Rain is still pouring. Ayumu, Chiharu and Isumi are not likely to return to the cottage before the rain stops, although in Isumi’s case there is worry that she might not be able to find her way back to the cottage. It means that Hayate and Ruka are very alone for a while. As always (?), things look promising here.
To make things look even more promising, as he turns away from Ruka while she is changing, Hayate suddenly realizes that Ruka is a very cute girl. One might wonder just how many girls has Hayate found cute, but in any case he now knows that Ruka is probably more than just an idol.
Ruka is not the only one who got wet. Although we can’t see through Hayate’s wet clothes
for his nipples, he is all wet as well. Apparently he hasn’t got spare casual outfits, so he has no choice but to change into his butler uniform again.
Then, Ruka has a question for Hayate: why has he become a butler? To answer that question, Hayate repeats his story (once again): his parents sold him to the Yakuza for 150M yen, and Nagi bailed him out. What is probably new here is that Hayate reveals what makes him the most happy: it is not because his debt was cleared, but that Nagi was the only one who saved him. This gave new hope and purpose to his life, so he became Nagi’s butler.
As she listens, Ruka now knows how similar her story is with Hayate’s. This gives her the empathy to understand the pain Hayate has gone through, and how grateful he is to Nagi. Hayate returns her a “lovely smile”.
Suddenly, Ruka understands how wonderful Hayate is – he could help people with all his might without concerning his own safety – and how deep her love is for him. So she does it: she calls for Hayate’s attention, and as he turns around, she presses her lips on his.
And they live happily ever after.
If I do this Chapter Review in the same way I used to do, i.e. outlining the chapter with some personal thoughts, then the above paragraphs would do. However, it would be far too short. As such, why not we discuss this chapter in more depth than usual?
A lot of people have already expressed their feelings about this chapter: some are happy, some are unhappy. So what do I feel about this development? Well, I am not happy about this, but not entirely because this is not my desired development – it is relevant, but not the critical issue.
Imagine you are playing the Football Manager game. Your team dominated almost the entire game, but you couldn’t score. You hit the woodwork, were called offside, were fouled… You had a lot of near misses, but you just couldn’t score. Then, at the final minute of the game, your opponents got their only chance of the game, and they duly scored. Now, you won’t like it. You would think that either you were having an extremely bad day, or that the computer cheated.
This is exactly how I feel about this chapter. Let us not forget that this is not the first time Hayate has the chance to develop a romantic relationship with one of the female characters, but most previous cases have been near misses: either a third party would appear (out of nowhere) to ruin the mood, or one of the characters would press the self-destruct button. Yet what Ruka gets in this chapter is not another near miss: no third party, no self-destruction. Without all those nuisance, Ruka makes significant progress with Hayate, and she has a direct hit on target on her first attempt. As the supporter of a character who suffers the most from near misses, I find Ruka’s success rather hard to take.
Of course, as the crowning moment of her birthday arc – as well as some moments of other girls – would tell you, when character and plot development is required, Hata is more than happy to grant the girl some success. As Ruka has just got a big success in this chapter, we must wonder what character and plot development can be expected from a Hayate-Ruka kiss.
Remember the little flashback in the previous chapter on Hayate’s monologue? It was Hayate’s thoughts after his “break-up” with Athena, his first love. If you remember, things did not have to turn out so badly, as Athena had, during their reunion, thought that she wanted to be with Hayate forever. Unfortunately, Hayate had chosen that exact moment to talk about Nagi and how important she was (and is) to him. With that, Hayate spectacularly turned a lovely reunion into a “final” farewell.
And then he cried. He did not understand Athena’s decision, but he was sad that she was not coming to Japan with him, so he cried. Obviously, he did not know what he had done wrong, because the next thing we know, he told Hinagiku that Athena had dumped him because “she fell out of love with me”. He did not think he had done anything wrong – it was Athena’s problem for falling out with him.
As he never knew that expressing gratitude for Nagi could cause him troubles when finding a lover, he is doing the very same thing to Ruka in this chapter. If he really wants a love life that doesn’t involve Nagi, and if he has learnt anything from his “break-up” with Athena, he would know better than repeating his same old mistake.
Unlike Athena, Ruka pays little attention to the girl Hayate is talking about. She doesn’t want to talk about the girl, as she thinks it is something irrelevant. All she cares is how similar she is to Hayate, and how close she can be to Hayate’s inner feelings. So, while Hayate is stupid enough to express his gratitude for Nagi in front of a girl he just found “cute”, the outcome so far is totally different from last time. While Athena “dumped” Hayate, Ruka kisses him.
Perhaps this is why Hayate’s monologue was mentioned in the previous chapter in the first place. While his previous mistake cost him his first love, the same mistake now grants him a second chance to fall in love with a girl. At the very least, Hayate is given a second chance to rethink his love philosophy, if any.
It is no question that Hayate is emotionally attached to Nagi. The real question is whether such an attachment is romantic love – shippers argue for this, sinkers (?) argue against it. By kissing Hayate right after he talked about Nagi’s greatness, Ruka coincidentally (or deliberately?) invites Hayate to separate the concepts of “gratitude” and “love”.
I have always thought that the relationship between Hayate and Nagi could be something like that between Christians and Jesus Christ. Ask any devoted Christian, and they would tell you that Christ is the most important person in their lives. Yet, ask them again and I doubt if any would say they want to marry Christ. The thing is, Christians worship and follow The Son of God, but they fall in love with and marry mortals. In the very same way, while Hayate has full gratitude for Nagi, it doesn’t mean that he cannot fall in love with other girls.
Maybe this is why Athena changed from “not returning to Japan” in Ch. 265 to “returning to Japan” in Ch. 266. Perhaps, after a night’s sleep to help clearing her head, Athena had noticed the “blind spot”: Hayate has gratitude for Nagi, but it doesn’t mean that he loves her. With that in mind, it is understandable that she was ready to fight for Hayate again.
Perhaps time has really come for Hayate to think whether “gratitude” and “love” is the same thing for him. This could be a very important question for him, so I think we should not label Ch. 382 as “just another ship-tease”. Instead, if Hayate really will have an internal debate on whether he could love someone other than Nagi, then this chapter could be of utmost importance.
The tricky thing for Ruka is that, even if she successfully convinces that Hayate can fall in love with her, there remains a question whether he will fall in love with her. After all, Athena has returned to Japan (despite in child form with memories and powers lost), and Hayate is known for a long-term crush on Maria. If he really is in love with someone other than Nagi, at least it isn’t necessarily Ruka.
As there will be no chapter in the next issue of Shonen Sunday, we surely will have a long debate over whether Ruka is the one true girl for Hayate. I will offer my views in a separate article next week, but for the time being, let’s vote! (Should clarification of “real deal” be required, it means Ruka becoming Hayate’s true love.)
This might affect the content of the Featured Article coming 31 October…