Master Keaton Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Master Keaton

Master Keaton Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     November 01, 2003
Release Date: October 14, 2003


Master Keaton Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
From the innocuous to the Intense! Keaton often applies his skills to a variety of challenges, from uncovering secret recipes to solving murder mysteries. Then again, sometimes the cases come to him with a vengeance! Whether its an IRA bomb maker and his belated conscience forcing Keaton to diffuse bombs in a crowded shopping mall or a search for a missing daughter in Germany, Keaton always depends upon his ability to think. Yet this time, his real challenge for survival comes in the mountains of Spain against a killer on four legs!

The Review!
Keaton returns with another five episodes of standalone adventures that continue to surprise and intrigue.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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 seems to be less with each 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.

Packaging:
The size of Keaton’s head isn’t as strong this time around as he’s shifted to the lower corner which allows the larger image of an IRA burial scene to take the center stage. The logo also feels like it’s a bit smaller this time around or at least not as distinct as it was before, which also helps smooth things here nicely. 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 headshot of Keaton while taking the style of the back cover and providing shots from each episode and their respective chapter listings.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With each additional volume in this series, leapfrogging along at five episodes per disc, I fall more and more in love with it. The series harkens back to the feelings I had when Black Heaven first came out and the general enthusiasm I had over having a lead character and hero that wasn’t in his teens and able to actually grow facial hair. With that and the ability to tell stories that can meander within a standalone frame and yet tell it well is rare.

For instance, having an entire episode begin around a favored Chinese restaurant of Keaton’s in England that ends up touching on the lives of various historical characters, including an important Chinese revolutionary, is very well done. The episode itself is focused on having Keaton help a young man who is trying to show that he really does understand Chinese cooking due to his time growing up in Hong Kong. The restaurant he works in where Keaton continues to visit is part of a small select group who had been taught in a particular way decades back. When the young man is fired and ends up coming across Keaton, Keaton starts formulating a way to get him back into the chef’s good graces, a way that leads down the intriguing historical path.

The mix of the real world is a selling point with me, and having it touch on a number of European issues can be illuminating in itself in seeing the perceived Japanese view of the events. One story here involves a German businessman who is in search of his long lost wife and daughter whom he had to abandon behind the Iron Curtain years back. With the help of Keaton, they find that his wife, who was pregnant at the time, which kept her from being able to cross, had died after some time in a labor camp. The trail leads them to find the daughter eventually, but as they learn more and more about her things become more distressful for the father. There are innumerable tales of families separated by the wall and this one is definitely an interesting look at one of those stories.

My favorite episode on this disc though brings us to London. After making what he thinks is his last bomb, a former IRA bomb maker heads off on a vacation so he can get away from things. His last bomb is set to go off in a week and he tells those in his cell that he doubts even he could stop it from detonating. As he relaxes in the countryside as he moves along, we see through his past to a time when he marched with the heroes funeral that his grandfather got, also a bomb maker for the IRA. To an impressionable lad of that time, his grandfathers’ death set him down the same path to try and do the same. But time and conscience has gotten the better of him over the years and he wants out.

Only twice before has Connelly and his bombs been stopped, and that was through the intervention of a surprisingly ingenious SAS officer. Of course, that turns out to be Keaton from his stint in that organization. So when Connelly sees him outside a London shopping mall, a place he realizes is where his last bomb is going to go off within the next hour, the two end up working together to try and defuse the bomb and the supplemental ones set up around it to maximize its damage. The interaction of the two men, both formers in their own way, bring about a strange sense of camaraderie as they deal with the time running out and the complexity of the bomb that’s been built. There are light moments throughout it, but it’s a thoroughly engaging episode and an interesting look at two men working together to solve a crisis under pressure.

While I continue to watch this show in Japanese when I first watch it, I’m continually impressed by the English dub as I listen to that while writing the reviews. Master Keaton makes out quite well by the dub in that since it’s got so many ethnicities throughout the episodes, there is much more layering to the performances as it moves from location to location and person to person. There’s a certain blandness to the Japanese presentation of it that is not in the English one. Master Keaton really needs a TV broadcast run as it’s perfect for that medium.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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