Ch. 450 has dropped such a huge bombshell to the reading community that not only everyone forgot about the plot(TM), they were debating whether Athena would be NTR-ed by Ikusa and somebody ended up asking Hata the exact question on Twitter. Fortunately for them, Hata has provided reassuring answers, and we do not see any more signs of the Ikusa-Athena ship again in this chapter.
In fact, Ikusa’s reaction to Athena’s tears is surprisingly cold; I would expect someone with a strong sense of justice to care more about a crying girl. Then again, Athena is not a crying girl any more, as she begins thinking about her “plans” and concludes that she would leave things to her “companion”. The said person seems like a particularly tricky one as he or she might be able to take away the King’s Jewel from Ikusa. The only person I can currently think of is Yozora.
Athena then reminds Ikusa that her companion isn’t the only person he has to worry about, because Hayate is also trying to take the stone from him. An 8.7 million yen revenue in the next two days is of course a tall order, but Athena reminds Ikusa that it is not entirely out of Hayate’s depth. After all, he is a boy who was led by Ikusa, and trained by Athena herself.
Conveniently, she forgets about a girl who is almost as capable as Hayate.
To be fair to this chapter, the adventure of Hayate and Hinagiku needs a proper ending. After all, they are here to look for the key ingredient to win the King’s Jewel from Ikusa; as such, their adventure is related to the plot, and plot-related matters deserve at least one chapter to be addressed. More importantly, after asking us to picture Hayate and Hinagiku’s journey to Hokkaido in our own heads, I think Hata cannot repeat the trick here or he risks being torn apart alive by Doughnut Gunso.
You may argue that there is not much fun seeing Hayate and Hinagiku on adventures. After all, they are both very capable people, and in most cases they are perfectly fine on their own. More importantly, when one of them is (finally) in trouble, you can always expect the other one to be able to solve the problem. As such, ordinary problems won’t get these two into any trouble; in fact, only things as powerful as King Midas would put them into danger, and King Midas is certainly a “one of a kind” existence.
In this chapter we can see Hayate-Hinagiku collaboration in full force. Hinagiku is afraid of ghosts and she can do nothing about them (oddly, she is afraid of ghosts and also the village, but she is not afraid of the cave…), but Hayate is completely unafraid of ghosts and rescues her – though, one must question whether Hayate has used Hinagiku as a bait to lure the ghosts out in the first place. Hayate seems to have no idea how to deal with the classic trap from above, but Hinagiku steps up to cut the rocks into halves with Shirosakura, and suggests to move forward. Sure, they both have their own weaknesses, but they cover the other’s weaknesses very effectively, and together they form a formidable team.
Most importantly, this chapter is a perfect example of how I think Hayate-Hinagiku relationship should progress: they make their emotional connection by working together in action. We cannot tell who takes the initiative to hold the other’s hand near the end of the chapter, but both of them are happy with each other: Hayate praises Hinagiku for being reliable, and Hinagiku returns him a smile. While they usually tend to put their feet in their mouths, I think this time they have established a mutual understanding: they are perfect partners.
Of course, there is a long way to go between “perfect partners” and “life partners”, but for the moment I think their progress is very enjoyable. How often do you see Hayate genuinely enjoying an adventure with a girl? How often do you see Hinagiku smiling so brightly when Hayate holds her hand? Indeed, when they can enjoy their time together in such a manner, who cares if the circumstances are more dangerous than romantic?
At the beginning of the current arc, Ayumu pointed out that Hinagiku and herself “lacked assertiveness”. Before the adventure on the island, Chiharu advised Hinagiku to “go on the offensive”. Most people interpreted such advice as “Hinagiku must confess to Hayate now”. Yet, while the “confessions” were more or less a failure, Hinagiku ended up making very good progress in her relationship with Hayate without another word of confession. It seems that Hayate and Hinagiku interact in a unique way that “most people” do not understand, let alone appreciate.
Yes, the Hayate-Hinagiku relationship is still not romantic enough, but the adventure on the island is not a complete waste: Hinagiku was angry at Hayate before going to the island, but by the end of the adventure she is smiling at him; Hayate decided that Hinagiku would be useless attracting customers before going to the island, but by the end of the adventure he concludes that she really is reliable. In every sense of the word, this is “progress”. Chiharu’s prediction that “nothing is going to happen” turns out to be quite wrong.
As the adventure comes to a successful and satisfying end, Hayate and Hinagiku find the ingredient that makes curry a lot more delicious: curry packs. Of course, curry packs make delicious curry – that’s what curry packs are for, after all – but using ordinary curry packs would make ordinary curry. Would it be able to make 8.7 million yen for Hayate and co. in the next two days? It is highly doubtful.
Maybe those curry packs won’t be used after all…