Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties is the fourth instalment in the Hayate no Gotoku! anime series. Now, normally you would expect the first season to continue on in the second season, and so on and so forth – this isn’t the case with Hayate. The first season follows the first five volumes of the manga whereas the second season stayed faithful from volume six to fourteen. The third season thought “what the hell” and jumped ahead and beyond the timeframe of events in the manga serialising weekly at the time. This fourth season doesn’t do any better as we’re about to find out.
“In terms of ‘plot’… there is no ‘plot’.”
Looking in terms of ‘plot’… there is no ‘plot’. Cuties isn’t necessarily a continuation of the third season Hayate no Gotoku! Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, but rather – a series to pander to the manga reading audience. Each Cuties episode are standalone and focuses on the slice of life of each character in the series. The stories in these episodes are adapted from select chapters in the manga; handpicked by the creator and the Manglobe team in charge of Cuties, all of which were serialised most recently. Unfortunately I can’t recommend Cuties to newcomers of the show because evidently, they’ll be alienated and unable to understand certain aspects of the show without reading the manga or at least watch the first three seasons. Maria and Izumi’s episodes are the bests by far.
Without spoiling anything in great detail, the last two episodes of the series could be regarded as the sequel to CTMEOY, as the creator; Kenjirou Hata, was in charge of the plot and involved in the story-boarding.
Compared to the amount of criticism I had for CTMEOY, there isn’t as much as I have for Cuties other than the wasted opportunity on the creator’s end. In a way I am disappointed at Hata for the inconsistency in the anime adaptations – from the constant jumping of anime studios to the plot fragmentation, which was something that I had been continuously and annoying bitching about in my episodic posts. Even while watching Cuties it still bugs me.
I’ll just say it here: I wish they could have just adapted ‘The End of the World’ and ‘Golden Week’ arcs – the two most popular story arcs of the series as well as the most developmental (something that Hata forgot about in the beginning but discovered only recently).
Though I do understand the limiting popularity Hayate no Gotoku! has compared to other well-known series and the need to get the most out of these anime productions, even as far as to take a two-month break to work closely with the studio, even so, as a long-time fan of the series I’d seriously prefer an adaptation of the two most popular arcs.
“The production quality is simply gorgeous.”
The production quality in Cuties is simply gorgeous. While I criticised CTMEOY for its low quality feel in the art style and animation, thankfully Manglobe has redeemed themselves this time around as the overall quality in Cuties is ten times- no, a hundred times better than CTMEOY. There isn’t as much ‘derp’ in the background character’s faces, let alone the faces of the main characters. The backdrops are just as you expect with that realist oil-painting look in most anime. The lighting in Cuties also feels a lot brighter and cheerful, in contrast to the darker lighting and seriousness in CTMEOY.
Manglobe Cuties > SynergySP > JC Staff > Manglobe CTMEOY
Top to bottom: SynergySP (S1), JC Staff (S2), Manglobe (S3), Manglobe (S4)
(Hayate didn’t crossdress in S3, only Nagi’s father did.)
After watching Cuties and then going back to watch a couple of the older episodes, I’d have to say that I now prefer Manglobe’s design of the characters (in Cuties) over the designs by SynergySP, JC Staff and even Hata’s original drawings. The character’s faces feel more natural, have that air of bounciness in their cheeks and the colour palette they use although looks a bit too bright, it feels just right.
Music-wise, Shizuka Itou did a fantastic job performing the opening sequence; the visuals are an eye-candy with the extravagant display of cherry blossoms. More effort was put into the ending sequences this time around as each VA for every main character of the show performed an original song in their respective featured episodes. The visuals were nice but they’re merely a simple mish-mash job in After Effects recycling animation elements used in the episodes. Unfortunately I still wish KOTOKO was performing the opening as she did in the first two seasons.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Yo has the story, but not the art.
Cuties has the art, but not the story.”
Cuties acted as a taster dish serving many fan-favourite chapters, but not the chapters we truly deserve. The series introduced new characters who should have been properly introduced earlier on like Athena and Ruka, and bought back old characters into the spotlight like Klaus and Tama. Even I forgot Nagi had a pet white tiger.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You has the story, but not the art. Cuties has the art, but not the story. It’s obvious that Cuties was aimed towards the manga-reading audience who are up-to-date with the most recent serialised chapter, but it does no good in promoting the Hayate brand.