Hayate no Gotoku! Ch. 516

Hayate516R01

There is something wrong about the calendar.

Well, Happy New Year!

It sounds ridiculous to finally greet you Happy New Year almost a month into Year 2016, but this is the very first time we have a chapter of Hayate no Gotoku! in this year. While Hata’s new series, Ad Astra Per Aspera, is doing strong, the still ongoing Hayate no Gotoku! seems to have been thrown into an abyss.

As of now I still have the feeling that Hata has a plan for this series, and he is working according to the plan – more or less. While Hata isn’t exactly pushing the plot(TM) forward at the speed and in the ways we have hoped, I still think Hata’s work makes sense in the general picture. What frustrates me more, though, is the publishing schedule. Simply put, the way we are given new chapters is not building up the momentum, if not outright killing it.

Hayate516R02

My reaction when Ch. 516 was released.

Consider this: Ch. 515 was released on 23 December 2015, while Ch. 516 on 20 January 2016. It was almost a month between the two chapters, and – frankly – we have so many more things to care about than just the development of the series. A whole month’s time is enough for any discussion to die down unless you are involved in some very heated arguments that you take it personally. And while regularly coming back to discuss a series could stimulate ideas and the fun, coming back after a whole month since the last chapter really does make me go: “Huh, really?”

I am not in a position to speculate if Hata is overworked with two ongoing series, although I might (or might not) have noted that such a workload is not sensible. We surely hope that Hata can put things together and deliver what is promised: one weekly series, and one monthly series. Ironically, he is doing fine with the latter – he just has to get his other series back on track.

At least Hata seems aware of his problem with momentum, so instead of trying to tackle the relationship problem between Hayate and Nagi, Hata has given us a warm-up (0r cool-down) chapter, with a slice-of-life story of someone who has been out of the spotlight for so long: Ayumu. Funny enough, even in a chapter which she is expected to shine, Ayumu doesn’t really “shine”: she simply lives her own life, in her own normal way.

Hayate516R03

“I still exist, alright?”

One point worth noting in this chapter is that Ayumu has moved back to her own home, but this is totally sensible. After all, with Maria now in Las Vegas as well, there is nobody to serve Ayumu in a mansion at which she calls herself a tenant. Living in an empty mansion is very lonely and pretty scary, so it makes perfect sense for her to move back to her family.

In any case, she should have moved back to her family a long time ago. At the beginning of her stay, her terms were that it was only for the summer vacation. The new school term has started for a few weeks, so her time at the Violet Mansion should be up. Furthermore, there is doubt over whether she still has enough money to pay her rent – it is no longer that she could work at Wataru’s store.

Sure, in a series where you only get screen time if you are with Hayate or Nagi, moving out of the Violet Mansion could reduce the chance for Ayumu to make an appearance. However, in a madhouse such as the Violet Mansion, there is not much room for Ayumu to shine anyway, and she as a normal person could be overshadowed by all the crazy people and things around her. A normal life in a normal house is something Ayumu more familiar with, and it would help her to express her true self. What’s more, wouldn’t you find a normal person in a world full of extraordinary people somewhat… special?

Hayate516R04

Her profile picture is… a hamster.

Back to the chapter. The other point I find worth mentioning is that Hayate finally decides to ask Ayumu which souvenir she would prefer. It is a rather sweet move, until you realise he is basically asking her to choose between sand and toilet paper. Really, nobody really care about rubbish like this, and if you are going to ask people to choose between two pieces of rubbish, then it may be better if you don’t ask at all.

Of course, Hayate is trying to play nice because he is offering Ayumu a say on the souvenir she would get. Yet, what he ends up asking doesn’t sound nice at all, because he unwisely decides to give her worthless items. A description I read from another manga sums this sort of person rather well: “Rather than saying that he lacks delicacy, it is better to say that while he is a gentleman, he is also an idiot.”

Which manga character is this phrase referring to? Taki Natsuhiko from Eyeshield 21.