess, a race of people who no longer exists but walked and seeded much of Europe in the far past. With her being so involved in it, Keaton becomes tied to the situation in a more personal way but still serving his jobs needs.
Another episode that brings the past up to the present is the last episode, entitled “Charlie.” Charlie Chapman is one of those ace detectives who won’t rest until he’s as famous as the old gumshoes of fiction are and his skills are definitely up to it. We see him handle a standoff at the beginning of the episode that shows his cool side and the way he manages tense situations. Naturally, Keaton was there as well and the two have a friendly reunion.
Their past was anything but that at first, as we see through the flashback. Charlie and his friends as youngsters were insistent on playing anywhere they wanted, which included an area of ancient ruins that Keaton wanted to be left alone. Using the kind of dare that only kids can come up with, the two take things to the limit and come out of it changed. It’s a fairly standard little adventure, but it’s one that can definitely influence people in their development. Seeing him in his adult life, especially against the life of Keaton, provides an interesting contrast and a look at both men.
My favorite episode here though is the “Negotiator’s Rule”, which has Keaton working on a kidnapping where Lloyds has a hostage insurance case to deal with as their client has actually been kidnapped. His calm and relaxed style in a tense situation plays out nicely, especially as he works with the family of the victim and helps them make the best of the situation, including going through the various tricks that allow them to put the kidnapper off balance. This is the episode that takes something of a third person view of Keaton and gives us a different take on him that plays out in a way that sets him apart from other people.
Keaton continues to be a very interesting series with an adult character who has some flaws, but is otherwise a good and decent person. This is the kind of series that really appeals to people like myself and likely older anime fans who want to take a breather from the continuing rush of teens running around in so many series these days. While the series isn’t a mindblowing trip from episode to episode or even overall, it’s a solid and enjoyable experience that I recommend highly.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Opening,Textless Ending,Hidden Feature
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Master Keaton