Hayate no Gotoku! Ch. 522


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Is it just me, or is the style of artwork changing again?

As per the norm of the series, the grand finale of a lengthy and dramatic arc is once again followed by a “filler” chapter. Now, I wouldn’t say that all “filler” chapters are a meaningless waste of resources, because there have been several independent chapters which I consider good. While in most cases they do not contribute directly to the plot(TM), they do manage to explore a character in more depth. Whether a reader can enjoy a chapter, therefore, depends hugely on whether he or she likes the character under the limelight.

I guess this is a chance to me to prove that I like Nagi well enough, huh? Well, you know what, I am taking it.

It all began with, arguably, the beginning. Nagi is a rich girl who has a big dream to become a great mangaka. Over the past 10 months in-story, Nagi managed to produce one decent doujinshi. While this is definitely some solid achievement, she still has some problems as a mangaka. Now, before I go on, let me point out that it is perfectly normal that we have problems. In fact, it is the very act of overcoming a personal problem that counts as “character growth”. So, let’s see what it would take to make Nagi a better mangaka.

Hayate522R02

Why am I not surprised that her answer is a “no”?

Nagi’s biggest problem, as I see it, is her very inconsistent demonstration of her passion. She still prefers playing video games to drawing something new, and more often than not she needs someone else to motivate her. The prospect of facing off against Ruka again in 10 years sounds exciting to us, but judging by this chapter Ruka seems to be a distant memory for Nagi. Luckily, Nagi still has Chiharu as her motivator (if not her editor…), so the problem of motivation seems to be getting smaller and smaller lately.

Then we come to her second biggest problem, which is that Nagi doesn’t have a coherent manga strategy. She has been drawing manga based on inspiration and her own experience, but her manga is always a one-off story. She didn’t follow up on either the story or the characters of her Comiket doujinshi, and somehow she has decided to drop Britney, her signature character, altogether in this chapter. Now, I do remember that I have recommended Nagi to make some changes to Britney, but this is different from giving up on it altogether. A mangaka without a signature character would find it very difficult to establish their brand, their franchise and eventually their identity.

Hayate522R03

The SC Rangers should have trademarked the term “Hayata-kun”…

On the bright side, Nagi’s brand new start could actually result in something phenomenal. After all, her work is basically Hayate no Gotoku! itself, and this has been an incredible series that lasted over 10 years. Yes, the ending of the series is near, but in a world where works are being murdered left and right, a series that is given a “natural death” is arguably having it better. Imagine if Nagi could start her career on Hayate no Gotoku! at 14 and finish it at 26… that would be one hell of a career.

Over my (few) years of covering (a small portion of) the series, you might notice that I have suggested that Nagi is “loved by god” quite often. For a long time the “god” I talk about has been Hata himself, but here I finally realise my mistake: Hata is nothing. The work Hayate no Gotoku! has been made by Nagi herself! Of course Nagi is “loved by god” then, because in the end most people love themselves!

You know I was only making a joke, right?

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Some say that we should have seen this coming.

I think there is nothing wrong making a story with your own experience. In fact, I think most of us make stories with at least some of our experiences, because in the end stories are our way to share ideas, and a lot of ideas come from our own lives. With a life as eventful as hers, it can be argued that Nagi shouldn’t even waste time on making extra stories up. She would do just fine with highlighting a few chapters in her life, pick a theme, cut out the filler chapters, and work with a plan. That’s what Hayate no Gotoku! has been doing in the past 10 years in real life, after all.

The only problem with personal experience is that, well, it is totally personal. You may share the same life event with others, but the ways you interpret them – which is what we call “experience” – can be very different. Nagi and Hayate have had a wonderful time together, and it is clear that both of them treasure their bonds. Yet, there appears to be a slight difference in their interpretation of their bond. From Nagi’s point of view, it is romantic love that would lead to their ultimate marriage. From Hayate’s point of view… well, once again, he is being vague with it.

You know that one thing I hate about Hayate is that he just cannot get his own feelings sorted out, right?

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This is his “Oh Crap!” face.

Given Hayate’s vagueness all along, his feelings for Nagi can be interpreted either way. On the one hand, it is clear that he cannot live with Nagi. There is considerable anxiety on his side whenever he faces the possibility of leaving Nagi, and he has shown the determination to reunite with her, no matter what, on more than one occasion. On the other hand, he rarely appears to have that kind of… desire for Nagi, while at the same time he also has interactions with other female characters which… points more in that direction. The many ways which we can interpret Hayate’s feelings for Hayate is no doubt a major reason behind all the ship wars among the readers.

Speaking of the readers, my general impression is that we have only focused on Hayate’s feelings for Nagi, but we seldom discuss Nagi’s feelings for Hayate. “What is to be discussed?” you might ask. “She loves him!” True, this is what she says and what she feels, but here is my question: how many 13-year-old girls do you think truly understand the concept of “true love”? Many, many grown-ups fail to understand what “true love” is either, and indeed this leads to so many divorces all over the place. So, what exactly can convince us that Nagi knows better?

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The “happy ending” is just a beginning…

You see, even Nagi’s manga presents the whole thing like a traditional Disney movie. A boy meets a girl, they go on an adventure, and they end up living together happily ever after. This is more like the expression of a young girl’s fantasy about something that she doesn’t really understand, than a true homage to their “true love”. I am not saying that Nagi can never be Hayate’s true love (and vice versa), but I think she still needs a better understanding of life and love to realise that a lifelong relationship is not as simple – I would actually go as far to use the word “shallow” – as she fantasises.

So, “character growth”. I think I have made my point in the above that this is not just for Nagi or Hayate. It is for the both of them. Nagi needs to understand the world more and become more matured, while Hayate actually has to figure himself out from top to bottom. Funny enough, while Nagi is the more active partner in their “romantic love”, it is Hayate who realises that something is not quite right in their relationship. How are they going to overcome this challenge? Let’s wait and see!

8 comments on “Hayate no Gotoku! Ch. 522

  1. hmm….We have been discussing what will happen to Hayate No Gotoku as it ends but I’m curious about one thing though – what would actually happen to Hayate Report and Mr Gunso himself? What kind of “personal careers” (or blog) will you actually make and what will you do to this site?

    • Wow, thanks for thinking of me!

      The plan is that I will keep this blog alive as long as I can (or, WordPress can), so readers can come back to my posts from time to time. I may respond to new comments as well.

      As for blogging, I guess I will stop. You can see that I have been struggling with making new posts lately, and to be honest I have no plans of any new initiative.

  2. You are right Nagi’s story does have the “happily ever after” theme. I feel her finding out about the truth, will be the final bit in her character development. Where it goes from there; we will have to wait it out. I will miss your blogs though.

    • I felt like adding something to my comment-
      Nagi’s manga is the type all romantic stories are, they are together, then they are apart for some reason then united in the end. So it is not bad if she can present it well, besides she has come a long way.

  3. Excellent review. I totally agree. Also, I’d like to add that I’ve always said that Hayate is the one lacking in character growth while everyone else complains about Nagi.

    Nagi’s idea of “true love” isn’t as much shallow as it is too simple and very idealistic — and quite fitting for her age and background, I might add. Yet, she follows through with this ideal every single time. Meanwhile, Hayate has always been this wishy-washy emo teen who needs a 13-year old kid to bail him out of his toughest decisions.

    Anyway, there are some endings that I still consider a possibility given these developments but one particular, popular ending girl that I simply can’t accept from a storytelling perspective simply because all the signs have been there from the start that her story arc was about closure and we had several follow-up mini-stories and vague allusions (as Hata always does) to this effect. I’m not mentioning her here, but it should be fairly obvious.

  4. I wouldn’t say Nagi had dropped Britney entirely since Britney was simply an overly-exaggerated interpretation of Hayate. Still, at the same time, making a protagonist that’s blatantly similar to Hayate isn’t exactly the best idea either.

    Its good to see that Nagi has stopped using overly-convoluted plots and backstories in her manga. I always found it to be an unfunny running gag primarily because there is very little or any tsukkomi-like reactions calling out the absurdity of Nagi’s style of writing.

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