Hayate no Gotoku! Annual Review 2011

Maybe I should have written something like this in 2010 as well, but I think I simply had forgotten about this last year, so… this will be my first Annual Review post on this blog. I just hope this is not the last one.

Year 2011 began with Ch. 302 and ended with Ch. 350, so 49 chapters were published in total. Ch. 302 was set on May 22 and Ch. 350 on a random day around June 19, so a month had passed in the story in a year in real time. This is more or less the same pace as ever, except the Athena saga.

It is certainly not an overly exciting year, but it is still eventful enough to be considered entertaining. Quite a few significant things took place, and we surely have a clearer idea on one or two things. In all fairness, our time – some 10 minutes every week, I suppose – has not been wasted.

This post will be my attempt to sum up these events and ideas at the end of 2011.

1. June 12 Comisun – where Ruka topped and Nagi flopped

This competition never ends.

The most significant event in the story in 2011 is of course the June 12 Comisun. About 26 chapters out of 49 are related to the June 12 Comisun, from preparation to response. In other words, half the year was spent on the biggest event so far for Nagi and Ruka.

At first, we expected that the June 12 Comisun would be the first step for Nagi to improve as a mangaka, but it turned out that it was Ruka who was making real progress. She had befriended Hayate and Hinagiku, who offered her physical and intellectual support respectively, so she could remain healthy under her idol-mangaka double life, and adopted a drawing methodology which saw her selling all 30 copy-bons in the morning. Ordinary it might be, but the important thing is that it worked.

As for Nagi, things did not go really well for her, as she had to admit a sound defeat to Ruka. Part of the blame goes to Ayumu, as she offered crappy advices on how Nagi should draw her manga, and more importantly she provoked Nagi with sales numbers. From that moment onwards, the only thing Nagi concerned about was sales numbers, and we might say that the outcome of the June 12 Comisun was what she had been asking for: selling 1000 copies of whatever it is, and making a profit out of it. Yet, she was not happy about the outcome.

The June 12 Comisun has been settled, and both Nagi and Ruka would aim for a success in the Summer Comiket in August. Both of them would need new approaches and methodologies. Nagi’s approach in the Comisun did not give her the outcome she wanted, so she would need to start all over again. Hata made it clear from Day 1 that the Comisun was only phase one of Hina’s education of Ruka, and now that she had achieved the targeted “grade of 50”, time has come for phase two.

Whether you like it or not, the Mangaka saga is likely to kick-off again in 2012.

2. Nagi’s “biggest trial in life” revisited

Poverty? No, luxury.

“Here comes the biggest trial in (Nagi’s) life!” wrote Hata on his BS at the end of the Athena saga. The current saga should therefore be seen as Nagi’s biggest trial in her life, although it is certainly not as dramatic as the previous one.

As Hata had never clearly defined what kind of trial he was talking about, we could only deduce it from the saga itself. The earliest theory suggested that, as Nagi had been disinherited by Mikado, she would have to live a life at least as modest as Ayumu’s. Her trial would then be to become one of the “ordinary people”, to live through the hardship with Hayate, and to become Hayate’s partner instead of his mistress.

Twenty months since the start of the saga, the above theory was proven wrong. While it is true that Nagi had lost a lot of money and almost all Sanzen’in properties, her lifestyle hadn’t changed that much. She didn’t have to do extra part-time job to earn herself a living – in fact, we never saw her working at the cafe any more. Her meals and her house remained very good, although not as good as before. She still had a butler and a maid to serve her 24-7. She had 200K yen ready to spend on her offset books, and certainly had made a profit from the Comisun. Really, if this is “poverty”, then I must be bankrupted.

As such, I don’t think that financial situation was a concern for Nagi, let alone a trial. So, what was this trial, exactly? There are quite a few possibilities, but unfortunately we can’t really validate any of them, as there is still too much guessing work to do. Better assessment could only be made after the saga has ended, so allow me to reserve my comments till then.

3. The Violet Mansion – from 4 to 7

We need an updated family photo.

Ever since moving into the Violet Mansion, part of the attention was paid on who would move in as tenants, and who would not. Back in 2010, we already had Chiharu moving in, while Yozora did not – or could not.

Year 2011 began with a chapter in which Hinagiku and Alice (Chibi-Athena) became new tenants. Ruka and Aika were given the option, but both had not decided to rent a room. At the end of the year, Kayura became another new tenant. It means that the number of residents at the Violet Mansion had increased from 4 to 7.

The reasons for these new tenants to move in are not exactly… ordinary. Athena made up the story of Alice the princess who left her home country for training, and was in need of shelter and someone to protect her. Hina moved in because she was blackmailed by Athena, who had “appointed” Hina as Alice’s mother figure. Kayura moved in because Nagi did not want her to be arrested, so it was more like she was picked up from the streets by Nagi. Indeed, none of them moved in simply because they wanted to rent a room, so I doubt if any of them paid rent at all.

We could see throughout the year that Alice had built up a social network. She already had been on small adventures with Hayate, Nagi and Maria separately. Comic strips in Vol. 30 shows that Alice often watched TV with Maria, so they must have developed quite some friendship with each other. She even got quite close to Armageddon, Fumi’s dog. Ironically, her relationship with Hina, the one supposed to be closest to her, got the least screentime. We only know that they shared the same room, and that Alice felt comfortable calling Hina by her nickname, but that’s all. That’s why Doughnut Gunso has been asking all year: I hereby demand Hina-Alice chapters.

The funny thing is that, Hina had not been seen at the Violet Mansion as frequently as we might have expected. Indeed, she had the least “stay home time” among the residents, and even when she was at home, she usually had her own business to attend. If we see her, most likely it is because someone (Nagi or Hayate, for instances) was looking for her. As such, we seldom see her interacting with anyone except when her contribution was needed.

Kayura was the most recent addition to the Violet Mansion. So far, we see her only interacting with Hayate and Nagi, and only time would tell if she would develop any sort of relationship with the others. That said, I am most interested in when and how she came up with the nickname “Invincible Senior” for Hina.

4. Wataru’s Independence Day

... without anybody messing around.

Whatever you would argue, the main characters of this series remain Hayate, Nagi and Maria – even when their combined popularity (1091 + 1700 + 1059 = 3850 votes) is less than Hinagiku alone (4089 votes), according to the most recent Official Character Poll. You would often hear that fans cry for independence of their beloved characters, i.e. to start a series – or at least a plot – that has nothing to do with the Sanzen’in trio.

And they could make use of Wataru’s case as an example to support their claim. Ever since the beginning of the current saga, Wataru had been working hard to start everything over again. He quitted Hakuou, so we might not see him at school again. He confessed to Isumi in past tense, so he was actually saying goodbye to his puppy love. He would start a new business and a new life with Saki, and everything had little to do with the Sanzen’in trio anymore – that is, unless Hayate came in from nowhere for no reason.

The results of these changes are not bad at all. Readers stopped talking about the so-called “Wataru’s harem”, and whenever there is a Wataru chapter, we would know that it is about his new business or his relationship with Saki. The focal point is on him, not the “harem” or Hayate. For those who don’t really like the Sanzen’in trio that much, this perhaps is the best treatment available for their fans.

The funny thing is, by his confession, Wataru had also set Isumi free from his “harem”. Given that Isumi also retired from “Hayate’s harem”, she became the only girl who had no love interest in this series. She made appearance to help and to make fun, without worrying that she would be used by the author for meaningless ship-teases. In other words, Isumi had become even more adorable than before.

Good God, I could call for independence of my beloved character as well. After all…

5. Hayate-Hinagiku relationship revisited

It might not be a relationship, but it certainly is partnership.

“Again? After that long essay?” you might ask. Well, yes and no. In this section I am not putting up new theories, and I am not examining the “Parallel People Theory” either. What I would do is to sum up, as a matter of fact, how the relationship between Hayate and Hinagiku has become.

For those who don’t know why I am so determined to work out any changes in the Hayate-Hinagiku relationship, allow me to remind you that it is something Hata had told us on his BS, right after the infamous Ch. 239: “So, what would become of the relationship between Hayate and Hinagiku at the end of the trip [to Greece]? Please pay attention to that!” As such, someone would have to stand up and report on the most recent Hayate-Hinagiku relationship, unless we are all ready to allow Hata to escape from this. Well, if he really escaped, then he would be a fraud, wouldn’t he?

Something about their relationship really had changed in 2011, after Hina had moved into the Violet Mansion. More importantly, the changes we could see come mostly from Hayate. He looked for Hina’s help on at least 5 occasions during the year, instead of waiting for her to volunteer. He actively invited Hina to cheer on Ruka’s manga together, and confided in her the news on Ruka. He also seemed to be less fearful of Hina’s wrath – to the extent that he could have forgotten that Hina would get angry if he entered while she was changing. A relationship could never be built on fear, and by coming closer to Hina, we could see that he was a bit less fearful – while at the same time a bit less respectful – to Hina.

Hina hadn’t really changed much. She was still too shy in front of him, and it took her a whole day to finally get the massage service she wanted. She still got angry at Hayate far too often, and punished him with yelling and punching. Yet, she also showed the best side of her in front of him: She was passionate and willing to help, and she was capable of solving any problems. In fact, the most comfortable conversation between them was when they walked along the streets talking about Ruka.

Of course, the progress between them is not sufficient to make them a couple yet, but as it is highly unlikely that there would be a movie to brainwash the audience emphasize their relationship, I would say that both Hayate and Hina could not do a better job than what they had done.

Year 2011 is coming to an end, and we are looking forward to 2012. However, it seems that there would be some big news to be formally released next week, so what would that be? Let’s look forward to the news, and also Year 2012!

Happy New Year!