Master KeatonTitle: Master Keaton Vol. 8
Author: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: VIZ Media
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 320
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: September 20, 2016

The Story & Their Characters

This is the eighth volume of Naoki Urasawa’s episodic manga about Taichi Keaton, an insurance investigator who dabbles in archaeology. As with my past reviews, I will highlight some of the stories found in the eighth volume as not to spoil the entirety of the book.

It’s odd that the first chapter of a manga ends up being my favorite, but in this case, it was. Perhaps I’m a sucker for Japanese (or even Chinese) cuisine, but “Special Menu” was a classic tale of a chef set in his ways. He couldn’t see his pupil, Ruddy, being better than him and then when he tried to cook a dish on November 12, he was fired since he was seen as unprepared to cook. It was up to Keaton to get Ruddy his job back. While this really didn’t deal with insurance fraud, or a crime for that matter, Keaton still had to do some detective work. Come to find out, it was Sun-Yat-Sen’s birthday on November 12 and Ruddy’s mentor (who they didn’t give a name in this chapter, but is also Song Li’s father) always prepared a special dish, deep fried pork. After learning of Sun-Yat-Sen’s connection with Song Li’s father, they taught Ruddy to make a few of Sun-Yat-Sen’s dishes. They impress Song Li’s father so much that he took Ruddy back on as an apprentice. I could see the ending to this story coming from a mile away, but it didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I love stories about food like this and it was my favorite chapter in this entire volume.

Chapter 5, “Cheers to Catalonia,” was another great chapter, accented by the fact that it also started out with the color pages that Master Keaton does so well! The color pages in this series are rather unique and have their own art style to them. They’re vivid and look like more like colored drawings more than anything. I know that’s a weird thing to say since all manga is hand drawn, but today’s color pages tend to look more computer enhanced than these, if you get where I’m coming from.

In Chapter 5, Keaton catches up with an old friend, Captain William Curtis, who went by the nickname of The Boulder. Curtis could disarm any bomb no matter what the circumstance without fear or hesitation. He gave inspiring lectures about bomb deactivation, but when his partner Larkin was killed, he began to suffer from anxiety and stress. He admitted that he hid his nerves and it built up over time, which lead to Larkin replacing him, but there was an accident during a bomb disarming and Larking died. Curtis blamed himself ever since. With the start of the Olympics being just five minutes away, Keaton recognized a bomber by the name of McPhee fleeing from a parking garage. A bomb was planted to coincide with the start of the Olympics and it was up to Curtis to disarm it, but he couldn’t. However, after much reflection, Curtis returned to save the day and redeem himself. It was a pleasant story about overcoming your fears and moving on from the past. It’s a lesson that could serve anyone well throughout life.

The final Chapter of Master Keaton, “Shoes and Violin” closed out the volume on a pretty high note. An old man was playing violin on the street when he was suckered by a young kid selling newspapers. The kid made off with his violin and a young girl named Vicki stopped him and got the violin back. She warned the man that the streets of London were dangerous and he treated her to Fish and Chips as a reciprocation of gratitude. He noticed that she wore Hermes J shoes, but they aren’t made anymore because the company who made them deemed them too expensive to turn a profit on. A gangster named Marvin has been looking to make Vicki his and even had a crooked cop trailing her. Keaton gets involved and stops the cop, but it’s too late as Marvin has kidnapped Vicki. They track them down and Keaton saves the day, but the old man disappears. One day, Vicki gets a gift from the old man and it’s a new pair of Hermes J shoes. Vicki saves up her money and buys a new violin, but cannot track the old man anywhere. The old man ended up being President Fraser of Hermes Shoes and it was his interaction with Vicki which lead to the decision to start making the shoes once again, despite their small profit.

Final Thoughts

It was a feel good story that reminded me a lot of the TV show Undercover Boss and a great way to close out another great volume! While those were just the highlights, every story was well-done, especially the two-part story “Crimson Wind” and “Scarlet Sadness” which had a bit of a dark flavor to it, which shows how versatile the stories can be from chapter to chapter in this series.

Master Keaton continues to impress volume after volume and the stories seem to be getting deeper and more character driven. A lot of the stories in this volume leaned more on character settings than world culture, but it was a nice break and great direction for the series to head in. The world culture was still present as highlighted in Chapter 1, but the individualism of the stories continues to develop and it’s making a great read even better!

Fans of this series shouldn’t’ be disappointed and Volume 8 of Master Keaton has been the best volume I’ve read in this series thus far! I can’t wait for Volume 9!

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**This item was provided for review by VIZ Media

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.