Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven is a Place on Earth – Comments

Before You Read…

Forewords

In a crazy 24-hour period, I managed to write up the whole flow of the movie Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven is a Place on Earth. In fact, this time I might have moved too quickly, that some readers suggested to me they would only read my articles after watching the movie themselves. Yet, I still think it is a good thing to get this project done during weekend, for I am not sure if I would have the time during the week, when I go to work, and the new manga chapter is coming.

In one or two weeks’ time my movie review articles would sink thanks to the coming Ch. 350 Review, the Annual Review and (maybe) HiNA2 Review. So I am setting up a new menu at the right column of this blog. You can access any of the 4 Reviews, as well as this Comment post, whenever you like.

Honestly, the Review posts are more descriptive than creative, as I thought that too many personal comments would destroy the tempo of the article. “So, what do you think about the movie?” you might ask, so this Comment post would be my answers.

This article would likely be the end of my Hayate no Gotoku! Heaven is a Place on Earth project. It indeed is a long battle…

Returning to Basics: Hayate-Nagi Relationship

In an interview earlier, Producer Komori had stated that the movie would “return to the basics of the series”, and by that he meant the relationship between Hayate and Nagi. Now we can see that he hasn’t lied to us. Throughout the movie, none of the romantic feelings of other girls on Hayate had been addressed.

The most obvious evidence is that, while most of the so-called “harem members” attended the trip, none of them had done anything with Hayate. It seems that they were there simply to enjoy the last days of their summer vacation, and nobody gave a damn with what Hayate thought about them.

The only significant event happened to Nagi, and it had a great impact on Hayate. As both Hayate and Nagi put great effort to reunite, they sent out a clear message: Hayate and Nagi had developed a relationship of inter-dependence, which means neither could live without the other. To state the most obvious, Hayate did not serve Nagi only to repay his debt, so even if he had become richer than Nagi, he would not quit his job as her butler.

Nagi’s dependence on Hayate is clear for everyone to see – without Hayate, she would have been dead 100 times. Hayate’s dependence on Nagi is such that, even if his memories of Nagi was lost, he could feel that something very important was lost, and he desperately tried to get her back.

Near the end of the Athena saga, Hayate had stated that Nagi was his life in itself, because after his faith in life had completely lost after his parents left him their debt, Nagi gave it back to him. To Hayate, Nagi was his version of Jesus Christ.

Some people suggested that such inter-dependence would mean that Hayate could have no love interest other than Nagi, but even your very devoted Christian friends get married with somebody other than Christ, so…

A Plot We are So Familiar with

The plot of the movie is actually very simple. Suzune, Hayate’s (dead) grandmother, wanted to set Hayate from the debt he got from his parents and the burden to take care of a hopeless lady. She therefore kidnapped Nagi (and 4 other girls…), erased the memories of Hayate (and 4 other girls…) on Nagi, and gave him a fortune enough to repay his debt. However, Hayate was determined to rescue Nagi, and with the combined efforts of lady and butler, Suzune’s plans failed. Hayate rescued Nagi, and the story ended.

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Indeed, the “kidnap – declaration – rescue” formula has been played over and over again, in the manga, the OVA, and now the movie. While it is important to remind the forgetful of the “basics of the series”, the reminder doesn’t have to come in such a standardized form.

I am not saying that the movie is bad. In fact, in such a “standardized form”, Komori successfully made an entertaining movie. Yet, although it is good, it cannot be considered “brilliant”. The major problem is that, while Komori tried to elaborate “the basics of the series” – the relationship between Hayate and Nagi – he hasn’t told us anything new.

“Hayate did not serve Nagi because of money” – sorry, we know this by no later than the Athena saga. “Nagi was very important to Hayate” – sorry, we know this by no later than the Athena saga. What else? “No, nothing else” – sorry, you have not told me anything new, then.

A reminder on the Hayate-Nagi relationship is never a bad thing. Yet, if Komori isn’t trying to tell me something new, then I highly doubt if it worths me 3000 yen to buy a “relationship reminder”. I won’t pay for a textbook which reminds me one plus one equals two.

Screentime Distribution and Performance

As suggested above, none of the so-called “harem members” had her romantic feelings addressed. The cold truth is that their screentime could be severely restricted, if they had nothing to do with the kidnapping of Nagi. The rule of this series is that you only get screentime by interacting with Hayate or Nagi, simple as that.

Ayumu, Izumi and Chiharu are clear victims of this “rule”. Both the voice actresses of Ayumu and Chiharu could leave the studio after the barbecue scene, as their characters were almost never seen again for the remaining 28 minutes (Well, Ayumu did have 3 more lines at the end, but Chiharu…?). Izumi did have quite a lot of screentime, as she was with Nagi when they were kidnapped, but she was overshadowed by Nagi, Kayura and even Risa. For her popularity, this isn’t a very appropriate treatment – although I doubt if Hata and Komori care about character popularity in the first place…

Maria had the chance to act as Hayate’s lady, so she had a lot of screentime, but her performance wasn’t really satisfactory either. For one thing, she did not impose enough influence on Hayate to convince that she was his lady. For another, she often acted like a fool – or at least, a gag character. While it is not a sin for a side character, it could be for Maria – one of the main heroines.

Hinagiku’s case was a bit mixed. She did not have much screentime, but she had used her screentime quite effectively to cause enough impact. Her battle scene was the only actual action sequence in the movie. She had provided one fan-service, and had one ship-tease. In fact, other than Nagi, Hina was the girl who came closest to have her relationship with Hayate addressed. She remains the most popular character for a reason: Even when she had nothing to do with the plot, her performance remained Grade A.

Nagi: Finally Shines

Let us be fair, the top performer of this movie is Nagi.

If there is a difference between this movie and other “standardized form”, it would be that Nagi actually started trying to struggle for her own freedom, instead of merely waiting for Hayate to save her.

It is easy to see that Nagi took the lead in the “closed space” to look for a way out. While the SC Rangers were stupid, and Kayura was often dreaming, Nagi showed her decisiveness and determination, and she came very close to be able to call for help – if she could just calm down and tell Klaus what was happening.

Just as Shonen Sunday claimed in the Character Poll results announcement page, Nagi could make a real fight on her current popularity with the movie. Does it mean that Hata and Komori care about character popularity after all?

Or is it simply that they only want the one who they want to be the most popular to be the most popular?

Introducing Kayura to the World

Nagi gave a Grade S performance in this movie, but the debutant Kayura also gave a very good show.

Kayura is a very interesting character. Her first ever appearance was not in the manga, but the movie. After the movie, she was then re-introduced into the manga, and currently the manga is telling us how Kayura had met everyone.

As she is a completely new character, the movie has the obligation to tell us what kind of person she is, and after the one-hour movie, we can sum up quite a few points:

  • She was an otaku and a cosplayer. We have quite a few otakus in this series, but so far we had no cosplayers. In the movie, she cosplayed into Carozzo Ronah (from Gundam F91), Suzumiya Haruhi, and Saber (from Fate/Stay Night). As a otaku himself, Hata would certainly enjoy drawing Kayura as well.
  • She was a bit weird. She seemed to be intelligent, as she could make very deadpan comments on incredibly stupid things. Yet, sometimes she acted like she wasn’t really using her brain, like locking Nagi alone on the Ferris Wheel, or caring absolutely nothing about being trapped in the “closed space”. I would say that she was that kind of “dreamy” person, just like Luna Lovegood of the Harry Potter series. Sometimes, she had her own world to live in.
  • She was a polite person. Although they were in the same class (Kayara took the place of Wataru, remember?), Kayura addressed the SC Rangers and Hina “Seniors”, although she called their triats instead of their names: the SC Rangers as a group were “The Three Idiots Seniors”, Miki was “Swept-Back Senior”, and Hina was “Invincible Senior”. As she was a polite person, it seems that everybody liked her.

I quite like Kayura as a character, and surely I look forward to her performance in the manga. Nagi needed another friend of her age, and everybody could do well with having such a cute “junior”.

Grandma Suzune: What Was She Thinking?

You might find it annoying that I kept calling Suzune “the woman” in my Movie Reviews. However, I find it difficult to call such a young-looking woman “Granny”, so…

Maybe I was being ignorant, but I never heard of Hayate’s grandmother in canon. If I were right, then Suzune would be no more than a movie creation. In any case, she was pivotal to the plot of the movie, as she was the main trouble-maker this time.

She wasn’t really a bad person. It was simply that she wanted to show her care for Hayate in her own way, by removing all the burdens and debts of Hayate, so to set him free. She only wanted Hayate to live a happy life as a free person, so her intentions were not exactly bad. Indeed, how could you say such a caring Granny is a bad person?

She might have good hearts, but clearly she did not have good brains. In this movie, she made at least two mistakes, which did not justify her good hearts, but almost had her nominated as the Villain of the Year.

Her first mistake was that she did not understand what her grandson was doing, and the true nature of his work. She did not understand that Hayate was actually happy with his current employment, and that he did not work for Nagi to repay her. She failed to see that Hayate had developed a sort of reliance on Nagi. Without Nagi, he had no existence.

That misunderstanding led her to make her second mistake: using completely wrong ways to set Hayate free. We should have known by now that Hayate becomes sworn enemies with anyone who hurts Nagi, so her attempts to persuade him became a lot more confrontational than it had to be. Besides, when Hayate was desperately trying to find and rescue Nagi, it would be impossible to ask him to leave her. Her attempts only resulted in Hayate confirming that Nagi was the most important person in his life – certainly not something she would want Hayate to think.

Let us remember that the most foolish way to own Hayate is to try to separate him from Nagi. Rather, try to make the best use of his spare time, remind Hayate that there are things other than Nagi, and tell him that you wouldn’t mind that you come second after Nagi. Devoted Christians always regard Jesus Christ as the most important person in their life, but Christians don’t merry Christ.

Other Trivial Things

There are a few more trivial things which I think would be fun to pay attention to:

  • Many people complain about the artwork, but I am fine with it although I could agree everything looks a bit more childish. At least, I think the characters look better in the movie than on the posters.
  • What I really want to complain about is the voices of Miki and Izumi. I don’t know why, but they sound like speaking in a higher pitch than before. I have quite sensitive ears, so their voices sometimes irritate me.
  • Every cellphone in the movie is an iPhone. Given that Hata himself is an Apple user and lover, this is not surprising. Yet, the movie also pointed out the major weaknesses of iPhones: battery, signal, and being fragile.
  • Klaus informed Nagi that she had a delivery from Amazon. As the delivery was made to the Sanzen’in Mansion, it could mean that Nagi had moved back to her big Mansion.
  • Athena/Alice was nowhere to be seen in the movie. Well, evidence had already suggested that Hina was not exactly a responsible mother, always leaving her child at home when she was at school. But she would have gone too far to leave her child at home for days and go to trips. Maybe it was that Athena had already regained her true powers and memories, and she had left the Violet Mansion. What is interesting is that the Shirosakura remained powerful in Hina’s possession.
  • Speaking of relationship, perhaps the romantic relationship which had progressed the most in the movie was Kaoru-Yukiji. Their scene in the epilogue was just so good.

Conclusion

As explained above, I think the movie is a light-hearted entertainment, but it certainly isn’t good enough to be considered “brilliant”. It isn’t exactly a waste of time watching this movie, but I doubt if it is worthy of a DVD/Blu-Ray collection.

Light-hearted entertainment don’t get very high score even by IMDb standard, and having considered my personal plus and minus of this movie, I would settle for a 6 out of 10.

  • In five words: Good but not good enough.
  • Biggest surprise: Nagi’s performance, closely followed by that of Hina and Kayura.
  • Biggest disappointment: No shipping whatsoever – Mind you, the movie doesn’t ship Hayate-Nagi in a romantic way.