When it comes to manga – in our case Shonen Sunday and Hayate no Gotoku! – history does seem to repeat itself each year. Last year there was no Hayate no Gotoku! chapter the weeks before and after Christmas, and I speculated that it was for this reason we had a Hinagiku filler chapter on Christmas week. This year, very similar things happen again, and I think we can explain this week’s Hinagiku filler chapter on similar rationale.
The major difference from last year is the role Hinagiku serves. Last year, Hinagiku was tasked to promote the transparent poker cards that came with Vol. 39, so she demonstrated how to fully utilise the cards. This year, there is nothing for Hinagiku to promote, so Hata decides to address something about Hinagiku herself. While Hayate has recently been (once again) thrown into the Hell of romance, Hinagiku’s inability of addressing romance is once again exposed. This, as I see it, is no coincidence.
Before we get into that, let’s take a moment to cheer, for we have finally been given a Hinagiku-Athena chapter after so, so long. This could be the very first time that the interaction between the pair is put under the spotlight for a whole chapter. Of course, it could be argued that Hinagiku looks like the underdog when she is paired with Athena, but for a reason I do not really mind. I will come to that later.
In year 2014 the major theme of Hinagiku is that she is officially declared weak on love issues. I have already discussed in this essay (in 2012…) that Hinagiku’s major problem is that she has been putting too much effort in the wrong direction. This chapter suggests another possible (in fact, the official) reason for Hinagiku’s failure: she simply lacks the feminine intuition which is supposedly very sensitive about a person’s emotions.
As we can see, when Hinagiku is not being explicitly told the problem, she has managed to guess the problems wrong, two times out of two attempts. This is a very horrible return for someone who is supposedly smart. Then again, this is intuition we are talking about, and this is something not related to intelligence. Funny enough, we might argue that Hinagiku actually has a fairly accurate intuition: all she has to do is to reverse her judgements.
Unfortunately, Hinagiku doesn’t really have the chance to know that she has made two consecutive mistakes, because in each case – we have to include that case with Saki as well – Hinagiku’s “advice” has accidentally hit the customers right on. Of course, Hinagiku has always been a persuasive girl who is well-respected by her friends, so her words would be taken more seriously. This, coupled with the fact that Hinagiku’s words inspire her customers in rather weird ways, somehow convince the customers to leave the cafe happily. It will be some time before they realise that Hinagiku’s advice does not work, but Hinagiku will never know. To be fair to her, how is one going to learn from her mistakes if she doesn’t realise that she has made mistakes?
I am not entirely sure if Hinagiku, this time the crappy adviser, is the main reason for Cafe Donguri to be unpopular. People do not come to the cafe for advice in the first place, and they are at perfect liberty to tell Hinagiku to shut up and mind her own business. Athena’s words are, all things considered, brutally unfair.
Of course, Hinagiku is guilty in her own right. I am not talking about her incompetence in addressing love issues, but her motive of giving advice. Ever since she is provoked by Athena, Hinagiku has not been “helping” people because they need her help, but because she wants to prove that she can be a good coach. While Hinagiku has always been a nice girl with good intentions, this is one rare occasion in which she is blinded by her pride, and she could be doing more harm than good to her friends because she forces herself to take up a task that is beyond her depth.
All in all, we are seeing a Hinagiku at her worst when her hatred of losing couples with her particular weakness. Not only that Hinagiku needs to learn how to overcome her weakness(es), but also that she must learn how to pick her own competitions. There is no point trying to win at every challenge that comes in your way, and more importantly one has to learn her own limits. Hinagiku is a girl who takes much pride in herself, but it also means that there is a lesson on humbleness that she still has to learn.
Let’s make something clear here: while I have to criticise Hinagiku for her incompetence and immaturity, I don’t mind reading chapters that illustrate her weaknesses. Let us not forget the Comisun arc, in which Hinagiku started off being mocked by Nagi for her incompetence in understanding manga, but she ended up being the brain for Ruka’s transformation into a good amateur mangaka. If Hinagiku could realise her weaknesses with love issues and her pride, there is high hope that she could improve in both regards and become an even better girl.
Besides, it is so much better to make mistakes in filler chapters than in the serious plot(TM).