By: Naoki Urasawa
Story by: Hokusei Katsushika & Takashi Nagasaki
Master Keaton introduced us to Taichi Keaton, whose eclectic resume includes his ventures with former position in the British Army (SAS), Archaeology professor, and insurance investigator. In the first volume, we become aware of Keaton’s unphased mannerisms but quickly realize there is more than meets the eye to this character. Shortly after, supporting characters are introduced to the stories that show different elements of Keaton’s persona. His father, who he does love but has a strained relationship with, and his daughter - a constant reminder of his ex-wife who he thinks of fondly.
In Master Keaton volume 2, we learn early on that Keaton’s true passion lies with archaeology, and he begins to grow worried about his teaching position, which he ultimately loses, forcing him to leave Tokyo for a new job opportunity. Not completely willing to forfeit his dreams, Keaton relocates to France where he teaches an adult learning center to maintain his happiness by sharing his enthusiasm for archaeology. Unfortunately, the school ends up closing (to his and the students' dismay) and Taichi Keaton is let go, yet again forcing him to focus primarily on his role as an insurance investigator. Despite Keaton’s almost disinterest in his investigator work, throughout every single assignment he's given Keaton leaves a major impact on every single person he encounters, constantly changing lives for the better.
The stories, like volume 1, are mainly restricted to chapters which relay different messages and conclusions, successfully avoiding repetition. Some of Keaton’s adventures include a heartwarming tale that shines a light on a major influence in Keaton’s life while addressing his concerns over his future as a professor. As the story wraps up, it takes readers’ by surprise and leaves us with impactful scene that gives readers a touching conclusion. Though Keaton’s family is hardly present in volume 2, (his daughter only visits briefly) one chapter switches to the point of view of his father showing some of the similarities between father and son. Despite Keaton’s absence, the writing is strong enough to make you feel attached to his father, and hopeful that there will be additional stories catering to him. An additionally successful chapter centers on Keaton’s run-in with a former college friend who’s undergone hardships, having been beaten down by life after losing his job and is in the process of an unsettling divorce. The man witnesses Keaton’s childlike joy that radiates over life's simplicity, and begins to realize he needs that spark back. When he finally musters the courage to ask what divorce was like for him, he describes it as arduous, but says it helped him “mature” showing that regaining his youthful outlook on life is essential “growing up” proving Keaton is a professor even when he’s unaware of it.
At one point in volume 2, Keaton also comes into contact with a young girl and attempts to reunite her with the girl’s mother. We quickly learn that the 10 year old girl has witnessed the grim aspects of life, even having attempted suicide. Seeing Keaton’s attempt to bring this young girl from the brink of hopelessness may have been one of the most powerful chapters of the second and first volume, and furthermore enhanced my adoration for Keaton. The stories weren’t all concocted with joyous conclusions, with some involving Neo-Nazis cruelty and unavoidable death, but every arc further develops Keaton’s characterization while introducing cultural issues around the world. This volume improves on the introduction volume, and proves that strong character complexity is a fundamental trait to Naoki Urasawa’s series.
The art continues to exude success in consistently introducing a cast of characters, but maintaining a sense of individuality which helps you keep track of the constantly changing setting. After delving into Keaton’s character and passions, I hope to see future volumes address the underlying conflict within his fractured family, and find some sense of progress toward achieving happiness in his career. Master Keaton volume 2 victoriously claimed my attention from beginning to end, and the on goings of Keaton’s uniqueness, I can’t wait to see what Urasawa has planned for Keaton in volume 3!
Overall Grade – 8.5
Master Keaton Volume 2 is currently available for purchase in stores, and online through Viz Media. Once you establish the series is to your liking, I guarantee you won’t want to put it down.