A few weeks ago was the 25th April 2017, marking the 8th anniversary since the birth of this blog delivering the highest quality anime blogging content the internet has ever seen™. Instead of the usual formalities that follow with these sort of posts I’d like to instead dedicate this space to a manga series I have the fondest personal attachment to of all time earning a special little partitioned space in my heart, and that is Hayate the Combat Butler. You’re probably wondering why it took an entire month to publish this post, and that is because (excluding real life duties and the scanlations coming late) I wanted to spend the extra time to self reflect as the conclusion to this rather obscure yet long-running manga is a pretty big deal to me. Get ready for a soppy and nostalgic trip.
Last month on the 12th April 2017 saw the final chapter of Hayate no Gotoku! (Hayate from here on) gracing the pages in Shonen Sunday after 13 long years of serialisation; a thing I foreshadowed in my retrospective post last year. For all the shitposting and banter spanning over nearly a decade joking author Kenjiro Hata would never finish the series; the absolute madman did exactly just that. Perhaps I’m experiencing the exact same melancholic mood people felt when Naruto shuttered its pages in Shonen Jump a few years back. Reading the final pages of Hayate left me feeling 48.1% sentimental and 51.9% an urge to enter the seven stages of grief – because 10 years ago Hayate was my definitive gateway to anime, manga, Japan, otaku culture and everything else that followed.
I remember stumbling upon Hayate for the first time around early Spring 2007; when the Wikipedia article for MÄR (a manga I was reading at the time) pointed out some characters made cameo appearances in the first season anime. I was still pretty new to the anime and manga world back then with a handful of shows barring the mainstream stuff from childhood so I was only reading and watching things my high school library or my local bookshop had on its shelves (I didn’t know online manga scanlations was a thing at this time). As if the stars had aligned Viz Media had just made the jump to UK and were handing out free manga volumes like candy in bookshops; although the volumes themselves contained a small selection of preview chapters to popular manga planned for release and it just so happened Hayate was in one of these volumes.
Suffice to say I was instantly hooked. Right after reading the first preview chapter I ran to my local obscure comic book shop who happened to had the first volume in stock after having no luck with the mainstream bookshops (Hayate wasn’t officially released in the UK at the time) and purchased the 208-paged bound thing on the spot. There was something that was charming and unique about the series I had never experienced before coming from kids TV shows and comics from the likes of the Beano and Dandy prior. To me it was something new and fresh and I just simply wanted more.
I could end it here and say that stupid phrase – ‘and the rest is history!’ – but there’s more to it! Hayate became my tour guide into the world of anime and manga by traversing through its plethora of parodied gags and references to other anime and related medias. Hayate was the reason I was introduced to Gurren Lagann, Haruhi Suzumiya and Higurashi thanks to its hilarious references in the series. Not only references but I also became aware of the ins and outs of the anime industry (that one episode in the first season which now feels like a precursor to Shirobako); Hayate was the reason I picked up Shakugan no Shana, Zero no Tsukaima and Toradora because Rie Kugimiya (the voice actress for Nagi in Hayate) voices the main heroines in these respective series with her sweet, sweet, tsundere voice. Kugimiya was my babby’s first favourite seiyuu and made me aware of the monolith Japanese voice acting industry. Not to mention the offbeat instance when I picked up Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei because I found out Kenjiro Hata used to be an assistant to Zetsubou Sensei’s author Kouji Kumeta – thereby learning of the existence of Shaft and Akiyuki Shinbo’s wacky directing and so on and so forth. Watching these tenuously linked shows laid the foundations for my anime tastes™ before learning that anime airs on Japanese television in “seasonal batches” and found myself following the seasonal anime release cycle; a thing which I still do to this day and is now a mainstream thing in the niche community thanks to advances in legal streaming ventures. Hayate was my definitive Anime and Manga Recommendations: The Show thanks to its extensive shout-outs to other noteworthy shows.
The days of deconstructing every anime episode and trawling forum threads explaining the meaning behind each parody is one my fondest memories of my early days on the internet. This naturally paved way to me getting involved in online anime communities, from sites like Crunchyroll (where I somehow managed to become a moderator!), Sakurahana and Foolrulez to later
devolving evolving on to modern SNS platforms like Twitter where I mostly reside now. In fact, if it weren’t for the existence of Hayate I probably never would have become awesome bros with Woxxy, when I slid into his scanlation group FoOlrulez’s DMs back in the day when they began releasing Hayate chapters to fill the giant chapter gap in the scanlation scene – actually DMs weren’t that big of a thing in 2008 so I simply spammed frequently posted on their forums to get their attention.
Hayate was the true inspiration that got me into aniblogging – an ancient artform where one types a
trashy piece of writing onto one’s website with ease for all to read. It’s actually my most talked about thing on this blog! I remember the days week by week I would pick apart how JC Staff were doing a lazy job adapting Hayate Season 2 panel for panel from the manga and bashing on Hata how he was wasting his anime adaptation opportunities with [the now-dead ;_;7] Manglobe and that he should have used them to adapt the Golden Week arc – objectively the best arc of the series.
I did the unthinkable last year by taking a graduation trip to Japan where I got the prestigious opportunity to meet the man himself; author of Hayate no Gotoku! Kenjiro Hata! Hata was present at Summer Comiket selling his latest Sore ga Seiyuu! doujinshi and I did what anybody would do if they met their one true idol in 2016; take a selfie by asking in my broken Japanese. It was a brief meeting before I got pushed into the line for the doujin, but it was such a surreal and heart fluttering feeling to have at last meet your idol who you look up to in the flesh (n-no homo).
Following Hata’s live tweets as he makes the finishing touches to the last pages of Hayate in real time made me realise we truly were living in 2017.
Sure, the manga has its many faults, the story lost its mojo ever since the Golden Week story arc albeit with some stand-out mini arcs, but plenty others as cheap cop-outs for Hata to
shitpost ironically blog about his week. There were many laughs, tears, sweat and blood… The ups and downs and twists and turns… The annoying times when Hata takes a week break or writes a filler chapter after he drops a huge cliffhanger… That Hayate-inspired Taiwanese drama I still need to finish… That period during the third anime season where they tried to make Ruka an idol beyond the anime with Haruka Yamazaki but sorta fell flat… While I am still coming to terms with the agonisingly rushed and unsatisfying ending with a sheer amount of loose ends left untied, it still amazes me that Hayate survived and continued for so long (I remember believing that fake rumor Hayate would end on Volume 15!). Even so, I just can’t bring myself to dislike a series for its shortcomings when it had inspired me so much in these last 10 years.
I keep using this analogy, but Hayate no Gotoku! was one great big amazing ride over this past decade for me and I still can’t believe virtually only one single year had passed in the manga. This post is by no means a review but a tribute piece; a collection of thoughts I’ve been harbouring since news broke out Hayate’s days were numbered that I wanted to collate and convey for my favourite manga series of all time. Hayate is a precious series that grew up throughout my teenage and young adult years, ultimately pulling me into the anime world and meeting some amazing and colourful people along the way sharing that same passion, and I couldn’t have had it any better. Perhaps it’s for the best, but it’s going to be sad thinking Hayate will no longer be a weekly manga I come back to every week to read and make fun of on Twitter.
To Bill (I know you’re alive somewhere because you updated your Gravatar), thanks for being such an awesome Hayatebro back in the day.
To Woxxy, thank you for your godly service to fill the chapter gap (also Purple Nights Chapter 2 when?)
To violent_cloud, I have never met a more passionate Hayate x Nagi shipper than you, keep on making Nagi happy ;_;
To Game8910, A-tan a shit.
To the Hayate posters on /a/, those threads were fun.
To Viz Media, even though your release schedule is painstakingly slow, thank you for your service publishing Hayate in the West.
To the assistants, the publishers, SynergySP, JC Staff, Manglobe, all the staff who worked on the anime and manga and especially Kenjiro Hata; thank you for creating such a wonderful series!