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.
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.
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.