On a certain day, the boiler in the Mansion has broken down, and as such the bath was out of use. That is, unless you have the courage to take a cold water bath.
Not even the butler could repair the boiler immediately, so there would be no hot water for the bath that night. In response to this, Hayate suggested everyone to go to the public bath.
The replies were not exactly positive. Nagi did not want to show her skins to people she never knew, pass. Alice seconded her, pass. Hina thought it was not exactly appropriate to go to bath with Hayate, pass. Chiharu said she did not have the money to go, pass.
As such, only Hayate and Maria went to the public bath. How would the other four girls bathe themselves, nobody cared.
Apparently it was the first time Maria went to a public bath, and it was an exciting new thing for her to experience. The first thing she would learn was that: the bath-house was separated by gender. She was quite crestfallen because of this, because she would be separated from Hayate and had to go to the “battle” all by herself. Well, she might as well be disappointed that she would not be bathing with Hayate, but I don’t really know.
In the world of Hayate no Gotoku! people are always amazed by the presence of a maid. Therefore, once again Maria drew the attention of other guests. Of course, once again she did not really understand why. Ah well, so did I, to be honest. I mean, what’s wrong with a maid going to bath?
Turn to the next page and – Wow – I don’t even have to say anything.
Seriously, Hata, is it really okay to draw a changing scene with one whole page?
When Maria entered the bathroom, we didn’t see any other guests. It was a very surprising scene, given that it was evening. Well, perhaps Hata was simply being lazy…
In the male’s bath, Hayate was enjoying himself. To his horror, somebody else enjoyed himself too. Of course, this person was Kotetsu. He grabbed Hayate from behind, and was understandably pleased that he could have the closest “skinship” with Hayate. After all, Kotetsu hadn’t really seen Hayate naked, right?
We don’t even have to ask why Kotetsu was there, for he said it out loud: He was stalking Hayate. Hayate has had enough, and drowned Kotetsu in the bath. Note that Hayate held up his towel to hide his chest, and if the towel wasn’t long enough his – thing – would be exposed in the water, and now that Kotetsu’s head was in the water, then…
We can only hope that his towel was long enough.
Maria finished her bath and left. She waited Hayate outside of the bath-house, and Hayate did not come out after a while. Well, it took him a while to drown a strong butler, after all.
Hayate asked if Maria had waited for long, and Maria responded by giving him a displeased expression. She said that it became cold when she was waiting for him, and she might catch a cold and die because of this. Hayate wondered whether she was joking, but she turned away from him, implying that she was not. Hayate did not try to apologize, but offered her his suit jacket. Maria then said that, as it was already May, it was not really that cold, but in any case, she thanked him. That made Hayate’s heart beating.
Although it was only two pages, I found this scene quite noteworthy, for two reasons.
First, the insensitive and oblivious butler did something really quite sensible and reasonable here. Instead of the “Sorry! Sorry! I am very sorry!” we would have heard him saying in every single time he angered Hina, he said nothing but compensated his “fault” by actions. It was really a more mature way to handle such a situation, as actions speak louder than words. I don’t really know why Hayate could behave so maturely in front of Maria, while remaining absolutely naive in front of Hina, but he really did a good job here. Yea, good job!
Of course, there is a counter-argument. When a girl says she is cold, one of the basic moves for a boy is to offer her his coat. This is just too basic that even Hayate could do it, and so he did it. It is a butler’s duty to understand the needs of the others, and act accordingly. This is the sort of service he could provide as a butler.
Second, Maria made Hayate’s heart beat. I forgot whether I had said this or not, but chapters about girls having crush on Hayate don’t say anyting; rather, it is the chapters about Hayate falling for a girl that speak volume. Therefore, Hayate’s heartbeat in this chapter is important. It has been very long since the last time he had a “heartbeat scene”, and this was – unless my memory is faulty – the first ever time after the Athena saga. It happened in this chapter, because of Maria. This might reaffirm once more that Hayate had a big crush on Maria.
Again, there is a counter-argument, although this time we have to go a bit far. Have you ever heard of “the candy and the whip”? Strictly speaking Hayate and Maria might fall into this. Remember that for most of the two pages Maria had been teasing Hayate (Let’s not forget that Maria sometimes treat Hayate like a toy.), and Hayate was genuinely scared. He tried to make up for his fault, and while he was unsure whether it worked, Maria suddenly turned and smiled at him. The teasing was the whip, the smile was the candy, and a candy after a whip made Hayate so relieved that it gave him a heartbeat. That is to say, his heartbeat might not come from his crush on Maria, but the effect of “the candy and the whip”.
It doesn’t really mean that Maria has to be a mind game player. She was, all along, teasing Hayate, and his act of offering his coat came at her surprise. Her “Thank you.” wasn’t planned, so we cannot say that she was playing “the candy and the whip” on purpose if she had not plan from the start to offer the candy. She simply wanted to thank him, that’s all.
Whether you think this chapter is a ship-builder or a filler depends on whether the argument or the counter-argument had convinced you. Nevertheless, ship-building elements definitely are there, and if Hayate and Maria finally end up together, Ch. 304 would be one of the ship-defining chapters.
On the last page, while Maria was having a baked sweet potato, Hayate talked to her with a big sweat on his face. He was not entirely comfortable talking to Maria, either because his respect and fear for her was too much that he was being anxious, or that he was nervous because of his crush on her. In either case, compared to the Hayate who always had a professional smile on his face, this was yet another contrast.
Shippings aside, I would have to admit that this brief Hayate-Maria moment looks much more peaceful than most of the Hayate-Hina moments after the Athena saga. No accidents, no wrong-doings, but a heartbeat. Life is not fair, is it?
When Hayate and Maria returned home, they found that Nagi and the others were covered in dust. The boiler was in even worse conditions. So, what happened to the girls and the boiler?
Apparently, they also wanted to take a bath. But then, nobody knew how to repair the boiler. Taking a bath in cold water would give you a cold. But then… they wanted to take a bath. The logical result was that they attempted to repair the boiler, and failed miserably.
In the end, they gave in and decided to go to the public bath. Hina would be absolutely fine with public baths as long as Hayate wasn’t there. Nagi and Alice could be more open with showing their skins. Chiharu… well, just pay the money.
For some, this chapter is a ship-builder. For some, this chapter is a filler. Take your side, but be alert that the other side exists. We should not be surprised if Hata builds up a Hayate-Maria ship because of this chapter, but we should also not be surprised if Hayate and Maria don’t end up together.
Certainly, we would need to see how the story goes in order to end the “filler or ship-builder” argument. So, look forward to future chapters, won’t we?