In Master Keaton Volume 9, Hiraichi fumbles at life, as the things close to his heart in the early volumes–memories of his mother, his vital relationship with his father and daughter, and lack of fulfillment as an academic–take a backseat to the two halves of Keaton’s shell: Keaton, the failed but clever archaeologist, and Keaton the action hero, who settles for work as an insurance investigator.

As such, Master Keaton dissolves from a tighter, interlocking serial novel of related stories, to a looser anthology style, not unlike Sherlock Holmes, if Sherlock Holmes had a problem with serial companionship because he never found his John Watson. And in Master Keaton volume 9, the stories now alternate with predictability between the archaeologist and the detective, and his occasional interludes are less likely to explore his unexamined life than to put him head to head with random gangsters.

So many of Keaton’s off days are spent fighting the mob that a reasonable person would suspect a contract had been taken out, but it turns out that these are entirely chance encounters. Hiraichi’s gangster vacations include “Island of the Coward,” “Twilight of the Migratory Birds,” and the comical father-son story, “Interview Day,” with the most suspenseful of the three probably being the hostage survival story, “Island of the Coward,” and the most enjoyable being “Interview Day,” as it is always a pleasure to see Keaton the Senior.

Master Keaton is a strongly recommended series, and volume 9 also contains numerous entertaining stories. However, long-term fans of Master Keaton may read the looser narrative ties between chapters as aimlessness in the protagonist, who at times seems to no longer know what he wants. So to those of you hungering for more Master Keaton, I recommend this entree, though you may find it no longer as satisfying as before, due to lacking a few ingredients to which you were accustomed; and to those of you that have heard of the deliciousness of these stories, and have been wanting to taste it, I recommend starting with an earlier course.

Master Keaton, Volume 9 was published on December 20th, 2016, but if you find it sold out, you can buy a print or digital edition directly through Viz Media.

Viz Media sent the review copy.

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