Taichi Hiraga Master Keaton

Taichi Hiraga-Keaton

Investigator, Archaeologist, Survival Instructor, Veteran, Operative, Enigma, Master.


Master Keaton ran as a manga  from 1988 to 1994, plus the sudden yet inevitable animé  adaptation.

These are robust detective/investigation stories, well-regarded and heavily documented. The original Japanese is aimed at adult readers, due to the broad kanji vocabulary used in the stories.


  • Real Name: Taichi Hiraga-Keaton (平賀=キートン・太一).
  • Marital Status: Divorced.
  • Known Relatives: Yuriko (Daughter), Professor Tahei Hiraga (Father), Patricia Keaton (Mother), Unnamed Ex-Wife.
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: London, England or Japan, but travels worldwide, and often takes teaching jobs in other countries.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 140lbs. Age: 34.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

A master of physical, mental and social disciplines, from combat, to the sciences, to kidnapping negotiation. Keaton is one of those annoying people who seem to be good at everything they try.

His passion for learning has led him to eagerly study many, many fields of research. But he’s particularly focused on those related to archaeology, survival, his former job as a soldier, and his current job as an insurance investigator.

While the vast breadth of Keaton’s talents may stretch credibility, he is a fine example of an normal (if extremely intelligent) person who gained his considerable skills and abilities through hard work and experience.


As a member of Britain’s Special Air Service, Keaton was trained in all the disciplines one would expect of a special forces soldier. This training was designed to allow one to sneak into enemy territory practically unarmed, obtain or improvise weaponry and necessary gadgets (something Keaton has a special gift for), accomplish their mission, and escape.

Indeed, Keaton proved so adept that he eventually became a survival instructor for the SAS and a Master Sargeant while still in his early 20s. He has not allowed his abilities to slip since his days in the SAS, and often finds himself using the military and surveillance tactics he learned to this day.

Among the many useful gadgets and tricks Keaton improvises during the series are:

  • A bola (using his shoes tied together with their laces).
  • A grappling hook (made from the contents of a jail cell, which he used to escape from the cell’s open ceiling).
  • A sling (using a wooden spoon taped to a stick).
  • A mixture of soap and water which skewed the the treads of construction equipment in order to preserve endangered ruins.



As an investigator, Keaton is an expert in crime scene analysis, law, appraisal, and negotiation.

He also has an excellent memory, particularly for languages, scents and tastes, and is able to accurately analyze many chemicals by their smell. This, combined with his great appreciation for good food and drink, make him a connoisseur as well.

Keaton is particularly skilled at reading people’s emotional states. and from there he’s good at subtly manipulating them and getting information.


The story revolves around Taichi Hiraga-Keaton. He is the son of Japanese zoologist Taihei Hiraga and well-born Englishwoman Patricia Keaton. Keaton’s parents separated when he was five, and young Taichi moved back to England with his mother.

As an adult, he studied archaeology at Oxford University , in part under the tutelage of the brilliant Professor Yuri Scott. At Oxford, Keaton met and later married his wife, who was a mathematics student at Somerville College .

The couple later divorced, with Keaton leaving his then five-year-old daughter Yuriko in her mother’s care (she’s about 14 as of the series, and just as clever and adventurous as her dad.)

You’re in the Army now

After leaving Oxford, Keaton joined the British army, and then the SAS, reaching the rank of master sergeant, becoming a survival instructor at a surprisingly young age, and seeing combat as one of the members of the Iranian Embassy incident, among other places.

After he entered the Reserves he was called back into the service during the Falklands War due to his survival expertise.

(The series’ timeline is a little…odd. Keaton earned an archaeology degree, then served three years in the military before joining the SAS, then reached Master Sargeant rank and became an instructor for a while, before leaving at the age of around 25. He might have skipped several grades in school or something).

Taichi Hiraga Keaton in a pub

After his time in the service, Keaton looked for jobs as an archaeologist or an archaeology professor, although he was hampered by a lack of positions in the field. During one of his temporary jobs, he encountered Daniel O’Connell, an insurance investigator who was looking into the death of one of Keaton’s bosses.

The young Keaton impressed Daniel with his keen perception and fighting skills, and the older man offered him a job as an investigator.

Lloyd’s of London

Ten years have passed since then.

Keaton’s combat training serves him in good stead as an insurance investigator for the prestigious Lloyd’s of London. He is known there for his abilities and his unorthodox methods of investigation. In addition to his work for Lloyd’s, Keaton and Daniel operate their own insurance investigation agency headquartered in London.

Yet even though Keaton is fairly successful as an insurance investigator, his dream is to continue his archaeological research into the possible origins of an ancient European civilization in the Danube River basin.

Thanks the wide variety of things and people Lloyds’ underwriters insure, Keaton’s job tends to lead him into unusual situations all over the world. Even when he’s not on a job, Keaton has a tendency to run into peculiar people and strange mysteries.


Keaton is an unassuming-looking Eurasian man, apparently fairly handsome, with a somewhat prominent nose.

According to his ID, he was born in 1955. Which would make him about 34 as of the series.

When on the job he usually wears a blue suit with a white shirt and black tie.


For all of his talents, Keaton is surprisingly humble and self-effacing. He’s a very kind and friendly (if slightly introverted) person.

He approaches people of interest to a case with laid-back amiability, appearing somewhat absent-minded and naïve as he gathers information. Non-violent antagonism is usually met with a polite smile and a swift change to a seemingly-unrelated subject, interference is usually cheerfully ignored or subtly circumvented.

People tend to greatly underestimate him as a result of his mild personality, much to their later consternation.

When action is necessary, Keaton operates with the efficiency and quiet confidence of someone who knows what he’s doing. He waits for the right opportunity to act, and always does so decisively. Since he always makes it a point to to do the best research he can, it’s not uncommon for him to show up knowing more about a situation than even the people involved.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s far less composed around his friends and family. His father’s skirt-chasing gets on his nerves, and he dotes on Yuriko whenever she’s around. He still has conflicted feelings for his ex-wife, who remains an unseen character.

Once in a while she uses her position at a university to make him aware of available teaching positions. She has offered to use her influence to help him, offers which he is extremely wary of accepting.

He tends to be rather wry about his partner Daniel’s tendency to give him all the hard investigative work. Daniel and his father are two of the few people Keaton’s openly blunt and sarcastic toward.

Other traits

Keaton avoids fighting whenever he can (that’s how people get killed, after all). He prefers to talk his way out of sticky situations, but when pressed, favors Duping or bluffing his opponent and striking unexpectedly, thus ending a fight as quickly as possible.

He almost never carries a weapon, being quite comfortable improvising them or obtaining them on the fly if necessary.

Keaton makes a great number of historical or scientific references out loud to himself or in conversation. This isn’t an attempt at pretentiousness. He just really, really loves knowledge, both dispensing it and obtaining it.

His primary motivation for joining the British Army and then the SAS was to learn more about the world. And as he put it in the manga, because he thought serving in the military would help him overcome his dreamy nature (it didn’t).

While he could easily make a fine living entirely off of his insurance work, Keaton mostly sees it as a side job which has been slowly becoming a career. He truly enjoys teaching, and he has little difficulty finding positions as a part-time lecturer. Howbeit, his random schedule as an investigator tends to force him to cancel classes a lot, and has gotten him fired more than once.

He’s torn between the adventures and opportunities to help people that come with being an investigator, and the opportunities for research and teaching that being a full-time archaeology professor would bring.


[While interviewing a deceased client’s girlfriend at her home, he spots some approaching thugs.]
“Those men had their jackets buttoned and kept their left arms away from themselves. That means they’re carrying heavy guns on the left.”

[Looks around in kitchen and finds a wooden spoon.]
[Later, after defeating said thugs (one of whom was a former student of his) using the wooden spoon taped to a long stick to fling rocks at them.]
“Didn’t I teach you once that a primitive weapon like a slingshot can be more effective in highly windy conditions than a gun ?”

[Observing a house] “Hm, the end of the Renaissance, a prime example of a prosperous Florentine family…”

“His face has an intense expression… people who look like that fight with knives…”

“When you’re shooting down a door, it’s better to aim for the hinges instead of the keyhole.”

Semionov: “You said you were an agent. I hope that means you’re accustomed to danger…”
Keaton: “Uh, well, not *too* often…”

[Someone’s set a killer dog upon him.]
“Hm, it lies down when I raise my right hand in a salute. It’s a military attack dog, just like I thought…”
[Later, after the dog disarms an ally].
Ally: “So he was trying to take away my rifle ? That’s some dog !”
Keaton: “That dog received the same training as the U.S. combat dogs in the Việt Nam War…”
Ally: “Combat dogs ?”
Keaton: “Yes. Dogs trained in combat go for vital parts of the body… but they only have their fangs and jaws as weapons. They go after one thing. There’s you, the rifle, and me. In this case he identified the rifle as the greatest threat.”
Ally: “Can they really make logical decisions like that ?!”
Keaton: “He won’t do anything to us unless we make a move. Right now he’s waiting for nightfall. Before infrared scopes were widely introduced, the U.S. Army used specially trained dogs and were very successful with them. The dogs would disappear into the darkness, and would systematically pick off the North Vietnamese soldiers.”
Ally: “So you’re saying we’re doomed.”
Keaton: “We’ve got to do something before it gets dark…”

[Keaton’s built an igloo in a Russian snowstorm.]
Semionov: “You’ve saved my life.”
Keaton: “Not me, the snow. Packed snow carries more air than ice crystals, and can act as an insulator.”

Keaton: “I’d say that this kidnapper takes his job seriously.”
Man: “But what if he loses his temper ?”
Keaton: “Well, he’s a professional. He won’t want to hurt anyone, he just wants the money.”
Mrs. Takita: “Then my husband will be saved ?”
Keaton: “Trust me on this. Your husband is fighting for his life right now. Only your love can give him strength. Only you should speak with the kidnappers.”

[After Lloyd’s has dropped a kidnap case Keaton was working on.]
“I don’t plan on quitting. Your husband seems like a good man. He must be rescued from this terrible breach of basic human decency.”

[While defusing a bomb…using pieces of chocolate.]
(Half to himself) “This bomb is designed to explode when a chemical reaction takes place between sulfuric acid and sodium chlorate… Mailliard reaction… caramelisation… flavanol along with sugar condensation. The ingredients in this chocolate may coagulate the acid and prevent the bomb from exploding.”

[After shooting a man through the shoulder using a bent rifle].
“I thought of the ‘Vorsatz Lauf’. It’s something the Germans developed near the end of WWII, an L-shaped rifle they issued to soldiers. Even if the barrel of a rifle is bent out of shape, it can still fire a bullet.”

[Keaton has to escort a criminal though a backwoods area populated with lots of people who are sympathetic to said criminal.]
Criminal: “There’s no way you’re going to get though this alive.”
Keaton (Calm smile): “Well, you never know.”

[Extremely successful bluff]
[Keaton faces three armed men at a gas station, one of whom has a rifle]
Keaton: “I think we need to calmly talk this over.”
[He walks up to the rifleman and puts his finger in the muzzle.]
Rifleman: “Hey, what are you doing? You wanna die ?!”
Keaton: “That should be my line.”
Rifleman: “Wh-What do you mean ? I’m the one with the gun, not you.”
Keaton: “Then why don’t you pull the trigger ? The gun will explode in your face.”
[The rifleman’s jaw drops. His accomplices exchange a worried look.]
Keaton: “There goes my life and there goes yours. The exploding gun will end up stuck in your chest. And then…”
[Keaton’s eyes slide over to the gas pumps. The shaking rifleman’s eyes follow.]
Accomplice: “Th-That’ll explode ?”
Keaton: “And we’re *all* dead.”
[As the rifleman gapes, Keaton snatches the rifle from his hands, and knees him in the crotch.]

[Observing some ruins] “(Sighs) Terrible. Beautiful megaliths like this… A bulldozer smashed right through them while constructing the road…”

“I’m not very good at giving up.”

[His SAS fighting trainer speaks of his fighting talents (and lack of killer instinct) as they spar using paired foils.]
“You shall never be a professor. No, ‘Master’ is as far as you shall progress.”

DC Universe History

Keaton would be ill-served by being placed in a high-powered superheroic campaign, but would do well in a street-level or real-world game. His position as an investigator provides several easy story hooks.

Perhaps he was sent to investigate a burglary in which something insured by a Lloyd’s underwriter was stolen and encounters heroes who are also investigating the crime, or a Dependent might have been kidnapped, and Keaton could be the negotiator sent to keep them alive while the heroes do their thing.

His archaeological and academic background may also make him a useful contact, as well.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats

Taichi Hiraga-Keaton

Dex: 05 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 07 Occupation: Professor/Investigator for Lloyd’s of London/Freelance Investigator/Amateur Archaeologist
Inf: 05 Aur: 07 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 006
Init: 020 HP: 055

Analytical Smell and Taste: 04, Comprehend Languages: 03, Empathy: 05, Recall*: 08

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Analytical Smell and Taste does not have the Tracking Scent component.
  • All Powers are Skilled Powers.
  • Comprehend Languages is based on whether or not the language in question is related to one Keaton already knows.

Acrobatics (Athletics): 04, Acrobatics (Climbing)*: 05, Animal Handling: 04, Artist (Actor, Writer): 05, Artist (Cooking, Dancing): 04, Charisma: 07, Detective*: 08, Gadgetry: 06, Martial Artist (incl. Techniques): 05, Medicine (First Aid): 05, Military Science (Cartography, Demolition, Survival)*: 08, Military Science (others): 06, Scientist: 06, Thief (Concealment, Escape Artist, Locks and Safes, Pickpocketing, Security Systems, Stealth): 07, Vehicles (Air, Land, Water): 05, Weaponry: 06

Connoisseur, Gift of Gab, Iron Nerves, Languages [Arabic, English (Native), French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Russian, Spanish], Omni-Scholar, Rich Family, Scholar (Ancient Weaponry, Archaeology, Art, Bomb Defusal, Food History, Foreign Cultures and Laws, Chemistry, History, Insurance Appraisal and Law, Literature, Military Tactics, Modern Weaponry, Mythology, Primitive Weaponry, Psychology, Ransom Negotiation, Survival), Schtick (Paired swords, Make-do Equipment (Weaponry)), Sharp Eye.

Charlie Chapman, famous private detective (High), Daniel O’Connell, Keaton’s investigative partner (High), Lloyd’s of London (Low), British Special Air Service (Low).

MIA (Knowledge, particularly historical), MIA (Absent-mindedly pocketing interesting or potentially useful items).

Keaton doesn’t usually carry equipment. But if he knows he’s going to have to mingle with people he usually brings something which allows him to fit in or seem innocuous (a bottle of really good liquor to offer a group of refugees, for example).

He also has a habit of unconsciously pocketing small items (apparently a holdover from his days as an archaeologist), which in fact do often come in handy later.

If he knows he’s going to run into trouble, he usually prepares nonlethal weaponry (pepper bombs for dogs, or liquid carbon tetrachloride from a fire extinguisher mixed with aluminum powder in a wine bottle, to take out a group of guards).

Design Notes

The series lies firmly in the Real Genre, although the archaeological aspects are somewhat speculative (the White Goddess myth is mentioned at one point).

Context indicates that it takes place in 1989, months after the fall of the Berlin Wall (although it could easily be made more contemporary).

I wasn’t certain whether or not disarming bombs fell under Gadgetry or Military Science (Demolition). The latter seemed most logical.

By Civanfan.

Source of Character: Master Keaton TV anime (1998-1999). Manga by Naoki Urasawa and Hokusei Katsushika.

Helper(s): KalEl el Vigilante. Tom Eilers. History taken primarily from Wikipedia, with some additions and editing.