Fans of this consistently fascinating anime series about Taichi Keaton, a half-Japanese, half-English globe-trotting insurance investigator, will find this volume to be about average. Of the five half-hour episodes offered in "Master Keaton, Vol. 4," three are quite good and two are worth watching but not particularly compelling. Four of the five are set in England and one in Japan, so it doesn't quite have the geographic scope that the other volumes had. The volume's subtitle, "Blood and Bullets," is somewhat misleading, giving the impression that there's more action than usual for a series that is notable for its avoidance of action and its preference for brains over brawn. One episode, "Island of Cowards," does offer a thriller setup in which members of the Polish mafia take a small hotel hostage on a remote British isle cut off from contact with the mainland. There is some action, but it all becomes a treatise on heroism and cowardice with a young man's preconceptions completely overturned.
The best episode on the disc is "Into the Vast Sky," in which a boy in Japan seeks to release a pet hawk into the wild against his father's wishes. He somehow enlists the help of Yuriko, Keaton's daughter, and the two cut school to seek an area in the mountains where the hawk, a member of an endangered species, can find some relatives. This mad quest finds the two fathers teaming up to find the kids. Another good episode on the disc, "The Elm Tree Forever," also tackles father-son issues as a celebrated English composer finds himself suffering a creative block when he learns his hated, once-powerful father, Lord Fenders, has fallen on hard times. The other episodes include a murder mystery involving a rose garden and a game of blackmail played around a race for university chancellor.
I watched the four episodes set in England with the English dub track and the Japan-set episode with the Japanese language track, which seemed to make perfect sense. The English dubbing is adequate, particularly the accents on so many of the supporting characters, but I kept wishing they'd gotten someone stronger for Keaton's voice. I understand that budget limitations keep Pioneer from hiring a "Masterpiece Theater"-caliber voice cast. Still, such a move would have made a great anime series even greater.