As the butler and maid of the Sanzen’in household, the primary duty of Hayate and Maria is to serve and protect Nagi. An inevitable question therefore arises: what do they do when Nagi is not around, because – for instance – she has retreated into the mountains to make her manga?
Of course, they have a house to look after, but it is one thing to maintain the Sanzen’in Mansion, and it is another thing at the Violet Mansion. The very simple truth is that the Violet Mansion is… not as big as the Sanzen’in Mansion, so if Hayate and Maria could maintain the big home on a daily basis, they surely would have no problem maintaining a much smaller mansion. In fact, with the capabilities of butler and maid, you might think that they could finish all the housework in an hour or two.
So let us refine our question: presuming that Nagi is not around, what do Hayate and Maria do when they are free? Mind you, even if we exclude bed time (8 hours for normal human beings, 6 for geniuses, 1 for monsters like Hayate), meal time (2 hours, assuming that they need one hour for each meal) and housework time (assumed to be 2 hours here), they still have at least 12 hours a day to spare. So, what do they make of all the time?
From a certain point of view, Hayate actually has much more to do than Maria. He is going to school, he is doing part-time job, and he has to help Ruka with her manga. Apparently even Hayate realises this, so as he heads to the Rainbow Village (so Ruka is working on her manga in a hot spring, huh?) he invites Maria to come along. Knowing Hayate, he is not exactly tactful, and he puts in foot in his mouth by saying that he is inviting Maria to come along because she has nothing to do.
I am not even sure if it has been a good idea for Hayate to not looking after Nagi. After all, to leave alone someone with zero ability to look after herself could be life-threatening. Then again, this time Nagi is with Ayumu and – especially – Chiharu. Nobody actually knows that Chiharu is working as Sakuya’s maid, but Nagi accidentally finds a maid to look after her during her stay at the Dark Rainbow Village.
And there is an adult in Ashibashi-sensei. No, wait – I do not trust his ability to look after himself…
So, Hayate has answered our question: Maria has nothing to do with her time. The work for us (and Hata in this chapter) now is to examine the truthfulness of Hayate’s statement. As the maid sits at home, she finds that she really has nothing to do. Other than sitting, lying around, yawning and stuff, the only thing she could do is to turn on the television. Soon Maria realises the problem: if she falls asleep watching television during the day, she is nothing more than a NEET – a status she would definitely not like.
Maria might blame Nagi for giving her many problems to deal with, but I have to wonder just how troublesome Nagi is to Maria. As we all know, Nagi sticks with Hayate most of the time, so Maria has to only deal with Nagi when she is home. And honestly, just how much trouble could Nagi cause to Maria other than laundry, food and some minor requests? Honestly, I think that Maria is exaggerating her complaints of Nagi.
Or, should we say that Nagi is just such a marvellous trouble-maker by giving Maria a headache even for such trivial things like food and laundry?
In any case, Maria doesn’t want to behave like a NEET, and she seriously wants to find something to do. Then there is a baseball game on show, and Maria has an idea: oh yes, I can do some sports! The funny thing is that while she could have been thinking about playing baseball all along, she ends up wearing swimsuits in her imagination. Come to think of it, beach baseball could have been nice…
So Maria finds a baseball (nobody in the house seems to be a baseball player by the way, so I have no idea where the ball has come from) and starts her game. As she is alone, she could only throw the ball into the wall, and catches it as it bounces back. Now this is very sad: not only is this routine very boring, but she looks very, very lonely now. After all, baseball is meant to be a team sport, so the very bottom line is that you need someone to play catch with you.
The bouncing of the ball on a wall is somewhat noisy, and Maria’s game happens to have attracted the attention of Hinagiku, who has “just got back”. To hide her embarrassment, and also to find something to do, Maria asks Hinagiku if there is anything she needs – food or laundry, something she needs to do for Nagi all the time.
Unfortunately, Hinagiku is so capable and independent that she has taken care of herself. Disappointed, Maria concludes that it is “boring”, because Hinagiku has left nothing else for her to do. It appears that Nagi and Hinagiku are two extremes which Maria does not like: Nagi is 0% able to take care of herself so she is troublesome, Hinagiku is 100% able to take care of herself so she is boring. I guess people who would make Maria happy are those in between Nagi and Hinagiku, who are 50% able to take care of themselves. Athena, Ayumu, Ruka and (perhaps) Kayura come into mind.
Maria then asks if Hinagiku has anything else to do. Should Hinagiku say that she has nothing to do, my bet is that Maria would invite her to play catch… Unfortunately Hinagiku is busy – Nagi has just called her to discuss something. While she hasn’t specify what that “something” is, I bet many of you would think that it is about Nagi’s manga.
Of course Nagi might want Hinagiku’s advices on manga, but there is still the possibility that it is not the case at all. After all, if Nagi has wanted Hinagiku’s advices, she could have asked for them ages ago. Now that Nagi is with the best mangaka on Earth, one must wonder why Hinagiku’s advices are even needed before assigning her to Nagi’s team.
If Hinagiku really ends up being on Nagi’s team, then we might find the balance tipping in Nagi’s favour. Hinagiku has been the mastermind of Ruka’s success in Comisun, so the consequences of removing Ruka’s “brain” could be of much significance. By recruiting Ashibashi-sensei and Hinagiku on her team, Nagi would be gaining powers while also reducing Ruka’s powers. If things turn out this way, and if Nagi wins in Comiket, then at least we know there is good reason for that.
On the other hand, Hayate and Ruka could now be on an “Us against the World” mission in Comiket. It looks like a romantic development, but the question is whether Hayate and Ruka are fighting for the same goal. As far as I know, Hayate is only helping Ruka because Nagi has told him to do so. Does he really want Ruka to win? Does he want to be Ruka’s boyfriend? I can’t really tell.
Okay, that’s all with the baseless guessing works. Now let us go back to Maria, who is unhappy that Nagi has opted to call Hinagiku, instead of her, for help. This is quite understandable: Hinagiku is a very busy person, while Maria “has nothing to do”. As Nagi opts to call for a very busy person for help, the not so busy person naturally feels that she is not valued. Offended, Maria sets out to prove herself. In order to prove that she understands manga – at least as much as Hinagiku does – Maria begins drawing her own manga!
It turns out that Maria really can draw. The characters are cute, and the art is clean and neat. However, she suffers from the same problem as Nagi: there is that plot twist which makes the manga very difficult to understand. In Maria’s own words, it is “over the top”.
Maria’s conclusion is right: manga is hard. It is not only about the art, but also the story – that’s why Maria fails. It is not only about the story, but also the way you tell the story – that’s why Nagi fails. It is not only about the way you tell the story, but also how to impress the readers – that’s why Ruka failed before Comisun. If they are to be serious about this profession, they have much to learn.
Of course, of all the people in the world, Maria is in the best position to learn everything about manga. She has the brains, she has the motive, and most importantly – she has the time. Maybe we should look forward to Maria becoming the dark horse of the Comiket competition.