Comment: Hata is in Danger of Taking One Step Too Far by Killing off the Fun with Flashforwards


To Begin the Slaughter…

Hata Kenjiro is someone who lives in the future, instead of living at the moment.

While working on his series, Hayate no Gotoku!, Hata has a certain habit of throwing out flashforwards. Even before Hinagiku’s birthday arc, we were given two short stories from the Athena saga. At the beginning of the Comisun saga, we came to know that it would end with a sound Nagi defeat. In August 2011 the Heaven is a Place on Earth movie (referred to as “the movie” below) was released, and we came to know Kayura before she had made her debut in the main story.

Now, with the Can’t Take My Eyes off You anime (referred to as “the new anime” below) to be aired, it is expected that we would come to know something new, again. The most recent cover page of Shonen Sunday could give us hints as to what the “something” could be: a change in the relationship between Hayate and Nagi. This line, combined with the “holding hand scene” in the PVs, more or less implies that Hayate and Nagi would develop a more sexual and romantic relationship than before. In other words, Hata might want to confirm that Hayate and Nagi are the offical couple with the new anime.

For the argument’s sake, let us assume that this is the correct interpretation of the PVs and the cover. And there is a problem.

The Problem

Let me get this straight: my concern is not that Nagi is not the perfect partner for Hayate. It is none of my business if Hayate wants to marry Nagi, so if Hayate says Nagi is okay for him, that she is okay for him. What actually worries me is that, by announcing the official couple in the new anime, the series would suddenly become much less fun.

Unless Hata has gone crazy or has a sudden change in mind, the flashforwards are going to come true. It means that Nagi would lose to Ruka at Comisun and Kayura would come into the story at some point (both proven true by more recent story development), so it also means that Hayate would fall in love with Nagi. That begs a question: what about the other girls?

You see, one of the interesting things about reading this series is the discussion on whom Hayate would end up with. It might not be the only important subject for discussion, it is still an important subject. Now, what would it become if Hata confirms in this anime that Hayate would end up with – let everyone of us put this into perspective – Miki?

Direct Result: The Death of Discussion

The direct result would be that it ends all the shipping discussions. “What is the point arguing? The author has already confirmed that this would be the official end. Period.” With the big period we cease to debate over different ships or even making up theories, because no matter how strong we think our cases are, they simply would not come into realization. Why argue for something when you know for sure it is untrue?

The bad thing about confirming the romantic relationship for Hayate in the new anime is that, it kills off all other possibilities. When nothing is confirmed, there is a chance for everyone to make a case for their favoured character, in the hope that their desired ending could come to realization, no matter how unlikely it seems. If the romantic relationship for Hayate is confirmed, and other possibilities are killed off, there would be no chance and no hope. More importantly, there would no more discussions on shipping.

Perhaps this is exactly Hata’s plan: to silence “heresy” (e.g. Doughnut Gunso’s Hayate Report; I might have to be burnt alive) and to bring attention of the audience back to his desired topics, like… I don’t know. The problem is, my interests can be very different to Hata’s.  Why should I be forced to shut up on topics that interest me, and to talk about subjects that I don’t give a f… – em, I mean, care?

And it is up to you to calculate the proportion of ship discussion to story discussion. The unavoidable truth is that, taking away ship discussion would be like muting your television. Authors surely wouldn’t like so little discussion on their works.

Indirect Result – The Loss of Excitement

A more indirect result would be that, after the conclusion of the new anime, we are – more or less – forced to read the manga with the knowledge that the series would have one specific ending. The reading experience would therefore be similar to that of a train ride: we know where we are, we know our destination, and we are travelling on defined tracks. Where is the excitement?

You might want to argue that, even if the “excitement” is gone, we can still enjoy the sheer beauty of the story. While this is possible, it generally requires some sort of objectiveness to be able to appreciate the manga this way. The thing is, we do not have the responsibility to read mangas with no personal preference: we are not manga analysts!

If we do not have the (obligatory) objectiveness, we would need fondness to love the manga even if we are told the ending. Unfortunately, whether we could enjoy the manga this way inevitably depends on whether we like the ending. Obviously, there is no single version of an ending which makes everyone of us happy. The “Nagi ending”, as we are invited by Hata to witness in the new anime, will surely please some people and piss some people off. For people to witness the manga heading towards an ending they consider “bad” is not going to be fun.

The Necessity of Uncertainty

This is why too many foretold truths annoy me. I would do just fine reading the manga on a linear timeline, without jumping forward and backward like Kobayakawa Sena performing Devil Bat Ghost. We become confused by the moves, just like most of Sena’s opponents.

The more we are told of the ending of the arc or series, the less uncertainty and excitement remain. We have a very recent example which can highlight the problem. In Ch. 378, Ruka coughs up some blood. While many readers are rightly worried that she could be seriously ill, others are quick to point out that she would be fine, simply because she looks perfectly healthy in the movie.

What an instant kill of excitement.

While a “Nagi ending” – or any other ending, for the matter – does not please everyone, a lot of readers would become unhappy. So, why take up the trouble to upset people at this moment, while there is still a long way to go before the series concludes?

Some people might ask us to simply accept this ending and, in the end, try to love it. However, let us not forget that, Hayate no Gotoku! is nothing more than one series out of tens of thousands of stories produced by Japanese mangakas. More importantly, this series is not exactly an important element in our lives. If this series doesn’t make us happy, we can give up on it and look for another series for enjoyment. In the end, Hata would be the one to pay the price.

Conclusion

There is no legitimate reason for Hata to make so many jumps from the current story line and tell us things we are not supposed to know for the time being. Discussions would be gone. Excitement would be gone. Readers would also be gone.

That begs a lot of questions: why is Hata so eager about the future? How desperate is he by increasing his own workload by participating in the story of the movie and the new anime? What is it in the current story that makes him so unhappy?

No matter how unhappy he is, revealing the future relationship between Hayate and Nagi – or any other girl, for the matter – is not the wisest move. The new anime could be the final say on Hayate’s lifelong partner, but it could also be the final nail on the coffin of the series.

And Hata has been the one digging his own grave.

29 comments on “Comment: Hata is in Danger of Taking One Step Too Far by Killing off the Fun with Flashforwards

  1. let’s say i’m nagi x hayate fans, but me neither doesn’t like if it confirmed by this anime, ’cause it’ll kill my fantasy about this series. let’s just hope, hatta intention is to bring something fresh here … and I realize it would be hard to the anime catch on the manga so atleast this fall, let the HnG amuse us anyway :3 and yeah i agree hatta can dig this serries graveyard, if he do some kind of justification of hayate’s true heroine …

  2. He probably won’t care. He already got financial security from the series’ resident cash cow – one named Hinagiku Katsura, that is. And thus he think he could do anything he wants – at the cost of some of his readers. After all, it’s his privilege as a creator.

    Now, sneering aside, I wonder how popular is Hayate-Nagi pairing? Last time I asked my friend, the most preferred couple is Hayate-Hinagiku, and I am unsure of that now. What do you think, Sarge?

    (P.S: Well, suppose he did confirm the end with this – is he going to try to keep hsi readers with comedies? this part of HnG has lost its charms ages ago, if you ask me.)

    Once again, what do you think?

    • Next time, we might have to ask if there is any refund policy on disapointing manga…

      I don’t have any information on couple preference, so I can’t be sure. Still, I guess Character Polls could be reliable references.

      Comedy may still be there, but ship-teases would lose all credibility, and would become an annoyance. I mean, how am I supposed to believe Hayate is serious when he appears to be showing affection for, say, Hina?

      Hata might be better off stop making fun of other girls on their love for Hayate. Then again, the series becomes boring…

    • Okay. Well, then again, there;s still the possibility that this anime contains “materials that does not make it to the manga/not fit into it.”

      One more thing: I don’t think character polls can be really reliable on this matter…Liking that character does not necessarily mean they want him or her to end up with someone.

      For example, myself: Hinagiku, tbh, is not my most favorite character. (I do like her, though, but not the most.) My favorite is Maria. But I still want Hinagiku to end up with Hayate. There’s a very good reason for this, and that’s not merely because she’s my fave and so I can have Maria for myself (haha).

      But still, that might be just me…:P

  3. Hi there Gunso, long time no see, and I thought that I’d see some fun post which I usualy see..never thought that I’d see something like this post..

    Okay, long comment short, Let’s hope that even though we’ve know with who Hayate will be, if it’s really true, we haven’t seen the real thing after all(though it’s highly probably true), that Hata will give us many(and so many, cause I don’t ship Hayate x Nagi relationship so much) good things in the gap of the new anime and the manga.

    And one more thing, hope that Hata would not do this, anymore. Since it looks like pretty messy now(seeing your post). If it’s get messier, it would be really bad.

    • >Many good things.

      He better be or here will be bloodshed. And He better know I’m damn hard to please >:)

    • For the fun posts there is the Ch. 378 review below. I can’t say for sure that it is fun, but at least it is in the usual style. 😉

      A disappointing end isn’t necessarily a bad end. If Hata is able to write up a nice ending for the “defeated girls”, among other things, then I won’t complain too much.

  4. I don’t really agree with you on this one, at least not entirely. It is true that Hata is making a lot of mistakes lately, because of his change of drawing style, the lack of a decent plot and the growing fan service.

    But we should care less about “who Hayate is gonna chose from his great harem” and care more about plot and character development, it might even be better if choose a partner and get it done, so it would not be as cliché as a random romantic harem anime.

    The early days of Hayate filled with jokes and mystery is really missing me, I hope Hata would not choose the wrong path just to satisfy the japanese otaku filthy desires. :/

    • The thing is, while we could be wiser in choosing the topics to focus on, I do not think we need the author to force us to pick this topic and not that. I mean, so what if I prefer talking about ship wars to the main plot? I might be stupid but I should have the choice to be stupid.

      Whereas, if a topic is done, I don’t even have a choice to discuss, and I don’t like it. That’s my concern.

    • …Pairing the main hero with the main heroine is the most cliché of all cliché, just saying….

      Especially in a “random romantic harem anime.” 😛

    • Nope, it would have been if hayate no gotoku! was about to end, but pairing in the middle of the story and see how relationship evolves, very few “random romantic harem anime” does that.

      Well, it’s not like i want him to pair with Nagi (In fact, i don’t want Hayate to pair with anybody), it’s just that I want Hata to move on and give us the plot he is teasing us with since Yozora appeared.

    • “But we should care less about “who Hayate is gonna chose from his great harem” and care more about plot and character development”

      I wish we could tell that to Hata…

      The most ironic thing is that we ARE losing the plot (AND character development – lots of it, actually) with the omission of the Royal Garden story.
      “But then we would know how the story goes. New material brings freshness to the story”.
      True, but ONLY when the plot is actually well established…

  5. Only watching the new anime from start to finish will give us the answer. I seriously hope that the new anime is ONLY a parallel story to the manga.

    It’s interesting that you point out Hata’s use of flashforwards. I’m more of someone who enjoys watching the progress of a story despite knowing what will happen for example, despite knowing Nagi’s imminent defeat at Comisun, it was still exciting and interesting to know how, why and when it’ll happen and there were still a lot of unexpected things that happened before the her defeat. I still think that Hata should for now on, tone down the use of flashforwards.

    • The problem is, even if the new anime is only a parallel story, it is difficult for us to shake the impressions and “facts” it gives us. I guess many of us are still expecting Kirika to do something crazy (and arguably evil) in the manga, just because she was presented as an erratic chairman in the First Season Anime. In the same way, as we think of Himegami, we can’t really forget the way he called himself “Princess God”…

      If this is a parallel story to the manga, then it casts doubt over its credibility as canon. And when we have to bear in mind that this whole thing is not canon while watching, then it is not awesome.

    • I was hoping for an alternative take on the less important stories, but it seems like my hopes went down the tubes…

  6. I just wonder what is so wrong with a linear timeline?

    What exactly would be the point of an anime wich shows future events? Or even… An anime that shows a parallel storyline? This doesn’t make sense!

    If this is just another flashforward, then we also will lose the excitment over Nagi’s future. No, not love-wise, but more specifically about her lifestyle.
    The only reason I started to like Nagi as character was a certain scene during the GW arc. Showing Nagi in her usual lifestyle (without any explanation!) afterwards just will destroy the meaning of that said scene…

    Another point is… We didn’t even got to the point where the whole “serious plot” behind the series was presented to the anime-public. They only got glimpses of it, but without any clue. This is just another major blow. After three years in hiatus, the anime comes back with more “superficial” stories instead of going straight to the point. What will anime fans think? Like it or not, the true “driving force” of this series IS the Royal Garden and the King Jewels. Without it, it’s just another comedy/ romance/ (parody???) without any meaning (besides Nagi and Hayate, wich, to be frank, it’s quite shallow). In other words, by skipping all of it, we can’t move on! The story is still stuck at the end of Season 2…

    Well… No more comments.
    And sorry about the rambling, but this is really pissing me off too… I hope you can understand…

  7. Gunsou, you forgotten one thing.
    Hata stated the canon pairing is, KOTETSU X HAYATE~!!!! SO THE SERIES AREN’T ENDING YET~!!!!

  8. Interesting article as always. I certainly am concerned regarding how the people who haven’t read the manga are supposed to take this. I mean, no more mansion, no more ludicrous wealth, all the characters (important ones anyway) suddenly living together, and at least two who they would never have seen get introduced? Part of me is kinda hoping that it’s going to jump around the timeline a bit to make sure the important stuff gets included.

    Noting a trend in anime, there is also a tendency for lighthearted series to suddenly get darker at the end. If the new anime does this as well then it might just end with the End of the World Arc to wow all the people who haven’t read the manga. Otherwise I would like to see Hayate and Hina’s date get animated (instead of the one from season 1, though having a different date in each continuity is fun too…)

    As for shipping…you realize people ship in series long over right? Sure there will be a whole lot of dissatisfied people, but we just switch to arguing about why the canon couple sucks. Case in point; just ask a Ranma 1/2 fan. To this day I believe Ukyo was a better choice and that Takahashi made some major mistakes trying to set up a Ranma/Akane ending.

    Personally, I prefer the Hayate/Nagi relationship as staying platonic. It works well that way and has had some good development in that direction. There just hasn’t been enough romantic development between them to make me seriously consider them ending up as a couple. Hell, the other characters don’t even acknowledge it anymore. Frankly, after 378 chapters and no official couple in sight it’s almost certain to end up unresolved (though almost certainly implied or at least narrowed down). As long as the more serious plot bits remain interesting and the pairings that have a shot (Maria, Hina, Athena) get some development then all is well.

    PS – to the above comments about hooking people up in the middle; you’re looking for Shoujo series. Those focus on the actual day-to-day romance building stuff of seeing the couple already together and all the troubles that come with that. HnG is Shounen, where people almost never hook up until the finale if ever.

    • Interesting. This series could end in a similar way to Ranma 1/2. Something like “Until Hayate resolves his bad luck problem, he won’t end up with anyone but we know he loves -insert heroine’s name- and that -insert heroine’s name- loves him back”. I for one liked how Ranma 1/2 turned out to be though I can understand how you feel.

    • Interesting points.

      This issue about timeline is damn confusing, to be honest. All the previews show Nagi living in luxury, so it doesn’t make any sense to me. So, I gave up trying to figure it out. We are just barely 4 days from the first episode anyway.

      “EotW” at the end of the anime? That would be epic!
      And… I can’t shake off the feeling that clock in the logo gives me… ugh.

      Come to think of it… Maybe aren’t we taking that “change in relationship” in the wrong way? I mean… It did change somehow after that thing with Hayate’s King Jewel.

      Argh. Enough of speculation. I’ll just shut up until Wednesday (Thursday in Japan time zone). =D

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  13. i feel its being suggested recently that hayate has vaguely realized how that nagi feels about him and this may indicate that they will soon separate…….or not. but i want him to end up with a-tan and nagi in the end becomes a brilliant mangaka and like in athena arc realizes hayate has no feelings for her so for sake of his happiness she lets him go.

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