All right, this is it. Here comes the final chapter of a 13-year series; here also comes the final Chapter Review of the series written by me. Whatever happened in this chapter, there should be an overall sense of “this is over”. Yet if you have expected this to be a satisfactory conclusion to the entire series, you may be disappointed.
I am not even talking about the “ship wars”. For the record, I do not disagree with a Hayate-Nagi ending. As I have declared in the previous review, my single biggest concern about their romantic relationship has been addressed with Nagi dismissing Hayate’s service. You won’t find me celebrating this ship
(fat chance), but you won’t find me complaining that it is an “undeserved” ship either. At the very worst, I am shrugging it off with a “well, if you say so” attitude.
What I referred to as a “disappointment” is that this final chapter failed to tie up most (I am not even asking for “all”) loose ends in 29 pages. Instead, we only get a minimal overview of a ton of people in the first 14 pages, and then a finale for Nagi in the last 15 pages. Given the huge number of characters – some of them more popular than Hayate and Nagi – a mere 14 pages of overview means that someone is going to be overlooked.
The primary victims here are Maria and Ayumu, who do not even make an appearance in this chapter despite their importance. Maria in particular remains a complete mystery: Hata missed the best chance to explain the background or motive of Maria, and a potentially great character is now arguably even worse than a McGuffin – at least we usually get to know what happened to the McGuffin, but not Maria.
Ultimately, it is the hasty “conclusion” to all but a few characters that has driven the Internet crazy. Even Hata himself seem to acknowledge this problem, as he announced that Volume 52 – the final Tankobon – would come with additional content. To some fans, such additional content appears to be essential for finally sending Maria off. If an author needs even more pages to wrap up a main heroine after a 29-page final chapter (let alone the entire final arc itself, which is “supposedly” the Maria arc), his story-telling ability is certainly to be blamed.
To his credit, though, Hata did remember to do something about Hayate’s parents. For me the most awesome moment of this chapter is when Hayate’s parents got totally destroyed by Hisui and – surprise! – Ikusa. Miraculously, Shun demonstrated for one last time that he was undoubtedly the worst person in the entire series by abandoning his wife to the wrath of Hisui. Unfortunately for him, Ikusa was “expecting” him (with the help of Dr. Kurosu, apparently) right there, and judging by Shun’s screaming… I think I’d rather be with Hisui.
Another mystery that Hata managed to resolved is Yukariko’s wish: she wished that Himegami would be given back his 50 years of life (which he wasted on wishing for a stupid Rocket Punch…) when the goddess was released again. It is kind of bittersweet for Himegami, I guess: on the one hand, Yukariko really had not ignored or forgotten about him, and that she called him a “friend”; on the other hand, this also means Himegami was totally “friend-zoned”. There is not much to complain about his “loss”, though: Yukariko moved on and married Shin Hayek, so perhaps it is also time for Himegami to move on.
The above two paragraphs covered the first nine pages of the chapter, and the next 20 were spent on wrapping up two female characters: Hinagiku and Nagi (by the order of appearance). There are many ways to compare and contrast these two girls: Hinagiku got about five pages, Nagi got about 15; Hinagiku’s story ended at the present time, Nagi’s story ended after a time skip; Hinagiku’s ship was sunk, Nagi’s ship set sail; Hinagiku fans weep, Nagi fans rejoice.
If I have not misread Hata’s final BS, it comes to me as a shocker that Hinagiku’s final confession (maybe; we never heard it in the end) was actually an afterthought of Hata. He said that it was after attending Itou Shizuka-san’s (the voice actress of Hinagiku) concert that he realised he had forgotten about Hinagiku’s confession, so he rushed to insert such a scene. I am not sure if I should praise him for remembering Hinagiku, or criticize him for forgetting about Hinagiku in the first place.
So, what about Hinagiku’s confession? More than anything, it was about Hinagiku giving her first love a conclusion. Throughout the Finale, Hinagiku witnessed Hayate’s devotion to Nagi (she called it “Hayate-kun’s love” herself), and also Nagi’s strong attachment to Hayate. Hinagiku is likely the first person to admit that she had “lost” in the love battle. Yet, as Ayumu taught us already, just because your love is unrequited doesn’t mean that it is a false feeling. Hinagiku’s feelings for Hayate were real, and she wanted to honour her true feelings by being totally honest for once. At least she could move on without any regret.
The funny thing is that Hata doesn’t even bother to finish Hinagiku’s sentence. It is as if Hata has taken a page from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which ended with Captain America saying “Avengers, A-“. Of course, we also don’t get to see Hayate’s reaction to Hinagiku’s confession. Then again, taking the final scene into consideration, Hayate probably just turned her down. If so, it might be some kind of mercy for Hata not to show us that.
Of course, just as a good ship doesn’t make a character great, a sunk ship also doesn’t make a character trash. Rather, by admitting that she failed her first love, Hinagiku has completed her character development. Throughout the series she has been made fun of her two glaring weaknesses: her fear of height and her fear of love. Yet she successfully overcame both her weaknesses, and ended up being a more mature person who would be more ready for a better future. The only thing you could make fun of her now is her small chest size, but… it really is more a problem of you than the girl if you choose to dismiss her solely for her chest size.
So, what has gone wrong with Hinagiku’s first love? Well, I would just settle on the fact that her name wasn’t Sanzen’in Nagi. She wasn’t the one to save him on that Christmas Eve, she wasn’t the one who first built a bond with Hayate when he was at the lowest point of his life, she simply wasn’t Hayate’s saviour. She had not done anything (too) wrong; she was just not the first one to do the right thing. There is a very appropriate biological analogy, but it is far too indecent for an unrestricted blog, so… let’s not get to that, okay?
At the end of the day, I insist that Hinagiku is not a bad character; it is just that she was not the girl Hayate had his eyes fixed on. As sad as it sounds, Hayate simply did not value Hinagiku as anything more than a friend. Well then, his loss; Hinagiku should just walk away from his life with dignity.
The same goes to fellow Hinagiku fans. Yes, we may be upset that our girl did not get the “glorious” victory – honestly, who wouldn’t want? The fact is just that our girl was not valued by the main character, whom Doughnut Gunso never failed to call “a piece of an ass”. We went on the “wrong” ship, but we all know that we supported a girl who has tried her best till the very end. All her struggles and development proved that Hinagiku is an amazing character, and I am proud to be a Hinagiku fan.
And then there comes the one thing that I hate most: time skip (it is two years in this work). Not only that it is a cliche that is so overused, it kind of rendered the “sending off montage” of just about everyone pointless. Instead of being satisfied with a proper ending, people are now once again bound to ask: where are they now? Maybe this is the purpose of the additional content, after all, as everyone would want to know what their beloved characters would be doing after the time skip.
Well, at least we do know the whereabouts of Chiharu and Kayura: they both were still staying with Nagi, and it isn’t really a surprise given that neither of them had a home in Tokyo. Nagi served as some sort of butler herself for the two, waking them up in the morning and preparing breakfast for them. These are supposedly the highlights of the scene, but somehow people’s attention are on… Nagi’s chest, which was big in her portrait but small in the close-up. Worse, the inconsistency is noticed on the same page.
This is followed by Nagi’s growth montage, in which she showed us that she had developed into her own version of Ms. Perfect – hopefully this will stop people tut-tutting about the “Sueness” of Maria or Hinagiku. Some might find Nagi’s growth hard to believe, but I think it is not unreasonable: we all know that Nagi had a lot of natural gift, and all she lacked was a determination to make use of them. Hayate and co. had encouraged her to put some efforts into her life, but she wouldn’t do it because she figured her efforts were unnecessary: why would she have to work hard when she had money and Hayate? Now that Nagi had no money and no Hayate (for now), she finally dedicated herself to be a better person and her efforts paid off. She might still not be at the absurd levels of Hayate, but she has done reasonably well.
And so we reached the final nine pages of the entire series, which are dedicated to the final reunion of Hayate and Nagi. Apparently Hayate had been secretly protecting Nagi in the dark; Nagi might have noticed this for some time already, but she finally called him out this time. Nagi proudly declared that she had done very well on her own in the past two years, only for Hayate to express his own feelings that he wanted to be with her. The two held hands and… the end!
As far as ending goes, this seems to be a rather polarizing one: people are either very okay with it, or totally not okay with it. Doughnut Gunso is more on the “not okay” side, but not for the reason you probably expected. Again, I do not object to the Hayate-Nagi ship in principle; I am only not happy with the – admit it – lousy way Hata handled this ship.
Before I go on, let me ask you one simple question: why do you think that people have considerably fewer complaints (or debates) about the Wataru-Saki ship?
Really, the Wataru-Saki ship has a lot in common with the Hayate-Nagi ship: both stem from a master-servant relationship, both masters had to adapt to a more modest way of living, both boys have attracted serious contenders, both girls had doubted whether the boys truly loved them or not, and both ships were final winners. Yet while people may be upset for Isumi and Sakuya, they are reasonably understanding about the Wataru-Saki ship – I think few would suggest they did not look like a couple. Why the same thing could not happen to the Hayate-Nagi ship, to the point that we have uproars from the anti-Nagi camp on one hand, and tons of lectures from the pro-Nagi camp on the other hand? In my humble opinion, it boils down to Hata’s excellent writing about the Wataru-Saki ship, and some horrible writing about the Hayate-Nagi ship.
Despite being rather minor side characters – or perhaps because of it – the Wataru-Saki ship has been very straightforward. True, trials came from time to time, but at the end of all of them, we could always see Wataru reaffirming his love for Saki alone, and vice versa. Both of them have made their minds very clearly to everybody, and Wataru went as far as sinking his other ships – that one with Isumi in particular – by himself. People may not agree with his choice, but at least we all knew what he was thinking.
Things are a little more complicated with the Hayate-Nagi ship. Now, Nagi’s mind was crystal clear: she loved Hayate and thought he loved her back, so she felt betrayed when the truth about the misunderstanding was revealed, but ultimately forgave him after he gave his life for her. The problem here is – and it always has been – Hayate: his first love was Athena and he actually did not want to break up with her, he arguably fell in love with Maria at first sight, he felt sorry that he could not marry Ruka, he told Hinagiku that he could not accept her confession only because of his debt, he might have ended up with Ayumu if she was the one who found him on the Christmas Eve, and he was speechless when Nagi confronted him about his love for her. These mixed messages only beg one question: just what the Hell was this guy thinking all the time?
Yes, he always thought of protecting Nagi, but any servant or bodyguard would always be thinking of protecting their masters, so his feelings for her might be job-related. Yes, he took care of Nagi, but any responsible elder brother would take care of their younger sisters, so his feelings for her might be family-related. Yes, Nagi saved his life, but any follower would thank Jesus for saving their lives, so his feelings for her might be… religious?
You see, the problem with the Hayate-Nagi ship is that Hayate never managed to understand just what exactly were his feelings for Nagi, and I think that is why he didn’t manage to say “yes” or “no” to her question. Hata tried to explain on his BS that Hayate confirmed his love for Nagi when she dismissed him in the previous chapter, yet he did not bother to show what Hayate thought at the moment in the chapter itself. We just kind of have to accept that he really did fall in love with her, and then he hid himself in the dark for two years before Nagi called him out to confess to her. This is why I said at the beginning that I was of the “well, if you say so” attitude toward the ship: I did not really see why Hayate’s love for Nagi was romantic, and I only accepted it as a fact because Hata said so.
Of course, we have expert opinions on the Hayate-Nagi love relationship from Mad Mac and Nagicon, but consider this: if their love relationship is so obviously clear and indisputable to all readers, why would the walls of texts be necessary? Love theory articles are not written because the relationship is clear, but because the relationship is not clear!
Again, the ambiguity of the relationship does not prove that Nagi is a bad character; on the contrary, I think Nagi is a very good character because, among other things, her feelings for Hayate were crystal clear. Again, the problem is – and it always has been – Hayate, whom I consider a very horrible character who cannot even get his own mind straight most of the time. This is why I think that many people cannot accept the ending: they were not convinced that this is a romantic love relationship.
Well, in any case, this seems to be a rather definitive ending. There are many problems about this series, but we must honour the fact that Hata has stayed true to his intentions: this is a story about a lady and her butler; it started that way, and it ended that way. The Volume 52 Tankobon might indeed have some exciting additional content, but I think there would be nothing that would change the ending.
This is, of course, the final Chapter Review. I might come back from time to time to make a few more commentary pieces – a “final verdict” of some sorts and a few comments on the characters come to mind – and I will definitely be reviewing the additional content. Until then, Doughnut Gunso reports out. Thank you for staying with me all the way!