Geneon // 1998 // 115 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // May 20th, 2004
From the Innocuous to the Intense!
Master Keaton is one of the best dramatic anime series on the market today. The stories are not violent, although they deal with violent themes, and they are not overly sentimental, although they have a sweetness to them that makes your heart feel light. Keaton himself is an extraordinary man -- the kind of person most people want to know. He's kind, intelligent, resourceful, dependable, and courageous. It seems that no matter what situation he gets into, he can handle it.
Keaton is separated from his wife and lives in London. It seems that, although he has the skills and character to have been an SAS survival instructor, a professor, an archeologist, and a crack detective, he doesn't know women very well. However, he has a beautiful daughter, Yuriko, who loves him dearly, and he gives her the space and encouragement to be whatever she wants to be, as long as she does her best. He also endures an eccentric father, who is something of a ladies man and has retired to the family home in Japan where they all live, when Keaton isn't residing in London. Of mixed heritage (his mother is British), Keaton moves back and forth between both worlds with ease. He is a man who, despite everything he has seen in his life, still has a love for living that reflects in everything he does -- he can be hard when he needs to be, but if he can accomplish the same goal peacefully, he will.
He enjoys his freelance investigations for Lloyd's of London, and goes all over the world on missions, especially if they are particularly dangerous, tense, or sensitive. His skill, poise, and calm demeanor under pressure are invaluable to every situation he is involved in, and to the teammates he occasionally works with.
"Case 11: Special Menu"
Keaton decides to help a timid English chef win the favor of a talented, but fussy Chinese chef who is the father of the woman he loves. Needless to say, they have to pull several strings to bring this one off.
"Case 12: A Case for Ladies"
After getting a tip from an elderly woman during a murder investigation, Keaton finds she is his unlikely partner in solving a complicated mystery.
"Case 13: A Peaceful Death"
An IRA terrorist learns the value of life, and goes to Keaton for help. As Keaton was responsible for diffusing the only two bombs made by the terrorist that didn't go off, he wants Keaton to help him diffuse a complicated bomb placed in a busy London shopping mall.
"Case 14: Wall in One's Heart"
Keaton is helping a German businessman track down the wife and daughter he left in East Germany before the Berlin Wall went up. The daughter is also trying to avenge the death of her mother while they were both in a labor camp, and heal her subsequent feelings of abandonment.
"Case 15: Long Hot Day"
After a seemingly routine fraud investigation that takes Keaton into the remote mountains of Spain, a military attack dog hunts him as he tries to make his way back to civilization.
I look forward to every episode for the simple, but lovely animation, the excellent writing, and character development. Character design is also excellent -- everyone seems to have a distinct look, especially the humble and slightly stoop-shouldered Keaton. As the stories are episodic and take place in a new setting each time, there are dozens of supporting and recurring cast members that are instantly recognizable and memorable once they appear. The stories are excellent, as well -- there is quite a variety, from endearingly sweet tales involving his family, to tense thrillers with criminals, ransoms, terrorist bombings, and the like.
The strength of Master Keaton is in the humanity of the characters. These are all people I'd like to meet and know, and their individuality and compassion make me care about the stories. There's an intensity and forcefulness to Keaton that belies his gentle nature, making him a particularly compelling character. This series definitely has more appeal to adults than kids, and moves at a slower pace than most giant robot or teenage superhero anime, but that is a good thing with such strong characterization -- getting to know them is part of the appeal.
Although I like the clean, simple style of the animation, it has a similar style to older anime that might put off some viewers. It doesn't have a modern, glossy look, but I think this works better for a character-driven series like this one. Overall picture is very good, with only slight distortion and edge shimmer. The image itself is very clean and bright, as befits a 1998 release. Sound quality is also excellent, with a 2.0 surround track that is robust and clear.
There aren't many extras, but if you go to the Extras menu, arrow down to "DVD Credits" and arrow to the left, then press Enter, you'll be able to see a Hidden feature showing clean closing credits. With five episodes per DVD, I don't mind that there aren't more extras.
"Killer Conscience" is another strong entry in the Master Keaton series of DVD volumes. My favorite episode was "A Peaceful Death" -- the quiet nobility and contemplation of the terrorist gave me pause and forced me to challenge my automatic assumptions and reactions. Good stuff. I'm looking forward to Volume Four!
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (Signs Only)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Master Keaton Trailer
* Hidden Feature
* Official Site
* Review of Volume One
* Review of Volume Two