Finally, Ikusa declares that he has been making a joke out of Hayate, but now he is getting serious. Unfortunately we do not see any changes to the terms of the competition – in fact, Ikusa has done nothing other than talking, and the competition is still on after the sibling confrontation. I think at this stage we could either wait for the serious actions Ikusa has “promised”, or interpret Ikusa’s words in a way that doesn’t have to involve imminent actions.
The main question Ikusa asks is whether Hayate can give his life away for someone. You might think that it is a stupid question, as Hayate has almost lost his life several times trying to save someone – the most recent example is, of course, the Battle of Athens. Yet, I think in none of the previous cases has Hayate accepted that he might have to give away his life. The fact that he almost lost his life several times is not what he has expected. For example, Hayate promised Nagi that he would return to her after his night’s break (in order to save Athena). Unless he was blatantly lying to Nagi, he was honestly expecting that he would come out in one piece, and thus “losing his life” was not a considered option.
What Ikusa specifically asks Hayate is to make “losing his life” an option.
Hayate says that his life has been saved by Nagi, and we know Hayate thinks his life belong to her. To put it in another way, Hayate has devoted his life into protecting Nagi, meaning that he would serve as her butler for as long as possible. Giving away his life contradicts directly with this “wish” of his, which would most certainly make him hesitate. The only way for Hayate to agree to give away his life is as the ultimate means to repay Nagi. As such, I think it is safe to say that Hayate would be unwilling to sacrifice his life for anyone other than Nagi. In other words, Nagi is Hayate’s priority number one.
By focusing on the issue of “priority”, we may understand what Ikusa is asking of Hayate. Yes, Hayate has made up his mind on his priority number one, but there are also many things in his life that he treasures, which might be an obstacle for Hayate’s devoted service for Nagi. For example, Hayate values his friendship with the other girls, and what if the girls beg him in tears not to die? Yes, it will be very, very hard for Hayate to insist that he must die for Nagi. The thing is, I think Hayate will try as hard as he could to stay alive while also saving the person, whoever he or she might be, because he has too much to live for.
This might be what Ikusa is challenging Hayate to: is Hayate willing to give up everything but Nagi? To Ikusa, if Hayate is to live (and die) by his word to protect Nagi at all cost, the things that are not Nagi are needless liabilities. In order to be able to give away his life for his priority number one, Hayate should throw away the needless liabilities, just like he did with the restaurant trash. Ikusa hasn’t specified what he means by “needless liabilities”, but he mentions Hayate’s interaction with Hinagiku.
Given that Ikusa has been busy standing by the sea, interacting with Athena and then dodging her attacks, how he has come to knowledge of Hayate’s “deeds” with Hinagiku is a mystery. His recap of the Hayate-Hinagiku interaction is… well, not wrong, and even Hayate himself can’t totally deny it no matter how much “misunderstanding” is in it. Yet instead of framing Ikusa as a Hayate-Hinagiku shipper, let us not forget that Ikusa is mentioning the “ship” as he tells Hayate to throw out the unnecessary things. Putting two and two together, Ikusa is in fact trying to sink the Hayate-Hinagiku ship – as well as any other ship that is not Hayate-Nagi.
As we have seen from the anime flashforwards, Hayate has listened to Ikusa to a certain extent. In HIAPOE, Hayate makes use of Hinagiku like a tool and then abandons her like trash, all in the pursuit of his missing memories of Nagi. In Cuties, Hayate shamelessly approaches every girl for a kiss (on the forehead), in order to wake Nagi from her sleep. On the one hand Hayate shows a moral value that approaches zero, but on the other hand it shows how much Hayate prioritises Nagi over anything else – yep, that includes morality.
There are priorities in life, and we are in no position to criticise Hayate for his choice. Yet a question remains: is it really necessary to throw away anything and everything that is not priority number one? Credits to Ikusa: he does exactly what he preaches. Hence we have a man who is devoted to nobody in particular, just to the philosophical concept of “justice”. He abandoned his entirely family in blood, and instead went on to help strangers. He abandoned his memories so that he could stay away from connecting with other people, so that nobody would miss him if he dies and as such he is given the license to give away his life for other people. This is our hero Ikusa, and he is basically asking Hayate to follow his path. The question is: does Hayate really have to do this?
It’s really chicken-and-egg for Ikusa as a lone hero: he became alone so that he can give his life away for other people, but most likely he has to give his life away because he is alone! From what we could see he has no ally, and no matter how powerful he is, someday he might come across a foe that is even stronger than him. If he doesn’t have an ally to fight with him by then, the only thing he could do is to throw away his life for the others. A sacrifice is usually noble, but we must ask: is it possible that a hero doesn’t make himself prone to death?
Hayate is different because he has great allies. Every time when he is reduced to a pathetic piece of ass because of his bad luck or bad foes, there would be someone to help him: Ayumu, Kayura, Chiharu, Sakuya, Isumi, Maria… Of course, let us not forget about Hinagiku, who has been arguably the greatest ally to Hayate, and whose “ship” with Hayate has been mentioned by Ikusa himself! What kind of stupid people would give away all the great friendship and help, and ends up with no other choice but to die for someone else?
Of course, there is only a very fine line between nobility and stupidity. A noble hero would of course say that he doesn’t want to drag anyone into his own trouble, but this is actually a very selfish statement. If Hayate thinks that Nagi’s problems are only his problems, and that nobody else cares for Nagi and would like to help her, then he is totally wrong. In HIAPOE we saw Hinagiku, Isumi and Sakuya rushing to save Nagi, who has been kidnapped by Hayate’s dead grandmother. In Cuties, almost every single girl arrived before Hayate to offer to help saving Nagi. Denying that Nagi’s other friends have a right to help her is a direct insult to their humanity. Is this what Ikusa is asking Hayate to do?
I am not trying to say that Ikusa is not a real hero. I am saying that Hayate can be hero of a very different type to Ikusa. What Hayate and Ikusa need may not be a battle on who is right or wrong, but an understanding that heroes can do things in very different ways. I am not sure what Hayate would choose to do, but I certainly hopes that he can do things his way, instead of following his brother’s path.
Okay, that is very enough for our serious discussion. Let’s get back to some more lighthearted topics.
In fact, it is a little bit surprising that it is lighthearted at all, because the last time Nagi faced a love rival (I am looking right at you, Ruka), she had her Silky
Meh Heart moment and was very upset. When Nagi hears about Hayate’s treatment of Hinagiku in this chapter, however, there is no Silky Meh Heart, but harmless sand-throwing along Ayumu, and actually it is Ayumu who reacts more vigorously. Either Nagi doesn’t think of Hinagiku as a real threat, or that she is beginning to accept Hinagiku into her “family”. In CTMEOY Episode 9 we saw Hinagiku attending a Sanzen’in family meeting (in which Nagi scolded Hayate in front of Hinagiku), while in various promotion materials – including the ending sequence in the most recent OVA – we see Hayate, Nagi and Hinagiku interacting like a family. This might be a wonderful theory, but then we must wonder what would happen to Maria…
At least we know for now that Maria cares about Hinagiku. For the third time since Hata’s hiatus in 2012, Hinagiku feels very unwell. It is actually very odd that a girl who is assumed to be very healthy to fall ill so often, but at least Hinagiku is not getting a cold this time. Nobody can explain what has happened to her, but judging by all the ghost fires around her, Nagi might be right in saying that it is ghost-related. As Hinagiku takes a rest, Maria would need to take care of her, so arguably the two best cook other than Hayate himself would not be able to help with the competition.
Don’t tell me that Hinagiku’s “illness” has anything to do with Hayate dying for other people…
To make things even worse for Hayate’s competition, Kayura and Chiharu burned themselves out at the video game arcade and would not be able to help either. Nagi blames the “amazing teamwork” (sarcasm), but this might be a bit unfair to them. As far as Kayura and Chiharu know, they have not been told to help with the restaurant operation, so who can fault them for playing video games overnight during summer holidays? If anyone is to be blamed, it would be Hayate himself: he should not have assumed that everyone would be helpful enough to discipline themselves over the competition period.
If there is anyone whose work ethics are really questionable, it is Athena. She knows exactly what is going on around her, and if she cares even a single bit about her “beloved” Hayate (sarcasm?), she would definitely stay and help. Instead, she leaves the scene by saying that she has things to do, and basically leaves Hayate to rot in Hell. Talk about puppy love…
So, it leaves the Team Donguri (minus Hinagiku): Hayate, Nagi and Ayumu to win the competition by earning 8.7 million yen in two days. Now, Nagi is a Lethal Chef, and we have little clue how good a cook Ayumu is. Most probably the duty of making food would fall on Hayate’s shoulders. It means that Nagi and Ayumu would need to serve guests, and the sheer lack of manpower means that it is nearly impossible to make 8.7 million yen. As Hayate has finally done his maths, he realises that there is no way they could win, and offers to abandon the competition.
Losing the competition would mean that Hayate has yet another huge debt to repay. Instead of sympathising him for his bad luck, I would say that he deserves it fully this time. Nobody has asked him to commit suicide by taking up Ikusa’s challenge in the first place. There is a price for recklessness and basically taking everything as granted.
Although, when it comes to money, Nagi is always there to shine. Let’s see what kind of miracle she can pull out this time.