"Master Keaton" is a rewarding anime TV series with a most unusual protagonist, the half-Japanese, half-English insurance investigator for Lloyd's of London, Taichi Keaton. A part-time archaeology professor on the side, Keaton sees his job as one of peeling away layers of information and history, all in the interest of restoring, recovering and reuniting. His cases take him all over Europe and parts of Asia, although in the five episodes offered in Volume 3, he's limited to Europe, with three stories set in England, one in Germany and one in Spain.
Three of the stories are among the better ones in the series. One tells of an aspiring young English chef who wants to prove his worth to his Chinese sweetheart's disapproving restaurant owner father. Keaton helps him locate the lost recipes of a famous Chinese historical figure to help his cause. Another involves the efforts of a German businessman, who was forced to leave his pregnant wife behind when he'd fled East Germany, to locate his now-grown daughter. A third story is more of a straight thriller as a bomb maker undergoes a change of heart and enlists Keaton in a mission to find and defuse a time bomb planted by Irish terrorists in a London shopping mall. The remaining stories include a murder mystery involving an elderly amateur detective and a suspense piece with Keaton stalked by a military dog in rural Spain after he tracks down a case of insurance fraud.
These are quiet, thoughtful, well-told pieces that represent a change of pace from the more frenetic action-packed anime genres that tend to be more popular in the U.S. The varied backgrounds here, from the streets of London and Dresden to the mountains of Spain, are exquisitely rendered and the animation of the military dog in the fifth episode surprisingly fluid. One can argue that the character design is not as strong as it should be. Keaton, for one, seems kind of unformed and should have more facial detail. Also, the English voice actor dubbing Keaton is not terribly distinctive. A voice cast filled with natural English accents would have been more appropriate given the frequency of British settings. Still, as anime with British flavor goes, I much prefer "Master Keaton" over "Hellsing" and "Licensed by Royalty," although the latter's dub track has better English accents.