Why read the Hayate the Combat Butler manga?

Why read the Hayate the Combat Butler manga?

Hayate the Combat Butler manga charactersWhen it comes to anime, many anime titles are in fact adaptations of a popular manga or light novel series.  Such is the case with Hayate the Combat Butler (Hayate no Gotoku in the Japanese).  So if you’ve watched and enjoyed the Hayate the Combat Butler anime (or its sequels), or you are unfamiliar with the series at all, why should you bother to buy and read the Hayate the Combat Butler manga from Viz?

***Very mild spoilers regarding the introduction to the manga series.***

For those unaware, the premise of the Hayate the Combat Butler manga has a hardworking teen boy named Hayate discovers his terrible parents have not only ratted him out of his bicycle currier
job (he’s too young to work it), but they’ve squandered his pay gambling, then sold him off to the yakuza to pay a ¥157-million debt.  In desperation, Hayate attempts to kidnap a rich ojousama in a local part, but not only flubs that up, he ends up giving her his jacket and sending a couple of trolling guys running. However, in their exchange of words, the rich girl (Nagi) thinks Hayate has confessed his love for her.

Nagi gets kidnapped and when her maid, Maria, stops by, Hayate feels guilty and saves her, causing Nagi to grant his request before passing out to find him a job by hiring him as her personal butler.  From there, Hayate learns of the world of the elite wealthy, meeting many of Nagi’s whacky friends which leads to comedic adventures. When Nagi gets Hayate enrolled into her elite school, Hayate meets even more whacky characters, leading to more whacky adventures.

For lovers of harem romantic comedy series, Hayate the Combat Butler follows many of the tropes expected. Hayate is the wholesome, nice guy protagonist who treats women well, but who’s also abnormally strong.  Because Hayate doesn’t show romantic interest in any of the girls he encounters (though he does acknowledge some of their attractiveness), the combination of all these elements causes some of the girls to fall for him.  Nagi thinks that she is Hayate’s girlfriend, so she can become jealous at times, leading to more whacky comedy moments.

For lovers of whacky comedies, series creator Hata-sensei doesn’t leave those moments strictly in the romantic comedy realms. Often, Hata-sensei specializes in doing the unexpected to produce laugh out loud results. It might be the way a happy go lucky character innocently goes about trying to wake up Nagi, or having a somewhat devious character appear just at the right time to catch another character in an embarrassing moment.  The unexpected comedy moments are really quite enjoyable.

If that were all there were to Hayate the Combat Butler, it would be enough to make for a fun, enjoyable manga series.  However, for the first sixteen volumes, Hata-sensei very subtly lays down plot markers.  These markers were often wrapped in comedy gags, or in moments that didn’t seem too terribly important. Indeed, throughout the first sixteen volumes, I didn’t think there was a plot to speak of and treated the series as a non-serious, whacky gag comedy, humorous parody comedy, and humorous harem, romantic-comedy series with a side of adventure and a bit of action thrown in on the side.

Hayate the Combat Butler manga

With volume 17, things change. Through volume 17 and 18, Hata-sensei tells a backstory about a young Hayate and his childhood girlfriend. Suddenly, Hayate’s superhuman athletic and butler abilities are explained. The seemingly generic plot about the Sanzenin inheritance that Hayate is protecting for Nagi takes on a whole new light.  Upon rereading those first sixteen chapters, it suddenly becomes clear that many things that the reader might have taken for granted as being part of a joke or a slice of life story were in fact part of a larger plot.

It is this larger plot that takes Hayate the Combat Butler from just being an above average comedy/harem title to one of great intrigue.  Even the manga volume splash pages (not the chapter splash pages), which Hata-sensei has stated are canon to the story, can cause a lot of interest and speculation. The plot may advance slowly, but it does advance and I am often amazed by how something Hata-sensei may have put out as foreshadowing years ago comes sharply into focus in a current chapter.  For example, the canon splash page for volume 1 of the manga doesn’t have its story told until chapter 435 of the manga, some ten years later!

Admittedly, a slow moving plot may put off some potential readers. However, if you are a late arrival into the game, purchasing and reading all of the Hayate the Combat Butler volumes that Viz has released (23 as of this post) mitigates that quite a bit. ^_^  Plus, even if the plot moves forward slowly, it is a very interesting plot, enhanced by the whacky comedy elements and the harem, romantic-comedy elements.

As such, I highly recommend the manga to fans of such types of manga. There are many great laughs, fun adventures, fun characters, and a very intriguing plot. For fans of the anime, I think you’ll find the manga’s flow to be far superior to the anime, sans all of the extraneous bits.

Hayate the Combat Butler manga

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11 Responses to “Why read the Hayate the Combat Butler manga?”

  1. By the way, I wonder how Nagi sees Hayate nowadays? I get the sneaking suspicion that she’s been aware that Hayate doesn’t really see her as a romantic prospect for quite some time now. She hasn’t been acting like his possessive, clingy girlfriend since even before chapter 413, methinks.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      She hasn’t been acting like his possessive, clingy girlfriend since even before chapter 413, methinks.

      I agree. That’s partially why I think that in the end, Hayate ends up with Athena. I think that Nagi will end up letting Hayate go and she’ll be sad to lose a butler and companion, but by that time, I think she’ll be a stronger character and able to deal with it.

  2. Cytrus says:

    I remember a shiver passing down my spine when it was stated “whoever it was who got inside, it must have been someone beloved by God”, with exactly one character described as such… a crazy number of chapters earlier.

    This manga is dangerous. Just blink, and you’re screwed.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      I think that remark was referring to Yukariko, right? (I don’t have the manga in front of me at my present location, so I couldn’t look it up, even if I had the chapter number.)

      This manga is dangerous. Just blink, and you’re screwed.

      *lol* In the words of the Doctor, “Don’t blink!” ^_~ (Doctor Who reference for those unaware. ^_^)

  3. Personally, unless the manga takes a radically different direction from what we saw in CTMEOY, I can’t picture the Athena ending taking place… especially since I believe Athena basically “handed” (passing the hat) Hayate over to Nagi at the end of her arc. We’ll see, I suppose? At the pace we’re going. This manga might be good for at least 2-3 more years before we reach the landmark birthdays.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      … especially since I believe Athena basically “handed” (passing the hat) Hayate over to Nagi at the end of her arc.

      Interesting. I hadn’t viewed that scene in that way. To me, it was more about Athena scoping out whom Hayate was with now. But as you said, we’ll see how it goes. ^_^

  4. OverMaster says:

    It has three major problems;

    It’s funny and cute, but not as funny and cute as it thinks it is.

    Hayate is often downright exasperating on how much of a chewtoy doormat he can be.

    It takes way too long to get nowhere in concrete. Illusions of change are sometimes brought on, more often than not in the double edged form of more characters than what can be juggled safely, but ultimately it stalls and drags too much.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      It’s funny and cute, but not as funny and cute as it thinks it is.

      There’s no doubt that at times, it fails to be funny. But there are other times when it has me laughing out loud.

      Hayate is often downright exasperating on how much of a chewtoy doormat he can be.

      That hasn’t bothered me, only because when provoked, he’s shown that he can act. Indeed, for the current arc, he’s not being a doormat at all. I think that doormat element is something Hayate will overcome by the end of the manga, which is why I think he’ll end up with Athena rather than Nagi.

      …ultimately it stalls and drags too much.

      I do agree that the plots, both main and side, take a very, very long time to pan out. However, the fact that Hata-sensei doesn’t forget the threads and that he does eventually get to them and advance them causes me to forgive him. The story doesn’t have the irritating delaying tactics that something like Inuyasha or Love Hina had (and in Love Hina‘s case, it was an entire volume, then a general delaying at the end).

      Thanks for giving me insight into negatives perceived in the manga.

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