Hayate The Combat Butler Vol. #03 (Mania.com)

By:Robert Harris
Review Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kenjiro Hata
Translated by:Yuki Yoshioka & Cindy H. Yamauchi
Adapted by:Mark Giambruno

What They Say
As if dealing with his mistress Nagi's outlandish demands weren't taxing enough, poor (yet perennially) hardworking Hayate has to suffer the ignominy of being challenged to a duel by Nagi's fiance Wataru Tachibana. With his saber at the ready, Hayate is prepared to defend himself... but is there any logical reason why he's even fighting a duel in the first place? Shouldn't the simple act of keeping the Sanzenin household spic-and-span be enough?

The Review
We last left Hayate on a positive note, as the series was gaining speed and becoming a more cohesive, entertaining series. After reading Volume 3, I can truthfully say this is where Hayate goes from very good series to great series. Almost everyone on the cast makes numerous appearances, from Isumi and Wataru to Tama and even Eight, the robot, and begin to feel like real characters instead of extras shoved in to fill page space.

The overall theme of this volume is relationship misunderstandings, and before you roll your collective eyes, yes I know that's been the theme for the past two volumes. Thankfully, here there is a two-pronged jolt to the storyline; both Wataru's jealous love of Isumi and Isumi's appreciation of Hayate give the proceedings a much-needed punch in the arm and fuel a large part of the antics that take place.

And then there are the references and parodies. I told you they were coming! They literally soak the pages, now that Wataru and his video rental store have come into the picture. References to Death Note, Cowboy Bebop, Evangelion and more come at a fairly rapid pace, and I'm sure there are many more I'm missing (which makes the lack of notes sting a bit more this time around). If you're sick of anime/manga that make pop culture parodies and references as a replacement for strong comedic writing, worry not; most references are well written and clever, and sometimes (rather strongly) tie into the story.

Hayate has been on an upward spiral since its creation, and while I'm certainly hopeful for future releases, I don't expect them to top this volume. It's just too good! A veritable platoon of side characters directly related to the main storyline without seeming like plotline paupers? That's near close to a miracle! This is the point where you can stop worrying about the momentum the series has built up and just enjoy the ride; Hata has proven he can handle juggling multiple characters while simultaneously providing an enjoyable and focused main narrative, and I feel that deserves a great deal of respect.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1-4215-0853-2
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Hayate The Combat Butler