Hayate the Combat Butler Part 3 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, December 31, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hayate starts attending school and that only adds to the cast and the strange situations he finds himself in.

What They Say
It's Hayate's first day of class at Hakuou Academy and he's already been challenged to a duel. He soon learns that he is no match for the other butlers attending Hakuo and in need of more training to find his own ultimate attack.

Hayate just started school but i's already summer vacation! Hayate and Nagi spend their summer doing all the normal things; summer classes at a remote island resort, drawing manga, singing karaoke all night and going to her own private amusement park.

The Review!
Hayate the Combat Butler is an unusual release not because it’s only got one language track on it, but that there are two Japanese language tracks on it. Both of them are stereo presentations done at 224kbps and they sound pretty alike. The TV version is what was originally broadcast, which was a presentation that had some censorship to it, while the DVD version is uncensored and more what was originally intended. It’s unfortunate that Bandai gives NO explanation at all about the differences between the tracks with this release which can only lead to confusion. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback of the DVD presentation which is what we listened to.

Originally airing in 2007, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This set has seven episodes spread across a single DVD which is just shy of three hours. It all looks decent but lacks any real sharpness and vibrancy as the colors feel a bit muted. The action scenes hold up well but there’s an edge of softness to some of the backgrounds and the gradients are pretty strong in a few scenes, notably in the opening of each episode with the gray storm clouds out in the background. In general it looks good, but it’s not something that stands out as a very strong piece of work and it’s hard to tell if it’s coming from the encoding – which is in the mid range of five most of the time – or the actual source material itself.

This release is a single disc so it comes in a standard single sized keepcase, though some may expect more since it’s been marketed as a “Part 3” release. The front cover artwork is bright and appealing with a cute picture of Maria and Nagi together in the hallway of the mansion with flower petals floating around them. The background wraps around to the back cover where Klaus and Tama are dancing together, which is positively cute and silly. The cover has a good amount of open space with which it conveys the series premise and a breakdown of all the episodes by number and title. The discs features and extras are clearly listed as well. Add in the production information and a good clear to read technical grid and this is an appealing looking release. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

The menu design uses the artwork from the cover for the left half which looks good but not quite as vibrant and detailed. The right half has a slightly elegant look to it to fit into the theme of the show but it keeps it simple with good looking text for the navigation selection and the logo spread across both halves. The layout is very quick and easy to navigate and submenus load very quickly. The show defaults to the DVD version of the audio and subtitles are automatically selected for playback which negates any issues with reading player presets.

The only extra included in the release is a clean version of the second ending sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hayate the Combat Butler rolls right along with another seven episodes of basic silliness that involves all kinds of pop culture references, amusing and strange battles and a cast that continues to grow and grow. Sometimes that works in its favor as it introduces interesting characters but other times it only serves to make the series feel even more bloated. It’s a rare show that can have a very large extended cast and even then it’s detrimental to the audience because their favorites often have less and less screen time.

With Hayate now attending school with Nagi, there’s a whole new world opening up and they certainly populate it in an interesting way. We do learn that Nagi is strangely gifted as she’s skipped a few grades so she’s actually in high school while being middle school aged. This is a real shock to Hayate considering how little she goes to school, but the social issues of it among the wealthy is amusing and makes a strange kind of sense. What we also learn is that Hayate isn’t the only butler attending school there, or at least on campus grounds during the course of the day, as a few others are there as well. And there are certain rivalries that crop up when you have Hayate being so chummy with Hinagiku as it totally ticks off a lot of the boys that roam the kendo halls among other places.

Unsurprisingly, the school segment of the series doesn’t last all that long before you have the cas heading off to a beach resort where we get a whole lot of swimsuit action with the varied cast of girls that come along. Unfortunately, because of the size of the cast overall and the way some characters aren’t seen for quite a bit of time, none of them are particularly noteworthy and watching Nagi getting frustrated and jealous and prancing around in the swimsuit she does own isn’t all that engaging. This resort episode is an unusual one as they’re all put through special memory making events by someone who hasn’t a clue how to make things fun and it feels forced in a bad and unamusing way.

There are areas that I did enjoy with these episodes, though it was more a mild smile than anything else. One episode focuses on Nagi trying to do good at normal chores and activities since she’s having trouble getting her manga submissions accepted for true consideration. So she proceeds to do chores around the house, much to the chagrin of Maria, as well as doing shopping with Hayate in which it simply goes horribly wrong. When Nagi decides that she’ll really wow all her friends by cooking a meal, it’s the perfect opportunity for her to essentially poison them all. Naturally, Hayate has to step in and try to save the day for his master and there are plenty of cute moments along the way, but it has an almost nice heart to heart moment in it here and there as well.

Another cute episode involves Hayate trying to learn a big ultimate special move for his combat side since he’s starting to see how difficult things are for some of the other butlers and what they have to deal with. Nagi of course wants to help so they head to the family library which is immense and has a book that will help them figure it all out. It’s a useless book in the end but there are some cute parodies in here when it comes to the fighting side. The best nod for me on this volume in total though is when we see Saki’s grandmother helping out Conan solve a cold case mystery. The parodies, the fighting aspects and the nods towards gaming do help the series with a certain kind of humor, but unfortunately a lot of it falls flat and almost forced.

In Summary:
Comedy is hard and it’s very dependent on a lot of factors. Hayate the Combat Butler just hasn’t clicked for me overall and has in fact left me pining for other comedies instead. These episodes are cute and have their moments, but it’s lacking truly likable characters for me or a situation that really works well. The setting, the wealth, the pining for an older boy by Nagi comes across as a concept by committee where they’re hauling out all the clichés and sprinkling it with pop culture references and parodies in order to be relevant or to have a “did they really do that?!” moment. It’s not bad and I can see why it’s having as good of a run as it has, but it’s cementing its position of not being a title for me as it goes on.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Ending

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
MSRP: 39.98
Running time: 175
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hayate the Combat Butler