Finally, it is the first day of the new school term. It seems to be a happy day even for Nagi, but soon enough we are reminded that she doesn’t like school at all – although she does change into her school uniform for breakfast.
We might note that Nagi is wearing her winter school uniform. This appears to contradict with CTMEOY, in which the students are still wearing the summer uniform. I am not sure if this continuity issue speaks anything about the canonicity of CTMEOY, but it certainly could be a point for consideration.
As Hayate attempts to cheer Nagi up on the way to school, he mentions several important school events in the future. With Athletic Festival in October and Cultural Festival in November, Hata seems to have decided on some of the materials for the long sagas in the next two or three years. As for this year, the major school event would be school trip.
I have wanted to raise this point for a long time, but Hakuou Academy isn’t exactly the prestigious school we think it is. Surely, there wouldn’t be a top school which would plan a week’s worth of school trip in Hawaii? What would one learn in Hawaii anyway?
Don’t raise the curious case of Conan-kun, or Doughnut Gunso will come and troll you.
There are a lot of other dubious policies at Hakuou which might deserve a Featured Article, but I will save it for another day…
As we are told by an overly excited Aika, this year Hakuou is hosting one of its five traditional events, “School Trip Level 5”. This is the third event following the Freedom Marathon race and Hinamatsuri Matsuri. It seems that with Hayate’s admission to Hakuou, the school is hosting these traditional events one after the other like they are regular events. From a reader’s perspective though, it is convenient.
Together with “School Trip Level 5”, there is a total of five trips, distinguished by “Levels”. It is way too obvious that the higher the level, the less luxurious and comfortable the trip is. Level 1 is all about expensive leisure with no study at all. Levels 2 and 3 are similar in nature, but arguably it is more luxurious going to Europe than staying local, so the former is Level 2 and the latter Level 3. We don’t even need to talk about Level 4, the only advantage of which is that you don’t have to pay anything.
Now, this is called a “school trip”, but ironically the arrangement would certainly not encourage the students to study. Of course it can be argued that the higher levels look more attractive to us ordinary people because the financial demand is lighter, but let us not forget that Hakuou is a school for the richest of people. To be honest with you, if I have all the money in the world, I would choose Level 1 without a doubt.
Then there comes Level 5, which is to be explained by – surprise! – a new character. Kananiwa is the third Director of Hakuou we come to know, and she looks no nicer than Mikado or Kirika. On top of that, we also have Athena as the Chairperson, so… why are all the top people at Hakuou so frightening?
I am not saying that Hinagiku is not frightening in her own right, but…
The first thing many of us would pay real attention to is that Kananiwa has a King’s Jewel on her right ear. I have quite forgotten about the weight of the jewels, but look at the size of that thing – wouldn’t it be too heavy for an ear-ring? Anyway, we seem to have the answer to
what is 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 + 3 the whereabout of the tenth King’s Jewel. As Athena has remarked, we would like some explanations from Mikado on this, but of course he wouldn’t tell us.
As for the explanation of Level 5… the more Kananiwa explains, the more it sounds like a conspiracy. Most of the important details, including the destination, are not revealed. Anyone who wants to join Level 5 must go directly to her, and she would personally lead the trip. In other words, she is placing everything under her own control.
And then there is the reward, which stands at the very familiar figure of 150 million yen. Of course, we learned from Hinagiku a long, long time ago that the prize money for the five traditional Hakuou events was 150 million yen, but that was the total sum of all five events – for instance, the reward for the Freedom Marathon race was 5 million yen. Now that there is an event with a reward that is the same as the total of the five events, it sounds like someone is deliberately breaking the tradition.
It is noteworthy that the only two people interested in the reward are the Katsura sisters. We don’t know if teachers are allowed to compete in Level 5, but if so Yukiji would definitely join. On the other hand, it is likely the first time Hinagiku thinks of a competition in terms of the prize money. Of course, Hinagiku would like to repay Hayate’s debt with the money, so arguably her motive is more “noble” than Yukiji’s, but Hinagiku’s new-found lust of money is worrying.
I mean, Hinagiku is in danger of following her sister’s footsteps in a bad way. Yukiji used to be a beautiful girl full of dreams, but after being abandoned by their parents, she had to work very hard to keep her sister and herself alive. Her lust of money could well be a “habit” developed in those days: she had been so used to thinking of money that she simply couldn’t stop. Now, it is Hinagiku’s turn to look for a huge income, so we have every reason to worry that she would become the second Yukiji.
The silver lining is that while Yukiji’s story is finished, Hinagiku’s “journey” is yet to begin. Even if we are to assume that this path she chooses is wrong, there is still the chance for her to change her mind – sure enough, Hinagiku changes her mind all the time. All she needs is a little more perspective to realise that she is heading down a wrong path. If she can receive some help from Yukiji or – even better – Hayate himself, it would be easier for Hinagiku to figure out what really is the right thing to do.
You see, this can be a make or break moment for Hinagiku. If she can realise her mistakes and overcome them, this trip could bring her significant character growth. If she heads towards the wrong path and self-destruct in one way or another, then this arc will be remembered as the one we lose Hinagiku to the reward.
The irony is that Hinagiku isn’t even the one who owes the money. She is merely trying (too hard?) to repay Hayate’s debt, while the indebted butler himself isn’t even shown to care about the reward at all – this is in stark contrast to his reaction upon learning about the prize money of the Freedom Marathon. Maybe Hinagiku should have looked more closely at Hayate, so to understand that he isn’t in any hurry to repay his debt anymore. Then again, love clouds one’s judgement, and perhaps Hinagiku is no exception.
For the rest of the regular characters, things seem more straightforward, but let’s go through them one by one as well.
Nagi is tempted by the prospect of joining Level 5 and then giving up immediately, so that she can laze around at the hotel for the rest of the trip – although, one must ask why she isn’t choosing Level 1 instead. Her choice of Level 5 would of course keep her in the plot, and maybe it is fair to expect her stealing the whole scene at one particularly difficult moment. She does that, you know.
The SC Rangers seem indecisive of the level they would choose, but unfortunately one of them (most likely, Miki) decides to choose whatever Hinagiku is choosing. Surely they are going to regret it once they learn about Hinagiku’s agenda.
Chiharu and Kayura have not made up their minds either, and they too seem happy to follow the decision of the others. Nobody knows whose decision they would follow if their friends have different choices, but as it stands there doesn’t seem to be a problem as the two prominent figures in their social circle – their landlord and their Student Council President – would both be joining Level 5.
Sadly, as Maria and Ayumu do not seem like joining the school trip, they might have limited screentime in the near future. Of course, it is up to Hata to decide whether he would like to include them in the plot (for whatever reason), or if he would give them some spin-off chapters to shine.