First of all, a belated Happy New Year to you all!
As we step into a new year, it appears that Hayate no Gotoku! has taken a whole new step in “progress” – so they say – and hence we may rejoice with the return of serious plot, exciting development, and of course Athena.
Honestly, I fail to understand the equation “Athena = thriller; others = filler”, but in a way I am also more enthusiastic about this new direction than, say, the Mangaka saga. My reason is that while we knew a lot about what was going to happen in the Mangaka saga before it had ever begun, almost nothing about Athena has been clearly foreshadowed in HIAPOE, CTMEOY or Cuties. As we know almost nothing for certain, there is a lot of room for guessing, and guessing is fun.
It is not that Athena did not feature in the prophecies anime – she appeared in Cuties quite a lot alright – but what we have learned from the anime appear to contradict themselves. Athena did not appear in HIAPOE or CTMEOY, and one plausible assumption would be that she has already returned to her true form and has moved out of the Violet Mansion. Yet in Cuties – the last two episodes were obviously continuation of CTMEOY – Athena still lived in the Violet Mansion in her child form. We have, therefore, at least two questions: Has Athena recovered her power and memories after all? If not, then her restoration is clearly delayed, so what happened?
Once again, as almost nothing in HIAPOE, CTMEOY or Cuties has given us a sneak peek of what has happened to Athena, there is a lot of room for guessing and all sorts of theories, and the debate behind them is fun. What Hata should have learned from this “lesson”, I think, is that he should refrain from giving away too many details about the future again.
Then again, perhaps Hata has taken all those troubles and risks simply to make it clear which ship he is trying to sail, and which he is trying to axe. I am not a fan of the equation “Hayate-Nagi = ship; others = shit”, so as a reluctant acceptance my only response is a “Meh”, which fortunately is not in the sense of “Silky Meh”.
What happened to “Silky Meh” anyway? Never mind, that’s why I called it “Silky Meh” in the first place.
So, in typical Hata fashion, the first step into a new direction is a great leap backward for 10 years. I am not sure if the cover page and the margin line on the first page has given enough hints on the fact that this chapter is a flashback, but an Athena in child form surely make things more confusing.
The thing is that while the events in this flashback happened in around 1995 (do your own math), we do have a “child Athena” – Alice in the Wonder Wardrobe – in 2005. Both Athena in 1995 and Alice in 2005 are involved in opening the path to the Royal Garden (or Garden Palace or even the Garden of Royalty; these different versions of translation are killing me…), so tell me: how do we know for sure whether the blonde lolita in this chapter is Athena (1995) or Alice (2005)?
Credits must be given to Hata here. While Athena (1995) looks exactly like Alice (2005), there is a subtle difference between them. Athena (1995) was more matured and behaved and spoke more intelligently, while Alice (2005) is more childish and dreamy. We must praise Hata for his ability to make a difference between two people (?) who look exactly alike.
So, this chapter reveals to us what happened near the very beginning – it is still “near” because we still do not know what brought Mikado and Athena (a certain Himegame is apparently missing…) together to find the Royal Garden. Anyway, Mikado and Athena were doing what they were doing, and had come to the conclusion that, to enter the Royal Garden, you need an explosion of negative emotion while holding a King’s Jewel. To me it is like making a wish to the King’s Jewel that “I don’t want to be in this world any more”, and the Jewel would then grant your wish and take you to the Royal Garden.
Clear enough, Athena was not living in the Royal Garden yet, so something must have happened between this chapter and “The End of the World” that got Athena into the Royal Garden. Based on the assumption that the theory of Mikado and Athena was true, it is widely believed that the “negative emotion” of Athena had something to do with her missing parents. The only question here is why Athena was holding a King’s Jewel. The answer, although obvious, is yet to be revealed.
In order to achieve their goal, Mikado set out to look for someone who could open the path for them. Given that you would need “an explosion of negative emotion” to do so, it means that Mikado and Athena would be making use of the unhappiness of other people to achieve their goal. In each and every sense, this is not the most moral thing to do…
Initially Mikado wanted to make use of the negative emotion of the unhappy single people on Christmas Eve (or, maybe, it just happened that it was Christmas Eve…), but the three people he approached in the end did not belong to that group. Come to think of it, Hayate did look very unhappy after he parted ways with Ruka, so in theory he might be able to open the path (again) should anyone approached him.
Okay, forget about Hayate. Let’s talk about the three people Mikado approached in 1995. Wait, Hayate is among them.. Oh well…
The first one was Ashibashi-sensei, who was a novice mangaka back then and in no way as successful as the best-selling mangaka in 2005. Mikado intended to trigger his negative emotions by insulting Ashibashi’s manuscript, but it had the opposite effect. The thing is that Ashibashi had exactly the same thoughts about his own manga, but he reluctantly finished it because his editor told him to do so. Mikado’s words motivated Ashibashi to abandon the crap and start over again. As he turns out to become the world’s best mangaka 10 years later, Ashibashi-sensei might think he has Santa to thank, although the latter wasn’t trying to help him in the first place.
Anyway, Ashibashi was a wrong person (he was ambitious) at the right time (he was indeed upset), so he was not the candidate Mikado needed.
The second one was – big surprise! – Hinagiku, who was standing under a tree, looking upset. As Mikado approached her, he was immediately knocked out by Yukiji, who for some reason knew where Hinagiku was. So, Mikado’s plans to do Hinagiku harm was undone by Yukiji, and this could be one of the many instances that Yukiji protected Hinagiku from the dangers of the outside world.
By doing our math, we would know that it was actually a few months prior to Yukiji and Hinagiku being abandoned by their parents. It is clear that the sisters already knew that their parents were having lots of troubles with their business – Hinagiku said so, and Yukiji blamed them for their own fault. It is worth noting that their parents seemed to have a record of running away from time to time. So, it was only a few months before they ran away from their children for the last time…
But that had not happened yet, and Hinagiku still had lots of love for her parents – who saved money to buy their parents a Christmas present when they were five? In other words, even if Yukiji did not arrive in time to save her sister, Mikado might still not be able to get anything from Hinagiku. If he had come a few months later, Hinagiku would then be abandoned by her parents and could become a valid candidate for Mikado. The fact that Mikado chose to find his candidate on Christmas Eve really saved Hinagiku from a hellish fate.
In one line, Hinagiku was a right person (she was abandoned by her parents…) at the wrong time (… not yet), so she was not the candidate Mikado needed.
The third one was of course Hayate. The poor, the miserable
, the piece of ass Hayate. Upon his entrance he demonstrated how bad his luck was by getting hit by the snow sank by Mikado. He then got hit by the juice can Mikado just finished. Amused, Mikado found the “perfect” candidate: a walking magnet of misfortune, who had the word “miserable” scribbled across his face…
To conclude, Hayate was a right person (do we really need to elaborate?) at the right time (he was always miserable), so he was the candidate Mikado needed.
We know what happened next. Hayate asked Santa for a Christmas present, and while Santa gave him a lecture on work instead, Hayate did end up picking up his first King’s Jewel. Then, one day, Hayate found himself lost in a strange garden, and there he was picked up by a small but elegant blonde. The rest… is history.
Given that we know that much already, I am not entirely sure whether we would go through all that again in the next chapter. Hopefully there would only be slight touches on the above points, and then we would move on, or… well, I have not written any chapter reviews prior to Ch. 267, so maybe it is a great opportunity for me to touch on those old materials?