Today’s Manga Mondays will look at Hayate the Combat Butler, a series that is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.
So here’s the premise: Hayate is a poor kid whose parents spend money like it’s going out of style and leave him to pay the bills. To escape the Yakuza’s collectors and try to get the money he needs, he desperately attempts to kidnap a young heiress. Unfortunately, the headstrong young girl mistakes his intentions, and because of hijinks and shenanigans, Hayate ends up employed as her butler.
This series is pretty hard shoujo trying really hard to have shounen bits, and failing pretty hard. I got through about 14 volumes of this series before I gave up, and there were only one or two good fights in the series up to that point, although there was the promise of more. I’m not saying every series should be easy to stick in one gender-defined genre… but if a series promises a Combat Butler in the title… I want to see some combat. In the meantime, Hayate (in true harem-story guy fashion) is romantically pursued by every girl in the series except the one he’s crushing on. The ickiest of these pursuals is the young heiress herself’s – Nagi is 13 and Hayate is 16, and Nagi is creepily sexualized more than I’m strictly comfortable with.
One of the redeeming things about this series is the nerdiess of the author that shines through the series. For example, Nagi is a amateur mangaka and enjoys writing (and publishing, because she’s super rich) her own manga, (although they’re heinously bad). And the series is rife with cheesy references (censored out for ‘copyright’, i.e. “That attack was just like Gxku’s in Drxgonball!!”) The characters also consistently break the fourth wall, which can turn out pretty funny.
All in all my biggest problem with this series is that it is so, so slow going. By the end of the last volume I read, (14, I believe) there was still not a huge overarching plot or conflict (except the whole ‘Hayate is poor and in debt’ running gag that was way funnier in Ouran) and I was still not sure what exactly a combat butler was supposed to do.