Hayate the Combat Butler Part 6 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2010

After numerous episodes that left me less than enthralled, Hayate hits its stride for at least several episodes in a row.

What They Say
On a well-deserved day off, Hayate and Maria go on a tour of trendy date spots while Klaus comes down with a bit of melancholy and considers a career change. Wanting to be the "normal" girl that Hayate prefers, Nagi picks up some pointers from Ayumu Nishizawa.

Then it's back to work as Hayate is challenged by Superintendent Kuzuha and her Cyborg Butler and in the ensuing battle, Hayate is stripped of his butler powers. Powerless to protect Nagi, Hayate leaves the Sanzenin household and is reduced to working for Kirika as a car-eared maid. Will Hayate regain his combat butler skills and return to Nagi?

The Review!

Audio
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 presented 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.
 
Video
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 six episodes spread across a single DVD. 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.
 
Packaging
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 6” release and those have typically been double disc sets from Bandai. The front cover artwork is a nice change of pace with a more human looking piece as it features Wataru and Saki together outside in the cold at night where she's wrapping a scarf around his neck. Both have very subdued looks overall, with her feeling helpful and happy and he's got a bit of a blush going on that's adorable. The background wraps around to the back cover where another a couple of other girls are there against the lights working on an amusing snowman. 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.
 
Menu
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.
 
Extras
The only extra included in the release is a clean version of the second opening sequence.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hayate the Combat Butler has certainly been a struggle to get through in the episodes I've seen so far, though there have been bright spots here and there. It wasn't until this volume though that nearly every episode on the disc proved to be fun and enjoyable, actually making me look forward to the next episode. The only place where the show takes a detour to less than thrilling is in the final episodes which was a New Year's special and it's quite rare that those are good in general. Even the visual gags felt like they worked better this time as they poked fun at numerous things, including a giant Dragon ball appearing at one point or numerous NERV style trucks racing by during a lengthy bike ride that Hayate and Nagi are on.
 
The opening episode is quite a good bit of fun as Nagi is working on her latest manga, this time dealing with a teenage romance story. The problem is that pen is not going to paper in a way that's actually producing a good story because she doesn't have anything that works when it comes to settings where teenagers would go and do things. In order to get it right, she sends Hayate off to investigate all the places so she has reference material. Unfortunately for he, Maria goes along as well and the two play at a date a little bit and that eventually sets Nagi off since she's still getting jealous easily. It's cute to see Hayate being so puppy-like at times with Maria and the way she's playing at being oblivious to his interest in order to keep him at bay a little bit.
 
Another episode has Nagi trying to be subtle again by asking Hayate what he wants out of a woman. When he says he wants something ordinary, it obviously sets her off in a quest to figure out what that is. Tagging along with Ayumu, she spends the day among the common folks trying to get a handle on it but invariably getting it wrong time after time. It's cute seeing her do all these things, from not understanding that the whole seat on a train isn't just for her to the strangeness in actually waiting in line for something. Hayate is kept out of most of the episode but there's a cute thing that showcases how he's always around the edges watching over Nagi, reinforcing his position as a really great butler.
 
Hayate the Combat Butler delves into a slightly bigger storyline across a couple of episodes here as well as Hayate finds himself in some real trouble. He ends up being taken advantage of during an incident with the Superintendent and ends up losing his special butler skills. That puts him in a real pinch where he feels a bit like how Klaus felt a few episodes earlier when Nagi told him to get it over with and retire. With a compromising picture, Nagi goes off to disappear but ends in a more compromising position involving a maid's outfit and discovering where his true abilities lay. It's an interesting arc as it brings in the former butler for Nagi, Himegami, who has taken on the role of a person called the Princess God. There's a nice bit of fun poked at Gaogaigar here that made me smile a whole lot as well.
 
In Summary: 
Hayate the Combat Butler may have simply clicked for me in these episodes at this time whereas the others just didn't. It's likely that it's just the same as it's always been but it's just the right stuff at the right time in that it made me laugh and smile and look forward to more episodes. The parodies are pretty regular and the characters haven't changed much. There's some nice attempts at romance in the New Years episode involving Nagi trying to see the first sunrise of the year with Hayate, but they actually manage to make the two a cute couple as she nudges him towards what she wants, with Maria helping out in the background. Hayate the Combat butler doesn't stray from what it's done in past episodes, but these episodes had a certain flavor and flow to them that left me pretty happy, which is a surprise after five volumes that left me feeling ambivalent at best.
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening 2 Version 2

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: B-
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: 150
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hayate the Combat Butler