Case Number 04535: Small Claims Court


Geneon // 1998 // 115 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // June 3rd, 2004

The Charge

His job is danger; his office is the world!

The Case

Taichi Hiraga-Keaton is an unassuming, jovial fellow who is whip-smart and calm under pressure. He is an insurance investigator with a varied background (he was once in the SAS) who has a passion for archeology. It seems there is nothing he doesn't know about, and no situation he can't handle -- they call on him when the job is particularly dangerous or sensitive. Keaton is a man who loves life and enjoys the simple beauty of the world he lives in. He can be deadly and fierce when he needs to be, but for all his steel he is equally gentle-natured and kind. He shares his life with his teenage daughter, Yoriko, who doesn't make an appearance in this set of episodes but is the grounding influence in his life even when they are apart. When he isn't with her and his rather eccentric father in Japan, he has a home in London, where he is based in an insurance investigations office with his partner David, and both represent Lloyd's of London. Of mixed heritage, the half-Japanese, half-English Keaton moves smoothly between both worlds.

Episode Summaries:

* "Case 26: Family"
Keaton is contracted to find a once-famous East German swimmer who competed in the Olympics and won a gold medal but has fallen on harder times later in his life due to a doping scandal.

* "Case 27: The Red Wind"
When Keaton meets an important Russian businessman with one too many enemies, he is brought in to act as his bodyguard.

* "Case 28: A Message from Alexeyev"
Even a resort town on a Spanish island is not free from intrigue -- Keaton meets a man who has returned to deliver a gruesome message to a former friend.

* "Case 29: The Forbidden Fruit"
Skill isn't everything, as Keaton finds when he wanders into a murder mystery involving a UK accounting firm and a particularly ambitious employee.

* "Case 30: The Highlands in Your Eyes"
Keaton risks his own life to rescue an artist who has been kidnapped and forced to create forgeries for a dealer Keaton is investigating. When it turns out that the old man doesn't want to leave, Keaton is trapped with him.

The episodes for volume six all featured regret as the central theme, and they are thus some of the most powerfully emotional Master Keaton installments so far. I particularly enjoyed "A Message from Alexeyev," a quiet and thoughtful story that nevertheless ended with a bang. The simplicity of its message surprised me at the end, and I had to rewatch it again.

Master Keaton, the series, is what I wish most dramatic, live-action TV shows would be. There is no flash to distract from the story, and Keaton is carefully centered as a strong lead in the series, which gives the audience a lot to relate to. There is plenty of variety, from historical sleuthing to action, family drama, and more. One episode might be about how the Berlin Wall demolition has affected those on either side of the wall, the next might be nonstop action as Keaton plots to get out of a hostage situation, and the next might be about Keaton tracking down an old recipe his mother once made. The characters, including supporting cast and others, are very real and likable. I'd love to meet and know someone as interesting as Master Keaton in real life. Also, the series has a lot of heart, and it consistently delivers excellent stories and action that have kept me on the edge of my seat. This is really one of the best anime series I have ever seen, and probably the best dramatic anime featuring adult players.

Video transfer for Master Keaton is quite good, with a clear, bright picture. The animation for this series is simple, but very elegant, with gorgeous background painting and attention to detail that gives each scene depth and a feeling of reality -- in forest scenes, I can almost feel the breeze on my face. Sound quality is also good, with a surround track that delivers a fair bit of ambient noise channeling and robust sound. Ted Cole (who is perhaps best known as Kuno on Ranma 1/2) is the perfect Keaton, and has obviously mellowed nicely into the role. All in all, I really like the English dub for this series, and I appreciate the particular attention that has been paid to giving characters appropriate accents. Not too many extras, but at five episodes per disc, I'm not complaining. If you want the secret hidden feature mentioned on the box, just go to the Extras menu, go to the DVD Credits, arrow to the left, and press Enter to see Keaton's theory about Ancient European Civilization (if you missed the first few episodes, this will get you caught up on what he's unearthing when he goes on a dig).

If you like adventure that involves puzzling a way out of a sticky situation or dealing with a threat using cunning and bravery, this is definitely a series you don't want to miss.

Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 95

Perp Profile
Studio: Geneon
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)

* English
* English (Signs Only)

Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Hidden Feature

* IMDb

* Official Site