For those who don’t know, Hayate holds a dear place in my heart as my favourite anime of all time. I fell in love with the series when I picked up the first volume of the manga and fell even more in love when I watched the anime’s first season.
Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties is apparently the ‘fourth’ season in the Hayate anime line. After the disappointing ‘third’ season two seasons ago; I was expecting the worse for Cuties, and at the same time giggling to my hearts content
like a fanboy because there was more Hayate in animated form to come.
According to pre-sourced material the anime will be in a stand-alone format in which a new story takes place in each episode. In accordance to the name “Cuties” each episode will be focused on one female character of the show (yep, even Hayate in episode one), the ending theme will be performed by the respective characters while continuing to leech off Hina’s popularity by having Shizuka Ito (Hinagiku’s VA) to perform the opening theme.
Manglobe may have possibly redeemed themselves as the debut episode turned out very well. While animation is still not quite there, the quality sustained itself particulary well compared to last season and remains strongly consistent throughout the episode. I did however noticed several instances where they reuse scenes like when Hayate dashes out into the hallway, but those can be considered to be used for comedic effect, something the anime – and even the manga has been lacking as of late.
The first episode surprisingly stayed faithful to the manga. I was sure Hata was going to pull another series of original stories out of his magical hat like in the last season, but this episode blew my pantsu off and is based heavily on the manga chapters 352 and 353.
Hayate says it has been a long time (three months does not equal ‘long time’) as the beginning of the episode. He also follows to welcomes the new audiences of Hayate; I’m pretty sure the new viewers would need to have at least a bit of background understanding of the characters and the story – unless if they can freely watch and not complain about being unable to understand certain elements of the series, such as to why there’s a little girl called A-tan and why everyone calls her that and why she is relevant into the series and why shed-oes-absol-utelyf-uck-in-gn-othing-u-ntilh-ata-ge-tsoff-hisfu-cki-ng-ar-, anyway.
The former half of the first episode confirms that the anime takes place from the 352nd chapter of the manga. The chapter was published in March 2012, just after Hata returned from his six-week break preparing material for Can’t Take My Eyes Off You that aired in the following Autumn season. It sees a sample of the every day life of Hayate Ayasaki – in the now relocated and downsized Sanzenin Mansion; taking care of his ojou-sama and all the other residents in the manor – who all, coincidentally, are the other heroines of the show. The pacing starts off very slowly, as it steadily introduces all the characters (again) and points out like no one knows on Hayate’s trademark misfortune. The latter half of the episode sees the adaptation of chapters 352 and 353 in the manga, where Hayate struggles studying for the end of year Hakuou exams while taking care of everyone in the house who have all succumbed into the deadly, and infamous, Japanese cold.
The episode’s objective is to focus on Hayate, the protagonist of this series, and Hata and the Manglobe crew did a damn good job at it. The first half of the series shows off eloquently the inhuman-like and god-like abilities Hayate hones, from preparing meals for the residents and serving as the butler towards the girls to studying efficiently for the upcoming exams and managing his health by sleeping for only one hour daily, such is life for the busy in-debt butler. The second half seemingly puts this to the test where Hayate has to take care of all the girls in their hazardous Japanese cold and ensure that they are well enough to take the end of year tests, and soon succumbing to the merciless Japanese cold himself. We see a side of Hayate where he struggles to pull off to everyone that he is fine and is absolutely cold-free, studying in the limited spare time he has for the exams and all the while going around in his usual routine. The boss of the test comes fourth when Hayate is about to take his tests. His misfortune senses tingles and he is suddenly plunged into situations where he takes Fumi to the infirmary that is a kilometer away across the campus, gives Saki advice on Wataru’s business proposal in his new business start-up and fights a big monster because Isumi is apparently too weak to defeat it herself. If I were in Hayate’s shoes, I’d literally die on the spot.
Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties sadly comes with its drawbacks that frustratingly still retains from the last season. First of all there is still no Norio Wakamoto to be found. Wakamoto earned a place in my top favourite seiyuus list in my MAL for performing the godly role of the Voice of the Heavens narration in the first season of Hayate, and was one of the reasons that made the first season so great, and still, my best favourite anime ever.
Hayate is known for its daily dose of funny parodies and references to popular culture, and over the years it seems to be the case that Hata (the creator of HnG) just doesn’t care anymore and decided to make Hayate a story-driven story. A story-driven story that he declared early in the series that he didn’t want to do, but regrettably needed to do so in-order to keep the series alive. The current story of the manga is now entirely story based following the doujinshi competition going on between Nagi and Ruka. The references are still there, but not enough compared to classic chapters. The state of plot is now in a convoluted mess because Hata just likes to writes stories that take place well in to the future, than to focus on the story that is in the present in the Hayate world of 2005 (TL Note: it is still 2005/2006 in the manga, despite the appearances of new iPhone models). This is one of the key factors that brought the demise of the magic and fun I experienced when I came across this series six years ago.
Will I continue watching Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties? Hell yeah motherfucker.
Anime of the Season? Anime of the Season.
Nagi is up next week, I seriously cannot wait.