Hayate no Gotoku manga review

Hayate no Gotoku! a.k.a. Hayate the Combat Butler is an anime based on a manga series by Kenjirou Hata about a debt-ridden butler and the rich young girl who saves him. The story is pretty straightforward: Ayasaki Hayate’s parents rack up a debt of 159 million yen to the yakuza and take off, leaving Hayate to handle it. After a failed attempt to kidnap Sanzenin Nagi (the rich girl) for money, he ends up working for her as her butler and owing his debt to her instead.

I started out by watching an episode sometime in November and really liked it, but didn’t have time to really dig in until earlier this year. I spent a couple of weeks blasting through both seasons of the anime and then read the manga from chapter 148 onwards. I’d like to go back and read it from volume 1, but I’ll save it for another time.

I tend to prefer character-driven manga to story-driven manga anyway, unless the story is really good. HnG has a number of interesting and likeable characters (Hayate, Maria, Nagi, Tama, Hinagiku, Isumi) and not so interesting and not so likeable characters (Sakuya, Wataru, Saki, Klaus), but even the less interesting ones still make for a few good laughs.

I enjoyed the constant spoofs of and references to other anime and manga as well. I actually got a lot of them, which shows I’ve been watching too much anime… That said, I thought the quality of episodes in Season One was really iffy. Some were good, some were not so good. Later on I discovered that most of the ones I thought were bad were actually filler, which just goes to show that Hata’s unique touch isn’t so easily imitated.

Anyway, after putting the anime behind me, I’ve finally caught up to the current manga chapter, chapter 309. That was a whirlwind ride, especially the Mykonos arc where Hayate ran into his old flame Athena. I like Athena a lot. This is may sound like blasphemy to Hinagiku fans (of which I was one until Athena showed up), but I think Athena fits Hayate better in a lot of ways. She understands that he has feelings, that he’s often in pain, that sometimes that smile is just a mask. Hinagiku still doesn’t really know Hayate, deep down inside. To be honest I think the main frontrunners for Hayate’s affection right now are Maria and Athena, with Hina in third place. Athena x Hayate forever!

That being the case, I’m rather pissed off at this whole Alice arc, wiping out Athena’s memory and turning her into a kid again for 3 months. That puts a halt on any romantic development for the next 200 chapters or so. Boo! Hiss! Hata’s also added another girl called Luca/Ruka to the mix, we’ll have to see what she can bring to the party. It might be time to drop this for a while and see how things work out.

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