Anime Meta-Review


Master Keaton


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-4
  • type: TV
  • grade: worthy
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Fri Sep 22 11:03:59 EST 2000
  • mod: none

I really didn't know what to expect from this title, and what I got was something quite unusual and interesting. It says good things about anime that such an unusual story is considered suitable material. The story concerns a certain professor Keaton. He's a fairly amiable, good natured man. A little too casual perhaps (he cancels a lot of lectures) and his good nature suggests a slight lack of confidence and possibly a slightly bumbling nature. Perhaps it is the air of untroubled innocence that suggests this? He also seems to have the ability to get dragged into strange situations and stories. This is partly due to his other job, which is as an insurance operative for Lloyds of London. Thus he is at times sent across the world and dragged into investigating unusual stories, in addition to his natural talents for getting into novel situations. And being that these situations involve situations where insurance is being claimed, contested or questioned there is often a certain degree of hostility, danger and victimisation for the seemingly oblivious Keaton to wander in to. Still, he's fairly intelligent, with a good general knowledge and an interest in archeology and history. Oh, there's also one other detail, his previous job was as an instructor for the english SAS (special air service) in survival skills as well as membership of their elite hostage rescue team. In other words, in reality, he has become such a master of his skills that their existance is undetectable...until he, or often someone else, needs them.

But then, after Indiana Jones, doesn't everybody expect such skills of archeology professors? However, unlike that character, Keaton's basis is more about subtle observation, and minimum action at the `right' time. The show has a strong focus on story, environment and atmosphere rather than action. Keaton's nature being what it is he is often able to discover the true nature of the situation. And it is quite obvious that he has a good heart, both involving him in the situation and giving him a motive to make sure things come out `right'. There are often quite interesting episodic characters, with their own interactions, for us to meet and understand. This could become quite melodramatic, and there is an element of this, but it is all competently written, with interesting and somewhat novel situations as well as quite interesting characters. This gives the anime an unusual, and quite complex feel, which will probably bore the action fans but impress those who like a bit of depth, drama and the slow (well, as much as an episodic nature allows) discovery of the truth behind a story. The glimpses into other lives, such as meeting bounty hunters in ep.2 is very cool. And Keatons knowledge, both of modern warfare as well as history allows him to intelligently `comment' (almost as a narrator) and interact with the varied situations he ends up in. This is well backed up by some fairly detailed world and tech design. For example Keaton being able to list the weapons used by the opponents or advise on the best way to shoot through a door.

The animation has a strong `flavor' I am certain I have seen before. It is also interesting in that it focuses on character rather than objects or environment. Thus while the style is fairly simple and quite `manga' like the character's have a lot of personality. This extends to the voices and even speech patterns which are well matched to the sometimes quite large numbers of incidental characters. This adds greatly to the atmosphere and dramatic feel of the series. There is action, but like the real world it tends to be over fast and is definitely not the focus of the production. It also gains from Keaton being a world traveller (and presumably a polylinguist) which lets us see scenes and people from around the world. While this animation is not going to impress with flash it is solidly done and very well matched to the needs and style of the production.

I'll warn that this title will probably have appeal to only a subset of the anime community, but is the kind of thing that appeals to me. I have to give this warning because none of my regular sources have a review to counter the peculiarities of my own taste.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:22 WST 2009