At the start of a new school term, we have finally reached the end of Ruka’s emotional journey.
Ruka herself has come to a decision: she would announce her September concert in Las Vegas, effectively pledging her future to the idol business. Whatever she has planned for her doujinshi, she would not be quitting as an idol. In other words, her dream of becoming a full-time, fully devoted mangaka is finished – at least for now.
I know there is a page’s worth of Ruka and Atsumari, but I will leave it there for a while.
In the previous Chapter Review, I suggested that Ruka could have been touched by her own performance, and thus has finally come to realise that she actually loves her job as an idol. It turns out that Hayate has reached the same (or at least, similar) conclusion. Well, when Hayate and I are thinking of the same thing, then I have to accept that I am doomed…
Sure enough, Hayate’s (and my) theory has been shot down immediately by Ruka. She reveals that she has cried not because she didn’t want to quit, but that she wanted to quit but couldn’t. The reason, of course, is that she still owes her company the 150M yen debt. This leaves her very vulnerable in her “negotiations” with her company: if you owe something this big to someone, it would be almost impossible for you to say “no” to them.
So Ruka can only say “yes” to Atsumari’s order to return to her idol business immediately. She would be giving up something she wants for a long time for something she doesn’t want. God knows how long would it take for her to repay her debt, and whether she would still have the passion and talent for manga when she is finally free.
It is therefore quite understandable that Ruka did not respond to Atsumari when the latter was talking to her. Ruka hates her manager for handling her an ultimatum, with no room for negotiation or compromise. In a way, this is a lose-lose situation: Atsumari is keeping someone who has no desire to work for her. Still, Atsurami could afford ignoring Ruka’s true feelings, as Ruka would still do her job professionally.
Why do I think of David Moyes and Wayne Rooney?
Hayate then remembers his conversation with Dr. Kurosu, which is
inaudible unreadable for us readers. What we do know is that a) Dr. Kurosu knows about Hayate despite meeting him only for the first time, b) Dr. Kurosu could very much be related to Ruka and c) Dr. Kurosu has a mission for Hayate to make Ruka happy.
The last time we saw Dr. Kurosu, she was driving Hinagiku back to Tokyo, and she asked her passenger about Ruka. I am not sure how much has Hinagiku revealed, but given Dr. Kurosu’s understanding of Hayate, my guess is that Hinagiku has actually talked a lot about the indebted butler as well.
So Hayate has decided to accept the mission and make Ruka happy. The first thing he does is to embrace Ruka from behind – thus the “Silky Meh” moment back in Ch. 413. Somehow, the mood seems a little brighter in this chapter, and of course this adds on the “meh” factor. In other words, I still couldn’t care less.
The next thing Hayate does is to ask for a leave of absence as Nagi’s butler. We might relate this incident to Ch. 253, in which Hayate asked for a night’s off in order to save Athena, but the situation is completely different now. In Ch. 253, Nagi had such a strong bond with Hayate that she was sure that he would return and stay with her. This time, Nagi has barely recovered from the shock of the previous night, and would not be so sure if Hayate would return to her. “Meh” it might be, but that moment is still powerful enough for Nagi to doubt if she is still the most important person to Hayate.
As said at the beginning of this Review, we have finally reached the end of Ruka’s emotional journey. Something new should start in the next chapter. The first thing in line is probably Nagi’s reaction to Hayate’s “application”. So far, Nagi has been uncharacteristically quiet about Hayate and Ruka. Maybe Nagi has accepted defeat, or maybe we are only moments away from a major outburst.
This could be much more interesting than “Silky Meh”.