Mania Grade: B+
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- 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: 115
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Master Keaton
Master Keaton Vol. #8
By Chris Beveridge
July 23, 2004
Release Date: August 10, 2004
Master Keaton Vol. #8
What They Say
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Keaton's intellectual curiosity helps him to locate an elusive insurance beneficiary, but then distracts him from making a job interview at Tozai University. Natural tendencies may occasionally be troublesome, but Keaton will need every instinct and trained skill to survive his next case when two knife murders in London appear to link the SAS to a drug ring!The Review!
Bringing the series to a close, the tales move closer to home for Keaton and while they're not the best of the series, they're definitely the same quality material that's been coming out before.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:
Originally airing way 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 continues to be less with each volume.Packaging:
The cover changed a bit with this release now that the Geneon logo is on it, and we get a small black band across the top that lists both names and the DVD logo. The artwork used this time around provides another of the standard Keaton headshots set against the image of some gravestones visible at night. 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 image of Keaton 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:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the final four episodes, Master Keaton's OVA portion of the series comes to a close and does so by giving us some interesting tales, one of them spanning two episodes. Giving the secondary cast members a chance to show up one last time, even somewhat briefly, there's no real sense of closure here in terms of Keaton's life but we do get a certain level of understanding of him and the why behind it.
The two opening tales are both well done but not quite what you'd hope for this close to the end of the series. The first tale has Keaton's partner Daniel falling in love with a very beautiful woman and she reciprocating the feelings. Keaton ends up feeling like a third wheel at these meetings but is also frustrated with the lack of leads on an illegitimate son he's trying to find for someone of sizeable wealth who died recently. Though the plotlines intersect at obvious places, it's the drama behind those pieces that are the most engaging. Daniel ends up getting more screen time here than anytime since he was introduced and his background given I think and it's helped lighten his character up a bit more. His lady love also brings a fair amount of emotion to the screen but you wonder right from the start what she's up to since she's with Daniel. Of course, that's just playing to stereotypes but when it comes to scripted shows, how can you not think that?
Keaton's father and daughter make their final appearances in their own episode, though the fun and charming daughter only gets a few minutes and that's mostly spent berating her father about how he has to keep an interview that her mother set up for him with a university professor. Keaton's in something of a slump while back in Japan and is unsure of where he really wants to go with his life but it's presented more in his mood than words. His father ends up being a real source of trouble for him though when he finds that he's not only got one young girl this time but two. So after helping finance his latest mistresses, he finds that his father is actually into something deeper as some Chinese thugs try to rough him up and threaten him, thugs with big gang ties going by their tattoos. This is actually one of the weaker episodes we've seen in the series but it plays out his father's adherence to duty to those who help you, something that plays into the finale.
The finale, spread over the last two episodes, brings Keaton back into play with the Professor. Named James Wolf, he gained that title when in the SAS after retiring from field service and working as an instructor there. The title apparently is quite difficult to gain and is the one that carries the most weight in SAS terms as being the person who simply cannot be surpassed. As it turns out, Keaton not only trained under Wolf but was also a catalyst that caused Wolf to be discharged from the SAS, a process that led him into the darker world of the drug business in Afghanistan. The twists his life has taken since then comes to a head when the show picks up and we see him dealing with the repercussions of working not only with some of the upper society scum of the world but also down to helping out a prostitute which sets the local mafia against him. Toss in some Corsicans and it's fun for everyone as Keaton gets called in to hunt him down.
Being able to see a real high level former SAS member at work and playing up against the current best hunter the SAS has is a lot of fun, as they do all that usual little things like leaving signs for each other, avoiding infrared sensors and so forth. It's got some amusing high fun-level camp spy stuff but it's kept fairly serious and done realistically. Mixed in with both men's past and the prostitute that gets involved and it's a very well paced and solid ending to the series. The dialogue between Wolf and Keaton places things entirely into perspective on Keaton and why even though he'll continue to grow and change, he'll always be a Master.In Summary:
Master Keaton has been one of the best series I've seen within the last two years that is so completely unlike most other shows. While the anime industry in general continues to play around with the cute and hyper or the young, Master Keaton is filled with stories and dramas set for those of us who want something meatier to deal with, something with emotion, conflict and resolutions. While Keaton may seem a bit superhuman at times, the bulk of the show is solidly based in reality and that only serves to make it more interesting. Keaton's worldly travels, extensive knowledge and wealth of interesting characters makes it a series that can change on a dime and be just as exciting as ever. Naoki Urasawa has quickly risen as one of my more highly sought after authors after seeing this series based on the manga. Hopefully the manga will come over and hopefully someone will pick up the next Urasawa anime series quickly. Master Keaton is a great show that I will always recommend to people.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.