“The master of life always lives his destiny as he chooses...”
Ex-SAS, Archeologist, part time lecturer, traveler, historian, Insurance agent; Taichi Hiragi Keaton is a Jack of all trades and a “master of life”. He is simple, intelligent, humble, and a moralistic goody-two shoes infused with the love of life and the possibilities it brings.
The show itself is an exact mirror reflection of its main character; a “Jack-of-all-trades” in that it touches a wide variety of genres and themes, from slice-of-life, romance, mystery to historical, war drama, thriller. It dips into almost everything an anime of its premise possibly can. And the result is
a flawed masterpiece packed with enough surprises to make it an easy recommend for old-school anime fans.
For people who are on a lookout for episodic shows that are relaxing and can be watched slowly over time, Master Keaton could be a good choice. But the show can appear to be a bit too bland or simplistic for some, especially anime fans who prefer currently airing or recent anime; the reason for that is that Master Keaton is an old school “realistic” seinen, a genre that is largely ignored by a majority of anime viewers, and its animation is barely decent, even for an anime of its time. The show also lacks the bombast or extravagance of recent anime, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on what kind of a viewer you are.
On a related point, some of the sensibilities the show displays are quite simple at times, such as the mostly black-and-white morality, or the importance of bonds or friendship (a favorite theme in anime), or the single dimensional personalities of some supporting characters, but these characteristics are more preference based rather than something that could be singled out as a flaw; indeed, these “sensibilities” are a part of the show’s personality and make thematic sense, despite the fact that they result in simplistic cliche's at times.
On the flip side the anime is quite intelligent, in a sense that it is set in a real world setting, though stylized to suit the anime medium, and grapples with story concepts that haven’t been seen in any anime. Despite some episodes being predictable, and a few bearing clichés, most of the stories are very engaging. In fact, there are at least a handful of stories that I can safely say are among the most unique and well written in any medium of entertainment, and the show is well worth the watch for these few episodes alone.
Its greatest strength, though, is its simple yet charming personality, and the staggering variety of stories that it tells. The writers have made excellent use of the standalone format to give some of the best variety in episodic anime/manga yet.
For instance, in one episode we see Keaton in Burgandy as an insurance agent to investigate one of the most expensive wine bottles in the world, and in the next he is escorting a fugitive through swamps while his criminal buddies attempt to rescue their leader from his clutches. Another episode sees him deep in the mountains of Spain being hunted by a highly trained K9. And in yet another episode we see him spending summer vacations in Japan with his dysfunctional family.
Any other show with such a variety would either fall from the burden of its own elephantine ambition, or succumb to acute schizophrenia. But not so Master Keaton. Its stories are never convoluted or over-ambitious, and it never forgets its identity. Diversity may be the key here, but the aesthetic values remain the same.
In the sound department, the use of music is not always perfect but it’s quite fitting. The overall OST is among the more memorable ones I have heard yet and suits the series perfectly. The dub version does a good job of making the anime feel “global”, as different characters have accents that correspond to their backgrounds, which obviously could not have been done in Japanese. But the English VA direction falters at times, and the overall delivery is not always convincing. The Japanese voice acting, by contrast, is pretty solid.
Lacking in budget, the animation is not as great as some anime from the same period, but it is very much passable. The basic art style is very similar to Monster, which is not the only solid proof of Naoki Urasawa’s involvement in the project. The anime has a strong European feel to it, as the stories take place all over the world, especially that particular part. The art style, music and writing suits this well, and helps create the right European feel, without sacrificing the anime-specific elements.
Despite the flaws, "Master Keaton" delivers something unique that you will not find anywhere in the medium. Its niche oriented content might drive away some people, but its worth checking out for fans of 90s anime and episodic shows, and anime fans who are looking for stories that are more grounded in the world we actually live in.
If variety is the spice of life then Master Keaton delivers one hell of a spicy dish. It is hard to say what genre the shows is because it is almost everything. But is variety by itself enough?
Master Keaton's greatest asset is its variety. One episode it is a mystery, the next it is an action show, and the one after that it is a slice of life. The show really does end up getting it fingers in to almost every genre there is. To go along with the different genre, the show is in a different place every episode. In the rice patties of
Japan and then in the hills of Scotland. Walking into the beginning of every episode and not knowing exactly what to expect is probably my favorite part.
Unfortunately as much as variety is the show's greatest strength it is also its greatest weakness. Any RPG player can tell you a jack of all trades is a master of none. The show ends up falling into that same problem. I wouldn't say that the show does anything down right poorly but it definitely doesn't do anything extremely well.
Mr. Keaton himself is kind of a James Bond meets MacGyver except he is really dorky. He plays the buffoon and no one ever really expects him to be good at anything until he makes his move and it is too late. Keaton has basically had every job in existence. I really like how the show handled Keaton's past. The show gives you little bits of information here and there; in almost every episode there is something new introduced about Keaton. It could be something important and explored the whole episode, or it could just end up being a few lines where one more job is added to his already long resume. Most of the other characters are only one episode characters. There are a few recurring characters, like Yuriko his daughter and Daniel O'Connell a friend of his. But even these characters only get a few episodes. I think all the characters are likable and well done for the time given to them but not a whole lot is done with any of them.
The animation is kind of interesting in that it looks older then what it is. The show came out in 1998 but I would have guess the early 90's to maybe even little earlier. I don't mean to saying the animation is poor, it just seems that art style is from a earlier era. Characters in the background tend not to be draw as well. It also has a more realistic looking than most anime but at the same time it is just cartoony enough to not look overly realistic either.
The quality varies a little episode to episode and it false to do anything particularly well. On the other hand it has great variety and I really enjoyed the lead character. Master Keaton didn't exactly WOW me but I could see someone else falling it love with it. I would probably recommend some other shows before this one to someone but I think it could end up being worth wild to check it out and see for yourself.
More people need to check this out, it’s great as an episodic show and at trying out many different genres and has a genius main, always a plus ;) Everything applies exactly the same to the OVA as well, be sure to check out one if you like the other.
This varies from episode to episode to be honest, some are solid 10s, others are lower, but there’s no real bad ones to be fair, just ones that are more interesting than others. Plot episodes vary greatly, one episode Keaton might be disarming a bomb with chocolate, surviving in the desert, or making a windmill
to bring water to local plants so he can finally have his perfect pudding. Therefore how much you’ll like the series depends almost entirely on....
Taichi Keaton is a great character, plain and simple. The only other non-episodic characters include his daughter, his business partner, and his father, none of whom get a lot of development, but that’s ok because Keaton himself is more than interesting enough. If you like watching smart characters, you will probably like this show.
Eh, it’s just not overly memorable. Naoki Urasawa’s signature character designs are well executed, but music, not bad nor good nor memorable and animation and art? So-so. It doesn’t bring the series down by much though unless you really really care about that stuff.
This is the type of show you watch for Keaton alone, if he sounds like a character who interests you, go for it without hesitation! The dub has a lot of iffy sounding accents that I don’t think quite work, not the best of dubs either, but certainly and underdog that needs more watching. Everything I’ve said applies to the OVA equally as well.
Master Keaton is a great episodic anime eager to offer something new in every episode. Due to its episodic nature, it lacks a great plotline and significant character growth. But this does not make Keaton a dull anime, because of the fact that the original creator pours his vast knowledge of European history into the work and creates something interesting in every episode.
The story feels like the creator really loved history and countries of Europe and wanted to make a story to share his knowledge. Because of that the story though not great is kind of encyclopedic. Some episodes can be easily incorporated into
the great anime Monster. Main characters of both anime wander mainly in different parts of Europe (although for different reasons).
Characters are enjoyable. Majority of them appear in one or two episodes, and although they are not impressive, all secure their distinct places. Maybe more important, the story and characters excellently merge together, which in return guarantees better enjoyment. Moreover, the viewer learns something new in every episode. That is the main reason I enjoyed this anime. Each character's life is related to some real historic events, and they brilliantly fit together. The main character, Taichi Keaton, has impressive skills. He is an archeologist and war veteran. He travels solving mysteries all around the world. He is likable but not memorable. He is dull. Many times he plays the role of catalyst in bringing characters together and relating their history/story.
Story and interesting facts are the main selling points of the anime. Animation and sound quality isn’t impressive. First of all, this is an old anime. But even in its own time there were a lot of anime with better animation than Master Keaton. Music is fine. You may not remember after finishing it, but while watching I listened opening and ending in every episode.
Overall Master Keaton is a good anime. If you are interested in the history of Europe I can guarantee enjoyment. If you are looking for high-quality animation and sound then this isn’t for you. The same applies to the OVA as well. It is the direct continuation of the TV series.